Ministries Acquire Ten Jets in 2020

Photo: Daystar Television Network's Gulfstream G-V.

Trinity Foundation compiled this list of ministry jets by searching the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aircraft registry as part of an indepth investigation into ministry travel expenses. New articles in the coming weeks will explore the history of ministry aircraft in the United States and compare the use of ministry jets to their secular counterparts in the non-profit world. The goal is to equip donors with financial information so they can practice wise stewardship in their charitable giving.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has spread across the globe, Christian ministries acquired at least ten jets in 2020. By purchasing previously owned aircraft, the ministries avoided paying higher new aircraft prices. Once a jet is purchased, the Federal Aviation Administration requires the aircraft be certified. After the certification process is complete, the aircraft is listed in the FAAregistry.

Rarely do televangelists disclose the cost of jets to their donors. Even minimal disclosure of travel expenses is rare because churches are exempt from filing the Form 990 which is a financial disclosure document that other non-profits must file with the Internal Revenue Service. This form lists total revenue, total expenses, compensation for board members and a balance sheet with travel expenses. It will be about two years before their 2020 Form 990s will be available for inspection. Travel expenses listed below are to give a sense of  past spending.

The religious organizations specializing in disaster relief report the largest travel expenditures.

Organization Aircraft Model N-Number Files a 990? Travel Expenses Notes
Celebration Ministries Cessna 501 N2158U Yes $181,932 (2018) The ministry is headed by Christian musician Al Denson. In 1994, Denson's plane crashed and the pilot died. Denson survived with severe injuries. According to Denson's website, "He had broken multiple bones including both legs, needed 500+ stitches in his face alone."
Celebration TV America Bombardier Challenger 600 Series N64JS No Unavailable Nigerian televangelist Johnson Suleman claims that God is going to bless him with 50 jets and he will give them away as birthday presents. Less than a full year after purchasing a Bombardier Challenger 600 (604SJ), the televangelist acquired a second jet. 
Emmanuel Group / Samaritan's Purse Gulfstream G550 N521GV Yes $44,345,891 (2018) Three jets are currently registered to Emmanuel Group, a shell corporation controlled by Samaritan's Purse. Samaritan's Purse also owns a Douglas DC-3 and DC-8 for transporting a portable field hospital and cargo.
Emmanuel Group / Samaritan's Purse Learjet 45 N740KD Yes $44,345,891 (2018) Besides carrying a pilot and co-pilot, the Learjet 45 can carry eight people in its cabin.
Harvest International Ministries Cessna 650 N777CJ Unavailable Harvest International Ministries, led by Tracy Harris, is based in Texarkana, Arkansas, and also owns two twin-engine Beech Barons.
Voice of the Covenant World Outreach Center Dassault Falcon 900 N970JD No Unavailable Jesse Duplantis Ministries operates as a tradename of the church. Most of the time Duplantis travels alone. In 2018, Duplantis told an audience, "I've got an intercontinental plane. I've been from Sydney, Australia, to Moscow, Russia. 99 percent of the time it's only me."  
Judah 1 Inc Israel Aircraft 1124 N21HR Yes $5,022 (2018) Judah 1 operates a growing collection of aircraft for transporting missionaries and churches on mission trips. The non-profit organization describes itself as "the world's first Christian airline, solely dedicated to fulfilling 'The Great Commission.'"
Living Word Christian Center Dassault Falcon 50 N770JD No Unavailable This church named Living Word Christian Center (LWCC) is based in Minnesota and is pastored by James Mac Hammond. It is not affiliated with televangelist Bill Winston's church of the same name, which also owns a jet. Last year  the church acquired a Cessna 650 and this year bought a Dassault Falcon 50 jet from Jesse Duplantis. Weeks after LWCC purchased Duplantis' old jet, the church applied for and received a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the federal government. When the church purchased the Dassault Falcon, Pastor Hammond already owned two additional jets under his name, which raises a question: Why does a church need a second jet when the pastor also owned his own aircraft? Both church jets have rarely been used during this year's pandemic.
World Heir Gulfstream G-IV N878SM No Unavailable World Heir is a for-profit company operated by televangelist Creflo Dollar's family and provides aircraft for his church's use. World Heir also owns a Learjet 60 (978SM) acquired in 2019.
Word of God Fellowship Gulfstream G-V N279PH No Unavailable Word of God Fellowship (WOGF) is the corporation that operates Daystar Television Network. WOGF received a Paycheck Protection Program government loan two weeks before purchasing the Gulfstream G-V. Then sold its Gulfstream G-IV jet which it acquired in 2018. Televangelist Marcus Lamb, head of Daystar, and his family have used the new jet for flights to Florida which they describe as working vacations.  Lamb denies using th PPP loan to purchse the Gulfstream V jet.

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