Hill$ong elder sells out of Gloria Jean’s



The Age reports…

“A takeaway and cafe giant is buying Gloria Jean’s Coffees for $163.5 million from a man who brought the franchise to Australia.

Retail Food Group, which owns Michel’s Patisserie and Donut King, will soon control the 35-year-old cafe group which operates 800 outlets in more than 40 countries.

They are buying the global franchising and coffee roasting business from Gloria Jean’s executive chairman Nabi Saleh’s private company.

In 1996, Mr Saleh and Peter Irvine brought the franchise to Australia, opening an outlet in the Sydney suburb of Miranda.

Mr Saleh, who is also a board member of the Hillsong Pentecostal church, is staying with the business for at least another two years, along with his senior management team.

He said Retail Food Group’s reputation as a food and beverage operator and expertise in building franchise businesses made them ideal to lead the continued expansion of Gloria Jean’s.

Retail Food Group has bought Gloria Jeans from Tea and Coffee Traders Pty Ltd, which Mr Saleh founded in the mid-1980s, along with several other similar companies in Sydney’s Castle Hill.

Gloria Jean’s has 358 stores in Australia, 87 in the United States and franchises in 40 other countries.

The deal comes four months after the Singapore-based Global Yellow Pages pulled out of a deal to buy the whole group.

Retail Food Group, which runs Cafe2U and The Coffee Guy, said the global coffee chain had long been a target.

The Gold Coast company, founded in 1989, will pay $153.5 million in cash plus $10 million in its own shares, plus up to a further $16.4 million depending on Gloria Jean’s performance.

It will raise $55 million to help fund its purchase through the issue of new shares to institutional and sophisticated shareholders.

The company has also increased its senior debt facility with National Australia Bank, from $135 million to $253 million.

Its purchase of Gloria Jeans is expected to be settled by December.

It is also buying privately-owned gourmet coffee maker Cafe Palazzo.

RFG shares traded at $4.86 ahead of the announcement.


* Donut King

* Michel’s Patisserie

* Brumby’s Bakery

* Esquires Coffee

* Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar

* Pizza Capers


* 1979, founded in Chicago suburb of Long Grove

* 1996, first Australian outlet opened

* 2004, Australian arm acquires global franchise rights outside US

* 2009, all franchising rights and intellectual property held in Australia”

From http://news.theage.com.au/breaking-news-business/takeaway-giant-buys-gloria-jeans-20141024-3ism0.html

Former pastor charged with wife’s murder


WBRC reports…

“A former Homewood pastor, Richard Shahan, has been indicted in the murder of his wife, Karen.

Richard Shahan, 53, is accused of killing his wife Karen Shahan in their Homewood home in July 2013.

Shahan was arrested for his wife’s murder in early January as he was trying to board a plane in Nashville to leave the country.

Prosecutors said that they believe Shahan wanted to escape the country to start a new life and marry his boyfriend. They say when he was arrested at the Nashville International Airport before boarding a flight to Germany on Jan. 1, he was carrying $27,000 in various currencies, including Euros, pounds and Kazakh money.

Prosecutors said they’ve obtained 3,000 of Shahan’s emails, including messages that indicate Shahan planned to go to Russia and eventually become a citizen in the U.K.

Shahan has bonded out of jail and is under house arrest.

From http://www.myfoxal.com/story/26878486/former-homewood-pastor-indicted-in-wifes-murder

10 years jail for church bean counter



The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports…

“The theft of more than $760,000 from Chester United Methodist Church ruined the parish’s credit, forced layoffs of church staff, caused mission programs to be eliminated and necessitated $200,000 in loans to pay bills as the congregation struggled to recover.

The church’s pastor and two other parish leaders testified Wednesday in Chesterfield Circuit Court about the devastating effects — emotional and financial — that former church finance administrator Jerri S. Hunter fostered by embezzling at least $760,389 from the church over 4½ years through deceptive bookkeeping practices.

“When our congregation first heard that Jerri Hunter had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from our treasury, the reaction was anger, hurt, disbelief, betrayal and great sorrow,” James Watkins, lay leader of the 1,400-member congregation, wrote in a victim-impact statement.

