A few years ago I watched a sermon on video by Minister Bridgette Hilliard. It was titled, How to Dream Beyond Your Means. It was a prosperity message, filled with positive affirmations and testimonies about how she and her husband, Ira Hilliard, ended up with the largest house in Texas.  I believe she said it was 33,000 square feet.

She then had someone project to a screen a picture of her standing in front of her Bentley.

 

 Picture of Bridgette Hilliard in front of her Bentley

That was the first time that an awareness came to me that the Bentley is the new status symbol for preachers.

   The Hilliards can afford to drive Bentleys. However, very few pastors can afford such an expense and are either leasing them or getting their churches to purchase them on their behalf. It’s called fleecing the flock.

Case in point. Bishop Oscar E. Brown of Baltimore (whose church recently was struck by lightening and burned to the ground):

The First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church bought a luxurious custom Bentley in 2005, the same year the inner-city church failed to pay a $12,000 water bill that has led to the filing of a foreclosure suit, motor vehicle records show. Source

If that’s not bad enough:

In addition to facing multiple foreclosure suits over the still-unpaid 2005 water bill of $12,342 and other municipal bills, First Mount Olive was notified just days before the fire that the property it acquired in 2002 would be auctioned. The church is accused of defaulting on its $1.5 million mortgage, held by SunTrust Bank, records show.

There is another troubled Baltimore pastor sporting a Bentley:

The Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant of Northwest Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple drives a leased 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur, according to state records.

Bryant is the same man who has been in and out of court over child support payments, yet is driving a Bentley

Recently, Bryant bragged: 

I’m not hiding from you anything that God has done, he says. Being faithful to God has been a blessing. So it ain’t a rumor I drive an ’06 Bentley. I want you to know that. And everything in it is tripped outHe pauses.And it ain’t my only car. Sit down.

Chuckling, his congregants obey.

 Source

 Some of the Bentley driving pastors actually can afford the cars, but they apparently  need more than one:

The Rev. Frederick K.C. Price may have two Bentleys, but a spokesman for his 22,000-member church says his Palos Verdes house doesn’t boast 25 rooms and he definitely doesn’t own a helicopter. Source

And though he is a filthy rich, Bishop Eddie Long’s charity purchased his Bentley on his behalf:

“In 1995, Bishop Eddie Long established a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity to help the needy and spread the gospel. But it was Long, leader of the largest church congregation in Georgia, who became the charity’s biggest beneficiary.” That’s the way the Atlanta Journal-Constitution began an exhaustive report on Bishop Eddie Long’s eponymous charity, which reportedly provided him with at least $3 million in salary, benefits and the use of property, including a $1.4 million 20 acre home and the use of a $350,000 luxury Bentley automobile. Source

And we wonder why those outside of the church refuse to enter in?

23 Comments

  1. This is the reason many people are turning away from the church. It seems the new motto is “give to the greedy, not to the needy”. How can these “men of God” have clear conscience, living in luxury when there are so many (in there congregations) struggling to take care of basic needs. I myself question the role of the church in 2007. It seems that many within the body are worshiping men rather than God as many of these gifts are from the “congregations” when they fail to assist those that are truly in need.

    I am a firm believer that many men go into the ministry with very noble intentions, it is the congregations that put them on a pedestal. Power often leads to corruption, even in the church.

    I am so sickend by this event with the Juanita that I have not commented…..it is just beyond words the contempt that I have for Mr. Weeks.

  2. Hello Miss AJ!

    I’m happy to see you. I was wondering about why I had not seen you in a few days and concluded that you were upset about the Bynum situation. Yes, it’s very upsetting but you know what? We are in the Last Days in biblical history.

    God Himself is pulling the wool off of pastors and others in power who are hurting the church. God exposed Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker, for example. God is never embarrassed by the behavior of those who are conning God’s people.

    Yes, this “Bentley” situation is awful. Very few people can afford a Bentley. The Cadillac is no longer the preacher’s status symbol. Now everyone must have a Bentley. And this means more fleecing of the poor flock. It’s tragic.

  3. I am married to a minister and know far too much about the intimate details of church goings on and it is a struggle to keep my eyes fixed, but I’m getting there. Things like this just make it more difficult for ALL women/men of God and it weakens Christians that are not strong in the faith or have just begun their walk. All this said, I do believe God will work it out – I just pray it’s sooner rather than later. Off to go listen to CeCe I need some inspiration.

