WHAS11 Investigates: New Life Church - Part 2

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WHAS11.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 13 at 2:07 PM

(WHAS11) - Giving money to help homeless children doesn't seem like a complicated matter, but one group collecting in Louisville is dodging a lot of WHAS11's questions.

New Life Church of Louisville, incorporated, allegedly uses homeless people to collect money in buckets on Louisville's street corners.

That money is eventually sent to the church's parent organization in Tampa.

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WHAS11's Adam Walser continues our investigation into new life church by detailing how, in many instances, the church is not following the city's rules.

Charitable street solicitation brings in millions of dollars to benefit worthy charities in metro Louisville each year, perhaps most notably the WHAS Crusade for Children.

But very little of the money New Life Church collects in Louisville appears to stay in Louisville. And some of their fundraising tactics aren't always by the rules.

The Louisville Coalition for the homeless has received reports that the New Life Church of Louisville, Incorporated operates unlicensed homeless shelters in the buildings when church members are brought to town to collect donations.

New recruits appear to arrive regularly to help rake in buckets of cash.

The city shut down an earlier attempt by the church to house members, including children, in a dilapidated former education building. The fire marshal cited multiple health and safety violations.

New Life Church of Louisville, Incorporated has claimed on its last five annual reports that it collects $20,000 annually.

But some speculate the real numbers are a whole lot more, since the church can collect 20 days a year.

Renita Arnold, a former member, says that up to 40 people work three intersections at a time and she says each bucket averages up to $500. So, the real numbers could be closer to $20,000 each day. Times 20, that's $400,000 collected in Louisville.

Fred Parish has become increasingly familiar with New Life Church of Louisville, Inc.

He is the pastor of the first New Life Church formed in Louisville, which was formed in 1981 and is not affiliated with the New Life Church of Louisville, Incorporated that collects the money.

Parish has been getting calls from police and angry mayors about solicitors from the other new life church.

New Life Church of Louisville, Incorporated usually files all the required paperwork with the city, but its members have been fined for repeatedly violating the city's charitable solicitation ordinance.

We found 9 different citations issued during the past five years.

A letter was even sent to the church by the city in 2006 threatening to suspend the church's permit.

But despite being banned from cities and states throughout the country, the church continues to get new permits to collect money in Louisville.

Chris Poynter is the mayor's spokesperson for the inspections, permits and license department. Poynter says the city can't judge which charities are valid.

Poynter says that they have to believe that they are telling the city the truth. Even after they've violated ordinances, the city has to believe they are collecting for the causes they say they are.

Parish's church has a homeless ministry, but he says it has nothing to do with homeless people collecting money.

But Melvin B. Jefferson, the founder of Deeper Life Church, the parent organization of New Life Church of Louisville, Inc. Has defended his tactics, weathering multiple criminal investigations.

Opinions differ greatly about the work of Deeper Life Church.

But, it's ultimately in your hands. As a potential donor, whether the church continues to profit in Louisville from the efforts of those who are down and out and hold a bucket.

WHAS11 contacted Deeper Life Ministries in Florida about this story, but no one returned our calls.

The city's inspections, permits and licensing department keeps a calendar of groups and the days they can collect. You can view the calendar by .

And yes, there are known and respected charities that do solicit donations on the street, including the WHAS Crusade for Children and others.

If you see an organization collecting on the wrong day or without a permit, call police and let them know.

City officials tell us that with documented repeat violations, they can refuse to grant new permits to groups.

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