“Many members of our church continue to experience the same tragic impact that we suffered when we first learned about (the) embezzlement,” Watkins added. “How could she do this awful thing? While she was spending about $100,000 a year in offerings and tithes we had to delay certain plans and aspirations … because of a shortage of funds.”

The church received some measure of justice Wednesday when Judge Steven C. McCallum sentenced Hunter to 100 years in prison with 90 years suspended on five felony embezzlement counts. The 10-year active prison term exceeded by nearly five years the high end of state sentencing guidelines calculated for Hunter, who had one previous felony theft conviction.

Hunter, 40, also was ordered to make restitution for the full amount and make monthly payments of at least $1,000 after she is released from prison.

“Her attorney indicated that she had paid some money to him and he had that — a few thousand dollars — in an escrow account,” said Chesterfield prosecutor Robert J. Fierro Jr. “But no money has been transmitted to the victims (yet)”

Evidence showed that Hunter spent the illicit funds — church leaders now believe the total exceeds $800,000 — to pay for personal expenses and to operate, promote and purchase inventory for her business, Gotta Have It Fashion & Bags in Petersburg, and for a talent promotional business she ran.

The stolen funds bought airline tickets, hotel and motel accommodations, rental cars, Netflix subscriptions, pediatric dentistry bills, business and licensing fees, shoes, business signs, fashion apparel, college sorority dues, Virginia State University fees and more than $100,000 in PayPal transactions for items related to her business. She even used $3,500 to bail two people she knew out of jail in Oklahoma.

“We are talking hundreds, if not thousands, of transactions between 2008 and 2013,” Fierro said of the purchases she made.

Hunter, who was not a member of the church, was responsible for all the church’s electronic transfers and transactions between accounts, and police said much of the theft occurred through fraudulent use of credit cards. She concealed her theft by diverting church credit card e-statements to a personal outside email address she controlled for her business, authorities said.

Watkins wrote that Hunter’s “deliberate, cleverly planned betrayal” upended the church’s finances, and he enumerated a long list of negative consequences that included the layoff of an associate pastor and the reduction or elimination of church programs that fed, tutored and mentored at-risk children in a low-income housing project and supplied backpacks filled with food to local school children “who would otherwise not eat on the weekend.”

“The damage done to our church took place over a number of years,” the Rev. Sylvia Meadows wrote in her victim-impact statement. “The ripples and ramifications of such a serious trespass continue to be exposed. It will take years for Chester UMC to fully recover .”

Meadows, who became the church’s pastor at about the time the theft was first discovered, noted that Hunter had been “well-loved and respected” by many in the church. “How do you deal with having a friend who was like your own family betraying you like this … someone you prayed with regularly … (and) shared special holidays celebrating together?”

From http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/local/central-virginia/former-church-finance-manager-sentenced-to-years-for-theft/article_1219961a-24d4-510a-b33b-d816bb69d1ca.html

Mark Driscoll is risen


The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports…

“Mark Driscoll has resurfaced less than a week after resigning as senior pastor at Mars Hill Church, getting a star’s welcome at a major evangelical conference in Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday and saying he wants to “sing, to pray, to learn, to grow, to repent.”

Driscoll had been removed earlier this year as keynote speaker at the annual Gateway Leadership & Worship Conference, a big stop on the evangelical circuit. But the controversy-shrouded mega-church founder was welcomed to the stage by Gateway Church founder-pastor Robert Morris with allusions to Jesus.

“He did make some mistakes,” said Morris. ”Uh, here’s what I figure. We’ve got two choices. One is we could crucify him. But since someone’s already been crucified (hollering) for him, (applause), the other choice is we could restore him with a spirit of gentleness considering ourselves, lest we are also tempted.”

Driscoll responded with a homily of self-pity, persecution and limited repentance. He talked of repeated physical threats to his person and family.

“Yah, for me I’m in a season of just, uh, healin’ up, praying,” he began. “Uh, asking the Lord Jesus through wise counsel to show me any blind spots where I can grow.”

He morphed into a discussion of family, and of himself.

“I think there’s a lot I could say that would make me feel better,” said Driscoll. “I don’t know that it would make me look better, but I don’t think it would make Jesus look better, so I won’t say anything other than, uh, just pray for my family. We’ve had a very trying season and, uh, just trying to figure out how to be a good pastor to my family first.”