    By the way – you have been a blessing to me with your encouraging words and suggestions. Keep it up!
    Peace

  4. I thought you were single. That’s why I called you “Miss”. I need to correct that. MRS AJ.

    LOL

    I’m happy that you’ve become a regular here at HickTown. Your presence is very encouraging. Hard as it is to believe, the blog is only a month old.

    Lynn

  5. I clearly understand everyone’s discontent about this car situation. I agree with somethings, but I also believe that if a Pastor, who devotes his life to ministry and is taking care of the people, should not be afraid of the blessings of the Lord. please do not throw all of us in the same boat. All of us are not beating our wifes or milking the church; but when people make concern statements they shold clarify who they are talking about.

    I love the people, and would let them bless me with anything they want. Luke 6:38 explains this principle. Give and it shall be given to you. Also how can a man of God be a blessing to someone else if He does not have anything, our is just getting by. If you realy read your Bible, one will see that the men of God from Gensis to Revelations were not broke. In the book of Numbers the 18th Chapter God himself expalins what the Priest,Pastor etc. has the right to have, and what he is suppose to give. Then God seals it with the phrase “everlasting covenant”, meaning this goes past the cross of Jesus into the New Testament Church.

    I don’t agree with the Church struggling and the preacher living like a King, because our responiblity is the maintaining of the Temple. But there is nothing wrong with taking care of the Leader of your Church,plus the Bible says in 1st Timothy the 5th Chapter and the 17th verse (Living translation) Elders (Pastors, Preacher,etc.) wo do their work well should be paid well, especially those, who work hard at both preaching and teaching. (18th) For the Scripture says, Do not keep the an ox from eating as it treads out the grain. And in another place Those who work deserve their pay!

    So people, don’t get upset with men or women of God who have abundance; some of us are doing the right thing and following what the word of God has said. Others may be taking advantage of this opportunity, but remember they will have to answer for their misgivings. But you can harm yourself and your future by discrediting, talking about, or dishonoring God’s vessel. God can do more than you can ever do to repay false teachers and preachers.

    Lastly, if you really are a believer you will not have a problem with being a blessing to anyone, because you are suppose to be lead by the Spirit of God, not you leading yourself. You do not belong to yourself or do the things you so call own. Soul Out to God means whatever you require Lord I will give it to you. Read Matthew 10:37-41. God Bless you all!!!

  6. Hello Big Bishop,

    And welcome to HickTown. Hopefully you will become a regular vistitor, as I need to hear the perspective of ministers.

    You asked, how can a man of God be a blessing to someone else if He does not have anything

    No place in my article did I suggest that ministers should not have nice things. What I am talking about is a car that costs between $150,000 – $350,000 and a nation of ministers who, for the most part cannot afford such an expense.

    Look again at what I wrote, particularly about Bishop Brown. His inner city church is defaulting on property and unable to pay utilities while he rides around in a Bentley, paid for at church expense. The devil is loose!

    And the big ministers who can afford the Bentleys are actually encouraging the ones who cannot afford them to behave that way because the smaller ministers are emulating the big ones.

    Why must a man have a $300,000 Bentley? Why not drive a nice Volvo or even Mercedes if they must have a high profile car?

  7. I can agree with you on that, ans I will say that wisdom should be used in making all decisions. I believe if you can afford it and the business can run without faultering than there is no problem. However, I did say that our 1st responsiblity is to maintain the church (Numbers 19th Chapter).

    I feel if I devote my life to any work, and I am making great efforts and having great success, than like any CEO I desreve CEO things. I do not fault anyone giving or purchasing anything, I only fault people who do not use WISDOM.

    The world always wants to minimize the things of God and say what we can and cannot have; but God never onces says anything about us not having or limits. If you read the Bible, God is always trying to BLESS those who follow His commands and order. He only allows cusres to fall on those who do not obey; and many, not all poor people, have not followed the commands of God when they had the chance. for God’s says seek Me while I may be found. When God calls we must answer, and if we reject Him then we must accept the consequences that come with that.

    So, for all the real men of God, Don’t let you Good be spoke of as evil; and to the others, God will deal with you in the His own time. People seek God for yourself and you will not have to worry about what preachers are doing or not doing. You will know. This is what the devil does to distract people from accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and it keeps people from growing is God; it causes doubt.

