Critics of a recently-released report on possible uses for the Kingsbridge Armory said it lacked for funding sources. There were lots of ideas, but no money to make any of them happen.
Enter Creflo Dollar, a man with a vision and the resources to bring it to reality.
An evangelical preacher from Georgia, known for his lavish lifestyle and for touting the spiritual benefits of wealth, Dollar is proposing to take over the long-vacant Armory, according to the report released by the Bronx borough president’s office last month.
World Changers Church International, an Atlanta-based, nondenominational parish led by Dollar and his wife, Taffi, has proposed turning the 575,000 square-foot West Kingsbridge Road building into a “state of the art church facility,” fit with administrative offices, daycare and afterschool program space, a gymnasium, food and clothing banks and a recording studio.
The proposal was one of more than 20 submitted to Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and a task force he appointed last year to consider future uses for the space. World Changers presented to the task force in January, and said their center, if approved, would be open to use for all community members, regardless of religious affiliation.
Dollar (yes, that’s his real name, according to a “frequently asked questions” section on the church’s website) is a controversial figure in the religious world, known for preaching “prosperity theology,” or the idea that God rewards believers with wealth and financial bounty.
“Jesus came to restore abundance and prosperity in our lives,” Dollar wrote in a column on his website. “Simply put, we don’t have to be poor once we grab hold of the Word of God.”
Bob Hall, head pastor of Bronx Household of Faith, a conservative evangelical Christian church in University Heights, called Dollar’s ministry “crap,” and said his focus on wealth and affluence gives Christianity a bad name.
“This is what frustrates me about the mega churches,” he said. “If we had just a tenth of their landscaping budget, just think about how much good we could do.
Dollar’s budget is big enough for World Changers’ New York affiliate to rent out mega venues like Madison Square Garden and the Javits Center for services and World Changers is noticeably beefing up its presence in the Big Apple.
According to their proposal, the church has 8,000 active members and says that 1,600 of those live in the Bronx. Last year, The Ambassadors of Change, the parish’s outreach organization in the tri-state area, hosted a Women’s History Month event with the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, and teamed up with the group for a job fair in Manhattan last month.
A public relations firm representing Dollar did not return calls for comment.