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Former International House of Prayer Leaders Incorporate ‘Sanctuary Church’

By Julie Roys
bennett sanctuary church
Longtime IHOPKC leaders Matt Candler (far left), Isaac Bennett (center), and Morgan Bennett (far right) have incorporated Sanctuary Church in Grandview, Missouri. (Photos: Video screengrab / social media)

Three former leaders of the International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC) have incorporated a new church, called “Sanctuary Church,” documents filed with the state of Missouri show.

Former pastors of IHOPKC’s Forerunner Church, Isaac and Morgan Bennett, along with Matt Candler, former president of IHOP University (IHOPU), filed articles of Incorporation for Sanctuary Church on April 18, 2024.

This was about a month before Forerunner Church, the local church expression of IHOPKC, announced to its congregation that it would close, following months of upheaval due to allegations that IHOPKC Founder Mike Bickle had sexually abused numerous women. IHOPU also shut down its operations around the same time.

The Roys Report (TRR) reached out to Isaac Bennett and Candler for comment about the new church but did not hear back from either one.

Sanctuary’s articles of incorporation also designate two ministries that would receive 50% each of the assets of Sanctuary Church should the church dissolve—Tikkun Ministries and Hope City.

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Ron Cantor serves on the senior oversight team for Tikkun Ministries, a ministry serving eight Messianic communities in Israel and about 30 in the U.S.

Ron Cantor Tikkun
Ron Cantor of Tikkun Ministries (Source: Courtesy photo)

In a statement to TRR, Cantor said Tikkun Ministries “knew nothing” about Tikkun being named as a beneficiary should Sanctuary Church dissolve. “We will be requesting that our name is removed from the document, as we are in no way involved in the establishment of this new entity,” Cantor told TRR.

He added that Tikkun’s conviction that there needs to be an independent, third-party investigation regarding allegations that Bickle engaged in clergy sexual abuse “remains as strong today as it did when we called for it back in February.”

To date, four victims have come forward and accused Bickle of sexually abusing them. Two of the alleged victims claim the abuse began when they were minors.

Though IHOPKC commissioned a law firm to investigate the allegations, the primary “Jane Doe” and an advocate group of former IHOPKC leaders refused to participate in the investigation because they doubted its independence. That investigation, conducted by Rosalee McNamara of the Lathrop Group, found that Bickle “more likely than not” abused his power.

TRR also reached out for comment to Hope City, a house of prayer and community center in Kansas City, led by Ray and Lisa Stribling, Mike Bickle’s sister.

Hope City did not respond to our inquiry.

IHOPKC closes multiple ministries

According to a leaked email and recording of an IHOPKC staff meeting in April, both IHOPKC and IHOPU were planning to close imminently due to financial issues. At the time, IHOPKC was reportedly bleeding $500,000/month due to plummeting donations. The ministry was also facing the possibility of lawsuits from Bickle’s alleged victims.

On the leaked recording, Isaac Bennett said that by closing its doors and starting a new organization, IHOPKC hoped to limit liability related to potential lawsuits from victims.

“We’re the people to sue at the end of the day,” said Bennett. “That produces significant liabilities there.”

In the leaked email, IHOPKC leaders similarly stated that “the best way to resolve the issues is to close IHOPKC as an organization and shift to a more missional church structure in the future.”

On May 19, 2024, Isaac Bennett announces the closure of Forerunner Church in Grandview, Missouri. (Video screengrab)

Attorney Boz Tchividjian, who represents some of Bickle’s victims, challenged the notion that IHOPKC could remove its liability by shutting down and starting a new organization. He called the idea “fantasyland” and said a “court would not allow that.”

The day after TRR reported IHOPKC’s announced closure, the organization walked back its previous announcement in a statement to The Christian Post (CP).

IHOPKC said it would not close all operations but would begin a “transition and reorganization process.” As a part of this process, IHOPU would close, but the 24/7 prayer room would continue, the organization said.

Two days after the CP article, Bennett incorporated Sanctuary Church. And two weeks after that, Bennett announced that Forerunner Church would close.

