Kenneth Max Copeland (born December 6, 1936)[1] is an American televangelist associated with the charismatic movement. He is the founder of Eagle Mountain International Church Inc. (EMIC), which is based in Tarrant County, Texas.[2] Copeland has also written several books and resources.

Kenneth Copeland
Copeland on the Believer's Voice of Victory television broadcast in 2011
Kenneth Max Copeland

(1936-12-06) December 6, 1936 (age 87)
  • Author
  • speaker
  • prosperity gospel preacher
  • televangelist
Years active1967–present
Political partyRepublican
MovementWord of Faith
  • Ivy Bodiford
    (m. 1955; div. 1958)
  • Cynthia Davis
    (m. 1958; div. 1961)
  • Gloria Neece
    (m. 1963)
ChildrenKellie Copeland Swisher
John Copeland
Terri Copeland Pearsons

He preaches prosperity theology and is part of the Word of Faith movement. Copeland has written that parishioners will get a "hundredfold" return on their investment through giving to God.[3]

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Copeland claimed that the pandemic had ended or would soon end and that his followers would be healed from the virus. He stated that followers should continue tithing if they lost their jobs in the economic crisis that the pandemic caused.[4]

Early life edit

Kenneth Max Copeland was raised in West Texas near a United States Army Air Forces airfield, which inspired him to become a pilot.[5][6]

Career edit

Copeland was a recording artist on the Imperial Records label, having one Billboard Top 40 hit ("Pledge of Love", which charted in the Top 40 on April 20, 1957, stayed on the charts for 15 weeks, and peaked at No. 17).[7]

In the fall of 1967, he enrolled in Oral Roberts University, where he soon became pilot and chauffeur to Oral Roberts.[8]

Ministry edit

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland

In 1967, after attending Kenneth E. Hagin's Pastor Seminars, Copeland and his wife Gloria founded Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM) in Fort Worth, Texas.[9] The ministry's motto is "Jesus is Lord".[10]

Television and other programming edit

Since 1967, Copeland's ministry has held three-to-six-day conventions across the United States.[11] KCM still holds an annual Southwest Believer's Convention in his hometown of Fort Worth during the first week of August.[12] Kenneth and Gloria Copeland also preach and minister at other conventions and conferences throughout the world.[13] These events stream live on Copeland's website,, as well as being shown on Christian television stations such as GOD TV and the Daystar Television Network. Portions of recorded conferences are shown on Sundays. The Monday through Friday television broadcasts feature a Copeland family member, either alone or with another minister, discussing subjects from the Bible.

On May 27, 1971, KCM began a one-hour television program. This program called "The Word of Faith" would become what is now known as the "Believers Voice of Victory". In 1972, another television program was launched called "The Prayer Group". This was a half-hour television program aired across the United States.[14]

Facilities edit

Kenneth Copeland Ministries is located in Fort Worth, Texas, on a 33-acre (13 ha) property that was once the Marine Corps Air Station Eagle Mountain Lake (MCAS Eagle Mountain Lake), a United States Marine Corps air station, valued in 2008 at $554,160 (equivalent to $753,212 in 2022) by Tarrant Appraisal District. The site includes the Eagle Mountain International Church, television and radio production facilities, warehouse and distribution facilities, residences for the Copeland family, and Kenneth Copeland Airport.[15][failed verification] Approximately 500 people are employed by KCM.[citation needed] Copeland's son John Copeland was the ministry's chief operating officer until his divorce from Marty Copeland in 2017. He remains a consultant to the ministry.[16][17]

KCM also owns a 1998 Cessna 550 Citation Bravo, which it received from a donor in October 2007 and is used for domestic flights, and a 2005 Cessna 750 Citation X, which it uses for international flights. They also acquired a Gulfstream V in 2018 that was formerly owned by Tyler Perry.[18] It also is restoring a 1962 Beech H-18 Twin, which the ministry plans to use for disaster relief efforts.[19][20]

