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IHOP University. Image: Facebook.

IHOPKC denies plans to shut down, contradicting leaked recording

The embattled International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC) reportedly is winding down the operations of its movement and missions. The financial impact of the sexual abuse scandal connected to founder Mike Bickle led to the decision.

“IHOPKC as an organization is beginning to wind down,” IHOP University President Matt Candler said in a leaked recording reported by the Roys Report. “We’re going to be maintaining our prayer room and eventually beginning a new organization.”

Isaac Bennett, who leads IHOPKC’s Forerunner Church, noted that lawsuits from the victims in Bickle’s sexual abuse scandal presented the ministry with “significant liabilities.”

On April 15, the organization emailed staff saying the organization is “suffering significant losses”  and “cannot sustain current infrastructure in place.”  It also alluded to a human deficit saying it is “more complex than simply finances.”

The email stated it is “closing for good” and shifting to a church model with fewer staff.

On Thursday the Christian Post reported the organization backtracked saying it was not closing but  will start a “transition and reorganization process.”

“In a word, IHOPKC is NOT closing,” IHOPKC wrote in yet a new statement. “. . . Over the course of these last months, our leadership team has tirelessly endeavored to review and analyze the entire IHOPKC organizational structure and the many missions we have undertaken over our 24 years of existence. That review and reflection has led to internal decisions to begin a transition and reorganization process, which will allow us to focus on our main mission yet deal with the realities of finance.”

The ministry is also beginning a new fundraising campaign which has raised eyebrows.

Ministry Watch, an organization that seeks accountability in the church and non-profit community, says the fundraising is misleading. the organization’s founder, Rusty Leonard, says it shouldn’t be raising money if it is closing.

“Somebody who’s donated could come back at them and say, ‘Hey, you were telling X. Y was actually the truth. I gave money based on X and now you have basically stolen my money from me and I want it back,’” said Leonard.

He went on to claim the IRS and State of Missouri could fine IHOPKC for such actions.

“It’s probably that things are moving really, really fast for this organization right now,” he told The Roys Report. “But it’s something where they need to address very quickly and start shooting straight with everybody. Otherwise, they are going to have some additional problems, which only compound the problems they already have.”

Boz Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson, an attorney and longtime advocate of sexual abuse survivors who is representing one of Bickle’s alleged victims, said if IHOPKC leaders believe the ministry can just shutter then reemerge as a rebranded organization to escape liability, they are living in “fantasyland.”

“The notion that they can just shut it down and start a new organization and all of that prior potential liability is wiped away is fantasyland,” he said. “To suddenly take all the property, put it in the name of a new organization to limit liability that would what I believe be called a fraudulent transfer. A court would not allow that.”

In February, after a third woman alleged she was groomed and sexually abused by Bickle in the 1980s when she was 14, Tchividjian said the ministry should close permanently.

“It’s time,” he posted on X. “It’s time to permanently close the doors at IHOPKC, It’s time to take whatever monies are left & put them into a fund for those whose lives have been wrecked by a place that claims to love Jesus so much it prays to him 24/7. The praying hasn’t worked. It’s just made IHOPKC more pious in defending the indefensible. It’s time.”

Bennett explained in the leaked recording that although IHOPKC has been looking at different ways to navigate the sexual abuse scandal, they have found no way around the liability the organization has been exposed to as a result of the allegations of the ministry’s mishandling of the abuse allegations.

“In cases where there’s clergy abuse, where there’s allegations that are outstanding — when there’s now interest in having an investigation that goes back through all of our 24-year history to find cases where there’s been mishandling of abuse or where there’s been cover-up or whatever else it is people believe has been gone on — those things will produce inevitably a contingent of individuals who are wanting to get restitution,” he said. “And they’re not going to go knock on Mike’s door because, well, he probably won’t answer. But they’re not going to knock on Mike’s door, because he doesn’t have any money. But IHOPKC has facilities.”

To keep IHOPKC at its current operational level, it would have to let go 90 percent of  its paid staff, Bennett said. So instead of 500 staff, IHOPKC would have to run the organization with just 50.

“We are at an impasse,” he told The Christian Post. “There’s no other way forward. So the Lord is kindly inviting us into a new era.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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