Nashville Mayor Megan Barry addresses the media on news of her affair Michael Schwab
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry spent Sunday morning worshiping at two influential African-American churches, four days after admitting to an affair with her top security officer and as she now tries to rehabilitate her political career.
Making appearances during an otherwise bare public schedule over the weekend, Barry attended services at both Mt. Zion Baptist Church in North Nashville and The Temple Church in Bordeaux.
She sat on the front row at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. A photo posted from the Instagram account of Bishop Joseph Walker III shows Barry joining Walker on stage at some point during the service.
Walker and another pastor wrapped their arms around the mayor’s shoulders. The three are seen looking down, eyes closed in prayer, as much of the congregation has their arms raised in the air.
“I’m so thankful that I Pastor one of the most loving, non-judgmental and compassionate congregations on the planet,” Walker wrote on his Instragram page. “It was my honor to lead thousands in worship @mtzionnashville to pray for our Mayor @mayormeganbarry and all those who are hurting. Nashville is an amazing city filled with flawed people serving a forgiving God!”
Barry joined by two Metro elected officials at one church appearance
Barry spokesman Sean Braisted said Walker invited the mayor to attend service at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. He said Barry asked her friends, Davidson County Clerk Brenda Wynn and Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway, if she could attend church with them at The Temple Church. Both Wynn and Calloway are prominent black leaders in Nashville.
In a statement to The Tennessean, Walker called his church a place of refuge and healing for the community. It is committed to supporting anyone who is suffering, he said.
“Mayor Barry is our friend first and our mayor second,” Walker said. “She has been a constant supporter of Mt. Zion and our Nashville community before and during her time as Mayor; as a consequence, my invitation to her represents our obligation as the church to pray for her as we have done for countless others during difficult times.”
A message left for the pastors of The Temple Church was not immediately returned.
Barry, a Democrat, won the 2015 mayoral election runoff over David Fox, in part, because of her strong support from African-American voters.
Other prominent black pastor calls for Barry’s resignation
Not all of Barry’s supporters who laid hands on the future mayor still back her.
The Rev. Enoch Fuzz, who leads Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church in North Nashville, said he wants Barry to resign and thinks her Sunday appearances at two black churches were a disrespectful, political maneuver.
Fuzz supported Barry’s rival, Bill Freeman, in the general election but later backed her against Fox in the runoff. Fuzz was among the pastors who rallied around Barry during the campaign, but he has since soured on the mayor, in particular, over her push to end inpatient care at Nashville General Hospital.
He said he thinks the affair is a symptom of a bigger problem. It’s not about forgiveness or personal relationships, but holding the mayor accountable for her broken campaign promises, Fuzz said.
“Why didn’t she go to her own church?” Fuzz said.
“She asked the city to pray for her and show love to her,” he added. “I need her to show some love and respect for the city.”
Barry on Wednesday admitted to an affair dating to the spring of 2016 with Sgt. Rob Forrest, a veteran police officer who has headed the mayor’s security detail for Barry and her two predecessors. Forrest retired last week.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is reviewing whether Barry violated any criminal law, including misappropriation of public funds and official misconduct.
The Metro Council is set to consider Tuesday appointing a special committee with subpoena power to investigate the use of taxpayer dollars for trips with Barry and Forrest as well as overtime pay collected by the former officer.