In February 2007, Copeland was accused of using his ministry's Citation X for personal vacations and friends.[21] The Copelands' financial records are not publicly available, and a list of the board of directors is not accessible as these details are protected but known confidentially by the Internal Revenue Service.[21] Responding to media questions, Copeland pointed to what he asserted was an accounting firm's declaration that all jet travel complies with federal tax laws.[21] In December 2008, KCM's Citation Bravo was denied tax exemption after KCM refused to submit a standardized Texas Comptroller form that some county appraisal districts use to make determinations, which would have required making public the salary of all ministry staff.[22][23] KCM subsequently filed suit with the Tarrant Appraisal District in January 2009 and its petition to have the aircraft's tax-exempt status restored was granted in March 2010.[23][24][25]

Kenneth Copeland Ministries has utilized the Federal Aviation Administration program that keeps flights private from tracking websites, and the ministry owns five such aircraft whose flights are kept private, including the Cessna 750 Citation X noted above and a North American T-28 Trojan.[26] United States Senator Chuck Grassley has questioned some of the flights taken by these aircraft, including layovers in Maui, Fiji, and Honolulu.[26] The ministries say that the stopovers were for preaching or for allowing pilot rest.[26]

Kenneth Copeland Bible College edit

Kenneth Copeland Bible College (KCBC) is located on the property of Kenneth Copeland Ministries and Eagle Mountain International Church (EMIC). KCBC is an accredited member with Transworld Accrediting Commission International.[27] On August 28, 2003 Kenneth Copeland Bible College opened an extension campus in Langley, British Columbia.[28]

Victory Channel edit

In 2015, KCM launched the Believer's Voice of Victory Network on channel 265 on Dish.[29] Believer's Voice of Victory Network was renamed Victory Channel in 2019, and is available over-the-air and on some cable providers.[30] On October 2, 2020, the Believer's Voice of Victory (BVOV) stopped broadcasting on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).[31] At the start of 2022, it was added on several national cable systems under a new channel lease with Olympusat, which had previously offered Hillsong Channel and Living Faith Network, then Bulldog Shopping Network, on the channel space.

Advisory board edit

Copeland sat on the evangelical executive advisory board that Donald Trump assembled during his campaign for the presidency.[32] Appointment to the board did not require endorsement of his bid for presidency,[33] and Copeland clarified that he did not endorse Trump at the time.[34] Before the 2016 election, Copeland said that Christians who did not vote for Trump would be guilty of murder, referring to the pro-choice stance of Hillary Clinton.[35] In an interview after a state dinner at the White House that Copeland attended, he said that Trump was "led by the Spirit of God", and that his most important legacy as president would be the appointments of conservative judges.[36]

Personal life edit

Copeland has been married three times. His first marriage was to Ivy Bodiford in October 1955. They had one child;[37] they divorced in 1958. He was then married to Cynthia Davis from 1958 to 1961.

Copeland then married Gloria (née Neece) in 1963.[38] They have been married for 59 years. They are the parents of John Copeland and Kellie Copeland.[clarification needed] Gloria co-hosts the ministry's flagship broadcast, The Believer's Voice of Victory, alongside her husband.

Kellie preaches throughout the United States, as does Copeland's daughter Terri, who also preaches at Eagle Mountain International Church, which is pastored by her husband George Pearsons.

Copeland has amassed significant wealth during his career and has referred to himself as a "very wealthy man".[39] In 2021, Copeland was claimed by some sources to be the wealthiest pastor in America, with a net worth of $750 million.[40]

Controversy edit

KCM was criticised for having promised from 2006-2010 to create an aviation relief assistance program called "Angel Flight 44", to help Haiti.[41] A spokesperson responded "This was not a specific promise with a timeline attached", and said that the money was spent on airplane repairs.[41]