“It needs to happen so that we can move forward with a new start,” Bennett told the congregation. He added that he recognizes “this has been a very painful season” and said he “is sorry for the pain and difficulty that you’ve been through.”

Significance of April 18

Incorporating Sanctuary Church on April 18 may have significance, given IHOPKC’s controversial “prophetic history.” For decades, Bickle often spoke of a so-called “4:18 prophecy” to legitimize his ministry.

And, as Dr. Dénouement has noted in an article on her substack, IHOPKC has another official document stamped with the April 18 date. A quit-claim deed, granting property from the International House of Prayer—Forerunner Christian Fellowship to House of Prayer Ministries, is dated April 18, 2021.

deed IHOPKC Forerunner Church
IHOPKC Quit Claim Deed dated April 18, 2021. (Source: Dr. Dénouement substack)

April 18 was allegedly the date when the mother of well-known Kansas City prophet Paul Cain died. And according to the story, Cain’s mother, Anna Cain, awoke from a coma just before she passed to prophesy over her son.

The date of Anna Cain’s death supposedly corresponded with Luke 4:18—a verse recounting Jesus reading from the prophet Isaiah, saying the “Spirit of the Lord” was on him to “proclaim freedom for prisoners” and “set the oppressed free.”

However, the Kansas City Star debunked the prophecy last May, about a month after Sanctuary Church incorporated. The Star’s report revealed that Anna Cain died on April 19, not April 18, according to both her tombstone and death certificate.

Even so, some supporters of Bickle have continued to defend the prophecy, claiming that Anna Cain died in her home on April 18, but her body arrived at the funeral home after midnight.

Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. She also previously hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate, and has worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate. Her articles have appeared in numerous periodicals.



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8 Responses

  1. Hmm, it sounded like the Titanic deck chairs were being rearranged. Maybe not but the history of this group doesn’t put them on a good footing, but I could be wrong. However, Ron Cantor seems to have misgivings too by rejecting any proceeds from the new venture should it go down. That’s what credible ministries do to avoid any hint of something unsavory. The offer of assets to Tikkun probably came from a good place but sometimes what leaders need to do is go sit down, give it a rest and have some serious introspection. That rarely happens though and it doesn’t seem to be happening here. Schadenfreude is a sin that’s condemned in the Bible so I’m trying to be careful.

  2. I’m so sick of these “hirelings” packing up the wagon and searching for more sheep to fleece, without any compunction. No worries, there are plenty of millstones to go around.

  3. Excellent article. Thank you for all of your hard, intelligent, and important work!

    P.S. I thought you may wish to know that “$500,000/month…” (in the article) is missing a zero.

  4. Here’s a thought. Dedicate their talents and platform to victim recovery instead of rebooting as a church.

  5. Mike Bickel is hiding out at Hope City. But under church discipline cannot escape eating and drinking damnation to himself the very next time he participates in open communion their publicly. I prophesy he will eat and drink damnation to himself for the whole world to see the wages of sin is death.

  6. I’m relieved that Ron Cantor has distanced his Israeli ministry from financial entanglement with IHOPKC’s new face. And it’s good that he’s still calling for a truly objective abuse investigation, despite the fact that Bickle’s group was heavily supporting his work. I wish he was as zealous about getting to the root of IHOPKC’s desperation to cover up abuse.
    IMO it’s from the need to stay loyal to the KC (false) Prophets, Bob Jones and Paul Cain, who greatly influenced IHOP, and much of the prophetic movement including Tikkun. Ron twists Scripture to lower the bar for prophecy testing, so that Jones and his disciples can still pass.
    But the debate over prophetic accuracy standards is a red herring. Accurate or not, Jones’s and Cain’s prophecies went hand-in-hand with sexual sin. So until this spiritual taproot is severed, there will be more abuses.

  7. Julie, thank you for your reporting and keeping this story alive. I long that MB be brought to justice. Re: timing and rebranding of this church … a new name does not change the roots … & its far from a sanctuary (unless the meaning is a place of hiding and protection for its “leadership”).

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