It’s their money and they can spend it on a $65 million jet if they want to, the board of directors for Creflo Dollar’s ministry said.
“We plan to acquire a Gulfstream G650 because it is the best, and it is a reflection of the level of excellence at which this organization chooses to operate,” leaders of World Changers Church International said.
In a lengthy statement published online, ministry leaders also acknowledged a fundraising video featuring its founder missed the mark — sorta.
“There was no pressure of any kind applied to anyone, but rather an opportunity was presented to those in our community who may be inclined to participate and who stand to benefit from the global mobility of our ministry leaders,” the ministry said. “We fully acknowledge that the campaign video did not do a good job of communicating the request, and we apologize for any confusion it may have caused – it is in the process of being revamped and will be re-released when complete.”
In March, a video featuring the televangelist Dollar was online a matter of days before it was pulled down. Dollar's ministry sought $300 donations from 200,000 people in order to purchase the Gulfstream G650, a twin-engine jet that will comfortably seat 18. Those 18 seats that would allow Dollar, his wife Taffi, and 16 others to safely share the love of Jesus, a spokesman for the ministry said.
Dollar’s request for the top-of-the-line plane drew sharp criticism from many who questioned the need for such a high-priced investment. Plus, experts told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the plane has no room for cargo such as pounds of food and other goods to carry to those in need.
Dollar fired back in front of his congregation in a video posted on YouTube.
“If I want to believe God for a $65 million plane, you cannot stop me,” Dollar told his followers. “You cannot stop me from dreaming. I’m gonna dream until Jesus comes.”
In the board’s recent statement, church leaders said the fundraising appeal was intended for a “specific community of like-minded people” among its millions of followers. Church leaders cited safety as a reason for buying the Gulfstream G650.
Dollar isn't the first mega-church pastor to require a private jet rather than relying on commercial airlines to spread Christianity. A list compiled in 2011 shows 20 other ministries also have their own jets, though none are the G650.
Dollar established his ministry in 1981 while a student at West Georgia College, where he also met his wife, according to his church’s website. His first service was held in 1986 in an elementary school cafeteria, and in 1988, the Dollars purchased the former Atlanta Christian Center Church in College Park.
In 1995, the ministry moved into its current location, the 8,500-seat “World Dome” on Burdett Road.