“I’ve cried a lot lately (and) it’s been a rough season for the family,” Driscoll added. After telling the audience to take a seat, he opined: “I would say don’t overlook your family as first ministry.”

Driscoll, who has traveled with a bodyguard, detailed attacks that have come his way.

“We’ve got five kids, three boys, two girls, ages 8 to 17 and, uh, we’ve moved three times now for safety issues. People arrested at our home, death threats, uh, address posted on line, all kinds of things and, uh, more recently it’s gotten very severe.

“We came home from break. There was rusty nails all over the driveway. We, uh, we had a night where the kids wanted to sleep out in the tent and, uh, I got a call that, um, my address was posted on-line by the media and so, we, we, went out of town for a few days . . .”

When the family returned, the family tried camping out, “woke up in the morning about 6:30 or so and huge rocks about the size of baseballs come flying at my kids, uh, 8, 10, 12 years of age. Call the police. Flee into the house for their safety.”

A few days later, he charged, “the media flies overhead with a helicopter and is trying to flush us out for a story.” That night, Driscoll claimed, his 8-year-old son asked, “Well, it’s bad guys in the helicopter coming to shoot the family, right.”

Of course, the most telling damage to Driscoll has been self-inflicted. Twenty-one former Mars Hill elders charged him with threats, intimidation and bullying. Acts29, a global “church planting” network, expelled Driscoll and Mars Hill, with its directors urging Driscoll to leave the ministry and seek help. A similar call came from nine pastors at Mars Hill.

Driscoll has had to explain remarks, such as a posting under pseudonym in which he referred to America as a “Pussified Nation.” He had to answer charges of plagiarism. He had to apologize for hiring a consulting firm with Mars Hill money, and using church dollars to artificially puff sales of his book “Real Marriage” to put it on The New York Times bestseller list.,

Driscoll was not about to go to confession before the Gateway Conference.

“I just want to come here to, uh, sing, to pray, to learn, to grow, uh, to repent, to heal anduh, God is surrounding me with some great pastors and friends, and if I could just say anything, it’s ‘every pastor needs a pastor,’” he said.

The non-mea culpa was greeted with sustained applause and not a few whoops.

Morris stepped in to play the role of confessor and a form of absolution.

“Debbie and I have been able to spend some time with Mark and Grace and talking with them and, uh, we were talking the night before he resigned and talking about that and talking through the situation and you know he, uh, resigned the church he founded and pastored for 18 years.”

After drawing his breath, Morris drew lessons.

“He preached 10 to 12 years, 50 weeks a year, sometimes six services a weekend,” said Morris. “And, uh, it’s just not healthy and so I’m glad that, uh, he’s saying, ‘Help me. Help me to do it differently and do it better.’

“And so I love him very very much and, um, I’m glad that he’s here. Uh, you’re going to be blessed.” Earlier, Morris said of Driscoll, “We’re speaking into his life and he is listening.”

He made a final reference to Driscoll receiving “bad media” and went on to introduce the last speaker.

Driscoll will have a cushion with which to pray, learn, grow and minister to his family. He is reportedly receiving a year’s severance. The senior pastor’s salary has never been disclosed. One memo from (since resigned) deputy Sutton Turner recommended that Driscoll receive a $650,000 salary for 2013.

We have not heard the last from Mark Driscoll.”

From http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2014/10/21/mark-driscoll-surfaces-at-evangelical-conference-ive-cried-a-lot-lately/

Deadbeat pastor confronted at church


Standard Digital reports…

“There was drama in Kariobangi South, Nairobi, yesterday when a woman stormed a church allegedly run by her husband, accusing him of neglecting her and their son.

Jane Wambui disrupted the Sunday service at God’s Gift Favour Church at around midday, claiming Mr Charles Muchanji, who she claimed was her husband, had abandoned them.

Frightened worshippers took to their heels as others hurriedly closed the door, with Wambui inside.

She emerged from the church a few minutes later and accused some members of the church of attempting to rough her up. “Come out and fight if you are men,” she shouted as she smashed the church’s windows.

However, police officers arrived at the scene moments later and took her and a young man she claimed had tried to assault her to Langata Police Station.

