Church business is big business. we guess so The saying, â€˜As poor as a church ratâ€™ is now a misnomer because churches are no longer poor. The four richest Nigerian pastors are Bishop David Oyedepo President and Founder of the Living Faith World Outreach Ministry, aka Winners Chapel; Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo of Kingsway International Christian Centre; Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy; and Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua of Synagogue Church of All Nation. And based on these findings these churches are far from poorâ€¦.
Bishop David Oyedepo President and Founder of the Living Faith World Outreach Ministry, aka Winners Chapel
Winners Chapel is a megachurch founded by Bishop Oyedepo in 1981 with over 400 branches. The Ota, Ogun State headquartered Ministry, Faith Tabernacle is the largest worship center in the world, with a sitting capacity of 50,000 people and an outside overflow of 250,000 and holds three services every Sunday.
Other assets of the church include two aircraft (Gulfstream 1 & Gulfstream 4) and a fleet of over 400 buses that convey worshipers to and from Faith-Tabernacle, Canaanland. Plans are in the making to purchase a third aircraft for use by the vice president, Bishop David Abioye. The Church also owns Dominion Publishing House, which turns out books and other materials written by Oyedepo. An arm of the Ministry World Mission Agency(WMA) provides welfare and other health and humanitarian services to the needy in the society.
The Sunday tithes collection in the church averages 30 million Naira per week (approximately 300,000 dollars), this amount excludes offerings and other levies, franchises including literatures.
Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, Pastor of Believersâ€™ LoveWorld Incorporated aka Christ Embassy Church
Christ Embassy headquartered in Lagos has 30,000 members. The church owns a large business empire with invests in banking, publishing, broadcasting, entertainment and the hospitality industries. The major money spinning arms of the ministry includes LoveWorld Cyber Ministry, LoveWorld Television, Love World Christian Network, LoveWorld Multimedia Ministry and LoveWorld Publishing Ministry. Love World the first 24-hour Christian Network from Africa to the rest of the world.
Monthly financial yields of the 2 billion Naira printing press is approximately 10m Naira.
Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo of Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC)
KICC church has 12,000 members and it is one of the richest churches in the UK. The church started in 1992 and it is pastored by Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo. Pastor Ashimolowo, who earns an annual salary of Â£100,000.00, earns more than the Archbishop of Canterbury, the official head of the British church.
KICCâ€™s profit in 18 months was approximately Â£4.9m profit. It also has assets of Â£22.9m, more than three times the amount held by the foundation which maintains St Paulâ€™s Cathedral. In 2008 the church received Â£9.5m in offerings and tithes, dwarfing the Â£33,000 that the average Church of England congregation gave over the same period.
In 2005, KICCâ€™s charity, The Kingâ€™s Ministries Trust, was investigated by Charity Commission for financial irregularities and mismanagement. The report alleged that Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo acted as both a trustee and a paid employee of the charity, contrary to existing UK charity law, and was responsible for approving payments and benefits to himself and his wife, Yemisi, totaling more than Â£384,000. Benefits received included free accommodation for himself and family, including an Â£80,000 car and purchase of a Florida timeshare property for Â£13,000 using a charity credit card, and over half a million pounds paid out to Ashimolowoâ€™s private companies, which were operated from church property and had unclear business relationships with the charity. New trustees were appointed.
Ashimolowo earns his salary from preaching as well as royalties from sermons published in books and on DVDs through his own company. Ashimolowo Media Ministries made a profit of close to Â£60,000 in 2003.
According to the accounts filed with Companies House, KICC finances were boosted also by the sale of its Waterden Road home in Hackney for Â£10.1m to the London Development Agency which needed the site for the 2012 Olympics. It is planning to spend between Â£50m and Â£80m on a five-year project to build a complex at a site in Rainham, Essex, with capacity for 8,000 worshippers, classrooms, a TV studio, bookstore and offices.
Prophet T. B. Joshua Synagogue Church of All Nation
SCOAN, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) has over 15,000 members on Sundays. SCOAN headquartered in Ikotun, Lagos State, has been controversial due to reports of miraculous signs and wonders that occur every week from the very first service held in 1987 to the present day. Numerous videos have been produced which purport to document the healing of incurable sicknesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and paralysis; showing peopleâ€™s conditions before, during, and after prayer from T. B. Joshua. The Synagogue has over 15,000 members at its weekly Sunday services. The church currently has branches in Ghana, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Greece. The Prophet draws his crowd with his miracle services.
Another Ministry is the humanitarian arm of SCOAN, with projects catering to the needs of widows, dwarves, the elderly, physically challenged, orphans and the destitute. The church provides scholarships to orphans and children of the less privileged, with educational support promised from primary to tertiary levels. There is also a rehabilitation program for armed robbers and prostitutes. During his 45th birthday on June 12, 2008, T. B. Joshua made a large donation to the less privileged. Joshua has also provided scholarships for numerous physically challenged students and sponsored many physically challenged athletes. He is known to help people, irrespective of faith or denomination. After the devastating Haiti Earthquake on January 12, 2010, the Emmanuel TV Haiti Earthquake Relief Team, the television station of SCOAN & broadcasts, was sent to the disaster area.
by Opeyemi Adesina, Tayo Salami and Chika Morkah for Africanloft