TRANSPARENCY REGARDING MEYER’S “COMMODE” AND MINISTRY

Do a quick search of “Joyce Meyer” and “commode” and you’ll be astounded at the list of references.   If you ever wondered why Joyce Meyer’s “commode” drew so much attention, take a look at a Senator Grassley’s comments in a CNN video we found at this link:

http://www.wittenburgdoor.com/grassley-talks-about-commode

We have to agree with Senator Grassley’s remark regarding Joyce Meyer:

“Just think of a $23,000 marble commode.  A lot of money going down the toilet you could say.” 

For Meyer’s followers who are quick to point out Grassley’s ignorance about not knowing that the item in question was an antique “commode”, notice that he NEVER called it a toilet.  He cleverly said that was a lot of money “going down the toilet”, which is ABSOLUTELY TRUE!!! 

Why did the “commode” become an issue in the first place?

Check out the following excerpt from a Dallas Morning News article entitled:

“Joyce Meyer says her $23,000 commode is not a toilet, and it didn’t cost $23,000 (http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2007/12/joyce-meyer-says-her-23000-com.html)

“Grassley’s staff plans to meet with representatives of Joyce Meyer Ministries on Tuesday (Dec. 4), said Jill Gerber, his committee press secretary.

In his Nov. 5 letter to that ministry, Grassley said the Jefferson County, Mo., real estate assessor’s office had recorded a purchase of a $23,000 “commode with marble top.” He asked for verification of the cost and an explanation of its tax-exempt purpose.

Responding to that query, the ministry said: “While many have mistakenly associated this piece of furniture with a common household toilet, this particular term actually refers to the classic definition of commode identified by Webster’s Dictionary as, ‘a tall elegant chest of drawers.”’

The ministry said it was one piece of a 68-piece furniture purchase in 2001 for a total of $261,498, but the $23,000 figure was an “errant value assigned by the selling agent.”

“Joyce Meyer Ministries takes financial stewardship and accountability very seriously, and this oversight serves as an opportunity to only improve future practices,” the ministry said in a statement.” 

Regardless of how much the “commode” actually cost and whether or not it’s an antique piece of furniture or a toilet, Joyce Meyer Ministries still spent $261,498 for 68 pieces of furniture!  That amounts to $3,845.56 per item!!!  Does that sound like wise stewardship to you? 

For a glimpse into what kinds of items the ministry purchased, here is a partial list at the following web site:  http://www.factnet.org/discus/messages/3/21916.html?1190482044

“Let’s take a look now at some of the Joyce Meyer ministry extravagances.
Inside Meyer’s private office suite sit a conference table and 18 chairs bought for $49,000. The woodwork alone just in the offices of Meyer and her husband cost the ministry $44,000 .

A Jefferson County assessor’s list offers a glimpse into the value of many of the items: a $19,000 pair of Dresden vases, six French crystal vases bought for $18,500, an $8,000 Dresden porcelain depicting the Nativity, two $5,800 curio cabinets, a $5,700 porcelain of the Crucifixion, a pair of German porcelain vases bought for $5,200.

The decor includes a $30,000 malachite round table, a $23,000 marble-topped antique commode, a $14,000 custom office bookcase, a $7,000 Stations of the Cross in Dresden porcelain, a $6,300 eagle sculpture on a pedestal, another eagle made of silver bought for $5,000, and numerous paintings purchased for $1,000 to $4,000 each. In all, assessor’s records of the ministry’s personal property show that nearly $5.7 million worth of furniture, artwork, glassware, and the latest equipment and machinery fill the 158,000-square-foot building.

A $23,000 marble-topped antique commode!”

When you’re rolling in the dough like Joyce Meyer’s Ministries, who pays attention to a few extra zeroes for the value of the “marble-topped antique commode”?

That’s enough about personal property.  Now let’s take a look at real estate occupied by the Meyer family.  The following link provides an aerial view of the Meyer Compound as it existed in 2004:

http://www.rickross.com/reference/meyer/meyer13.html

Apparently, this began to look bad for the ministry, and some of the real estate was put up for sale the following year.  Check out this excerpt from a St. Louis-Post Dispatch article (dated April 17, 2005):

Joyce Meyer Ministries is selling posh homes

http://rickross.com/reference/meyer/meyer21.html

“The homes where two of televangelist Joyce Meyer’s grown children have been living free of charge are up for sale: The price for both together – $2.55 million.

The homes are two of the five homes that Joyce Meyer Ministries bought for Meyer and her four married children and their families. The two for sale are situated on either side of the house where Joyce Meyer and her husband, Dave, live.

The Meyer family members have been living in the homes, but the ministry pays the bills – property taxes, utilities and landscaping and renovations made to family members’ personal preferences.

The ministry also pays the salaries of Meyer, her husband, the four children and their four spouses, who all work for the ministry. Joyce Meyer, her husband, and their four children all serve on the board of directors that makes financial decisions for the ministry.”

Why were Joyce’s children living so close to their parents, and why were their homes up for sale?  The above article provides the answers:

In November 2003, Meyer told the Post-Dispatch that the ministry bought the homes, clustered near Gravois Road and Interstate 270, for her protection. The homes where the children live surround Meyer’s home and served as buffers against stalkers, Meyer said at the time.

The arrangement was one of the reasons a watchdog group called on the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Meyer and her family. Federal law prohibits ministry founders and their families from unreasonably benefiting from proceeds raised by a tax-exempt ministry. All compensation – salaries and perks – must be considered “reasonable.”