Muchanji, who had all the while remained inside the church, declined to talk to journalists. A few faithful we talked to confirmed that he runs the church.

Wambui claimed that the man left her and their son for a another woman they had met during their honeymoon. “We got married in church in 2000 in Kariobangi South and we met the woman in Thika during our honeymoon,” said Wambui.

According to her, they lived together for three years before they were blessed with a baby boy and that is when trouble started.

“We named him Victor because we had tried to conceive for a long time and even at times fasted and prayed at Ngong Hills. We would have her named her Victoria if she had been a girl,” explained Wambui while addressing press outside the church.

She said her husband abandoned her at St Mary’s Hospital Otiende in Langata where she had undergone a caesarian section to deliver their baby.

“He left me in the hospital for two days before I was rescued by friends and relatives. I went home only to find the woman we had met in Thika in my matrimonial home,” she exclaimed.

Wambui said the husband explained that she had travelled to Nairobi to visit her at the hospital but decided to do it the following day as it was already late.

She allegedly believed him as she still too weak to be involved in a confrontation.

But before long, her husband allegedly started being abusive and at one point kicked her and their baby out of the house.

“He ruined his life and mine and now he wants to do the same to my son, but I will never allow it,” she said.

Wambui claimed that she has even previously filed a case in court to have him compelled to pay her money for their son’s upkeep, but all he has done is to make promises he had not kept.

Wambui said she even took him back early last year, but he has neglected them despite running a school.”

From http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/thecounties/article/2000138814/woman-storms-church-claims-husband-has-neglected-her-son

Calmer Chameleon


The Christian Post reports…

“Hillsong Church pastor Brian Houston has issued a statement specifying his position on marriage and homosexuality after a news outlet reported that he “won’t take (a) public position on LGBT issues.”

The news report came after Houston brought up the topics of homosexuality and same-sex marriage at a press conference held on Thursday with New York City media, on the occasion of Hillsong Conference being held at Madison Square Garden.

“I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference,” Houston says in a statement emailed to The Christian Post on Saturday.

“Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage,” he adds. “I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.

The question that resulted in Houston’s remarks on homosexuality centered on how his church tries to remain relevant. In his response, the Hillsong pastor offered homosexual marriage as an issue that is a challenge for some churches. Traditional Christian teachings define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

“I think with the church, the message is sacred but the methods have to change for the church to stay relevant,” said Houston. “And it’s challenging. It’s challenging to stay relevant. I mean, if we go to the one big hot topic maybe for churches … now with homosexual marriage legalized, and churches for generations, they hold a set of beliefs around what they believe the Word of God, the Bible says. All of a sudden in many circles the church can look like a pariah, because to many people it’s so irrelevant now … So staying relevant is a big challenge. I think it’s more than just singing more contemporary songs and the colors you paint your walls or whatever.”

As CP noted in a previous report, Hillsong Church has among its 12 global campuses two operating in Los Angeles and New York City, both diverse and progressive cities where same-sex marriage is legal.

Houston, prompted by The New York Times’ question for clarification, went on to emphasize that, for him, questions about his position on homosexuality were “too important for us to reduce” down to a “yes or no answer in a media outlet.” His remarks were similar to those previously made by Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz, who has declined to take a public “yea or nay” position on homosexuality.

The New York Times published a report on Houston’s remark under the headline “Megachurch Pastor Signals Shift in Tone on Gay Marriage,” and notes that the Hillsong Church pastor’s “spokesman said on Friday that the pastor personally agreed with traditional Christian teaching on sexuality.”

The Religion News Service published in its report (under the headline “Hillsong’s Brian Houston says church won’t take public position on LGBT issues”):

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler declared from his blog in June of 2014, “There is no third way on [same-sex issues].”

But Brian Houston, pastor of Hillsong Church, a global family of congregations comprising more than 30,000 weekly attendees and millions of worship music album sales, apparently disagrees with Mohler. At least, for now.

The RNS report goes on to state that after the Times’ request for clarification, “… Houston would not offer a definitive answer, instead saying that it was ‘an ongoing conversation’ among church leaders and they were “on the journey with it.'”

From http://www.christianpost.com/news/hillsongs-brian-houston-on-gay-marriage-i-believe-the-writings-of-paul-are-clear-on-this-subject-128282/