Salem ‘Pastor’ Expelled for Wiccan Connections Targets Street Evangelists in ‘Witch City’

Salem 1SALEM — A pastor who was expelled from his denomination for forming close friendships with witches took issue on Thursday with a number of evangelists who were preaching repentance on the streets of the Halloween capital of the world.

Phil Wyman and his group “The Gathering” have been attending Halloween celebrations in Salem for nearly a decade, providing live music, hot chocolate and various readings on the popular Essex Street in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem, known as “Witch City,” was the location of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and has a long history of witchcraft and paganism that continues to this day.

Because of Salem’s roots, the city hosts a month-long celebration of Halloween each year called “Haunted Happenings.” The events include a costume parade, witch-centered dramas, psychic readings and public fairs and carnivals. On Halloween, the streets of Salem become especially congested with trick-or-treaters and other costumed revelers—numbering upwards in the tens of thousands. A number of occult shops are especially visible during the month of October as well.

Several years ago, Wyman, who refers to himself as a “spiritual adventurer” and “modern mystic,” applied for a grant from his former denomination–the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a Pentecostal denomination founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in 1927. In a recent fundraising video, Wyman states that he asked for the grant to found a church that would “make friends with witches and atheists.”

“We did something few other Christians in the world were doing,” he states in the video. “We loved the witches and they loved us back.”

He said that he wanted to make peace with the witches and to converse about matters of spirituality. But according to an article from the Salem Patch, Wyman does not necessarily seek to convert pagans.

“Theology doesn’t work like that. I don’t think I have the capability of converting anyone,” he told the publication. “I don’t look at the Christian salvation thing as a sales pitch. That’s God’s job. I talk about practical things. Why can’t I just have a regular relationship and talk about the Red Sox?”

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During an interview earlier this year on “Live From the Bay With Joey,” Wyman explained that during one Halloween celebration, he ran a confessional booth that was frequented by 35-40 area witches and pagans.

“We didn’t have them confess to us, but rather, we confessed the sins of the Church and apologized for hideous things that had happened, not only down through history but in recent times,” he stated. “That was evidence that we cared.”

In 2005, area pastors became concerned that Wyman was getting too close to the witches in the city. Wyman’s district supervisor sent him a letter, outlining that his actions went too far.

“I feel you are not seeing the vulnerability you are opening up to regarding demonic activity,” he wrote. “It is my judgment … that you are crossing the line into the aberrant.”

Wyman was summoned to appear at a denominational hearing that year, and was expelled the following March.

That was seven years ago. To this day, Wyman continues formulate friendships with witches and pagans in Salem, and makes it a point to be at Haunted Happenings each year to put a charismatic twist on the celebration.

On Thursday, Wyman and other volunteers with “The Gathering” were on the streets of Salem offering destiny and tattoo readings, dream interpretations, father or mother blessings and healing prayers to Halloween revelers. Wyman also was responsible for “Fountain Stage,” which featured a variety of Halloween entertainment, including American Idol contestant Angie Miller, the daughter of Pastor Guy and Tana Miller of Remix Church in Salem. Other bands included the Tokyo Tramps, Mamadou Diop and One Hot Mess.

Evangelists preach to the crowds in Salem.
Jim MacPherson preaches to the crowds in Salem.

But Wyman also took issue with a number of evangelists who were on the street calling men to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. During his interview on “Live From the Bay,” he explained that it is his custom to send men dressed in monk costumes to chastise street preachers and put distance between them and the area witches.

“When street preachers were harassing them, and somebody would call and say, ‘Help Pastor Phil, there’s all these wild street preachers out here and they’re [verbally] attacking our psychic fair,’ we’d send people dressed up as monks to stand between the situation,” he said.

On Thursday, Wyman again sent a monk to chastise evangelists preaching on the street. Christians who witnessed the exchange noted that the man became extremely angry—to the point that he was shaking–and the crowd eventually turned against him.

“It breaks my heart. It’s sad, really sad,” Sean Bishop, an evangelist with True Gospel Baptist Church in Salem, told Christian News Network. “There is so much that is wrong with their attacks against us street preachers, but they do it every year.”

Mike Stockwell witnesses to a male witch, or warlock, on the streets.
Mike Stockwell witnesses to a male witch, or warlock, on the streets.

Bishop, who has been preaching at Haunted Happenings for the past six years, said that he observed the monk, who was visibly “full of hate in his heart,” spewing profanity at a 14-year-old last year. He stated that Wyman’s congregants often support the crowds for their rejection of the preaching.

“They join hands with these hecklers that are God-hating. They laugh with them,” he explained. “[Wyman] listens to the witches’ beck and call and he turns his sheep after us. It’s horrific.”

