First Family Church

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Exterior of the First Family Church/campus
FFC Exterior Bldg Photo.jpg
Basic information
Location 7700 W. 143rd Street, Overland Park, Kansas, 66223
Affiliation Southern Baptist
Status Inactive/Closed
Architectural description

First Family Church was a large Evangelical Christian church located in Overland Park, Kansas. The church was situated on 51 acres (210,000 m2) in southern Johnson County, in the Southwestern portion of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area of the United States.

First Family Church was affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and has among its guiding principles, the stated mission to reach lost people, bring them into God’s family, and inspire them to mature in Christ.[1]

Worship Service during Discover Life Kansas City Crusade 2005 held at FFC

Leadership[edit]

Founder and Senior Pastor, Jerry Johnston (1996–2011)

History[edit]

First Family Church started with Pastor Jerry Johnston, who liquidated nearly $200,000 in assets from his debt-free ministry organization JJM to start First Family Church in his hometown of Overland Park on September 22, 1996. From its beginnings in eleven different rental facilities, everything from schools to movie theaters, FFC had grown to a membership of over 4,000.[2] On September 11, 2011, First Family Church closed it doors, having the bank seize the church's buildings and everything inside of the buildings.[3]

Current[edit]

In July 2001, First Family Church launched its television ministry.[4] Some sermons were broadcast globally via satellite and archive web video-streaming.

Its 125,000-square-foot (11,600 m2), state-of-the-art facility featured an indoor jungle gym and youth center with basketball courts, fitness room and youth café.

In the fall of 2007, First Family launched First Family Academy[citation needed].

First Family Church offered many outreach ministries to the community of Kansas City. Some of which were: the annual Operation Thanksgiving which provides hundreds of meals to those without. The Shelter Shower ministry which provides a baby shower for expectant mothers who do not have friends or family to offer that for them. The Shelter Barrels ministry that are available for First Family Church members bring designated items each month for families in need. Every month First Family Church members prepare meals for homeless shelters in the Kansas City metro. Gifts were taken to a battered women’s shelter and Bibles and blankets were taken to those in need during the winter months.[5]

With the closing of First Family Church, it was relaunched as "New Day Church KC". New Day Church began meeting at Olathe East High School, but had to move to an Olathe middle school. New Day Church KC closed for good in September 2012.[6]

Impact of First Family Church[edit]

First Family Church launched a sermon series on Christian Ethics. In a Reuters publication the writer addressed the issue of “Ethics crisis in America? Church leaders say yes.” The pastor of First Family Church commented on the crisis “Honesty is honesty. It doesn't matter if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever. A lot of these debacles we're seeing can be traced and sourced back to a lack of good old ethics”.[7]

The Boston Globe reported that conservative churches in the state of Kansas, First Family Church among them, opposed same-sex marriage and supported a measure to ban it.[8]

On May 7, 2005 First Family Church’s pastor Jerry Johnston reportedly stands against evolution and believes evolution is a non-scientific theory and should be taught as such. Other evangelical Protestants and Catholics worked together on passing Kansas' ban on same-sex marriages.[9]

In an interview with ABC News First Family Church pastor Jerry Johnston comments on the Mel Gibson blockbuster film The Passion of the Christ and whether or not children should be allowed to view the film. First Family Church arranged for a number of private screenings for adults and youth in the Kansas City area.[10]

In 2004 Religious Tolerance.Org reported on the Passion of the Christ film and if children should be allowed to view it. First Family Church commented in support of the educational value this film provides to children regarding the life of Jesus Christ.[11]

The Baptist Press News reported that pastors and their wives of First Family Church all graduated with their Masters of Divinity.[12]

September 22, 2004 The Lawrence Journal World reports First Family Church Pastor and the Reverend Jerry Falwell urge Christian leaders in Kansas to mobilize their congregations for upcoming elections.[13]

May 7, 2005 NPR reported in Topeka, Kansas meeting focused on how the theory of evolution should be taught in Kansas schools. First Family Church pastor and other leaders propose that students and teachers be encouraged to discuss alternate views to the theory of evolution.[14]

Controversy[edit]

