December 17, 2015 @ 05:45 pm by Daniel Kessel
“I grew up singing in the church, and then I was excommunicated and publicly shamed when I was 13, and I have not sung in a church since until right now," Sophia said after singing “You’re My Joy” last Sunday in worship.
Watch this video until the end to see Sophia’s moving words:
Sophia grew up in a Puerto Rican Pentecostal Church in the South Bronx. As a smart, articulate girl, she believed she would one day grow up to become a preacher.
“I used to always ask a lot of hard questions,” she said. “The pastor hated me for that. He really didn’t like me at all. He was also machismo and sexist.”
When Sophia was 13 years old, a 15-year-old girlfriend framed her for something she didn’t do. “I didn’t smoke pot, but I was with this girl when pot was being smoked. And she told her mother and the pastor that I was the bad influence. And everyone quickly believed it because of how independent and headstrong I was.”
Confronted by the pastor, Sophia went along with the older girl’s story. “I thought, What would Jesus do?” Sophia remembers. Her membership was revoked in front of the entire congregation, and she was excommunicated from her church.
“And so I left and became a sinner, [laughter], like any good Pentecostal should [more laughter],” Sophia said. And she also went on to become a successful singer and performer.
Singing at Middle Collegiate Church on December 13, 2015, was the first time Sophia sang in a church since she was 13 years old.
“I’m just going to sing this song to God. And that’s why I never made eye contact with the congregation. Because that’s a beautiful song with beautiful lyrics with a beautiful melody. That was healing.”
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