  8. BENTLEYS!!! You mean to tell me that there are people in the church who are on welfare, single mothers who cant afford child care, smart kids that want to go to college but cant, Men trying to provide for their families with no job skills, BUT THE MAN OF GAWD IS RIDIN AROUND IN A CAR THAT COST $150,000 DOLLARS OR MORE. My advice, trade the car in at Carmax buy a nice used Honda Accord, and use the remaining $130,000 DOLLARS and help those you claim to love. Anything less and your just PIMPIN THE GOSPEL. ( sorry Lynn, that just gets under my skin.)

  9. While I agree with Big Bishop about the blessings that come with blessing others , I say – even as an avid luxury automobile enthusiast – that there is absolutely no wisdom whatsoever in purchasing a Bentley when a church has defaulted on its morgage. I would find it very hard to look a man in the face and learn any sort of Godly word whatsoever, knowing that he had more or less snatched food out of other people’s mouths. My pastor, I know, was offered a 2010 Lincoln Navigator L, but chose to stick with his tried and true 1995 Dodge Ram, because he did not feel that it was a necessary expenditure; furthermore, our facility was built in 2006 and paid off by early 2009. God will hold accountable those who choose to abuse their positions in the church, and the least we as onlookers can do is not to be judgmental.

  10. It is disgusting when Pastors and Bishops drive expensive cars. There are just too many needs out there to be so foolish with resources. A medium-priced, well maintained car preaches more to people: about living below your means so that you have something to share with those really in need, about saving resources for rainy days, and about being modest, humble and approachable. I hate these modern, health, wealth and prosperity preachers. It is the worst form of black-on-black crime. That is why poor people will get a check and buy a name brand item, just to prove “they made it”. The body is not about “theys” but about “us” as we should be a peculiar people – different from the rest of the world. None of the disciples were flashy – that is not how the word of God preached – not with flash, but with humility and authority. No man can justify before God driving a $250,000 car. If they think they can, they are deluded, and I would challenge their theology every day of the week – all day long. My father drives a modest car, gives to charity, serves in the community and at church – he could be flashy but he taught me that to whom much is given, much is required; God didn’t make him successful to for him to Lord it over others, but to use his resources wisely to help him community. The audacity of these “pastors” and “bishops”. Oh, how my heart hurts for the brokeness of a people that would accept that as “godliness”.

  11. @BigBishop – What bible are you reading. Everyone that followed God was blessed with material stuff? Read carefully, and note this: the Israelites were sold into bondage several times for following the ways of other cultures including materialism, and idol worship (what else would you call a Pastor that participates in driving/purchasing a $250,000 car that has no significance to the word of God). Every one of the original 12 apostles – except John, was martyred. That means killed. And Paul says they endured abuse, hunger, want, nakedness, etc. Poverty is not a curse, neither is sickness or want. But greed is a sin, and using the bible to justify greed is blasphemy. People who have money don’t impress me. I see them as insecure beings who have not developed the maturity needed to be a true leader. Finally, the fact that David and Solomon were rich was not a blessing for them, but a curse on the people for asking for a king. Go back and read Samuel. We are suffering the same thing today asking for kings instead of priest to interceed, teach, and lay down their lives. Shaking my head.

  12. And finally – using David, and Solomon as examples of God “blessings” : David couldn’t build the temple, and Solomon lost the kingdom, and had turned from God in his old age. As for Abraham, he wasn’t a rich man sitting on his behind, he took care of his nephew, and provided for his wife, and servants, their families and the community as a whole. His wealth was not about him, but about his responsibility to his community. Same with Joseph. So stop using there men as an excuse for greed. If you read about community in these cultures, you would know that personal wealth meant greater responsiblity to others, and when they walked away from that, and became greedy and oppressive, God had them thrown into slavery/oppression. God is a god of love, and justice. He never decribes himself as the God of the wealthy. Still shaking my head.

  13. to shakingmyhead: wow. you really dont know the bible. seriously you dont. poverty is a curse for one. read the book of proverbs ” a poor mans poverty is his ruin” you assume jesus was poor dont you? how can a poor person pay taxes? he did. how could he keep a house? he did. how is it he had a treasurer who lied about being concerened with giving to the poor? he did. Judas was that one’s name. Jesus said “the poor you will always have with you. you can give to them as you will” free choice. yo. for real tho. don’t be one of those ignorant people with a christian title who are only concerned with criticizeing other christians. didnt jesus tell them ” if i will that he live till i return, what is that to you? you follow me.” if he will that these pastors live real good till he return, what is that to you? shouldn’t you then focus on helping others without criticizing? if you even have to wonder if these quotes i gave are in the bible or not, then isnt that enuff evidence that you need to up your knowledge? calm down. stop knocking and hating. be ez.

