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Pastor Donnie McClurkin is a perennial on the gospel music scene as well as a judge on BET Sunday Best so it’s no surprise that he’ll be a big part of this year’s BET Celebration of Gospel airing Sunday, April 6 at 8 p.m. Hosted for the first time this year by actress Taraji P. Henson, replacing longtime host Steve Harvey, Celebration of Gospel boasts a wealth of talented musical performers.

Tamela Mann, SWV, Yolanda Adams, Tasha Cobbs, India Arie, Erica Campbell and more will all be lending their praise to the show. Tye Tribbett and McClurkin will perform what’s being described as a “rousing praise break.”

We caught up with McClurkin who said this year’s show was a night he won’t soon forget. He also told us his feelings on reality show preachers and more. Here’s what he had to say. You allowed cameras to follow you for an episode of Centric’s “Being.” But do you think it’s helpful or hurtful for people to see these various pastors and their lifestyles some of whom are dealing with various personal struggles?

Donnie McClurkin: I’ve got many different thoughts on that. One of the main ones is Mary Mary. It’s really positive because they never accentuate any of the real voyeuristic sides. They deal with real life, how they function as a family and how they function as individuals. They deal with the hurt of what the family went through with the loss of the father and they keep it positive. As far as the Preachers of L.A. – it’s not always beneficial for us to show th underbelly of our lives when so many people want us to lead them into spiritual wholeness and bring them into a positive place with God.

It’s not always good to be seen in such a negative light. The Bible says: All things are lawful, but everything’s not expedient. There’s no law against it but we want to make sure we paint Christ and our Christian lifestyle in a positive sense and not show a bunch of broken preachers who are trying to just live a normal life. Our attempt at normalcy was kind of forfeited when we said Yes to becoming a spiritual leader. We’re not supposed to show them things that are going on in our personal struggles that are dark, that our uncharacteristic of Christ or Christianity.

That’s the unfortunate part of Preachers of L.A…. I don’t want a doctor with dirty hands operating on me. Just like I don’t want a preacher with a broken and dirty life preaching to me.

Celebration of Gospel is certainly a positive show. Taraji P. Henson hosted for the first time this year. What can we expect?

She was absolutely animated. Now the Christian community is going to have to deal with the fact that the very name Christian means that its inclusive of everybody. The Christian community said ‘Why would we book somebody whose not in our community? What are you talking about – this whole world is part of our community. She was effervescent, she was alive. The whole of the Celebration of Gospel is going to show the whole country and the world how the gospel community impacts music. It’s not just the gospel artists standing on stage, it’s the gospel artist and the secular artist standing toe to toe singing this wonderful Christian music. Uncle Charlie gets on stage and takes us back to his Church of God in Christ roots and tears the house down. You got to tune in because it’s the only time the gospel community comes together without awards.

As a pastor, you know times are hard and difficult out here. There are a lot of people hurting. In your own spiritual walk, what is most comforting to you, be it a Scripture, be it music. What do you do to refill your spiritual tank?

There is music. Gospel music, inspirational music, those are the things that press my reset button. And the second thing is children. I can’t get around children without every care of my heart totally leaving. As I laugh when them and I hold the babies in my arms….we went to St. Jude Hospital in Memphis with Sunday Best an we sang to the children fighting cancer. I made them sing with me and we did the Hokey Pokey and the whole place came alive. Every care on my heart was gone. So music and children.

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