“That’s how I always know you poor, broke, broke and disgusted, because of the way you honor me,” Funderburke told his congregation, according to a video. “I’m not worth your McDonald’s money? I’m not worth your Red Lobster money? I’m not worth your St. John Knit – you can’t afford it anyway. I’m not worth your Louis Vuitton?” Am I not worth your Prada? Am I not worth your Gucci?
Preachers and their $5,000 sneakers: Why a man created an Instagram account showing the wealth of churches
The Church of the Well did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post on Wednesday evening, but a day earlier published a video of Funderburke apologizing. The pastor called this part of his Aug. 7 sermon “inexcusable” and said “the music video does not reflect my heart or my feelings for the people of God.”
“The zeal of any presentation must be tempered with love and respect. And it was not displayed,” he said.
Earlier in the video, Funderburke hinted at the “context behind the content of the clip” but didn’t elaborate. He also acknowledged that “no amount of context will suffice to explain the pain and anguish caused.” He said he spoke about what happened with his congregation.
“I have spoken to those to whom I am responsible and have received their correction and instructions. I have also privately apologized to our church, which has given me love and support.
During the sermon, Funderburke reminded parishioners that he had asked them for gifts before. He even told them where they could shop.
“You can buy a Movado watch from Sam,” Funderburke said in the clip posted by Defender. “And you all know I asked for one last year. Here it is all the way in August – I still haven’t figured it out. You didn’t say anything. Let me kick down the door and talk to my cheap sons and daughters.
Funderburke told them that he was not giving them a lick because of his greed or desire, but so they could realize the path of righteousness.
“I say this because I want you to understand exactly what God is saying,” Funderburke told them.
A preacher and his wife stole $1 million worth of jewelry during a sermon
Other church leaders have found themselves at the intersection of religion and wealth in recent years.
In 2017, an Alexandria pastor and his wife were found guilty of defrauding their friends and the Victorious Life Church congregation out of millions of dollars, The Post reported at the time. The couple promised those who invested in their various ventures – a microcredit operation and a business focused on the Nigerian oil industry – that they would get their money back or even make a profit, while boosting the economies of developing countries. Instead, the pastor and his wife used the money to bring in new investors, make payments on their $1.75million home and pay for personal expenses, including golf games and expensive furniture. , prosecutors said.
Last year, a plumber doing maintenance work at Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston discovered cash and checks hidden in the wall of a bathroom, possibly helping to solve a $600,000 burglary seven years earlier. The plumber, Justin Cauley, received a $20,000 reward for his find.
And last month, a Brooklyn preacher was live-streaming his Sunday sermon when three masked people armed with guns walked in and robbed him and his wife of more than $1 million in jewelry.
Preacher shopping has become enough of a public curiosity that there are social media accounts dedicated to dissecting the wardrobes of religious leaders. In 2019, Ben Kirby became curious about the lifestyle of rich and famous pastors while watching worship songs on YouTube and noticing that the lead singer of a mega-church band was wearing $800 sneakers he had previously reported The Post. He then wondered how the church pastor could afford a new designer outfit almost every week.
This led him to create the Instagram account PreachersNSSneakers, which he uses to juxtapose photos of religious leaders with screenshots of the clothes they’re wearing — price tags included. In an entrance from last month, there’s a photo of a smiling pastor wearing what appear to be Lanvin sneakers, made to look like they’ve been splattered with at least half a dozen colors of paint. On the right is a photo of the sneakers on the Saks Fifth Avenue website and their price: $1,420.