A pastor in Texas is making waves after he emailed a flyer asking members of his church to donate money so that he could replace the blades on his helicopter.
Bishop I.V. Hilliard of the New Light Christian Center Church, which has six locations in Texas, said the church chopper needs maintenance just like any vehicle. The flyer obtained by KTRH quotes bible scripture, stating, “We have an urgent transportation need that the Lord said can be an opportunity for you to see His favor and His wisdom released to help you.”
He suggests that the “Aviation Department” of New Light could get a deal on new blades if the ministry collects the money right away. In exchange for money, he said the Lord will issue a favor to congregants that might help them obtain their dream vehicle.
He promises that “when you sow a $52 transportation favor seed believing in 52 days or 52 weeks you will experience breakthrough favor!”
The helicopter blades cost $50,000. My Fox Houston reported the church’s Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter is worth $1 million. The chopper is allegedly used to transport Hilliard from church to church.
Hilliard and his wife Bridget personally own a private jet: a $2 million Hawker. New Light owns the hanger where it is housed, valued at $3 million.
Pastor Saiko Woods, who has a small congregation in Sugar Land, told My Fox Houston that he was upset to learn Hilliard emailed church members asking them to pledge $52.
“I’ve seen this man’s home,” Woods said. “I’ve seen the way he lives. You can’t tell me you don’t have $50,000 that you can pay out of your own pocket.”
Woods said sending out a message like Hilliard did sends the wrong message to churchgoers who want to remain in good standing with their church. He worries that rich pastors and mega-churches are turning worshippers away from “The House of the Lord.”
Hilliard allegedly responded to Isiah Carey of Fox stating: “New Light Church World Outreach and Worship Centers, Inc. regularly make appeals to Special Partners, Members and friends of the church for the support of various programs and services. Occasionally, it is not uncommon for an appeal to be directed toward specific Kingdom projects or specific needs. In this instance, the appeal was directed to our Special Partners and friends who are familiar with the Biblical principles upon which we base our faith. We sincerely regret if anyone was offended by this appeal in that it was not our intent.”
Carey put in a second request to interview Hilliard about the chopper controversy, but the pastor still has not agreed to a meeting.