The place is humid Atlanta and five women dressed to kill are chatting men, sex, breast implants and drugs. But this isn’t the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” – this is a show that exposes the so-called secrets of life as pastor’s wife in a city known for its elite churches. And while Atlanta’s “first ladies” may be revered in their respective congregations, the white gloves come off when it comes to keeping it real about their personal lives in the new TLC series ‘The Sisterhood.”
“We’re not just what you see sitting pretty in church with a hat, holding a Bible,” says “The Sisterhood” cast member Christina Murray. “We’re real women, mothers, wives, and sisters. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding life as a preacher’s wife, but what people don’t know is that just like anyone else, we’ve broken lots of rules.”
Murray – who is married to mega-church pastor Anthony Murray— admits that while she may be a pastor’s wife who adheres to a higher set of rules, she and her fellow cast mates aren’t immune to everyday drama, the likes which have made the “Real Housewives” franchise an American phenomenon.
“I feel like I was called to serve God in my church,” says Murray, who handles the finances and administration of Oasis Church, which is attended by more than 2,000 people during Sunday services. “But there are times you sacrifice your husband, your time and family in building up the community. And fitting in but being above the gossip that comes from being in my position is a challenge that I take seriously.” Murray never thought she would be part of a reality show, but explains “the chance to do show who I really am and go outside my comfort zone was just something I couldn’t pass on.”
“The Sisterhood” – which airs Tuesdays on TLC at 9/8 c – is produced by True Entertainment, the company which developed “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” And while the two shows do share some similarities – the trailer for “The Sisterhood” features LOL-worthy statements like “people don’t expect a preacher and preacher’s wife to have a good sex life” and “A first lady has to appear perfect because she sets the standard for the congregation. But if you pull back the curtain and see us for who we truly are you’d be shocked,” – Murray says that her intent on the show isn’t to create needless drama.
“I’m Dominican and I don’t mess around,” explains Murray, whose family moved to Georgia from Connecticut when she was a child. “But I don’t want to flip a table and bust a bottle on someone’s head just because I’m upset. My church is supportive of my family and I being on the show and they know our personalities, but it’s my hope that I can reach people through this platform I wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise.”
For Murray, who met her husband as a teenager in high school, having her family appear on the show is a way to achieve exactly that. Murray’s husband is African-American and the couple has two teenaged daughters, making topics such as intermarriage, dating and culture during Sunday dinner anything but taboo.
“I’ll never forget when my husband came to my mother’s house for dinner for the first time and was served a plate of rice, beans and platanos. He couldn’t believe he was served mashed up bananas!” laughs Murray. “But I had never had ham hocks before either, so it was amazing to learn and grow together. We aren’t afraid to hash out real life issues with our girls and I think the respect my husband and I have for each other is something people can find inspiring.”
And this is one girl who has plenty going on that others can find motivational: Murray has been a successful residential real estate agent for more than ten years and she has her own women’s wear line of what she calls “sexy but modest clothes.”
“Being in church, I felt a lot of pressure to wear skirts to my ankles – but I have a booty and curves that I’m not exactly trying to hide,” explains Murray. “The line came about because I could never find clothes that fit me and were my style: edgy without being risqué. One design I took to my tailor became five cute dresses that my sister and sister-in-law wanted in their closets and became a line that I’d love for people across America to have access to one day.”
With Murray’s mention of her family (she calls them “my best friends”) we just had to ask: do all the girls on the show get along as preacher’s wives should?
“I’ve grown to love all the other ladies but I was definitely a little apprehensive about some of the situations I thought we might get into,” says Murray.
“We’re all Christians, but the one thing we all have in common is that we have different personalities. All I can say is that when people see the show, viewers will say ‘wow, that is really good!’”