Wall Watchers, the North Carolina-based watchdog group that called on the IRS to investigate, is watching the sales.

“The sale of those houses is an indication that either the IRS is breathing down Joyce Meyer’s neck or her lawyers are telling her to do something before the IRS does,” said Rusty Leonard, founder of Wall Watchers. “The fact that they have huge homes owned by the ministry is very questionable.”

As far as Joyce Meyer’s home, here’s what the FactNet link (see above) included:

“Concerning Joyce Meyers expensive home it is not just a nice reasonable and comfortable place to live but extremely extravagant. The house is 10,000 square feet with cost and improvements totaling $1,795,000.00. The house has 6 bedrooms, 5 baths, a putting green, in ground swimming pool, 8 car air conditioned/heated garage, a guest house with more than 2 bedrooms and gazebo.”

Here’s a description of the ministry headquarters we found at this link:

http://www.inplainsite.org/html/tele-evangelist_lifestyles.html#JmHeadquarters

 

“The ministry’s headquarters is a three-story jewel of red brick and emerald-color glass that, from the outside, has the look and feel of a luxury resort hotel. Built two years ago for $20 million, the building and grounds are postcard perfect, from manicured flower beds and walkways to a five-story lighted cross.

The driveway to the office complex is lined on both sides with the flags of dozens of nations reached by the ministry. A large bronze sculpture of the Earth sits atop an open Bible near the parking lot. Just outside the main entrance, a sculpture of an American eagle landing on a tree branch stands near a man-made waterfall. A message in gold letters greets employees and visitors over the front entryway: ‘Look what the Lord Has Done.’

The building is decorated with religious paintings and sculptures, and quality furniture. Much of it, Meyer says, she selected herself.”

Yes, the loyal donors of Joyce Meyer’s ministry have made this prosperity televangelist prosperous indeed!  But we’re not sure that it’s fair to say “Look What The Lord Has Done”.

We are happy to report that as a result of Senate investigation of these televangelists, Joyce Meyer Ministries has earned the “ECFA Seal of Approval”.  Senator Grassley praised the ministry on March 12, 2009, for this accomplishment.  Interestingly, Kenneth Behr, president of the ECFA had this to say when these prosperity preachers were first investigated:

 

http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/265440.aspx

 

“Kenneth Behr, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, told CBNNews.com that ‘None of the six ministries are members of the ECFA, and if they were, we would have looked into those types of transactions.’”

 The Christian organization monitors the monetary practices of many ministries, asking them whether tax exempt donations are supposed to finance lavish lifestyles.  It also inquires about the independence of their governing boards.  

 Behr noted that legitimate concerns have been raised by the government about the spending of religions organizations claiming to be non-profit.”

 

 

ONLY TIME WILL TELL WHETHER JOYCE MEYER HAS LEARNED HER LESSON IN GODLY STEWARDSHIP, AND WE HOPE AND PRAY THAT THE ECFA WILL HOLD HER MINISTRY ACCOUNTABLE.

Comments

TRANSPARENCY REGARDING MEYER’S “COMMODE” AND MINISTRY — 3 Comments

  1. Toliet or not it was still about $23,000 they could’ve spent on other things.

    Oh and did you hear? Wonderland held a seminar recently on Protecting Children from Sexual Predators. I honestly don’t know what to think about that. Except the irony almost made me spit out my dinner. Luckily my computer screen remains clean…

  2. Sorry for double posting and not being on topic but I can’t resist. I just read the newspaper article and find this hilarious. In a I-can’t-believe-what-an-incredible-understatement-that-is-how-clueless-are-you hilarious way.

    “A ***** church is helping parents protect their children from sexual abuse after its own brush with a sexual predator.”

    BRUSH?!?!! You call what happened and the fact that the aftermath drove several families away from the church, threw a couple of kids basically in front of a speeding bus to fend on their own and you call that a BRUSH?

    I’d say head on collision or brick wall that wouldn’t budge would be slightly more appropriate.

    Just sayin’.

    Okay we can get back to the topic at hand now :).

    Ok sorry.

  3. I still don’t know that much about this woman.

    To me, these extravagances seem silly. They are, however, probably in keeping with what she preaches. And I bet her followers are thrilled she has home(s) like this. They probably see it as being totally consistent with her message.

    I have mixed emotions about this. My gut instantly reacts and says that this woman is living an extravagant life, and that it would be good for her not to.

    On the other hand, I am very uncomfortable being hyper judgmental about this because it is so subjective. As a friend told me one time, anyone who is driving on the interstate slower than I is dangerous for not driving the speed limit. Anyone who is going faster is wreckless. In other words, our feelings about issues like this are not only subjective, but they are based on our own status usually as some sort of benchmark.

    I have heard snide comments about how much “preachers” make. Some think $100,000 is way too much. Well, what is too much? I don’t know.

    So, while I still have no affinity whatsoever for this woman and her lifestyle and furniture purchases, I want to be really careful about becoming legalistic.

    I feel the same way about Senator Grassley’s effort. I in no way condone fraud in the ministry. But I am careful cheering on the government’s involvement unless there is probable cause that a crime has been committed.

    When it comes to Meyer’s family living in neighboring homes, I think that is a clear violation of the law, unless they are paying market rent. They could receive salaries, as Meyer apparently does, and buy their own homes. But the ministry can’t own homes and allow family to live in the homes at no charge (I don’t think).

    Still, this woman is not very impressive to me. I don’t know why any right thinking person would give her money.