After having heard about the history of Calvary Chapel and Hope Chapel today in class, I decided to look further into their current conditions since the text being presented was 21 years old. I have found that both of these churches have gotten themselves into some trouble, in recent years, and have had lawsuits filed against them.
The family of the former pastor and founder of Costa Mesa’s Calvary Chapel filed a lawsuit against the church, claiming elder abuse and wrongful takeover of his property. Founding Pastor Chuck Smith had been suffering from lung cancer and died in October 2013. The suit, filed in September of 2014, says Smith’s illness and resulting death was exacerbated by the negligent care of a nurse, chosen by his son-in-law, Brian Broderson. The suit also states paramedics told Smith’s family that not calling 911 was a mistake, as it likely would have helped to save his life and prevented his suffering. Broderson is Calvary Chapel’s president and chairman of its board of directors. Broderson and several others on the board used Smith’s failing health as an opportunity to take control of the church, including ownership and rights to The Word For Today (a nonprofit outreach of Calvary Chapel that receives donations and sells various products). Kay Smith, who had been receiving a monthly annuity from the church of between of about $10,000 to help support her and her husband, was not paid for one year after he died, and was not awarded any of Smith’s $1 million life insurance policy. Smith was pressured to change the beneficiary from his wife to Calvary Chapel several years prior to his death.
Meanwhile, Hope Chapel parishioners sued their ex-pastor for church investment fraud…
I believe part of the reasons as to why this became so corrupt is because of the initial way in which it was founded. As we mentioned in class, it was all very entrepreneurial, which made it inevitable that it revolved around money and so it was only a matter of time for it to be motivated by greed.