Bishop, who attended the event as a participant for many years before becoming a Christian, says that his only motive in preaching on the streets is his love for the people.

“I preach a compassion for souls. I really do want them to go to Heaven,” he said. “If you see a burning building with people in it, how loud would your voice of warning be? You would do whatever you can to get them out.”

Bishop remarked that Wyman is presenting a “false love” in defending the witches. He says that he prays for Wyman and the costumed monk on a regular basis, and hopes that they will come to understand Biblical evangelism.

“He doesn’t understand how much we pray for these people. We weep for these souls,” he stated. “It’s sad to see that he claims he’s a believer and is attacking what we’re doing out here. … It reminds me of Jesus’ words, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”


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  • Wynnie

    Christ-like love. You’re doing it right. Bravo Pastor Wyman. Bravo.

  • Paul

    Anybody that knows Phil Wyman, knows that his heart goes way beyond the restrictive boundaries of church-house love, which is cultivated solely for the security of weak people who don’t understand God’s love. If the truth were known , it would be seen that these street ‘evangelists’ have many secret fleshly sins that they think are lesser than those they are condemning. This I know because I once walked in their shoes.

  • http://Www.forestchurch.co.uk Matthew Arnold

    I find it amazing that the pagans are siding with Wyman in his way of evangelism. Even more amazing that some Christians are rounding on him for his attempts to be incarnational. This happened 2000 years ago when Jesus decided to break with convention and show that the Divine Creator was really on the side of humanity, by moving into the neighborhood (as John 1 says in the Sacred Texts of Jesus). When those who couldn’t understand the Divine would work in the way Jesus did (aka, associating with those who the religious leaders said were unclean, sinners, outcasts and other negative superlatives), they despised him and rejected him, verbally abusing him, shooting at him etc. He associated with them all, from the highest to the outcast. Why? Because we are all made in the image of our Creator and are loved deeply by God (who is neither male, nor female but spirit).
    I find some of the arguments used to justify shouting at people so that the “preacher” can tick his box to say he’s done “evangelism”, then run off to somewhere else, leaving people feeling hurt by the abuse they’ve received disturbing and not like the Christ presented in the Gospels. In fact, they sound like another “gospel” which doesn’t portray Jesus in a way that is truly how he behaved and acted.
    Human beings need to be treated as neighbours, whatever path they walk. Of course we have to be authentic to that path, and Wymann is being authentic to the Christ who sided with those who were crushed by religion.
    How is shouting loudly at people anything like the Divine who walked amongst us and deemed it not unbefitting to become human in order to reach those God loves?

    It’s sad to think people believe God is only all about judgement and hellfire and damnation when there are other facets of God which include an undying love for us and the message of hope for humanity and all creation . There’s the light of Easter morning which says there’s a way open back to full relationship with the Divine which a message of Hellfire is obscuring to people. Leave those who have chosen to make themselves”of no reputation” amongst their misunderstanding Christian brothers and sisters, who have chosen to live amongst those whom a lot of the Christian misuderstanders seem to enjoy telling them they’re going to hell, alone
    As Jesus once said to his disciples who came to him complaining there was someone doing miracles in His name, “leave them be, they’re on my team”. Just because you don’t understand what they’re doing in Jesus’ name, doesn’t mean you have the right to denigrate their work, nor the One who works through them.
    May you be blessed by the Eternal Source of All Being Phil and Co. –

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Healing_The_Wounded/info PastorRuss

    Pastor Wyman is absolutely correct.
    >>>…I don’t think I have the capability of converting anyone,”<<<>>> “I don’t look at the Christian salvation thing as a sales pitch.<<>>That’s God’s job.<<>> I talk about practical things. Why can’t I just have a regular relationship and talk about the Red Sox?”<<<
    Something Jesus would do! And the modern church complains,"But alas he [Myman] sits with sinners having wine and dinner just like Jesus, what shall we do?" And a faint voice whispers, "Crucify him".

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Healing_The_Wounded/info PastorRuss

    These witches are not rejecting Christianity proper. They are rejecting the modern gospel and the attitude it is delivered with.

  • stilus

    there’s nothing wrong with friendship evangelism, as long as you eventually share the Gospel. Don’t judge. Each should do their own, but I think the day of fire and brimstone preaching from a soapbox may be over. We should preach the kingdom coming and prophecy. Paul wrote Romans to the church at Rome not to the world, but his evangelism can be seen at Mars Hill in which he implored them through their own gods.

  • Stephen Martin

    I think the proof is in the pudding. How many people have found Christ from being yelled at through a bullhorn? Ask yourself this honestly. Now how many people have found Christ through a friend? Be honest with this question. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.