By Michal Ortner
Channisin Berry is a native of Newark and has produced several documentaries that cover topics typically avoided due to their uncomfortable nature. He is now venturing into the sacred region of the black church.
His documentary, “The Church House: S*xuality in the Black Church,” premiered on September 28 at Rutgers-Newark’s Paul Robeson Center. The project sets forth to place the black church on display and delves into same gender attraction and adultery that is taking place within the higher ranks of its leaders.
“I had many people come to me and talk about what was going on in the black church – not only just homos*xuality but s*xuality and s*x period,” he said in an interview last week. “The use and abuse of power from the pulpit to the pew. It’s nothing new, but it’s just something that nobody wants to talk about.”
Berry was also interested in covering other deep seeded issues like pastors misusing their authority to seduce women and manipulate their congregations. He also sees a discrepancy in female leadership in the church.
“Women have been relegated to the floor and not the pulpit. How is it that 53 to 72 percent of the congregation are women, and yet they have no say-so in the church’s business?” he asked. “Are you telling me that God doesn’t speak through women too?”
Some church leaders are concerned that Berry’s documentary will do more harm than good, lamenting that it will expose all of the negative aspects of the church. Though he has received a lot of criticism, Berry says that he has had much more positive feedback from those who are ready to get everything out in the open.
“I only tackle things that make me cry, make me think deeply and have much to do with people of color in terms of healing,” he said.