CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Four days after the NBC Charlotte I-Team broke the story that the pastor of North Carolina’s largest mega church is building a 16,000 square foot home, Pastor Steven Furtick addressed his congregation saying, “I don’t call this an attack. I don’t.”
Furtick spent about eight minutes before his 5 p.m. Saturday sermon stepping down from the pulpit and addressing the congregation directly, saying he was sorry if the house and surrounding questions caused them, the congregation, to have difficult conversations with co-workers, friends and neighbors.
“Having to have those conversations – that really bothered me. And it made me sad and I am sorry that you had to have those conversations this week,” Furtick said, sitting on the edge of the stage.
Then the audience at the Blakeney location of Elevation Church gave him a standing ovation on camera.
Furtick had referred to the house in a sermon last month as “not that great”, but he delivered Saturday’s message with a distinctly different tone.
“Holly and I made a decision to build a house. It’s a big house. It’s a beautiful house. It’s 8,400 square feet of heated living area to be exact. That’s a big house; no doubt about it,” he said.
Furtick told his followers they could always have copies of audited financial statements of the church but he has yet to make those statements public.
“I have always promised this ministry would be a ministry of integrity,” Furtick said.
And while he once said reporters were trying to make Elevation Church look bad, he now says the news media has every right to ask questions.
“This is a news story and the media is not our enemy,” he told the congregation.
“They have the right to run any story they choose to run and people have the right to have any opinion they choose to have. That’s OK.”
He concluded with a promise that he had no plans to go away. “For the next 50 years we plan on being right here,” he said.
Furtick has refused to answer questions about his salary, his tax-free housing allowance, how much he makes from books and speaking fees promoted by the tax exempt church, and how Elevation Church is governed – which is not by an elected group of elders made up of church members but an appointed “Board of Overseers” made up entirely of other mega church pastors.