Is Calvary Fellowship World Ministries Real? The 'Greenleaf' Church Has Familiar Elements

OWN's Greenleaf just premiered on June 21 and since it was renewed for a second season well before that debut, I think it's a good idea to get better acquainted with Oprah Winfrey's latest project. The drama series executive produced by Winfrey centers around the Greenleaf family that heads up a Memphis megachurch, but is Calvary Fellowship World Ministries from Greenleaf real? According to multiple sources, including Deadline, the megachurch is fictional, but the series did film scenes at Dr. E. Dewey Smith’s House of Hope, a real place of worship in Atlanta, as reported by

Greenleaf follows Grace Greenleaf (played by Merle Dandridge), a journalist who returns to home to her family after her sister commits suicide and is entangled once again in their web of secrets, lies, and sins. The Greenleaf family also happens to be at the center of a successful megachurch led by family patriarch Bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David). In addition to executive producing the series and owning the network on which it airs, Winfrey plays the recurring character Mavis McCready, a blues club owner and friend to the bishop's wife, Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield).

But even though the Greenleafs and the Calvary Fellowship World Ministries are fictional, they do have some realistic elements.

The Name

Though Calvary Fellowship World Ministries isn't real, the word Calvary is found in many church titles, as are the other parts of the fictional church's name, so it may sound familiar.

The Charismatic Leader

Texas' Lakewood Church has Joel Osteen. California's Saddleback Church has Rick Warren. Greenleaf's Calvary Fellowship World Ministries has Bishop James.

The Size

Like the name megachurch implies, these types of religious institutions have a large following, just like Calvary Fellowship World Ministries seems to have. According to USA Churches, a megachurch is defined as having an average weekend attendance at mass that is more than 2,000 people.

Location, Location

You might think most megachurches are located in the South like Calvary Fellowship World Ministries, but actually, they exist all over the United States. Saddleback is based in Lake Forest, California and has other locations, while Willow Creek Community Church is based in Chicago. Hillsong Church has locations throughout the world, from Australia to Germany to New York and more.

Balance Of Religion & Business

In Greenleaf, Bishop James' finances are being investigated. According to The Atlantic, megachurches make mega money and they have to carefully balance religion and business.

There Are So Many Secrets

Like any large entity, megachurches in real-life have their own secrets and scandals. According to Charisma magazine, three megachurch pastors stepped down from their positions due to extramarital affairs in 2013. But while Greenleaf will have its soapy scandals, Winfrey told People it's not in the manner of looking down on religion.

"I am not gonna do anything that is derogatory toward the church because I am of the church." Oprah told People, "Do you not think people in the church are flawed? That's why they're going."

Images: OWN (5)