Who is Kenneth Copeland?
Kenneth Copeland (born December 6, 1936 in Lubbock, Texas) is an American author, former musician, public speaker, and televangelist. He is the founder of Kenneth Copeland Ministries and is an advocate of “prosperity gospel". According to his ministry, believers can become prosperous through tithing, giving offerings and using faith, and using sound financial practices.
Prior to his conversion to Christianity in November 1962, Copeland was a recording artist on the Imperial Records label, having one Billboard Top 40 hit ("Pledge of Love", which charted in the Top 40 on April 20, 1957, stayed on the charts for eight weeks, and peaked at #12). Following his religious conversion, Copeland turned the rest of his life over to the gospel and ministry work. In the 1960s, he was a pilot and chauffeur for Oral Roberts. In the fall of 1967, he enrolled in Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Kenneth is married to Gloria Copeland, his and her second marriages. His children are John Copeland, Kellie Copeland and Terri Pearsons. He was a member of the Oral Roberts University Board of Regents until 2008. Copeland's oldest daughter, Terri, is married to pastor George Pearsons, who served until January 2008 as the ORU Board chairman. Copeland's ministry makes frequent use of conventions which typically last from three to six days. Initial conventions in a given city will often be referred to as "Believer's Conventions." Subsequent conventions in the same city are called "Victory Conventions."
Kenneth Copeland Ministries
In late November 2007, Mike Huckabee, a 2008 Republican presidential primary candidate, made six appearances on Copeland's daily television program Believer's Voice of Victory, discussing "Integrity of Character". Subsequently, in January 2008, the Huckabee campaign paid for use of Kenneth Copeland Ministries' facilities for a fundraiser. The fundraising at the church was criticized by the Trinity Foundation.
Copeland's ministries encompass a wide variety of activities. “The breadth of Copeland’s activities can be seen in the following comment to Senator Grassley: ‘Multiple ‘assumed’ or ‘doing business as’ names were also used. For example, we found at least 21 ‘assumed names’ registered with the State of Texas for Eagle Mountain International Church (also known as Kenneth Copeland Ministries).”
Airport and ministry jets
The Kenneth Copeland Airport is a private airport established by Kenneth Copeland Ministries to serve the area of Fort Worth, Texas. In 2007 Copeland was accused of using his $20 million Cessna Citation X jet for personal vacations and friends. The Copelands' financial records are not publicly available, and a list of the Board of Directors is not accessible as these details are protected but known confidentially by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Responding to media questions, Copeland pointed to what he asserted was an accounting firm's declaration that all jet travel complies with federal tax laws. In December 2008, Copeland's 1998 Cessna Bravo 550, his second jet, valued at $3.6 million, was denied tax exemption after Copeland refused to submit to disclosure laws for the state of Texas.
On November 6, 2007, United States Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, announced an investigation of Copeland's ministry by the United States Senate Committee on Finance. The Associated Press reported that Grassley said the investigation was a response to complaints from the public and news media. Grassley stated, "The allegations involve governing boards that aren't independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances and amenities such as private jets and Rolls Royces."
IRS guidelines require that pastors' compensation be "reasonable" and net earnings may not benefit any private individual. Grassley asked for the ministry to divulge financial information (Grassley's letter) to the committee to determine if Copeland made any personal profit from financial donations, and requested that Copeland's ministry make the information available by December 6, 2007. The Copelands responded with a "Financial report from Kenneth Copeland Ministries." KCM created a website to help explain their side of the inquiry. The 3 year investigation found no definitive findings of wrongdoing and assessed no penalties for the pastors in question.
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