Pastor Jeremiah Steepek: A Viral Hoax

There’s a story making the rounds on Facebook and the Blogs about a so-called Pastor Jeremiah Steepek, who pretended to be a homeless man in order to teach his Church a lesson. The tale is spreading very quickly. This is how it goes:

Pastor Jeremiah Steepek (pictured below) transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food – NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit n the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.

As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. “We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation. The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him. He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited,

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame. He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”

He then dismissed service until next week.

Being a Christian is more than something you claim. It’s something you live by and share with others.

Clearly meant to elicit an emotional response, Urban Legends deals with it:

Description: Viral story

Circulating since: July 2013

Status: False, though likely inspired by real events

Full text: As shared on Facebook, July 22, 2013:

Pastor Jeremiah Steepek (pictured below) transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food – NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit n the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.

As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. “We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation. The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him. He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited,

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame. He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”

He then dismissed service until next week.

Being a Christian is more than something you claim. It’s something you live by and share with others.

Analysis: When you Google the name “Jeremiah Steepek” the only hits you get are instances of, or references to, the selfsame story reproduced above. Which is to say that there seems to be no evidence at all that a Reverend Steepek actually exists, let alone that the story about him is true. The anonymous text is bereft of supporting details — no specific church is named, no city, county, state, or country, and no eyewitnesses.

A viral image purporting to show Pastor Jeremiah Steepek in disguise is actually a 2011 photo of a real homeless man on the streets of London taken by photographer Brad Gerrard.

We have every reason to believe the story is fictitious, albeit probably inspired by real-life events…

Rest here.

It’s never good to spread lies… Why not simply tell it as it is: A fictional anecdote?

 

3 thoughts on “Pastor Jeremiah Steepek: A Viral Hoax

  1. The specific story my not be true, but that Church could be any Church in this country, pretty sad state.

  2. This particular story maybe a hoax, but I did this with 2 other members of my Church in Kew Victoria, Australia in the late 90’s or early 00’s. We were starting series on Social Justice, so the Senior Minister asked me as Drama Coordinator, to organise some ‘homeless’ people to visit our Sunday morning service.. I sat out the front with a pair of my old crutches, grimy face, matted hair & worn clothes asked for money that I needed for a knee operation. Two other guys were equally badly dressed & wandered around the grounds before the service.
    It was suggested the ‘Salvos’ (salvation army) could help me, only a few of a large congregation gave $, most ignored me. One person helped me up & invited me inside where the open fire was burning. Another of my team tried to sit at the front with the band & was directed to a side seat. Children were pulled aside, when they asked their parents about us.
    When the senior pastor got up to speak he started to read the same verse in this article & the three of us got up & recited several lines of the reading & joined him at the front. It was a very powerful message to the congregation, about disconnecting ourselves from the real issues & feeling we were doing something by just giving money.
    Only about 2 or 3 people had looked closely enough at us to recognise we were 3 people who regularly got up in front of the congregation as part of the drama team.

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