Pastor Desireé Allen, who serves as the pastor of arts and spiritual formation of First Corinthian Baptist Church in New York City as well as the director of Harlem’s The Dream Center, revealed in a blog post that she discovered she was expecting in May on Mother’s Day while on vacation at Disney World.
“I was pregnant. My immediate reaction was shock. This was not planned. Yes, I know it’s a potential consequence of having sex, but not one readily expected. With the exception of living a pretty much celibate lifestyle in my twenties I had been having sex on and off since I was 15 and had never been pregnant. In fact, I assumed when I was ready it would be very hard for me to conceive. Boy did I miscalculate that,” she wrote.
She explained that despite the sudden nature of her unplanned pregnancy, she was happy about the prospect of having a baby. She dreaded the idea, however, of going public with the news as an unmarried pastor.
“What had my stomach turning, other than nausea, was me being pregnant AND a pastor. Let’s face it. The church has not had a good track record of accepting unmarried women who got pregnant. If you’ve been in church for any period of time you’ve heard or witnessed the aftermath. Shunning, slut shaming, being sat down from your position, having to go up in front of the church and confess your sin, etc. etc. No one can be naïve enough to say this type of stuff doesn’t happen in church,” she said.
“An ugly truth is people in church leadership have sex outside of marriage, affairs, do drugs, drink, so on and so forth. Generally, these are not considered acceptable acts. BUT I have seen many churches turn a blind eye to this behavior, because it can be hidden. Don’t ask. Don’t tell. To be pregnant is a very visible indication of a private act and for some reason provides people with more of a need to respond,” she argued.
She explained that she chose not to “carry the weight of others’ opinions and judgments including my own” on her shoulders because she was happy about her pregnancy.
“Often, when people think you’ve done something wrong or have sinned they want you to walk around with your head low in guilt. Otherwise, how would THEY know you were sorry? Well, I wasn’t sorry or ashamed. Shame and happiness cannot reside in the same place. I decided to only surround myself with those who had positive energy. I knew there would be rough days, but I also knew the good would outweigh the bad. So when the first comment was made about my pregnancy being an abomination I wasn’t bothered, because it wasn’t MY truth. Plus who uses abomination anyway? Can we say antiquated?” she wrote.
After wrestling with the initial dread she felt about going public with her pregnancy, Allen said she decided to reveal the news to her executive pastor about three months in at an annual staff retreat and was shocked by the response she got.
“The words kind of fell out of my mouth in front of everyone. I explained my joy and the importance this did not undo and diminish all the work and dedication I had put in for six years. I felt empowered. I shared what I wanted to share, how I wanted to share, on my own terms. I wasn’t responding to anyone or defending myself. I was standing in my truth.
“In a moment I will never forget, our executive pastor had the staff encircle around me and they begin to pray. A noise that can only be described as a wail left my mouth and I broke. To the point of needing a chair to sit in. I broke in the most beautiful way possible. In the breaking I was free. That ugly Jesus cry released every anxiety, fear and worry holding me down. They promised to protect me and support me. In that moment I saw God. It was a moment that transcended boundaries or judgment. It was pure love. I felt free,” she explained.
Information highlighted on Allen’s Facebook page says her due date is on January 16, 2017 and that she is expecting twins with her fiancé Tony Elder.