Page 2 of 8
Larson's North American syndicated radio show was broadcast on roughly 175 Christian stations before it ended in 2006; until December 2007, he also broadcast 30-minute shows on the Sky Angel Network on Dish and DirecTV. He seems to be hoping for a revival of his U.S. media presence; his Web site asks followers to pray for the British reality show to make a stateside debut.
Larson wants getting an exorcism to be as easy as scheduling a dental appointment. The biography section of his Web site notes that in the late '90s, Larson started training teams to "Do What Jesus Did." Recruiting at seminars around the country, Larson says he has trained more than 100 teams. (Larson did not respond to interview requests for this story.) According to his biography, "His goal was to plant enough teams so that anyone in need of ministry would be no more than a day's drive from healing and exorcism."
Vivian is Larson's man in the Midwest.
"If someone calls us, we try to refer them to the team closest to them," says Pam Bracken, a staffer with the ministry. Bracken says there are no qualified ministers in Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska or Arkansas; there are, however, ministers in Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas. Vivian is the only one in Missouri.
That was how Jerry Summers found Vivian when a 38-year-old woman couldn't stop swearing during his church services.
Summers is the pastor of Revival Time Tabernacle Church, nine miles south of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The son of a Pentecostal minister, Summers preached his first revival service at the age of 16 in St. Louis. Now 58, he's a clean-cut man with sandy hair and bit of middle-age spread, and he speaks with a country twang, pronouncing his home state's name with a grunt at the end. Like a lot of other Pentecostal ministers, Summers has performed some exorcisms. But in this case, he needed help.
It was October 2006, and Summers was still in the early part of his service at Revival Time Tabernacle.
The way Summers remembers it, he was just starting to preach when he heard screams coming from halfway through the rows of wooden pews. The black-haired woman he would come to know as Katrina was shaking her head and rocking back and forth — "goddamn it! Damn! Goddamn!"
Every head in the congregation turned to watch the woman in the black dress.
"I knew right away what it was because I was 13 when I had a problem, and my daddy had to help me," Summers tells The Pitch. He has a practical view of the problem. "I don't go around looking for devils, but when they show up, well, I'm not going to run from them. That's just how I am with the devil."
Katrina had a history of uncontrollable swearing and striking herself hard enough to leave black eyes.
A year before she met Summers, Katrina says, she told a co-worker that she was hearing voices ordering her not to read the Bible and to ignore Jesus. Katrina says the co-worker called the Missouri Department of Social Services to report her, and her 8-year-old daughter, Cheyenne, was sent to a foster home while she was placed under psychiatric care. The doctors diagnosed her with bipolar disorder and put her on medication, but nothing changed. Her aunt had taken her to five churches before Summers' church, but none had helped.
Summers walked toward Katrina, Bible in hand. "I want you all to pray," he told his frightened congregation. They stayed in their seats and filled the church with whispered prayers. Katrina started screaming louder.