In 2008, the ministry owned five airplanes,[42] and continued to purchase more including a Gulfstream V jet from filmmaker and businessman Tyler Perry.[43] Copeland raised funds for the building of a hangar, upgrading of the runway, and maintenance.[43] Copeland's and other televangelists' use of private jets, luxury cars and lavish houses has been criticized.[39][44][45] In 2015, Copeland, in a broadcast alongside fellow televangelist Jesse Duplantis, defended the use of private jets as a necessary part of their ministry.[39][46][47][48]

Mike Huckabee, a 2008 Republican presidential primary candidate, made six appearances on Copeland's program Believer's Voice of Victory[49] rented KCM's facilities for a fundraiser, which was criticized by the Trinity Foundation.[50] As a result of the Huckabee appearances, KCM was one of six ministries investigated in the United States Senate inquiry into the tax-exempt status of religious organizations.[51] KCM was one of four that did not co-operate or volunteer to make reforms.[52][53] The investigation did not conclude the Copelands had done anything wrong.[54][55]

In 2013, a measles outbreak with 25 confirmed cases in Tarrant County was attributed in the press to anti-vaccination sentiments expressed by members of the Copeland Ministries.[56] The church denied making any such statements and urged members to get vaccinations, even offering free immunizations through the church itself.[57] Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons, who is Kenneth Copeland's daughter, offered free vaccination clinics and advised those who did not attend one of the clinics to quarantine themselves at home for two weeks. In a statement on the church website, Pearsons said she was not against immunizations, but also raised concerns about them.[58]

"Some people think I am against immunizations, but that is not true, vaccinations help cut the mortality rate enormously. I believe it is wrong to be against vaccinations. The concerns we have had are primarily with very young children who have family history of autism and with bundling too many immunizations at one time. There is no indication of the autism connection with vaccinations in older children. Furthermore, the new MMR vaccination is without thimerosal (mercury), which has also been a concern to many."[59]

Copeland and his wife were featured in a 2015 episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.[60][61][62] John Oliver criticized the Copelands for using tax laws to live in a $6.3 million mansion as the parsonage allowance for their home is not subject to income taxes,[63] for using church donations to buy a $20 million jet that was used for trips to a ski resort and a private game ranch,[64] and for promotion of healing through faith and skepticism of medicine.

In May 2019, he received criticism for his lavish lifestyle after Inside Edition released an interview where he defended his purchase of a private jet. He stated "If I flew commercial, I'd have to stop 65% of what I'm doing" and he additionally defended a previous comment where he said that he did not fly commercial because he did not want to fly with demons.[65]

Copeland had drawn criticism for his comments on the Joe Biden presidency.[66][67] He also gained attention during the Covid-19 pandemic,[68] arguing pastors should not cancel services,[69][70] and repeatedly saying the pandemic had ended or would end soon.[71] On March 29, 2020, in a televised sermon, Copeland "executed judgment" on COVID-19. He claimed that it was "finished" and "over" and that the US was now "healed and well again".[71] In another sermon shortly thereafter, he claimed to destroy the virus with the "wind of God".[71]

On August 3–8, 2020, the Kenneth Copeland Ministries hosted the Southwest Believers' Conference at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, TX despite restrictions on social gatherings to limit the spread of the pandemic. Local leaders criticized the event, attended by hundreds of people, but were unable to enforce public health restrictions because religious gatherings were exempt under Governor Greg Abbott's executive orders.[72][73]

Selected bibliography edit

  • God, the Covenant and the Contradiction. 2023. ISBN 9781604635089
  • From Faith to Faith: A Daily Guide to Victory. 1991. ISBN 9780881148435
  • A Ceremony of Marriage. 2012. ISBN 9780938458159
  • The Power of the Tongue. 2012. ISBN 9781575621135
  • A House Not Divided. 2016. ISBN 1604632801
  • Blessed To Be a Blessing. 2012. ISBN 1604630167
  • Raising Children Without Fear. 2012 ISBN 9781606838990
  • Six Steps to Excellence in Ministry. 2012 ISBN 9781575621043

See also edit

References edit

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External links edit