Last night was the premiere of Oxygen's Preachers of L.A. To be honest, I am not really sure what to think. One guy looks like Billy Dee Williams and used to fancy the angel dust. I swear another one of the ministers is twins with D.J. Drew from Love & Hip Hop. They all drive ridiculously expensive luxury sports cars, and they appear to have more money than God. Pun clearly intended.
I am extremely intrigued by the entire premise of the show. It's likely going to be very controversial, and I apologize in advance if I offend anyone with my attempts to recap–and snark–on a show about men of the cloth.
We are first introduced to Bishop Dietrick Haddon. He describes himself as "a preacher, a pastor, a gospel entertainer, and a Grammy nominee." Impressive! He was called to minister at a young age, and he preached his first sermon at age eleven.
Dietrick married young and went through a contentious divorce. In the midst of the dramatic split, Dietrick relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles where he met Dominique. Soon after they started dating, Dominique became pregnant. Not yet divorced and fathering a child out of wedlock, Dietrick believed he had two strikes against him. Now engaged to Dominique, he is working on making his choir an international success.
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Bishop Ron Gibson is the perfect blend of Billy Dee Williams and my man Abe Carver from Days of our Lives. So far, he's my favorite. He often ventures to Compton to minister to gang members. Ron is married to his high school sweetheart LaVette who often worries when her husband goes into bad neighborhoods to reach out gangs. Never fear, he's got God on his side. God and a glock.
We learn that Ron has been pastoring at the same church for twenty-five years. He grew up in South Central and was a member of the Crips as a teen. He was soon addicted to PCP, and LaVette wanted nothing to do with him. He turned to God after overdosing, and he has a catchy motto: he went from pushing dope to preaching hope.
Next, we meet Bishop Noel Jones. He was born in the States but grew up in Jamaica, and he has a very chill vibe. He's close runner up to Ron in my book. Since divorcing twenty years ago, Noel has felt the pressures of being a single minister, and it's hard to resist the women who throw themselves at him like he's a rock star. When he's not preaching all over the world, he enjoys playing chess, fine dining, and speeding around in his Porsche and Ferrari. Noel has a lady "friend" named Loretta, but he refuses to elaborate on the status of their relationship. I'm betting that neither of them have active Christian Mingle profiles though, if you catch my drift. They are totes in lurve.
Dietrick shows up to Dominique's house to fetch her for choir practice. The couple chooses not to live together for religious reasons. Irony much? Dietrick is stressing out about the choir concert because it is a potential new source of revenue for his family. At the Gibson's, Ron gets a call from Dietrick asking him to do the invitation for salvation at the concert. Ron is thrilled to help, and he's also exciting to be working on a ministry small group with the other pastors that he refers to as "The Man Cave." This should be interesting! At rehearsal, Dietrick is getting frustrated with the choir. It's as if he's grooming them for a Miley Cyrus-less VMA performance.
Enter Jay Haizlip. He's a tattooed skateboarder who is married to his high school sweetheart Christy. She admittedly doesn't fit the typical "minister's wife" mold, and she has a hard time adapting to that role in addition to being a wife and mother. Jay is also a former drug addict, and his past helps shape his message. Christy enjoys ministering with her husband, and she is involved in outreach to get the Word of God to less fortunate women.
Wayne Chaney and his wife Miesha are all about keeping the romance alive. He lives by the creed that you can be saved, sanctified, and sexual. His wife believes he is one fine specimen, and he returns the adoration. Nine years and three children later, the couple is all about some P.D.A. Wayne preaches at the same church his grandfather founded nearly fifty-two years ago, and Miesha leads the praise and worship service.
Bishop Clarence McClendon and wife Priscilla live in a house that reminds me a lot of the Dubrows digs on RHOC. Seriously, Josh Flagg would jump at the chance to sell this amazingly beautiful property. Clarence can never have too much security because threats are often waged against his family. He and his wife have four kids, and he drives a Bentley. He considers himself a C.E.O. of his international ministry. I bet his kids get lost in that house. Should I look into a career change?
Ron is witnessing to a guy who was recently the target of a drive-by shooting. Ron reminds him that they just buried his father due to drug addiction, and no one wants him to follow suit so quickly. He invites the young man to Dietrick's concert to prove that you can have just as much fun at a Gospel show as you can at a hip hop concert. Dietrick considers this concert to be his comeback after being shamed, and Ron is happy when the gang members show up to worship with him.
The who's who of the ministry is in attendance, and the energy in the church is palpable. What talent! Jay feels "extra white" dancing next to Ron and his smooth moves. After the concert, Ron takes to the stage to the alter call and invites the gang members up with him to join him in prayer. While saving the gentlemen, Dietrick asks Ron to hurry up…um, awkward?
The following day, Ron and LaVette are recapping the night's events, and they both had an amazing time. However, Ron shares his frustration with Dietrick, and LaVette thinks he needs to let it go. She knows her husband has a flair for drama and urges him not to bring it up at Man Cave. He's totally going to bring it up at Man Cave.
The Man Cave is actually another house that Ron and LaVette own. They lived in it until it became too small for all of their stuff, and I'm not even going to mention that it is probably five times the square footage of where I currently reside. The Mercedes and Land Rovers and Escalades arrive in a caravan, and all of the pastors have arrived. If I'm not mistaken, Clarence has brought his own butler and a body guard.
Ron hates that there is a stigma to being what is called a wealthy minister, and he despises the term "prosperity preacher." I guess that sounds better than saying "rich as all get out, how'd you make all that money?" preacher. It breaks his heart that people will judge their glory without knowing the story. He's got some fabulous rhymes.
Dietrick leads a discussion being paid to preach the Gospel. He questions if Clarence would go to a small church with no budget if invited to come preach a sermon. Yeah, that's not going to happen. Clarence travels with an entourage, and any church that wants him will understand that. Wayne and Ron try to mediate as their debate gets heated. Clarence defends his rationale with Scripture and accuses Dietrick of not knowing his way around the Bible. Dietrick feels very disrespected (can't say I blame him), and Clarence summons his butler and hits the road…in style.
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[Photo Credit: Oxygen]