THE SISTERHOOD: New Reality TV Show Takes A Look At Church Pastors' Wives (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

THE SISTERHOOD: New Reality TV Show Takes A Look At Church Pastors’ Wives (VIDEO)

Church pastors’ wives, commonly known as “first ladies,” have been the subject of a lot of conversations on social media as a result of a new TLC reality series, “The Sisterhood.” The series focuses on the lives of five pastors’ wives from Atlanta.

Whether you love or hate the series, it draws attention to a special bond that, unless you have it, you don’t get it.

An article in this month’s “Essence” magazine explores that sisterhood and how spiritual women can uplift and support pastors’ wives. We’re joined by the author, Sophia Nelson, as well as the co-authors of The Sisters in Faith bible, Michelle Clark Jenkins and Stephanie Perry Moore.

MR. MARTIN:  Welcome back.

Church pastors’ wives, commonly known as “first ladies,” have been the subject of a lot of conversations on social media as a result of a new TLC reality series, “The Sisterhood.”  The series focuses on the lives of five pastors’ wives from Atlanta.

Take a look…

[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP.]

WOMAN:  When you’re married to a pastor, you’re held to a higher standard.

WOMAN:  A first lady has to appear perfect, because she sets the standard for the congregation.

WOMAN:  But if you pull back the curtain and see us for who we truly are, you’d be shocked.

[CUT TO WOMEN WORKING OUT IN A GYM.]

WOMAN:  [Grunts as she pushes dumbbells.]

WOMAN:  Oh, my gosh!

WOMAN:  Preachers’ wives can run from very conservative –

WOMAN:  One of the things you’ll learn about me is I’m kingdom.

WOMAN:  — to very radical.

WOMAN:  Tell the Devil he’s a liar!

WOMAN:  What is wrong with you?

WOMAN:  [Removes a pair of handcuffs from a gift bag and laughs.]

MAN:  Better watch yo’self, girl!

WOMAN:  People don’t expect a preacher and a preacher’s wife to have a good sex life.

WOMAN:  It’s very difficult to be a first lady – very difficult!

WOMAN:  First ladies generally disagree on a whole lot of things.

WOMAN:  I don’t need you to quote scriptures to me.  I know The Word.

WOMAN:  The only thing we agree on is that we all love God.

[TWO WOMEN HUG ONE ANOTHER.]

WOMAN:  I love you.

WOMAN:  But if you pull back the curtain and see us for who we truly are, you’d be shocked.

WOMAN:  [Removes a pair of handcuffs from a gift bag and laughs.]

MAN:  Better watch yo’self, girl!

WOMAN:  People don’t expect a preacher and a preacher’s wife to have a good sex life.

WOMAN:  First ladies generally disagree on a whole lot of things.

WOMAN:  I don’t need you to quote scriptures to me.  I know The Word.

WOMAN:  The only thing we agree on is that we all love God.

[TWO WOMEN HUG ONE ANOTHER.]

WOMAN:  I love you.

WOMAN:  Everything else is up for chance.

[SERIES THEME SONG WITH THE SERIES’ STOCK OPENING FOOTAGE.]

[END OF VIDEO CLIP.]

MR. MARTIN:  Whether you love or hate the series, it draws attention to a special bond that, unless you have it, you don’t get it.

An article in this month’s “Essence” magazine explores that sisterhood and how spiritual women can uplift and support pastors’ wives.  We’re joined by the author, Sophia Nelson, as well as the co-authors of The Sisters in Faith bible, Michelle Clark Jenkins and Stephanie Perry Moore.

Folks, welcome.

First off –

MS. MICHELLE CLARK JENKINS:  Thank you/

MR. MARTIN:  — I saw the first show of “The Sisterhood” – or the second show.  I can’t watch ignorance.  I can’t.  You know what I mean?  My audience –

MS. JENKINS:  [Laughs.]

MR. MARTIN:  — knows how I feel about them ignunt “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” them ignunt “Basketball Wives” – all these different people like this here.

Some – I’m sorry.  Do you really want to know the women who play these first ladies on this show?

MS. NELSON:  Well, Roland, let me, say as someone who did this piece for “Essence” magazine, we spent six months investigating – not investigating, but spending time –

MR. MARTIN:  Talking to –

MS. NELSON:  — with first ladies –

MR. MARTIN:  — interviewing, whatev- —

MS. NELSON: — all around the country.  And when I saw the first episode of the show, I was mortified.  I have to be honest, because no first lady I talked to – and I talked to all the big ones and some up-and-comings – behave in this manner.

And I’m not saying that some of what’s brought up in the show, I think, is valuable to us – that first ladies have marriages.  They have children.  They have drama. They have challenges.  That’s fine, but the show is not an accurate depiction of what their lives are really like.

MR. MARTIN:  What do y’all think?

