I used to go to church every Sunday.
I had to, not that I minded. My mother worked as the head of music and organist at Covenant Presbyterian in West Des Moines, Iowa, so every week I went to church and listened to her play.
I didn’t really believe in God, but church wasn’t about that for me. It was about my mom’s music, about getting out and doing something as a family, about community.
That’s exactly what Sunday Services at Therapy reminded me I’d been missing. I haven’t been to a church service in at least seven years, but I was transported there immediately: Our host, “Sister” Jarvis, brought my boyfriend and I to our table and handed us church programs. They were just as I remembered: The front had an image of a church printed in black on blue paper, the back had the “church’s” staff/performers and the inside had our agenda. (She also gave us fans and a spare yellow Sunday hat that matched my beaded Kate Spade cardigan.) Before leaving us, she had us write down anonymous confessions on small pieces of paper.
We ordered two “Hail Mary” Bloody Marys, which were overflowing with Christ’s love and vodka. The buffet was extensive: bacon, turkey bacon, avocado toast, biscuits and gravy (“The best biscuits and gravy I’ve had in a long time,” my boyfriend quipped as quotably as possible), fruit bowls, hash browns (my favorite breakfast food)… the list goes on. We filled our plates and headed back to our table for the show.
The room was lively and diverse: A group of girls behind us spoke excitedly in Spanish, a mature couple ate next to us and a group from Ireland sat at a big table across the room. I looked at my boyfriend across from me: Our song, “Don’t You Want Me Baby,” played right before the show began. I took this as a sign from above.
While we continued to eat, Sister Lagoona Bloo, Sister Jackie Cox and Sister Mary Kizha ascended the stairs, lip-syncing a “Sister Act” remix. The brunchers went nuts: Sister Jarvis walked around with a collection plate, and everyone gave to God. (Hey, Ariana Grande does say that God is a woman…)
Next, the sisters had us stand and hug a stranger—another act I was familiar with from my church. Everyone was friendly, introducing themselves with each hug—the vodka already kicked in.
They each performed solo acts as well, like Sister Lagoona Bloo’s live singing “God Is a Woman.” (She also sang songs suggested by the audience in Shakira’s voice, most notably the “Friends” theme. It was perfect.)
Afterward, we all stood and sang a hymn together: “I Will Survive.” Everyone stood, everyone sang their hearts out and the room was filled with love.
Sister Jarvis returned and read several of our anonymous confessions: If you copped up to writing it, you got a drink ticket for a later evening. Among them, “I fucked 30-40 people at a sex party in Berlin three weeks ago.” (It was one of the birthday boys at the long table in the middle.) Mine, luckily, wasn’t read.
Just when we thought we were full and drunk, we took communion—a shot and a double fudge brownie. (I couldn’t remember which you took first and which you took together as a congregation, so I took them both immediately.)
After two hours of eating, drinking and performances, the girls did a final group number (a pseudo-drag-suicide) and we left: full of food, absolutely drunk and feeling the love of our community. I might not be returning to Covenant Presbyterian anytime soon, but I will certainly be back to Therapy for Sunday Services.
THERAPY SUNDAY SERVICES >>>>>>>> Photo by Ryan Overberg