News

Pastor’s radio show is dropped

Updated: 2008-07-25T16:17:22Z

By JUDY L. THOMAS

The Kansas City Star

A leading Christian radio network on Monday dropped the Rev. Jerry Johnston’s daily program from its lineup, saying it had concerns about financial accountability.

Bott Radio Network, which aired Johnston’s 30-minute program Monday through Friday on KCCV-AM 760, pulled the program in response to articles published Sunday in The Kansas City Star.

Dick Bott, founder and president of the network, said he was surprised to learn that Johnston’s First Family Church is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, an organization that sets standards for charities and religious groups.

Bott said it is the network’s policy to air only programs of ministries that are members of the financial accountability organization. Johnston’s former organization, Jerry Johnston Ministries, was a member from 1994 to 1996.

“The program is being discontinued until he re-establishes his membership with ECFA, complies with their requirements and satisfies our questions of financial accountability,” Bott said. “We make no claim as to whether he was right or wrong about anything, but it’s just our own policy of major program ministries. We want people to be able to trust what they hear.”

Bott Radio Network, with headquarters in Overland Park, broadcasts over 50 radio stations in nine states and is considered a national leader in Christian broadcasting.

First Family Church spokesman Lawrence Swicegood said: “That’s obviously Bott’s decision. I really don’t have further comment about it or any decision on that front.”

The Star reported that hundreds of members have left Johnston’s First Family Church in Overland Park in the past few years because of concerns about financial accountability.

The newspaper also found that the church at 7700 W. 143rd St. is structured in a way that provides little financial oversight.

In an earlier interview Johnston said the church is accountable, run by a board of trustees that oversees all of its finances. The church also undergoes an annual audit.

But Bott said the stories raised some “very, very serious questions, which would be easily handled if they were a member (of ECFA).

“ECFA membership was to give the public the assurance that books were open, finances were disclosed, and when you donate, you can have assurance that where they have said the money goes is where it’s going to go,” he added.

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