Jessamyn Luong is an adjunct English instructor at Bradley University, her alma mater, where she earned a BA in philosophy and religious studies in 2008 and a MA in English in 2010. In addition, she has amassed more than 90 credit hours at her local community college, ICC, of which she is mighty proud. Jessamyn is also a musician; she teaches private music lessons at a local music store, and she writes songs and performs locally from time to time. Her duo with Charles Klamut won Black Oak Media’s 2010 “local music search.” She resides in Peoria, Illinois with her husband, Vin Luong, an artist. Her debut book, Every Church in Town, is a memoir of her struggles with faith as a young woman, including her experiences with the Toronto Blessing of 1994.
Every Church in Town
“When I heard my name called, I found myself bent over at the waist, shaking and jerking. I walked to the front of the church bent over like that, and people gathered around me to pray. One of the church secretaries had a handheld tape recorder, held up in the air to capture the prayers.” – Every Church in Town
Every Church in Town chronicles the spiritual journey of an average Middle American teenage girl growing up in a community infused with religious fervor. Set in the early to mid-1990s, this young woman has a spiritual awakening in a charismatic church surrounded by glossolalia, holy laughter, youth groups, and Christian heavy metal. She plays in her high school marching band during the school year and attends Cornerstone, a Christian music festival, during the summer. While struggling to find her place in a rapidly changing world, she wrestles with many spiritual and intellectual questions, including how to hear God’s voice, whether it is wrong to date a non-Christian, whether one should go to college when the end of the world is imminent, and whether every Christian is obligated to be a Republican. In a small town with a deep socioeconomic divide, where everyone who wears plaid with stripes is suspect, this young woman searches for friendship, meaning, and salvation in a world full of plastic lecterns and Kool-Aid mustaches.