MS. JENKINS:  Well, first of all, I think it’s a big mistake to think that anybody’s life is perfect.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. JENKINS:  But again, you know, on reality shows – come on – they’re looking for the drama. They’re looking for to sign up the people where they think there’s going to be some drama.  And also, they’ve now put themselves in the hands of producers and reality editors.  So, I think it’s a combination of the personalities they picked – I agree with you.  I don’t know any first ladies like that –

MS. NELSON:  I don’t either.

MS. JENKINS:  — but they’ve put themselves in the hands of producers and editors.  Come onwho aren’t looking for them to be perfect.

MS. STEPHANIE PERRY MOORE:  I agree.  I think it’s very interesting when you talk about how much are we going to show.  Some stuff – we’re[?] supposed to have a little bit behind the camera.  And I think, too, with sisters, though, we’ve got to learn how to go to each other and say, “All right.  Well, let’s don’t show everything.”

So, I appreciate you investigating it, talking to other first ladies out there, because we do need to learn how to support them.

MR. MARTIN:  I mean what I found interesting [was] in most of the episode that I saw, virtually none of it actually was dealing with a church.

MS. NELSON:  Absolutely.

MR. MARTIN:  And so –

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. MARTIN:  — and the reality is – and folks that you’ve talked to – so much of what so many first ladies have to do really involves … being a significant player within how the church –

MS. NELSON:  Absolutely.

MR. MARTIN:  — works, within the ministries –

OFF CAMERA:  They’re the backbone of it.

MR. MARTIN:  — and also how –

OFF CAMERA:  Correct.

MR. MARTIN:  — people are looking to them for a very clear role –

MS. NELSON:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  — that a first lady is supposed to operate as.

MS. NELSON:  And they model to young women in the Body of Christ.  It’s Titus 2.  It’s classic.  You know, the older wives or women should teach the younger women how to go.  And so, again, yes, first ladies have drama, and they have issues.  I mean we talked.  We interviewed –

MR. MARTIN:  I mean I do know some ignunt first ladies!

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. MARTIN:  I mean let’s just be clear.  ’Cause I know some ignunt pastors.

MS. NELSON:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  And, look, I’m just gon’ be honest.  No sense in trying to be all cute –

MS. NELSON:  No, no.  [Crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  They all holy.  Now, some [are] ignunt.

Go ahead.  I’m sorry.

MS. NELSON:  — no, but –

MR. MARTIN:  Just wanted to make that point.

MS. NELSON:  — for example, one of the people –

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MS. NELSON:  — that we interviewed – two –

MR. MARTIN:  [Laughs.]  Y’all know some, too, so stop it!

MS. JENKINS:  Uh-huh.

MS. NELSON:  — we – look, the –

MR. MARTIN:  [Laughs.]

MS. NELSON:  — deal is we interviewed, though – we really tried to come up with an article that went across the spectrum.  We talked to Reva Tims, who is the widow of Zachary Tims, and then, you know, he died of the drug issue in [a] hotel.  [It] was very sad.  And then you had Gizelle Bryant, who’s never talked on the record before, about her marriage to Pastor Jamal Bryant — talked for the first time to “Essence.”

And so these women – and nobody trashed anybody.  There was none [of that].  They were talking about the image, Roland, and how critical that image is and how they are – what are they allowed to speak about, what are they allowed to do, how they’re supposed to conduct themselves.  When one of us has an issue, it doesn’t play out in front of the whole Body –

MR. MARTIN:  Because the scrutiny –

MS. NELSON:  — of Christ.

MR. MARTIN:  — on them is tough.

MS. JENKINS:  Right.

MS. NELSON:  It’s tough – how they dress, how they look –

MR. MARTIN:  They look at everything.

MS. NELSON:  — everything.

MS. JENKINS:  Correct.

MR. MARTIN:  The hat, the shoes.

OFF CAMERA:  Sure.

MR. MARTIN:  Is it too expensive?

MS. NELSON:  Yep.

OFF CAMERA:  Yeah!

MR. MARTIN:  Is it cheap?  All that sort of stuff.

[CROSSTALK.]

MS. JENKINS:  That’s right, but I think we also have to understand that the pressure on first ladies, you know, to think that they’re supposed to be a certain way.

MS. NELSON:  Exactly – [crosstalk].

MS. JENKINS:  What we[’ve] got to do is allow first ladies –

MS. NELSON:  To be human.

MS. JENKINS:  — and some of it’s the congregation’s fault.  We look at first ladies and say – we make them be perfect.  We say to them, “We need you to be a certain way.”

And the truth of the matter is they need to be who they are, and they need to have the freedom in their congregations to be who they are and to be able to be transparent.  And, unfortunately, our first ladies don’t have the ability, sometimes, to be transparent to their congregation ’cause we don’t support them.

MS. NELSON:  The other thing, too – [unintelligible] – generational, Roland.  Like, your younger first ladies, like a Tara Jenkins, or a –

MS. JENKINS:  Right.

MS. NELSON:  — Sonja Sloane – Sonja’s a medical doctor.  She’s in Houston – [unintelligible] — Humble.  Tara Jenkins is a Ph.D.  These are young women in their thirties, their forties.  And then you have the Syreeta Jakes, the Deborah Mortons.  They’ve been seasoned.  They’ve been at this a long –

MS. JENKINS:  Right.

