Bishop Noel Jones, the outspoken pastor of Gardena’s City of Refuge church admits there were several friends and members of his congregation who weren’t thrilled with his decision to do a reality TV show.
“There are some people in my congregation who are scared to death of it, because reality shows generally take a negative turn,” said Jones, “Even a friend said I had too much to lose and asked why I would put myself out there, but the series will show everybody who dares to watch, that men of God and women of God are people just like everybody else.”
“Preachers of LA,” which airs on the Oxygen Network next month follows six pastors of Southern California based mega churches.
From Bishop Clarence McClendon, Pastor Jay Haizlip, Pastor Wayne Chaney, Bishop Ron Gibson, Minister Deitrick Haddon to Jones, the show delves behind the pulpit to allow viewers a candid and more revealing look at world of these pastors — reality show style.
For Jones, who is the brother of music icon Grace Jones, the intrusion and negative connotations which accompany reality shows isn’t something he is worried about.
Minister Deitrick Haddon, Bishop Noel Jones and Bishop Clarence McClendon at a press conference
“I am in the hands of good producers and they can’t show what you don’t give them. If we decide that this is too intrusive and we don’t want to do this then we have the freedom to walk away.”
A Jamaican born into poverty, Jones’ church is filled with celebrity members and his sprawling hilltop home, across the street from the former home of the late L.A. Lakers owner Jerry Buss, offers sweeping views of the ocean. The cars in his driveway, which are seen in the season premiere, include a Ferrari, a Range Rover and a Mercedes, but the single Bishop is quick to dismiss allegations that he’s living an opulent lifestyle.
Bishop Jones and Dietrich Haddon
“I don’t think you choose a particular lifestyle. I don’t think you sit down and say here is how I want to live,” Jones says. “Everybody who is talking knows what I have. They are not seeing this for the first time and I am not glamorizing it. You can check my records; I give money away like water. Whatever I have accumulated over a period of time just happened organically,” adds the Bishop who will admit he returned a Maserati Quattroporte which was given to him by the church after driving it for just 13 months.
“I didn’t need it,” he continues, “so somebody came and bought it and I gave the church back the money. We have become so iconoclastic in our disposition towards preachers and act as if they represent us to God. There is only one leader between man and God and that is Jesus.”
The show has already sparked controversy within the Christian community. A Facebook page/group was recently launched and plans to garner enough public support to stop the show from airing. With many questioning their reasons for a show of this nature, Jones is hoping that people will watch the series with an open mind.
“I want people to have a healthy view of preachers so that when preachers make mistakes, they are not slaughtered or utterly destroyed. Anytime you idolize an individual or put an individual on a pedestal that is so high that they can’t live on it, that is an unhealthy view.”
“Preachers of L.A.”, airs today; October 9 at 10/9c on the Oxygen Network.
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
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