Behind the pulpit: Oceano family featured on 'Preachers' Daughters'

Oceano pastor's 18-year-old opens up about rebellion and pregnancy

slinn@thetribunenews.comMarch 11, 2013 

On the heels of TLC’sThe Sisterhood” comes another reality series about pastors and their families.

Much like that controversial series, which follows five preachers’ wives in Atlanta, Lifetime’sPreachers’ Daughters” goes beyond sermons and worship services to reveal how real religious leaders and their children deal with sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and rebellion.

“It’s not really a religious show. It’s a human show. It’s a family show,” said Mark Perry, senior leader at Everyday Church in Oceano.

He and his wife, Cheryl, appear on the show with their three daughters: aspiring missionary Audrey, professional model Emily and teen mom Olivia.

Produced by Thinkfactory Media, the company behind A&E reality show “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” and History miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys,” “Preachers’ Daughters” focuses on three pastors’ daughters struggling to follow the strict codes of contact established by their parents and their faith while facing the temptations that confront every teen. The show premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday on Lifetime.

In addition to 18-year-old Olivia Perry, the series tracks 18-year-old Taylor Coleman of Lockport, Ill., whose father is Pentecostal Church pastor Ken Coleman, and 16-year-old Kolby Koloff of Kannapolis, N.C., whose parents are professional wrestler-turned evangelist Nikita “The Russian Nightmare” Koloff and his ex-wife, Nashville, Tenn., radio host Victoria Koloff.

Mark Perry was a graduate student at Cal Poly when he met his future wife, Cheryl, in 1985 at a San Luis Obispo church. He worked as a carpenter and public school teacher before becoming senior pastor at Five Cities Vineyard Church in Arroyo Grande in 1992.

After establishing a church in the Midwest, the Perrys returned to the Central Coast in 2002 to establish a regional church and apostolic center, launching Everyday Church on Easter Sunday 2004.

Today, the nondenominational Christian church, which holds Sunday services at the Oceano Community Center, has micro-churches in Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Oceano, Orcutt, Nipomo, San Luis Obispo and Porterville.

The Perrys agreed to appear on “Preachers’ Daughters” in March 2012 after a family friend contacted the show’s casting director, who interviewed Mark and Olivia Perry via Skype. Camera crews filmed a pilot in June and spent five weeks following the family in October and November.

“We didn’t say ‘yes’ to the show because we wanted to be on TV. We said ‘yes’ because we wanted to tell our story,” said Mark Perry, who appeared on the NBC game show “Wheel of Fortune” in 2005.

“We’ll be able to show our weaknesses and hopefully our strengths.”

They also wanted to clear up misconceptions about the lives of religious leaders and their families.
One popular misconception, the Perrys said, is the idea that pastors behave one way in public and another way in private.

“Our church knows who we are. They know the difficulties we face,” said Cheryl Perry, who oversees Everyday Church events and outreach as its “connect pastor.”

The children of religious leaders also cope with stereotypes, Olivia Perry said.

“People either go, ‘You’re a preacher’s daughter. You have to be perfect. You never make mistakes,’ or they think you’re stuck up and judgmental,” she said. “Those are some of the misconceptions I faced through high school.”

And, Olivia Perry added, they’re part of the reason she began experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
“I didn’t want to be under that shadow,” she said.

But her rebellious streak ended abruptly at age 17 when she discovered she was pregnant.

Olivia Perry remembers sitting down with her father and tearfully telling him the news.

“He grabbed my hand across the table and said, ‘Olivia, I love you. We’re going to get through this,’ ” she recalled. “That’s a sign of how good a father he is.”

In the end, their daughter’s pregnancy turned out to be a blessing in disguise, her mother said.

“When she was partying, it was very painful to watch that process,” Cheryl Perry said. “When she found out she was pregnant, all that activity stopped. She came back to being Olivia.

“It was a wonderful reawakening. It just brought us that much closer.”

“It’s made our relationship so much stronger,” added Olivia Perry, whose daughter, Eden, was just 6 months old during the filming of “Preachers’ Daughters.”

Much of the show focuses on the Cuesta College student’s struggle to balance motherhood, work and school with the help of her family and her faith — especially when the identity of Eden’s father comes into question.

By sharing her experiences on “Preachers’ Daughters,” Olivia Perry hopes to help other teens going through rough patches with their parents.

“People will be able to see that there is hope in hopeless situations,” she said.

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