The popular US televangelist Creflo Dollar is to get the $70 Million Gulfstream G650 jet plane because it is "necessary" for his ministry, his church board has decreed. However, even now it could be many years before the plane lands because the waiting list is so long and even second-hand Gulfstream jets are difficult to source.
The board of Dollar's organisation, World Changers Church International, attempted in March to to raise $65 million to purchase the jet via a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, but the video was pulled after it was widely criticised. It is undergoing a revamp and is to be released again soon.
In a statement posted on their website, the board of World Changers Church International, based in Georgia, said the ministry was worldwide with offices in every continent and needed to be able to meet the spiritual and physical needs of people everywhere.
"In addition to the standard fiscal and governance duties of any board, this board has standing committees in three major areas – ethics, audit and finance – to insure that all ministry policies, expenditures and activities are in full compliance with the Word of God, standard accounting practices and all applicable laws and regulations," the statement said.
The board explained they were speaking out in response to recent speculation and "erroneous public information" regarding the fundraising campaign to replace the ministry's airplane.
They said a proper system of checks and balances was in place to ensure the ministry's dealings are beyond reproach. "When Dr Dollar steps forward to announce a ministry initiative, please make no mistake that it is actually an action of this board," they added. "We understand that others may interpret biblical truths differently – the freedom to worship as one chooses is a fundamental hallmark of a free society – but wish to assert our God-given right to practice what we believe. This is our faith, the very basis for what we believe, and it is not necessary that we justify it."
The board said the ministry's infrastructure must reflect the call to serve globally – "to literally change the world."
"A long-range, high-speed, intercontinental jet aircraft is a tool that is necessary in order to fulfil the mission of the ministry."
The previous plane bought in 1999 was taken out of service after an engine failed on a trip to Europe. Dollar's board said: "In light of an unfortunate accident that recently resulted in the ministry's aircraft being declared a total loss, it is our intention to purchase another airplane at a time, place and price of our choosing."
The board rejected any suggestion the airplane project takes advantage of the ministry's supporters.
"We have funded numerous multi-million dollar projects this exact same way, including parking facilities, various church buildings, previous airplanes, our teen ministry headquarters and even our sanctuary, the World Dome. We seek out what we believe to be the will of God, we allow ourselves to dream BIG, we present our 'family' with an opportunity to 'invest,' and we all come together to turn those dreams into reality."
They want a Gulfstream G650 because it is the best, they said, and reflects the level of excellence at which the organisation chooses to operate.