Companies operated by First Family Church’s pastor and his son are shut down

Companies operated by First Family Church’s pastor and his son are shut down
By JUDY L. THOMAS - Kansas City Star - 1/21/2008 - original
A company run by the founder of First Family Church and another company run by his son have quietly shut down.

Jerry Johnston Publications, a for-profit corporation operated by the Rev. Jerry Johnston, and J Cubed Media, a business run by Johnston’s son, Jeremy, were dissolved on Dec. 31, according to the Kansas secretary of state’s office. Jerry Johnston is senior pastor of the Overland Park church, and Jeremy Johnston is an associate pastor there.

Eddie James, the church’s attorney and spokesman, declined to say why the two companies were closed.

“J Cubed Media and Jerry Johnston Publications were voluntarily dissolved and have not been replaced by any successor or replacement entity,” James said in an e-mail.

The companies were part of an investigation last year by The Kansas City Star. It found that hundreds of members had left Johnston’s church over the past few years because of concerns about financial accountability.

The stories led to the filing of two complaints with the Kansas attorney general’s office alleging that Johnston used church money for personal gain and failed to follow through on promises made in fundraising solicitations.

The attorney general’s office began investigating the complaints in May and continues to do so, spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett said last week. James said the church had received an inquiry last year from the office’s Consumer Protection Division.

Jerry Johnston Publications, formed in 1995, handled the sales of Johnston’s books, videos and other products, as well as his speaking engagements around the country. J Cubed Media, established in 2004, was hired by First Family Church to purchase its television airtime.

The two companies also were the subject of several complaints filed with the Internal Revenue Service last year by Paul Davis, a former independent contractor for the church.

In one complaint, Davis contended that the church required employees to work for Jerry Johnston Publications and J Cubed Media without compensation from the companies.

In another complaint, Davis said that First Family Church recorded Johnston’s sermons using staff, equipment and materials paid for by church donations. However, he said, Jerry Johnston Publications sold those 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.

“The FFC staff also edits TV broadcast shows and radio shows for JJP” without being compensated by Jerry Johnston Publications, the complaint alleged.

The third IRS complaint 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.”

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

Bonnie MacLeod, an IRS criminal investigation spokeswoman in Kansas City, said last week she could not comment on the allegations.