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Steven Furtick, pastor of the Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina says his large home is a gift from God.
Elevation Church pastor Furtick did not apologize Sunday for the 16,000-square-foot home in an exclusive community in neighboring Union County, The Charlotte Observer reported.
“My wife and I made a decision, and we built a house,” Furtick said at the church’s Blakeney location in Charlotte. “It’s a big house, and it’s a beautiful house, and we thank God for it.”
He spent about 10 minutes of his sermon on the explanation to the congregation, as well as those watching on screens in seven other locations. The church has about 12,000 followers.
Furtick did tell members he was sorry for any uncomfortable conversations they may have had about the home in Waxhaw.
“I have always tried to make this a church where you could be proud of your church,” Furtick said. The congregation gave him a standing ovation.
The 19-acre property has a tax value of $1.6 million, although a church financial officer said Furtick paid $325,000.
Furtick said only about 8,400 square feet of the house is heated, with the rest consisting of basement, attic, garage and porch space. A church official said Furtick is paying for the home with money from book sales.
Furtick has not said how much he makes from books and speaking engagements. He also has not disclosed his salary, which is determined by an appointed “Board of Overseers” comprised of other mega-church pastors, the newspaper reported.
The home has come under scrutiny in Charlotte as Furtick follows the path of other mega-pastors who attract an audience outside their region as well as many within the immediate area.
Furtick mentioned in the sermon that he has been the subject of investigative reports.
“There’s an investigative reporter,” Furtick said. “He’s been calling around and people have been calling us.”
Warren Cole Smith, a Charlotte resident who writes books about the evangelical church, told WCNC that there’s no clue as to how much Furtick makes.
“We don’t know, and the reason we don’t know is because they won’t say,” said Smith. “The real problem is there’s a lack of transparency.”
Smith says that Furtick and his “board of overseers,” which is made up of five pastors who are similar to him but work for other churches, often preach at each other’s churches and conferences and receive money that way.
“These guys scratch each others’ backs. That’s not accountability.” said Chris Rosebrough, who runs a podcast called Pirate Christian Radio from his home near Indianapolis and is a critic of Furtick. “All of the accountability in Steven Furtick’s church goes from the top down.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.