Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Religion • Pastor’s Suicide Note Read to Congregation

Yesterday was a very troubling Mother’s Day as an elderly grieving woman sat in Mountain View Christian Center in Oakley, California, quietly sobbing over the tragic death of her son, Pastor Jerry Hanoum. The church was overflowing with mourning people who filled every seat, the chairs on the drama stage and the choir loft with many others standing in the back and along the walls.

The charismatic pastor had committed suicide earlier that week, an action that took everyone by surprise. Those who gathered for the Sunday service were stunned. This could not have possibly happened!  After some worship songs, speakers, Pastor Tyrone Holmes, Pastor Joe Seeley, and Pastor Will Byrns spoke of the qualities of Pastor Jerry that they had observed during their association with him.

In an unusual move, they made his last words public, Pastor Jerry’s daughter, Tiffany, read the suicide note that he wrote just before he pulled the trigger. The note was an attempt to clear the record, explain everything and to communicate how he regretted his actions. He had asked God to forgive him and he wanted more than anything to pay everyone back.

It was a heart felt note that brought additional heaviness to all attendees. When yet another front page story about him splashed across the Contra Costa Times last Monday, (5/2/11), Pastor Jerry cried for two solid days. He was crushed. Like many tough, strong men, he had a very tender and fragile heart. He did genuinely care for people.

Pastor Jerry Hanoum was unquestionably the world’s greatest preacher who ranks among the greats such as Spurgeon. He was a great teacher who excelled in theology. He could have been in the annals of the greats. It is too bad that he got sidetracked. With his death, we are all cheated out of what he may have been able to give in the future.

And it is too bad that he was not able to do what he had verbalized to this writer the evening before. “I’ve asked God to forgive me. And I WILL pay everybody back and make it up to everyone.” And I do believe that he intended to do just that.

I am glad I got to know him. He was unforgetable…tough, boistrous,very talented with child-like tenderness that made him cry at the drop of a hat and someone who could be fun to be around. He had a great sense of humor, and when he let out his infectuous laugh, it made everyone around him laugh. These are the memories that will be kept in my heart, whcih is extrememly heavy. This will take time to sort out and to work through the pain as we all ask….why?

The most urgent prayer to be uttered now is for those who have been hurt by Pastor Hanoum. Especially new Christians whose trust has been shattered. Please do not leave God over something that a MAN did. I made that mistake once which plunged me into the most regrettable time of my life. When I returned to God, the ministry and the church, I vowed that no man would never get between me and God again. I pray the same for all of you.

(Editor’s note: Rev. Austin Miles is no longer affiliated with Mountain View Christian Center, having left after learning what was taking place. He is not involved in any part of the operation of MVCC and was not at the Sunday Service described above. The details were related to him by someone who did attend. Believing that every life is valuable, his report intentionally points out positive personality traits that will be of interest to readers.)

A public memorial service will be held for Pastor Jerry on Saturday, May 14th at Golden Hills Community Church in Brentwood 94513, off Lone Tree Way (2401 Shady Willow Lane), at 11 A.M.

 

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