March 8, 2007
A Canadian televangelist with Bradenton connections is under scrutiny for living an “extravagant lifestyle” while his church, whose congregation of working-class minorities faithfully tithe, spends relatively little on charitable work.
The Prayer Palace church in Toronto, whose services are broadcast on Canada’s Miracle Network, raised more than $3 million from its 3,000 members in 2005. But it reported spending just $9,443 on “benevolent and charity” activities that year, the Toronto Star newspaper reported Sunday.
Yet founder Paul Melnichuk and his family, the newspaper reported, lead “lavish lives” in contrast to the mainly working-class families that make up the bulk of the church by driving expensive vehicles and owning several luxurious homes.
Among them is an almost 6,300-square-foot riverfront house in Bradenton’s Point Pleasant neighborhood — the second house the family has owned in Manatee County, public records show. And Melnichuk, through a Florida company, also owns a small church on Seventh Avenue East in Bradenton.
… Public records show Melnichuk and his wife, Kathleen, bought the 0.3-acre property on 18th Street Northwest for $549,000 in early 2004 and hired Bamboo Homes of Florida to build the house later that year. The four-bedroom house, which features a riverfront pool and sauna, a dock on the Manatee River and a three-car garage, was completed last year.
The garage is used to keep a Lexus RX 330 SUV and a Mercedes-Benz CLK 320 convertible, with the Mercedes registered in the church’s name, the Star reported. In a 2005 filing with Canadian charity regulators, the church reported $125,000 in “housing allowances” and $175,000 in vehicle and travel expenses for unspecified recipients, the newspaper reported.
“Audits obtained by the Star show they got in trouble by using vehicles for non-charity business, sending money out of country for work deemed not charitable, and paying high salaries to leaders,” the paper reported.
The church qualifies as a tax-exempt charity under Canadian law because it holds several religious services each week.
The Bradenton house is part of a real estate portfolio worth at least $12 million, the Star reported. Melnichuk also owns a country estate outside Toronto. So do his twin sons, Tim and Tom, who also are pastors at the church.
… Achilles DeCarolis, one of the church’s two ministers, said Monday its mission is to provide spiritual assistance, food, clothing or anything else to those in need.
“Whoever needs help who comes through those doors, we help them,” he said of the church, which he said has about two dozen members.
With only “about two dozen members,” I’m guessing those doors stay mostly closed.
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It is a moral disgrace.
The church is a big plantation. It has always reminded me of the Jim Jones Cult. The Melnichuk family controls the church and keeps its double life very secret until now. I personally witnessed them humiliating their church members (behind closed doors) and treating them in a disrespectful manner (myself included). They do not love the people, they are using them. Do you think they will invite faithful women like the lady in the story who feeds the poor to their multi-million dollar mansions? My family has given thousands to that church, and we were treated woefully. I knew the day would come when they would have to answer. They always move near public housing. Jamestown, Jane and Finch, now the 400 and soon a new location. A rich white family living off the backs of poor blacks and South Asians. They are self-righteous, racist in the purist form and elitist to say the least. They believe they are entitled to live off people who are gullible anough to let them abuse them. Many of their parishoners are widows and single mothers. The IRS and Revenue Cda should audit/investigate. This should be illegal. Where is the accountability? They are clothed in secrecy and will continue to live this way until someone steps in to throw open the books. They are fake and worse, snobs. There is a place in hell for people that lie, cheat, steal and belittle the poor in the name of Christ.