A man who legally changed his name in September to Father Jesus wants to build a church that looks like a castle on a vacant lot in North Gulfport.
He will ask the Gulfport Planning Commission at a 4:30 p.m. meeting Thursday to designate a single-family lot on Alabama Avenue for a church. Father Jesus said he founded the church, called The Saints of the Most High.
Not everyone is pleased by his plans.
Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines said residents brought the application to her attention on Monday.
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“I'm aware that they were very disturbed,” she said. “The citizens are very disturbed.”
Father Jesus has a misdemeanor criminal record, dating to 2013 and involving firearms, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, telephone harassment and domestic violence, the Harrison County jail docket shows.
His Facebook page, Father Jesus AKA Father Laster, also has raised eyebrows.
In Facebook videos, Father Jesus sits on a throne. Women bow at his feet. In one video, a scantily clad woman kneels before him on the throne in high-cut shorts, her bare behind prominent in the foreground. A rug with a lion’s head baring its teeth sits between her and the throne.
In other videos, women kiss his feet, and he strokes a woman and a dog. He also has videos on YouTube.
The YouTube video shows him in a white linen robe with what appears to be an erection underneath. It had more than 1 million views on Thursday. Father Jesus said a medical problem caused the erection.
Father Jesus, 42, says he is originally from Detroit, where his name was Harold Ray Laster Jr. Before he changed his name to Father Jesus, he was known as Father Laster.
He said he had a revelation when he was a child that he was the embodiment of Christ, much as a Catholic priest is in persona Christi — the person of Christ.
He says his church ministers to the homeless, but prominent leaders of the homeless community in Gulfport have never heard of him.
Father Jesus did appear to have at least one man staying at his house and current church headquarters on 11th street near downtown, which he shares with his wife, Lameka Herron. He refers to her as Queen Lameka.
He says he wants to build a church that looks like a castle. He will use money that he is paid as a disabled veteran, he said, and donations. The Saints of the Most High has nonprofit status with the IRS.
Father Jesus likes to quote the Bible when asked about his beliefs. He steps out in public wearing a full-length linen robe, a head scarf secured by a gold crown and a shoulder holster with a flare gun in it.
He said he does not carry real weapons in public, but he has been arrested for pointing and aiming, and discharging a firearm.
“The Bible says that it teaches his hands to war. It says that he shall rule them with a rod of iron . . . So, while he has some weaponry on him and is considered a mighty warrior, he is always relying on the power of God.
“And luckily, because he has weaponry on him, it causes violence to drop.”