Roe Messner

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Cover of Messner's second book

Ronald Roe Messner (born circa 1935[1]) is an American building contractor who has built more than 1,700 churches, including several megachurches.

Having divorced his first wife, he married televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in 1993 after her divorce from husband and PTL Club founder Jim Bakker.

Early life[edit]

Messner grew up in Waldron, Kansas, on the Kansas-Oklahoma border. He founded Messner Construction in Andover, Kansas, and began building churches.

Heritage USA[edit]

Roe Messner rocketed to fame with the construction of Heritage USA in 1978 at the behest of Jim Bakker.

In 1987, he and his first wife, Ruth Ann, wrote Building For The Master: By Design (ISBN 0-940609-00-2). He reportedly played a behind-the-scenes role in the downfall of the PTL Club. He was reportedly the person who produced the money for the $265,000 payment to Jessica Hahn to cover up a brief sexual affair. Messner later billed PTL for work never completed on the Jerusalem Amphitheater at Heritage USA.[2]

Revelations of the payoff invited scrutiny of Bakker's finances, prompting him to be charged with fraud. In the Bakkers' fraud trial, Messner testified for Bakker's defense, saying that Jerry Falwell had attempted to take over PTL and its associated cable television network by dispatching Messner to the Bakker home in Palm Springs, California, to make an offer to "keep quiet".[citation needed]

According to Messner's testimony, Tammy wrote the offer on her stationery, listing a $300,000-a-year lifetime salary for Jim, $100,000 a year for Tammy, a house, and a year's worth of free phone calls and health insurance. However, Messner said Bakker wrote on it: "I'm not making any demands on PTL. I'm not asking for anything.".[3][4] Falwell has denied making any offer. In the messy bankruptcy of PTL, Messner was listed as the single biggest creditor of PTL with an outstanding claim of $14 million. In court papers, the new operators accused Messner of $5.3 million in inflated or phony billings to PTL.[5]

Messner himself filed for personal and corporate bankruptcy in 1990, saying he owed nearly $30 million to more than 300 creditors. He wound up being convicted of bankruptcy fraud. As he faced sentencing in 1996, he said he could not afford to treat his prostate cancer because he lacked health insurance.[6]

Marriage to Tammy Faye[edit]

Messner divorced his first wife in 1993. At about the same time, Tammy Faye divorced Bakker. Messner and Tammy Faye married in Rancho Mirage, California.

In 1996, Roe Messner was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud charges and served his time from 1996 to 1999. In 2003 he published another book on church building entitled Church Growth by Design: A Complete Guide for Planning and Building Churches to God's Glory ISBN 0-9745015-0-6.

He calls himself a "Master Builder" on his website (see below) and has gone back to building churches in his current church design and construction business, Roe Messner & Associates, Inc. (with offices in Kansas City, MO., and Charlotte, North Carolina).

Tammy Faye Messner's death[edit]

Tammy Faye and Roe Messner on the July 19, 2007, Larry King Live show.

In 2007 Messner and Tammy Faye moved to the Kansas City, Missouri, gated community suburb of Loch Lloyd, Missouri. Tammy Faye's last public appearance was a taped interview on CNN from the home two days before she died.

Tammy Faye died from cancer on July 20, 2007. Roe Messner himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer years ago, though he told Larry King that his doctors had told him that he would not die from the disease.

Tammy Faye Messner's ashes have been interred in the Messner family plot in Waldron immediately next to Messner's mother.[7]

Notable churches[edit]

Phoenix First Assembly of God

Messner is reported to have been the biggest church builder in the United States. On August 7, 2007, he told Larry King that he had built 1,738 churches in 47 states.[7] Messner constructed the churches but was not the architect.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Based on his state of age of being 72 during the August 7, 2007 interview with Larry King
  2. ^ Testimony: Baker knew about Hahn being paid off - Associated Press article via Pacific Stars and Stripes - September 16, 1987 (available on newspaperarchive.com)
  3. ^ PTL link puts church builder Roe Messner in public eye - Kansas City Star via The News-Post Leader - Frederick, Maryland - June 17, 1987 (available of newspaperarchive.com)
  4. ^ Bakker witness says Falwell offered hush money - Associated Press article via The Capital - September 26, 1989 (available on newspaperarchive.com
  5. ^ PTL accuses builder of theft conspiracy - Associated Press article via DAILY INIEILIGENCER/MONTGOMERY COUNTY RECORD - September 10, 1987 (available on newspaperarchive.com)
  6. ^ Tammy Faye has surgery for colon cancer - Pacific Stars and Stripes - March 22, 1996 (available on newspaperarchive.com)
  7. ^ a b Larry King Interview - CNN - August 7, 2007

External links[edit]