What would Jesus say? That’s what many of the faithful are debating across the country in the wake of reports that a Charlotte, N.C., pastor is building a $1.4 million mansion, complete with seven and a half bathrooms and 16,000 square feet on 19 wooded acres.
WCNC, an NBC affiliate in Charlotte, broke the story on Tuesday
, and it has since gone viral. The station said Pastor Steven Furtick started Elevation Church eight years ago with just 14 members. Today, his congregation has swollen to more than 14,000, and Furtick says he hopes to top 100,000 in the future.
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WCNC and others note that Elevation Church has pumped more than $10 million into charity, not to mention an estimated hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer work. And Furtick is not just a pastor: He’s also an author who gets paid handsomely for personal appearances around the world.
“He’s a rock ‘n’ roll star," Chris Rosebrough, who runs Pirate Christian Radio, told WCNC. “He’s not a club band anymore.”
The Charlotte Observer said the church’s 2012 report shows its average weekly collection amounts to $391,299.
It donated $2.5 million last year alone, including $120,000 to Samaritan’s Purse, $45,000 to A Child’s Place and $40,000 each to the Matthews Free Medical Clinic and Charlotte Family Housing, the Observer said.
Personnel costs for the church’s 100 employees totaled almost $6 million, though Elevation officials would not talk salaries.
Reaction on Twitter, where Pastor Steve has more than 182,000 followers (the Pope has 3.1 million) is mixed.
Critics are turning to the Bible for guidance, pointing out passages in Luke 6:24 (“Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort”) and Luke 14:33 (“Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”), among others.
Furtick, wrote the Raw Story, dismissed the estate in a recent sermon
as “not that great of a house,” but it would be among the largest in metropolitan Charlotte when completed.
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