Copelands at center of debt controversy

11:26 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 3, 2006


Once again the champions of the gospel of greed demonstrate your tithes and offerings at work. Whether it is to fleece members of their congregation or their “partners” it doesn’t seem to matter.

Two of the most prominent faces in American televangelism, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Fort Worth, preach the gospel of financial prosperity.

But News Eight learned some former business associates are wondering why that gospel didn't apply to everyone in the flock.


The people who ran Affordable Homes Limited said it was just about to take off when the Copelands suddenly backed out and left tens of thousands of dollars of debt (to those who could least afford it driving them into bankruptcy).

While limited partners like the Copelands have no financial obligation to pay the company's debts, the question being asked by creditors is how do the Copelands later pay $20 million in cash for a jet?

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland have garnered an international following by using their television programs to preach the bible and teach the gospel of prosperity.

But three years ago, the Copeland family became 49 percent limited partners in a different kind of ministry, Affordable Homes Limited based in Irving.

It was billed as a home-building project for low-income families that would quickly go nationwide.

Dennis Brewer, an attorney who represents numerous televangelists, was the Copeland's other partner. (We now see that there is a lawyer building law to protect televangelists – this should set off alarm bells in light of the command of Christ to give to any man that asketh of thee and let him take thy cloak also.)

Lloyd Taylor, an electrical contractor from Irving, said he had the business up and running just weeks after the Copelands put up one and half million in cash.

"And I was happy to be a part of something so big and so wonderful," he said.

Taylor said the money helped fund a warehouse full of materials where home assembly had begun.

Frankie Porter was in charge of purchasing the land, which included 40 lots in all.

"We were on top of the hill fixing to head down the backside," Porter said.

Affordable's 250 page website was the product of photographer and webmaster Ken Macek.

"And if you check with anybody, that was a bargain at $4,000," Macek said.

By early 2004, with all the pieces in place, things appeared to be going well.

"So, here we have all this land," Taylor said. "We have all this inventory. We have a truck, we have a trailer that we had made for it and then all of a sudden they wanna start shutting it down."  (Could it be that in their church or organization they had a bigger donor that was a competing interest to this little sheep of a company?)

Six months after the business began, Affordable Homes was closed. Taylor and most of his employees were fired.

He said none of the limited partners, Brewer or the Copelands, ever explained why.

"And the Copelands are ignoring it," he said. "I mean, what else do I have to think? They won't answer their calls. They won't answer their calls. I know they are busy people, but I was busy too when I left my business and came over to start this."

Taylor said he was left with at least $40,000 of unpaid salary and debts.

For setting up the web page, Macek said he never received a dime.

"And for these people to dump the program and then dump us, and to not even make and attempt to talk to us about getting paid," Macek said.

Porter said he personally approached the Copelands about being stiffed his $45,000 salary.

"And that's what kind of threw me is when I go over there and it's like, 'Oh yeah, oh yes brother,'" he said. "And when I come back, I get a nasty letter in the mail (could it be a letter from their lawyer telling him to to come again on their premises or make contact with them?) and then nobody will talk to you."

News Eight talked to other creditors also owed thousands of dollars by Affordable Homes Limited.  (doing the math before these thousands owed the debts abandoned by Copeland ministries seem to be in the excess of $90,000 dollars with unnamed thousands more.)

Trophy shop owner Nikki Janes said the $354.79 she's owed should be nothing for the Copeland family.

"[It] is just a drop in the bucket, and I'm sure his lunch expense is that much," she said.

Brewer said the business ran out of money. (Was forced into bankrupty)

"I accept responsibility, but I desperately tried to make the thing work," Brewer said. "...If there's a victim in this it's the Copelands. Kenneth and Gloria are not bad actors and they have lost an enormous amount of money."

But Taylor said he would like the Copelands to explain some things.

One month ago, a new age rendition of Amazing Grace heralded the arrival of the Copelands newest evangelical tool.

A $20 million Cessna Citation was bought with cash donated by followers of the Copeland Ministry. (When Jesus ministered He didn’t own a wagon, a cart a horse or a donkey – He and the apostles went on foot. So you can take pride here, at your tithes and offerings at work.)

"That's the reason that airplane's sitting out front," Copeland said while introducing the plane. "That's the reason it's paid for. Amen."

But those still owed money from the Copelands' failed housing limited partnership said they haven't had much to be happy about.

"I believed in it with all my heart and it faded," Taylor said.

A handful of creditors have either sued or threatened legal action against Affordable Homes.

And even though the limited partners are not obligated to do it, Brewer is repaying a substantial amount.

On the other hand, Macek said he had to fight lawyers for Affordable Homes in small claims court for the $5,000 he said he's owed.