Roberta Langella killed herself. Her brother, Steven, reported the news on his blog:
“We just received word from the Medical Examiner’s Office on October 30, 2016. All indications are that Roberta committed suicide. There was no evidence of alcohol in her system. However, it has been determined that Roberta took 40 Percocets at once — not over a period of 2 days as we initially thought. She ingested massive quantities of Percocet prior to her death. There was over 300x the prescribed amount found in her blood. In light of this news, the family feels now, more than ever before, the weight of the responsibility to correct the false narrative of Roberta’s life portrayed by Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle.”
Steven and Roberta are former members of The Brooklyn Tabernacle, a New York megachurch led by charismatic pastor Jim Cymbala. (Steven was a deacon at the church) Pulpit & Pen first shared the story of Roberta’s and Steven’s experiences at Brooklyn Tabernacle in a post entitled “Jim Cymbala and the Ghost of Testimonies Past” shortly after Roberta’s death. At that time, her death had not yet been ruled a suicide. Since her death, Roberta’s family has been pouring over her personal documents. One of these documents is a letter, which her brother provided to Pulpit & Pen. The letter includes the following statement from Roberta:
“My name is Roberta Langella, and I am a former member of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church, where I spent the last twenty years, as well as a former employee of the church, from 1993-1997. I have been featured in three of Pastor Cymbala’s best selling books, and the million selling video, “He’s Been Faithful”. I can no longer be silent as to the flagrant disregard for the law practiced by this man, and the purpose of this document is to chronicle the financial corruption by Pastor Jim Cymbala (“PJC”) of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, the 9th most influential church in the country. The list of alleged misappropriations of church funds is so extensive, that I couldn’t possibly include it all in this letter. The church will not open their books to the members, and no one knows where the tithes and offerings of the church are spent. Millions of dollars have been made in contributions from all over the world for promised projects that have NEVER come to pass; no one knows where all of the money has gone (other than into the pocket of PJC) and there is absolutely ZERO accountability. The history and depth of abuse is long and wide, but below are some of the details of abuse, and the names and contact information of key people who were a part of this organization. The people with an asterisk by their names will definitely cooperate, and will attest to the validity of the claims made herein. The Brooklyn Tabernacle is a cult, and as a formerly brainwashed member for more than twenty years, I know that many of the people listed here who are still part of the church may not cooperate because of fear and intimidation on the part of the leadership, but hope and pray that the corruption, spiritual, moral, financial and psychological abuse of this leadership MUST BE EXPOSED to protect the thousands of innocent people who give tremendous amounts of money to this church, and have no idea where their money actually goes.
Pulpit & Pen is reviewing the list of names on Roberta’s letter and is considering further investigating Roberta’s claims, since she cannot. Financial impropriety is difficult to prove and sometimes difficult for people like Roberta, who are not accountants, to understand. However, psychological pain is easy for all people to relate. One doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist or psychologist to understand that someone who is suicidal, like Roberta was, is in desperate need of counseling. Roberta Langella, who led a very troubled life, understood that she was in need of such care. Long ago, Roberta checked herself into Rompano Ridge Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey, a state-licensed Christian healthcare facility. Roberta’s pastor, Jim Cymbala, advised Roberta against seeking psychological treatment.
Cymbala also advised former Brooklyn Tabernacle member, Dawn Robinson, against seeking psychological treatment. Robinson is a former roommate of Roberta Langella. Like Roberta, Dawn’s story was featured in a book authored by Jim Cymbala. The book was God’s Grace at Ground Zero. Dawn’s story was included because she survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Almost immediately after the attacks, a very shaken Dawn was put on stage to share her testimony at the behest of Jim Cymbala. Having survived one of the most traumatic events in American history, her psychological condition was understandably fragile. Dawn wrote the following on her personal blog:
“Because of my severe depression, I began to see a Psychiatrist in 2002 who prescribed anti- depressants to help me cope with the PTSD. When Pastor Cymbala heard that I was seeing a Psychiatrist he berated me and told me that I was ruining my Christian witness and told me to stop taking the medication and stop seeing the Psychiatrist. He told me that I should have been over 911 by this time and I needed to stop being so emotional about it. I was so hurt by his words which added to my suffering. My father passed away in October of that same year and that made matters even worse.”
Obviously a megachurch pastor can’t be responsible for the psychological states and outcomes of every church member. However, to discourage traumatized people from seeking therapy appears grossly irresponsible (and grossly self-interested considering that these individuals were featured in Cymbala’s feel-good books). Obviously, as a matter of statistics, a megachurch pastor will end up with former church members dissatisfied with him but the accounts of the Langellas and Dawn Robinson indicate that these disaffected members of the Brooklyn Tabernacle have problems that are well beyond the scope of those espoused by the average soured sheep. The Langella’s and Dawn Robinson were close associates of Cymbala, not rank and file pew-sitters. Cymbala featured them in books.
More recent news indicates that the trouble with Cymbala reaches outside of the walls of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Daniel Impaglia, a pastor friend of Cymbala who came highly recommended by him, is embroiled in a legal battle with Rock Church, where he has been serving as pastor.
It seems like the body of evidence against Jim Cymbala is piling up.
[Contributed by: Seth Dunn]
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.
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