Dec. 12, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
A Greenpoint pastor is the subject of a new mini documentary as part of a series on working women produced by a feminist website.
Pastor Katrina Foster, 49, is “not your grandma’s pastor” in a film produced by The Front, a Brooklyn-based media collective entirely run by women.
The documentary showcases bits and pieces of Foster’s life and how it led to her lively, true-to-the-times sermons that have helped keep the struggling congregations she has worked for prosper, including the once-faltering St. John’s Lutheran Church in Greenpoint, where she has been since 2015.
Foster, a self-described “Lesbian redneck” from the South, said she’s not entirely sure how the production team came to choose her as a film subject, but that they found her “really fascinating,” a comment she denies.
“I’m really not,” she said to the Greenpoint Post. “My anointing that is peculiar is to be a preacher. The way I’m called to preach happens to intercept with the everyday reality of the world.”
The six-minute documentary showcases just that, with audio clips from Foster’s punchy sermons that don’t shy away from recent events, like the White supremacist rallies in Virginia over the summer.
“Yesterday I watched in horror as young men used their holy book all for the exclusion and oppression of others,” Foster is heard saying in a recording included in the documentary. Her own present-day voiceovers punctuate her sermon: “Religion can be a cancer” Foster says, along with, “White supremacy has its roots in Christianity.”
The documentary also shows photos and footage from Foster’s childhood as she speaks to her identity as a lesbian and its relationship to her faith, including a dark time she was brought to.
“It was confusing because I’d also had been told that Jesus would prefer me dead than gay,” she says in the film after realizing she was a lesbian at 14. “I could not handle the pain that I was in. It was so extreme that I went to my family’s gun cabinet, took my dad’s .357 out, and put it in my mouth—I was going to blow my head off.”
Foster said the detail of her near-suicide in the film is a fact she shares “openly and honestly”, given the disproportionate number of people in the LGBTQ community affected by it. The moment also served as a turning point in her life, guiding her to become an ordained minister, a position she has held for the past 24 years.
While Foster is a bit uncomfortable that the film focuses entirely on her, she stresses that all her success, especially in helping reverse the course of St. John’s in Greenpoint, comes from Jesus. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” she said, quoting scripture.
She adds that the reception to the film has been overwhelmingly positive. “I’ve gotten messages on Facebook, e-mails, and most people are saying thank you. Others are reaching out because they’re in pain, or they don’t feel condemned.”
Foster hopes that the film sends a clear message to viewers.
“I really hope people hear that they really are loved,” she said. “People who have been so terribly wounded through the actions of the church, or by the inaction of the church toward them, there are other places you can go and be met by faith leaders in every tradition who stand up and say you are equally loved.”
Watch the full mini doc below: