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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

Steven Furtick to replace Kenneth Copeland on Trinity Broadcasting Network

By Alejandra Molina
Steven Furtick
Steven Furtick preaches at Elevation Church in North Carolina on Aug. 16, 2020. (Video screengrab)

Trinity Broadcasting Network announced it will no longer air the daily, prosperity gospel program by Kenneth Copeland Ministries, known as “Believer’s Voice of Victory.”

Instead, the network will replace it with programming by Steven Furtick, a megachurch pastor known for his lavish lifestyle and appearances on PreachersNSneakers, an Instagram account that features influencer pastors and their expensive shoes.

The change will be effective Oct. 2.

Nate Daniels, Trinity Broadcasting Network’s marketing director, said the move is part of a number of changes the network “has been making over the last several years.”

“Just like the world in which we live, TBN is constantly evolving, seeking to provide exclusive programming that is uniquely built for the challenges facing Christians in this moment,” Daniels said in a statement on Wednesday. “As the leading global religious broadcaster, we want to provide our viewers with compelling and dynamic preaching, teaching, news and entertainment.”

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Kenneth Copeland Ministries announced it on Facebook on Monday. However, Copeland had already said as much in a blog post on Aug. 3 on the Kenneth Copeland Ministries website. In that blog, Copeland said he’s partnered with Trinity Broadcasting Network for 40 years.

“This is a big change, but one we are ready for because we understand change,” Copeland wrote.

“We are exploding with vision. We are experiencing His power, and we have embraced the greatest changes we have ever seen,” he continued in the post. “Change is a good thing because everything that is alive changes in order to grow.”

Copeland, a prosperity gospel televangelist, hosts “Believer’s Voice of Victory” with his wife, Gloria Copeland. The show teaches about healing and prosperity — principles the Copelands say are the foundations for victorious living through Jesus Christ.

Copeland, who with his wife served on President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board during the 2016 campaign, has come under fire for his luxurious lifestyle.

In 2019, Copeland made headlines when he told an Inside Edition reporter that he wouldn’t be able to do his work without the use of extravagant planes.

Copeland has also come under fire amid the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the pastor declared “judgment” on the coronavirus pandemic in a widely shared YouTube video that has more than 1.7 million views.

“I demand a vaccination to come immediately,” Copeland shouted in prayer. “I call you done. … You come down from your place of authority.”

And, in early August, despite mounting coronavirus cases nationwide, Kenneth Copeland Ministries held the Southwest Believers’ Convention in Fort Worth as religious events in Texas have been largely exempt from COVID-19 executive orders, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The newspaper noted many attendees were not wearing masks or keeping 6 feet apart.

Meanwhile, Furtick has associated himself with other megachurch pastors such as Joel Osteen, James MacDonald, Ed Young Jr., Perry Noble and T.D. Jakes, some of whom have also been criticized for promoting a prosperity gospel.

Furtick leads North Carolina’s Elevation Church, a diverse and youthful congregation described as one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation. The church, as The Charlotte Observer noted, carries an “orthodox Christian message that comes wrapped in a thoroughly modern package.”

Clad in streetwear, Furtick, who holds a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, conducts lively sermons that sometimes resemble rap songs with beats playing in the background while he preaches.

“Have you ever felt too churchy to be worldly, but a little too worldly to fit in some churches?” Furtick said in a recent sermon.

Recently, Furtick has engaged in discussions with fellow pastors about racial inequities and the lack of Black leadership in churches. 

“It becomes an excuse for me to say that just because I haven’t experienced it in that way it doesn’t exist,” Furtick said in a YouTube video posted in June.

Furtick’s lavish lifestyle has also been scrutinized. 

In 2013, The Charlotte Observer reported Furtick’s plans to  build a 16,000-square-foot estate with 7.5 bathrooms and an electrified gate. Although the tax value on the 19-acre property was $1.6 million, the newspaper found Furtick paid $325,000 for it. 

The story was also picked up by local NBC affiliate, WCNC.

 

Furtick also has been criticized for his lack of accountability.

