‘The City Church’ Ministry That’s Gaining A Celebrity Following

BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) – Justin Bieber was leaving a Bible study group at the time of an accident that injured a paparazzo Wednesday night.

CBS2/KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen reports he’s among a growing number of celebrities who have turned to what’s known as “The City Church,” a ministry that’s become popular with athletes, TV actors and pop stars alike.

The ministry is run by Pastor Judah Smith, who talked about helping the Bieber through troubled times in a video posted to YouTube. In previous interviews, Smith said Bieber would fall asleep to his taped sermons when he was kid.

He now lives in Western Washington, where he runs the ministry. He’s also chaplain for the Seattle Seahawks, developing relationships with players like quarterback Russell Wilson.

Rocky Seto was the team’s former assistant head coach of defense. He calls Smith a friend who he turned to for advice when he decided to leave coaching to become a minister himself.

“It’s similar to coaching,” Seto explained. “If you’re able to connect with people, you’re able to minister to people easier.”

Seto said his friend and fellow preacher typically flies to L.A. on a weekly basis with his family to give his sermons to a flock of celebrities.

“He’s a very compassionate guy. Very understanding. A good listener. So he’s a good source of support,” Seto said.

Alex Hager, Colby Jackson and Austin Hare were at Wednesday night’s service at the Saban Theater on Wilshire Boulevard, where Bieber was in the front row.

They say Pastor Judah didn’t give the sermon – but the seats are typically filled with celebrities.

“They have to go to church also,” Hare said. “If it’s they’re outlet. I’ll respect that. I won’t name drop.”

The guys say they like the church because it doesn’t pass a plate.

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