  14. Any one who has turned personal faith into big business and compares themselves to a CEO and “deserves CEO things” has lost their way. To read the justifications of that attitude would be hilarious if not for the fact that it is utterly contemptible.

    I wonder how much more that money spent on a preachers” CEO things” would do, if it were donated to, ohhh I don’t know, St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital?

    Church is a place where people gather to share their faith, that means you can have church at your house or under a willow tree in park, or in a garage or at the hospital at the bedsides of terminally ill people in need of comfort. Church should not be a business run by a “CEO”. So, keep your money, share your faith with those that want to share in it, feed your families, donate what you will to worthy charities and tell those fleecing you in the name of Jesus you will no longer contribute to their Bentley payments. Then tell them when you are meeting at your house for bible study and prayer and to bring the potato salad, see if they show up to lead you in that gathering of faith. If they do, well, you have a leader in faith, if they don’t, you never did in the first place.

  15. Wawa Wawa
    Do YOU know the Bible?

    Despite the fact that Jesus had to borrow a donkey, was buried in someone elses tomb, and that he was a carpenter, or that he sent the disciples out with no money. Lets ASSUME that he was rich.

    What did he (Jesus) SAY ABOUT RICHES?
    It’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven. Matthew 19:24
    Why would God want us all to be rich, if he himself said it was difficult for them to get into heaven?
    or when he asked the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give his money to the poor IF YOU WANT TO BE PERFECT. It seems to be the opposite of what many of the rich preachers are doing.

    But this isn’t about rich or poor, this is about that God ordained vehicle of kings and queens, “THE BENTLEY”

    Regardless of how rich you may be, this is about the wisdom God gives us to make sound choices. Is it wise for a person to buy a car that cost anywhere from 200,000 to 350,000 dollars for ONE CAR.

    Eddie Long, Creflo Dollar, Ed Young, T.D. Jakes, Randy White (that’s right, I am naming names) all have Bentleys.
    Yet these same pastor continue to beg and pled for money to help the ministry.
    With the money they used to pay for a Bentley they could have…..

    Paid for 77 students tution($4500) for a semester
    Bought 46 Used cars ($7,500) for people who need transportation.
    Paid for 3 months of rent or mortage($1000) for 116 families
    Paid the light bill ($3,600)for a year for 97 families
    ( http://www.pimppreacher.com/Bishops-Bentleys-And-Bling.html )

    It doesn’t seem wise for any person, let alone a pastor to buy a 300,000 car.
    Buy a top of the line Mercedes ($50 to 60 thousand) and use the rest to SERVE THE MASSES.

  16. desertdetroiter

    Today it’s the Bentley, in yesteryear (my youth), it was the Cadillac!

    I’m not in the church, so i’m hardly an expert on what pastors should drive and what their congregations should set aside for auto expenditures for their pastors, but my goodness, a Bentley just seems to be in bad taste and far too ostentatious.

    I like how the one pastor justifies owning 2Bentley’s because he doesn’t have a helicopter or a 25 room house…his home is in Rancho Palos Verdes..a doghouse in that town costs a million dollars!!

  17. Why shouldn’t a man/woman of God be blessed? If the Lord saw fit for you to have one, would you still have a problem? Why can people in the world have Bentleys and but the saints can’t?

    If the house of God is in order, bills paid, outreach programs in tact, there’s an abundant benevolence fund, and most importantly, God’s vision is being met, I say why not?!

    You don’t know how God blesses His servants. For example, Bishop GE Patterson from the Church of God in Christ sat in the dark at his house, didn’t pay his own light bill so that the lights at his church would be on; and he died a millionaire. He sacrificed his household for God’s house, and God blessed him. You don’t know what these men/women of God have gone through for Jesus.

    The Bible says to try all spirits– if it doesn’t add up, pray for that pastor! But please don’t let pastors with Bentleys disgust you to the point where you sacrifice your own salvation.

    Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, so let Him deal with who lacks integrity. You just focus on what God has called you to do.

  18. Abundance, what does being blessed have to do with a $400,000 car?

    Most of these “pastors” who buy those Bentleys are doing so at the expense of the church.

    There was a church in Baltimore that was not paying its bills. YET, those fools purchased a Bentley for their pimping pastor. Not long after that the church burned to the ground after having been struck by lightning.