Elevation refuses to disclose Furtick’s salary. But the church told The Charlotte Observer in 2012 that Furtick’s compensation is set by a board out-of-town friends and mentors of Furtick’s who, like him, lead growing megachurches.

Alejandra MolinaAlejandra Molina is a national reporter for Religion News Service based in Los Angeles, California.

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7 Responses

  1. This may not be that surprising: Copeland is 83 and he has his own TV Network called “Victory” (or BVOV on some cable lineups). He’s clearly setting up a legacy network of his own, which is why he may not sound so upset. He’s also still on Daystar and local stations across the Globe, so he’s not exactly hurting for exposure.

    Also, go take a look at TBN’s front page. It’s young-ish people. Fun. Hip. Even has Veggie Tales. The oldest person pictured is likely Joyce Meyer. The days of old fogies preaching money and singing bad covers of Southern Gospel are in the past. Now it’s Hillsong and their many cover bands, young celebrity pastors (or, like Furtick, desperately wants to be eternally 29), and megachurch pastors mimicking TED Talks, women mimicking The View.

    I mean, sure there’s still prosperity preaching and faith healing all over — Joel Osteen, Bethel, and Creflo Dollar are still on there after all — but it’s a new era. TBN doesn’t want to be seen as your grandparents’ network with people pushing 90 as their marquee names.

  2. American postmodernism wanting experience wants it in religion too. Because of this we want the potentiality of God but such demonstrates the God we want ultimately to be is ourselves.

  3. So Steve admits he’s never seen the racism that he alleges is prevalent in the church body. Hey Steve you should team up with Beth Moore and shoot us a call when the both of you find out were exactly the problem is in the church. Oh and Steve there’s a large Baptist Church on the South Side of Chicago…. swing by and tell them they don’t have enough white people in their leadership. Your the best Steve.

    1. Michael –

      What’s wrong with saying “because I haven’t experienced it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist”? I haven’t experienced abuse (thank God), but that doesn’t mean it doens’t exist. That same excuse is used to silence those who experienced horrible abuses at the hands of churches and pastors. (Just because Pastor James MacDonald was wonderful to one person doesn’t mean he didn’t abuse another; I had a good experience with him and Kathy at a conference MANY years ago, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t abusive to his sheep at Harvest)
      I am a black woman who llives on the south side of Chicago (sounds like where I live is some sort of punchline to you, but clearly I missed the joke). I attend a predominantly white church. We have been doing more to partner with some of the predominantly black churches in the area (joint online services, occasionally “swapping pastors”, joint food drives, etc) not only to meet the community needs, but to be more integrated. Churches are among the most segregated communities in the nation – even moresoe than neighborhoods – and we believe that is very backwards. Can you explain why it bothers you so much to have the church address racism?

      As for Kenneth Copeland, this doesn’t surprise me. He’s been putting his own plan in motion to leave and do his own thing. TBN is trying to attract younger viewers (like many churches are trying to do). I’ve heard of Elevation, but don’t know much about Furtick or its theology. Sounds like there is reason for caution, though.

      1. I really would prefer that we identify churches as preaching the Gospel or not rather than skin color. I think when it comes to churches it should be more important that they teach the flock Biblical truth and how to do this Christian walk than my skin color, gender, age or whatever.

        Americans just like to complain about anything. I hear it all the time. They nitpick about food, location, the Bible version, the dress, the age, the gender, the skin color and on and on. Go to a third world country and minister. Many are happy just to be able to meet and fellowship. They could care less about all the rest. We in America are so blessed and we still complain. Who wants to hang out with a bunch of unhappy, complaining Christians?? I hear it so much from Christians that I have to take a break from them sometimes.

        I am not saying there are Christians that have horrible, painful childhoods and such but does that give me the right to vomit my tragic upbringing on the rest of you??!! Does that constitute a sollution on my part? At what point will people want to stop living in pain and suffering of the past? When do we heal?

        1. These megachurches constitute one. big. grift. They attract the most un-Christ-like pastors (in terms of behavior and lifestyle), and the sheeple fund and follow it, online and in the Church-ertainment Stadium.

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