Calvert, Maryland - Scandal broke this past weekend at First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Calvert. The incident centered around the churches pastor, Rev. Art Lofton, and his supposed tremendous gift of "speaking in tongues." Lofton, who has been the pastor of the church for over five years, often amazed and charmed his congregation with what many called "a truly spectacular gift."
"Brother Lofton had the most amazing gift of tongues I had ever heard, so I thought" said member Emma Harris. "So often I have heard people speaking in tongues and, while I don't want to be critical, it just sounds like they're saying the same thing over and over again off the top of their heads. But when brother Lofton spoke it really sounded so real! It sounded like he was speaking real sentences with a smooth flow to them. And the words sounded smooth, beautiful and truly angelic. We all thought he truly had the gift."
But what many considered a "beautiful gift" was discovered this past weekend to not be as "miraculous" as many people thought. As it turns out now, for the past five years Lofton has been charming his congregation with the language Quenya. Quenya is an artificial or "constructed" language invented by famed British author J.R.R. Tolkien. The language is one of the tongues spoken by the fictitious people of Middle Earth in his series, The Lord of the Rings.
In Lofton's case, his "secret" was discovered during a morning worship service in which a number of new college students visited the church. The discovery was made by Brent Perkins, a freshman at Calvert Community College.
"I'm a pretty die-hard Tolkien fan" said Perkins. "A couple of years ago I started to learn the Elvish tongue. So, the service was going well and all that. Then during the pastor's sermon he started getting really emotional and started speaking in tongues. Everyone around me just got so overwhelmed. I thought it was some kind of joke though. I leaned over to my friend Tricia who was with me and I said 'Hey, he's speaking in Elvish.' She didn't believe me at first, but then my friend Chris realized the same thing."
After the service the kids talked with Lofton.
"I went up to the pastor and asked him 'Did you know you were speaking in Quenya?' " said Perkins. "Like all of the blood just drained from his face, but some of the other people around us heard us and asked us what Quenya was. So we told about The Lord of the Rings and stuff and they seemed to get really upset. By the time we turned around the pastor was gone."
"As word begin to spread around about what was going on everyone was getting pretty upset" stated Harris. "We felt deceived, cheated and swindled. Here we were thinking that our pastor had this magnificent gift of tongues and all he had done was learn this fake language."
TBNN received notice that the congregation has since caught up with Lofton and that he has confessed to his "sin." At the writing of this article the church has not decided what they are going to do in regards to his status as pastor.
"We just don't know what we're going to do yet" said Reynold Farris, one of the church's deacons. "How could we ever trust him? Since no one ever knows what anyone else is saying when people speak in tongues, how could we know for certain he wasn't speaking Klingon or something up there. Speaking in tongues is the most genuine and real only when it is spontaneous and makes no sense to anyone else."
TBNN will continue to monitor this situation.