MS. NELSON:  — time.  Taffi Dollar.

You know, we talked about the issue with respect to what happened between Creflo and their daughter.  At least we talked around it because, of course, she couldn’t get into –

MS. JENKINS:  Sure.

MS. NELSON:  — it on the record.  But she talked about “raising a teenager in my house is as bad as it is in your house” –

MS. MOORE:  Sure, right.

MS. NELSON:  — “and we deal with the same drama.  We try to guide them right.  Sometimes they don’t want to do right, but ours plays out for the whole world to see.  And if your child” – and she didn’t say this. This is me saying this; but, you know, if any one of us had smacked that our parents had done something, we wouldn’t be here talking right now.

MS. JENKINS:  Right.

MS. NELSON:  So, my point is that they deal with a whole different level of scrutiny that even maybe celebrities deal with.

MS. MOORE:  And we had a first lady that was a contributor for the Bible, Sister Jamell Meeks, that’s out of Chicago, Salem Baptist Church, 30,000 folks – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  Rev. James Meeks?

MS. MOORE:  That’s –

MR. MARTIN:  What up?

MS. MOORE:  — yeah.

[CHUCKLING.]

MR. MARTIN:  I was a member of Salem when I was in Chicago.

MS. MOORE:  Okay!  And in talking to her, it’s so exciting when she says they have a heavy heart, too.  They carry a lot that’s going on, and they want just their folks to know that it’s not just about, as you said, the clothes, where they sit – all the stuff that’s insufficient.  It’s about the hearts of the folks in their church.  People are hurting.  People are on the street, and they have to hear so much of it.  So, it’s like they just need that support from everyone else there to help lift up the church – not to tear – [unintelligible] – not trying to tear anybody down.

MS. NELSON:  And these women are the backbone.  These women love their husbands.

MS. MOORE:  Yes.  Yeah.

MS. NELSON:  I tell you what.  They – and, look, a lot of them have been through some stuff.  I’m not going to lie.  But they have stuck.  They have supported.  They are the backbone of the church.  Many of them run the church.  They run ministries.  They run conferences.  They really keep their husbands ground and, you know, these are some amazing women.

I’m – and I agree with you, Roland.  Not all first ladies act right, but the vast majority – nobody I know acts like them women on “The Sisterhood,” though.  I don’t know —

MS. JENKINS:  [Chuckles.]

MS. NELSON:  — anybody like that.

MS. JENKINS:  — anybody like that either.

MR. MARTIN:  So, when are you going to do an article on first men?

MS. NELSON:  I was thinking about that.  We may –

MR. MARTIN:  I mean because there are women out there who are pastors of churches, who are leading churches –

MS. JENKINS:  Yeah.

MS. NELSON:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — and that role is pretty interesting, too.

MS. NELSON:  Few of them are married, though.  What I found – you take a Cynthia Hale, who’s amazing – my soror, who I love.  And you take some of these powerful women preachers that are pastors – even Reva Tims now has her own church and is pastoring.  And we were talking about how hard it is to date.  And that gets back to this while black women power structure-black man thing that we should talk about sometime.

[LAUGHTER.]

MR. MARTIN:  I didn’t care about dating a pastor.  That didn’t faze me whatsoever, so I mean I wasn’t bothered by that.

[CHUCKLING.]

MS. JENKINS:  I also think we[’ve] got to support – the first ladies have to know we support them individually, even apart from their husbands, because –

MS. NELSON:  Yes.

MS. JENKINS:  — we have had that problem where you have a first lady who gets divorced, or a pastoral couple –

MS. NELSON:  Thank you for –

MS. JENKINS:  — who gets divorced –

MS. NELSON:  — bringing that up.

MS. JENKINS:  — and then –

MS. MOORE:  She’s isolated.

MS. JENKINS:  — the first lady is isolated –

MS. NELSON:  She’s isolated.  Amen.

MS. JENKINS:  — and everybody supports the pastor, and they don’t know what happened in that marriage.

MS. NELSON:  I talk about that in the piece.

MS. JENKINS:  But then all of a sudden, here’s this woman who has been supportive of her whole congregation, and now she’s kind of out in the cold.  So –

MS. NELSON:  Reva was asked to leave.

MS. JENKINS:  — this is us.

MS. NELSON:  She was asked to leave by her then pastor-husband and the board, who said, “Your being here doesn’t allow the church to heal.”

So, here was a woman who had been wronged, and everybody knew it – unfaithfulness, et cetera, et cetera – and she was then put out and cast aside.

Now, the way the situation worked out, it turned different.

MR. MARTIN:  All right.  Well, we certainly appreciate it.  Thanks a bunch.

MS. NELSON:  Thank you, Roland.

MS. JENKINS:  Thank you.

MS. MOORE:  Thank you.

MR. MARTIN:  All right.  Enjoyed it.

Look, I don’t mind being married to a pastor.

Lay ya hands on me!

[LAUGHTER.]