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ELEVATION CHURCH PASTOR’S HOUSE CONTROVERSY: PASTOR STEVEN FURNICK, CELEBRITY PREACHER/ AUTHOR, BOUGHT A 19-ACRE PROPERTY VALUED FOR $1.6 MILLION BUT HE PAID ONLY FOR $325,000 CALLS IT ‘A GIFT FROM GOD’ WHILE OTHERS CALL IT AN ‘EXTRAVAGANT’

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Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtick: 16,000-square-foot house is gift from God

By Elisabeth Arriero earriero@charlotteobserver.com The Charlotte Observer
Posted: Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013

        Elevation Church Pastor Steven Furtick told his congregation Sunday that he was sorry for any uncomfortable conversations they may have been forced to have about his controversial new Waxhaw home.

But Furtick didn’t apologize for the  16,000-square-foot home, which drew national media attention last week because of its size and cost. Instead, he described it as a gift from God.

Furtick also emphasized Sunday that he is committed to making worshipers proud of their church. And he added that the media should not be viewed as the enemy.

“My wife and I made a decision, and we built a house,” he said while sitting at the edge of the stage at the church’s Blakeney location. “It’s a big house, and it’s a beautiful house, and we thank God for it …. We understand everything we have comes from God.”

Furtick’s comments were a departure from a sermon last month, when  he told the congregation that his new home was “not that great of a house.”

Furtick delivered his sermon Sunday to a packed sanctuary in Blakeney, while worshipers  at seven other campuses watched via live stream. The church has a following of nearly 12,000 people.

Furtick spent the first 10 minutes of his sermon on Sunday addressing the controversy over his new home.

Tax value on the 19-acre Waxhaw property is $1.6 million, though Chunks Corbett, Elevation’s chief financial officer, has said that Furtick paid $325,000 for it – a figure confirmed by Union County tax records.

Furtick, 33, said that 8,400 square feet of the house is heated, with the rest  composed of basement, attic, garage and porch space. He is paying for the five-bedroom house with income from the books he’s written and will write, Corbett said.

Furtick said the hardest part hasn’t been what the public is saying about him. Instead, he is most upset about how the media attention may have affected members.

“I’m sorry for the uncomfortable conversations you had to have this week,” Furtick said.  One woman near the front responded, “No sorry needed.”

“I have always tried to make this a church where you could be proud of your church,” Furtick said. The congregation responded by giving Furtick a standing ovation.

Furtick continued by reiterating his commitment to creating a “ministry of integrity.”

“That has not changed, and that will not change,” he said.

He added that the church provides followers with access to copies of audited financial statements of the church, although Furtick has yet to make those statements public.

Furtick has also refused to reveal how much he makes from books and speaking engagements. He has also not disclosed his salary, which is not determined by the congregation but instead an appointed “Board of Overseers” comprised of other mega-church pastors.

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He thanked the congregation on Sunday for “what you’ve prayed, what you’ve said and what you haven’t said.

“We appreciate knowing that you have our back,” he said.

Furtick added that the media “is not our enemy,” noting that the media have a right to report what it wants to. “I do not call this an attack,” he said. “This is a news story, and the media is not our enemy.”

Before moving on to his regular sermon, which was about finding the blessings in life’s struggles, Furtick told members he looked forward to continuing his ministry in Charlotte “for the next 50 years,” adding, “The best is yet to come.”

After the service, several worshipers said the controversy had not shaken their faith in the church or in Furtick. “I thought his sermon was very positive, and it was the truth,” said Kim Hoefer, noting that Furtick had already told the congregation about his new home a couple of weeks ago.

Member Cora Morgan said she doesn’t think anyone has any business telling Furtick what kind of home to build. “It’s his money; he can do what he wants with it,” she said.

Besides, Morgan said, his home’s size is insignificant when compared to how many people Furtick’s ministry has touched.

“Every Sunday, people are lined up outside of church like they’re trying to get into the club,” she said. “Maybe this is an opportunity for everyone to see how great God is.”

      

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero

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