In March 2007, The Kansas City Star ran a front-page investigative series of articles on financial concerns at First Family Church.[15] The paper published several follow-up articles on additional questionable activities of the Johnstons: Lavish lifestyles,[16] Jerry and Jeremy Johnston side businesses,[17] as well as delinquent tax payments. - The Kansas City Star/March 11, 2007 - By Judy L. Thomas [18] Additional reporting was done referencing that all of Jerry Johnston's children and his mother work on staff with him.[19] Online reporting also reported on the honorary degree granted to Jerry Johnston.[20]

After the stories appeared, Bott Radio Network, a Christian network with 50 stations based in the same city as First Family Church, announced it was dropping Jerry Johnston and First Family Church from its local AM station (the only station in its network that the show was on). "Bott said the newspaper report raised some serious questions that could be easily answered if the church joined the ECFA" and that the ministry refused to join the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) pursuant to the radio networks standards.[21]

In July 2007, a follow-up article was printed in The Kansas City Star citing additional allegations, including the misuse of a $50,000 contribution to Jerry Johnston Ministries that was allegedly diverted to a personal account of the Johnstons'. The article also reported that after the initial March 2007 articles in the Kansas City Star, the Kansas Attorney General's office began an investigation into whether Jerry Johnston used church money for personal gain.[22]

A contractor who worked for the church filed several complaints regarding the companies with the Internal Revenue Service, charging that church employees are forced to work for the companies, that church donations are used to fund Jerry Johnston Publications, and that church resources are used by J Cubed Media to conduct business.[23]

Foreclosure and shutdown[edit]

In February 2011, Regions Financial Corporation filed a foreclosure petition on the church. The bank requested the church be placed in receivership. The bank claims the church currently owes $14.4 million on two loans. Part of the bank's filing mentioned the church has a payroll of $915,000 a year, with over $600,000 of that going to the Johnston family.[24] [25] On September 5, 2011, Jerry Johnston announced the church was losing their building. They started hosting services at Olathe East High School (since moved elsewhere) and change their name to New Day Church Kansas City.[26] New Day Church Kansas City closed down as of September 2012.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ First Family Church’s Guiding Principles
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ First Family Church - History
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ Jerry Johnston’s New Day Church shuts down
  7. ^ "Ethics Crisis in America? Church Leaders say Yes". Carey Gillam. 2009-01-21. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  8. ^ "Kansans Set to Vote on Gay Marriage". Brian MacQuarrie. 2005-04-04. Retrieved 2005-04-04. 
  9. ^ "Evolution and Intelligent Design in Kansas". Greg Allen. Retrieved 2005-05-07. 
  10. ^ "Is 'the Passion' too Violent for Kids". ABC News. Retrieved 2004. 
  11. ^ "The Passion of The Christ: Should Children and Youths see the Film?". religioustolerance.org. 
  12. ^ "Family of 4 Graduates Together". Tammi Reed Ledbetter. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  13. ^ "Jerry Falwell to Urge Johnson County Pastors to Mobilize Congregations". Associated Press. Retrieved 2004-09-22. 
  14. ^ "Evolution and Intelligent Design in Kansas". NPR. Retrieved 2005-05-07. 
  15. ^ "Lax financial oversight riles some First Family Church followers". Judy Thomas. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-12-04. 
  16. ^ Lavish lifestyles at odds with pastor’s calls for the faithful to sacrifice
  17. ^ Business offshoots add to bottom line
  18. ^ Pastor, church have been delinquent in paying tax bills]
  19. ^ First Family Church payroll includes several Johnston family members
  20. ^ Honorary degree elevates ‘Dr. Jerry’ Johnston
  21. ^ "Pastor’s radio show is dropped". Judy Thomas. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  22. ^ "Johnston's former ministry faulted: Misuse of group's finances is alleged". Judy Thomas. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  23. ^ "Kansas Religious Right leader shuts down controversial for-profits.". Church & State. March 1, 2008. 
  24. ^ Salaries at issue as bank seeks megachurch receivership
  25. ^ [4]
  26. ^ First Family Church ousted from home, will ‘re-launch’ Sept. 18