  19. Has Big Bishop ever heard of Jesus? Foxes have holes, birds have nests but the Son of Man has NOWHERE to lay his head? Has he not heard of the tax Dracma in the mouth of a fish? If Jesus was so wealthy, he would have had the money in the purse of money bag that they carried. Get out of here. God will provide EVERYTHING that you need as a minister. I am a living witness and I have even sent honorariums back to church that I knew couldn’t afford to give them. That is bogus and it is a line that I have heard too many preachers use to “get money”…”How can the man of God walk around broke, who will serve a God that ain’t putting nothing in their pockets?” That is cockamamie bootleg theology. Silver and Gold I do not have, but what I do have I FREELY give…if you are rich in Christ, people will follow and will not consider God a holy bellhop that is at their every beck and call. Get it together brother. If you are a Bishop these scriptures should not have escaped you that easily.

  20. Fact Not Fiction

    WOW! I just read through this blog and though I normally would not comment, I felt that I should THIS ONE TIME.

    I have been a member of First Mt. Olive Church for more than 20 years and want to state for the record that with regard to Bishop Oscar Brown, the First Mt. Olive Church DID NOT purchase the Bentley for him. FACT: He used his money to buy the car. Aside from being the pastor of the church, he generates income by teaching, consulting and other outside ventures. He can do what he wants with his money, I certainly spend mine without consulting him. Prior to the fire, he spent a lot of time on his other jobs. After the fire, he spent less time away which helped in the healing process.

    FACT: First Mt. Olive is a debt-free ministry and has been since 2008. Prior to the fire, there were problems with the financial director (who was not the Pastor) and that position was terminated. The Church was informed about the problem before the fire and tighter controls were put in place to correct the situation and get back on track. The finances became a public spectacle at the time of the fire because of inaccurate and exaggerated statements for the sake of news. As the leader of the ministry, the pastor has to take responsibility for what goes wrong under his watch and that is what Bishop Brown did.

    As a ministry, we had no desire to go public with what we learned. No one wanted to destroy anyone’s reputation or bring harm to them or their family. The bible instructs us to [paraphrasing] ‘forgive those who err, hold them up and love them back in place.’ We conducted ourselves as we felt the bible instructed us to.

    Would it make the pastor and the ministry look better if the truth came out….YES, but it would be at a high cost for others. It was not and still is not worth it. We have and will continue to pray God’s word that, ‘all things work together…’

    I don’t make a judgment on how people live or my perception thereof, because I am not a perfect person and not in a position to judge anyone. I need forgiveness every day, all day long. I am at First Mt. Olive Church because I am led of the Holy Spirit to worship and be fed there and until such time as I am directed to go elsewhere, I will remain.

    I do not believe that Bishop Brown is perfect nor do I believe that he has not made mistakes or will make mistakes in the future. I do believe that he hears from God, has a heart for people, has been anointed to be the pastor of First Mt. Olive Church, to preach and teach the gospel and to speak life. Because of his ministry, I am living my best life!

  21. Fact Not Fiction, the facts in fact speak for themselves. Your church was not paying its bills and according to news reports, you all bought the man a Bentley. That’s apparently where he believes your tithe money should go.

    Wonder what would happen if you needed an electric bill paid. Would that church help?

  22. Fact Not Fiction

    Lynn,

    I hope you never experience inaccurate and/or exaggerated news reports about you, your life or someone you care about. Contrary to what you read or heard reported, I was there. I know what happened. I didn’t drink any Kool-Aid and have not been misled. I saw the documents and heard the independent accountant’s report.

    Any good reporter could have obtained the very documentation that I speak of.

    For the record, the church paid my rent when I was laid off for 6 months because it has a ministry set-up to do that. They also paid for my books when I went to school which was a real blessing to me…they were very expensive! One semester my books cost more than the tuition.

    Families, whether a part of the ministry or the community have had their gas and electric bills paid, rent paid, food and clothing provided for them. The Church provided a safe haven for school age children in the neighborhood before the fire and also housed a food pantry, clothing outreach and computer lab. They partnered with the community and provided resources and assistance with housing for those persons either in the congregation or the neighborhood who were homeless.

    They sponsor a NA program for members and the community and work with the neighborhood schools to help promote education and parent involvement.

    First Mt. Olive also partnered with (and still do) several group homes to provide funding, mentors and counseling assistance for adolescents and teens in the Greater Baltimore area.

    Again, I am not trying to say that the ministry or the pastor has not made mistakes. I am simply saying that all the negative statements and reports are not true. PERIOD!

    If you are determined to believe the reports regardless of the FACTS, so be it!

  23. Happy to hear the church pays your utility bills because clearly they did not pay their own.