The flashy Brooklyn minister robbed at gunpoint mid-sermon returned to his Brooklyn church on Sunday – and lay on the floor to re-enact the heist for his parishioners.
“We could have planned our funeral,” Bishop Lamor Whitehead told congregants. “But we succeeded.”
During his sermon in the rented Canarsie workspace that doubles as a church, Whitehead reflected on the events of last Sunday – and the video that went viral around the world showing him lying in the middle of the sermon as the crooks were raiding the room.
“I got a phone call,” Whitehead said of the attention. “They said, ‘You are in Ukraine’.”
Lamor was preaching at the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministry on Remsen Avenue near Avenue D around 11:15 a.m. on July 24 when three masked bandits burst into the church, according to video. Whitehead stopped his sermon and crouched down saying, “Yo, okay, okay, okay” as he lay on the floor.
Law enforcement sources said the stolen Daily News Whitehead jewelry was worth $1 million, although Whitehead told a Daily News reporter in an exclusive interview last week that figure was inflated and inaccurate. He declined to give his own estimate.
Whitehead drove to church in his Rolls-Royce convertible on Sunday and preached to a crowd of around 20 congregants. He discussed a passage in the Bible where King David brutally strikes, with God’s blessing, those who robbed him.
Whitehead wore a Gucci and Balenciaga suit on Sunday with Gucci loafers as well as a large ring on his right hand showcasing an oversized red gemstone. At one point Whitehead removed a heavy gold watch and placed it on a table near his pulpit.
His family and friends have expressed concern about what he plans to wear to church, he said.
“I’m going to wear my Gucci,” Whitehead told parishioners, he told them, “because God says, ‘You are my chosen vessel.’ He didn’t tell me I couldn’t wear what I wanted to wear.
“Why does he have to wear Gucci? he said, mimicking his detractors. “Because I want to. It’s my civil right to wear what I want to wear. … We are a church of wealth. We are not a church of poverty.
Less than half the seats were filled, but a parishioner who only gave her name as Tonya backed Whitehead.
“People say, ‘Oh, maybe he set it up, it could be an insurance scam.’ Or “He’s a bling-bling pastor,” she said, “If he works hard, why can’t we wear what we want to wear?”
“You would think there would be more support, like more pastors, more community here to support him,” she added. “What I find is that he doesn’t get a lot of sympathy.”
Whitehead said some congregants saying they were too scared to come to church were simply looking for an excuse to jump.
“When they fired on the club last week,” he said, rhetorically, “you were back there the following week.”
Among the missing parishioners too traumatized to attend were the pastor’s wife and children, who Whitehead said had not “stopped crying” all week. One of the crooks pointed a gun at his 8-month-old daughter’s head, Whitehead said.
Parishioner Krystal Moore said she was not at services during the flight but “felt safe” on Sunday morning.
“I really appreciated the service,” she said. “I didn’t even think about [the robbery] half the time. I was really in the moment.
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The bishop also spoke at length about a recently surfaced lawsuit accusing him of defrauding a former congregant out of her life savings after promising to buy her a house with the money.
“If that was my parishioner,” said Whitehead, referring to the plaintiff in the case, “where are they?”
“Oh, she’s an old lady and these are my savings,” Whitehead said mockingly before shouting, “That’s what the enemy wants you to believe.”
On Friday, Whitehead raised his eyebrows when he held a press conference to urge elected officials to pass legislation allowing clergy to bear arms to protect themselves and their congregations.
“They don’t like Bishop Whitehead because I’m created by God and not by man,” he said Sunday of his critics.