Oh, how the mighty
have fallen are falling.
Megachurch leader Jerry Johnston's First Family Church in Johnson County is being foreclosed upon. On January 25, Regions Bank ordered the church to pay up on two loans worth $14.4 million, plus $82,000 in interest, within 30 days.
With those 30 days up, the bank has now petitioned a judge, asking that a receiver be appointed to sort through First Family's finances, The Kansas City Star's Judy L. Thomas reported.
Star reporter Thomas first started casting stones at Johnston's
not-so-holy empire in 2007, following up on the questions of financial
accountability voiced by ex-church members.
Court documents filed by Regions Bank show Johnston's family members banking exorbitant salaries from the church's payroll, Thomas reports.
Last year, Johnston's annual pay was $400,000; his son, Jeremy, was paid $210,000; a son-in-law was making $180,000; Johnston's wife, Christie, made $60,000; daughter Danielle earned $40,000, and daughter Jenilee earned $25,000, according to court documents. (Looks like Johnston's views on women's wages are as conservative as his
opinions on gay marriage.)
The Johnston family's income totaled $915,000, or 76 percent of the church's overall payroll, the bank claims.The church took in an average of $6.8 million a year, according to the bank's filed documents.
The Johnston family disputes these numbers. The church's attorney, Dan Murphy, told the Star that the only family members on First Family's payroll are the Rev. Johnston; his son, Jeremy; and his daughter Danielle.
Regions Bank wants a receiver to take over "all keys, combinations for locks or other access codes, books, records, accounts, operating statements, reserve accounts and the like" on First Family's property.
First Family countered in court filings that the appointment of a receiver would be "catastrophic" to the church's future.
First Family was one of the fastest-growing congregations in the country. It boasts 4,000 members today.