Seeing Stars: Churches of the Stars..


600 West Queen Street,
Inglewood, CA

While we're on the subject of church's attended by stars, how often do you find a church which was actually founded by a star? Well, here's one.

Della Reese (who plays 'Tess' on the CBS fantasy/drama "Touched By An Angel") has been an ordained minister for 14 years, and she has founded a nondenominational Christian church called "Understanding Principles for Better Living," where she preaches every Sunday.

That's a rather unconventional name for a church. Della refers to it by its initials: UP. She says "The reason for the name is that God has left for us... a set of principles that lead to a life of abundance... faith, love, strength, wisdom..." She says she teaches "spirituality, not religion - which is a man-made thing."

A gospel singer since her early childhood, Della began studying spirituality in 1979, after she survived an aneurysm that burst in her brain while she was appearing on The Tonight Show.

The church's belief system stresses the power of positive thinking and imagination: "teaching men how to discover the power of God that is within them so that they may become victors over circumstances rather than victims of circumstances." - and it appears to to reflect some subtle influences from Eastern faiths.

From the outside, the original building (at 6090 Pico Blvd., in Los Angeles) didn't look much like a church (see the photo above), but there was a sign above the door bearing its name. Inside, the 375-plus, multiracial congregation met upstairs, and the church's lively music includes backup singers of Smokey Robinson and Barry White.

Recently, they have shifted their offices to Culver City, and they are holding services at other locations, such as the Wyndham Bel Age, 1020 North San Vicente Blvd., in West Hollywood. (Check their official website's calendar of events for the most recent address where services are held.)

Della herself flies in each week from Salt Lake City (where the show is filmed) to preach the Sunday morning sermons. In fact, when her "Touched By An Angel" co-star, Roma Downey, married film director David Anspaugh, Della performed the ceremony.

(She has also written an autobiography, entitled "Angels Along the Way: My Life With Help From Above," in which she discusses her church.)

Getting there: Della's original church was located on the south side of W. Pico Blvd., about a mile southeast of Beverly Hills. They have since moved, and now have their services at the First Lutheran Church of Inglewood (from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm on Sundays), just two blocks east of the 405, just north of Manchester Blvd. Check their official website for the current location of their services.

[For more information, you can access the church's official website at:]

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