Popular televangelist Kenneth Copeland has recently acquired a Gulfstream V private jet that he says would help with his ministry and he is seeking to raise $19.5 million to upgrade and maintain the plane.
Earlier this month, Kenneth Copeland Ministries announced its "debt free" acquisition of the jet, which was said to be priced at $36 million in 1998.
Copeland reportedly bought the jet from gospel songwriter Tyler Perry with the help of supporters known as the Elite CX Team, which aims to assist the preacher financially with his stated projects.
Charlie Bollinger, who identified as a volunteer Elite CX Team Leader, stated that the aircraft was brought to Dallas after they signed a contract for a "very thorough pre-buy inspection process," which was completed in November. He went on to note that the jet was "paid in full" during Thanksgiving week.
The ministry did not reveal how much it paid for the plane, but AV Buyer has indicated that the lowest priced jet of the same model is currently priced at just under $6 million.
On the Dec. 29, 2015 television broadcast of "Believers Voice of Victory," Copeland and co-host Jesse Duplantis explained that private jets are necessary to the ministry because it helps them pray in privacy.
"We've got to have this! The mess that the airlines are in today. I would have to stop — I'm being very conservative — at least, 75-80, more like 90 percent of what we are doing. Because we can't get there! That's why we are on that airplane. We can talk to God!" Copeland said, as reported by The Christian Post.
Copeland reportedly stated that he did not want to fly with a "bunch of demons," and contended that he needed a private jet to help reach the lost.
The 81-year-old preacher has reportedly stated that the purchase of the jet was a fulfillment of a 2002 prophecy made by his friend Keith Moore of Faith Life Church in Branson. According to Christian News Network, Moore claimed at the time that God was going to raise up wealthy supporters to back Copeland.
Bollinger said that another $2.5 million is needed to upgrade the avionics to meet the new FAA standards. He further noted that the ultimate goal is to raise $17 million to help maintain the new aircraft and construct a hangar for the plane.
"Beyond the purchase of the Gulfstream V and its upgrades, remember that the overall Mission 3 goal is $17 million. By sowing the balance of those funds as the CX Team, we will be sowing toward: the construction of a new hangar, upgrading the existing runway, and purchasing special GV maintenance equipment," Bollinger said, urging donors to prepare to give that amount.