Two companies run by Kan. church ministers close

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Two companies operated by pastors at a prominent Overland Park church have closed down, several months after complaints filed with the Kansas attorney general's office and the IRS alleged inappropriate use of church proceeds.

Jerry Johnston Publications, a for-profit company operated by First Family Church founder and senior pastor Jerry Johnston, and J Cubed media, operated by his son, associate pastor Jeremy Johnston, were dissolved Dec. 31, the Kansas secretary of state's office said.

Eddie James, a spokesman for the church, declined to say why the businesses were closed.

"J Cubed Media and Jerry Johnston Publications were voluntarily dissolved and have not been replaced by any successor or replacement entity," James told The Kansas City Star in an e-mail.

Jerry Johnston Publications, founded in 1995, handled the sales of Johnston's books, videos and other products, and also handled his speaking arrangements across the country.

J Cubed Media, formed in 2004, was hired by First Family Church to purchase its television airtime.

The two companies first came under the microscope last March when The Star reported that hundreds of people had left the church -- which has about 5,000 members and a $17 million annual budget -- in recent years because of concerns about a lack of financial accountability.

That led to the filing of two complaints with the state attorney general's office in May alleging that Johnston used church money for personal gain and didn't follow through on promises made when raising funds.

Paul Davis, a former independent contractor with the church, filed one of the complaints with the attorney general's office, and later filed several complaints with the Internal Revenue Service.

In one complaint to the IRS, Davis contended that the church required employees to work for Jerry Johnston Publications and J Cubed Media without being paid by the two companies.

Davis also claimed that First Family Church recorded Johnston's sermons using staff, equipment and materials paid for with church donations -- then Jerry Johnston Publications sold the sermons on CDs and DVDs, along with books written by Johnston.

"All production costs for the DVDs and CDs (material, supplies, labor) are paid for by FFC, and the FFC staff are required to perform tasks to create product for Jerry Johnston Publications," the complaint alleged.

In a third complaint, Davis alleged that J Cubed Media "uses the offices at FFC to conduct business, uses the staff at FFC to manage the connections and even perform job tasks for J Cubed Media."

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said last week the complaints are still being investigated.

Church officials denied the allegations and said all proceeds from items produced by the church have been received by the church.

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