Local Church Reacts to Televangelists Under Fire
By: Carly O'Keefe
ALTO PASS, Ill. - Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa wants to know how some so-called mega churches spend their donations. The probe follows reports that some mega-church ministers are living near-Hollywood lifestyles.
Grassley received reports that six mega churches in particular: Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church, Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church, Inc., David and Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Missouri, Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, TX, Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Eddie Long Ministries, and Cleflo and Taffi Dollar of the World Changers Church International, may be using donated dollars to purchase luxury items such as plastic surgery, private jets and Rolls-Royces.
Compare average mega church memberships ranking in the millions to that of a small town church in Alto Pass. Only 45 to 50 folks fill the pews of the Full Gospel Pentecostal Church each Sunday. But even with so few, financial accountability is plain to see-donation plate totals are displayed on a sign that hangs in the sanctuary.
"I believe in accountability," said Bill Vandergraph, pastor at Full Gospel Pentecostal Church.
Pastor Vandergraph believes mega-churches under fire should hand over their financial records without hesitation.
"I believe church should be separate from the state and should not be governed by the state, but if you're right, and everything is on the up and up, there shouldn't be a problem giving an account of what's going on in your ministry," said Vandergraph.
Some southern Illinois church members we spoke to who wished to remain anonymous say they believe there are some genuine televangelists who have impacted the lives of many in a positive way, but they also feel there are others with a less virtuous agenda.
Pastor Vandergraph agrees.