Church cuts ties with evangelist after newspaper report
May 20, 2008
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday May 20, 2008
A Hallandale Beach church where the Rev. Daniel S. Mundell has held revivals and preached for nearly a year has cut ties with the evangelist, a church spokeswoman said Monday.
The action came after the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported May 11 that Mundell had raised money for a church in Fort Lauderdale that he never built, solicited donations for overseas mission trips he never took and made predictions that followers said never came true.
“I told him he had to leave,” said Melody Gustafson, vice president of Good Shepherd Ministries, where Mundell has been preaching out of a storefront in a strip mall on Hallandale Beach Boulevard. “This is a 55-year-old ministry. I couldn’t let his scandal bring it down.”
Mundell did not respond to an e-mail Monday. He has declined to comment but told the Sun-Sentinel he would grant an interview after a June 11 court hearing in Pinellas County.
Mundell, 55, was arrested there in October on a misdemeanor charge of violating a domestic violence protection order obtained by his estranged wife, Kimberly, by going to his ministry office. He has pleaded not guilty. The Mundells, married for 20 years, are in the midst of a divorce.
Gustafson, the daughter of Good Shepherd’s Pastor David Epley, said she was aware of Mundell’s personal turmoil but not the allegations from former followers.
“When I read how adversely other people had been affected at other churches . . .if it’s true, it goes against everything the church stands for,” Gustafson said. “People come to church for hope and faith, and if you destroy that hope and faith, then you have nothing.”
The Sun-Sentinel reported earlier this month that through church services and crusades across the country, Mundell had raised millions of dollars from mostly poor worshipers, encouraging them to give, even if it’s their last $100, and God would bless them with wealth.
“Church isn’t about raising money,” Gustafson said. “It’s about healing and uplifting people, and if that becomes the primary focus, then something is very, very wrong.”
She said she informed Mundell last week that he would no longer be allowed to preach at Good Shepherd.
Mundell had advertised on his weekday radio program, broadcast on WEXY, 1520 AM, that he was starting a ministers training school at Good Shepherd, with the first class to be held May 17.
Gustafson said she allowed Mundell to come Saturday to inform students the school would be moving and canceled his Sunday church service. “He will never be back,” she said.
Gustafson described Mundell as a “guest pastor” and said Good Shepherd was “totally separate” from Mundell’s New Generation Ministries.
Literature distributed during services in recent weeks and the sign on the door of the church listed both New Generation and Good Shepherd ministries. By Monday afternoon, the sign had been removed.
“I did not know his name was on that door until this morning,” said Gustafson, whose office is in the same strip mall as the church.
As recently as last week, Mundell said on his radio program that God had joined him with Epley, whom he described as a “wonderful soldier in the army of the Lord.”
Gustafson said her father has suffered health problems and is recovering from surgery. She said Epley helped Mundell for several weeks last year and, with his own health failing, let him continue preaching “so the members have some place” to go.
Gustafson served on the board of New Generation until she resigned in February. “I was not comfortable being affiliated with him,” she said.
Raised by Pentecostal grandparents, Mundell says he has been preaching the Gospel since he was 8. He says he was paralyzed from a 1976 car accident and bound to a wheelchair for two and a half years until Jesus healed him.
Mundell preaches financial prosperity and is part of a network of traveling evangelists who hold crusades throughout the country, telling followers they will be debt-free, even millionaires.
For 10 years, Mundell preached at the Solid Rock Family Worship Center in the Fort Lauderdale area, raising money for a church that was never built. Mundell closed Solid Rock in 2004. The next year he moved to Safety Harbor, near Tampa, where he bought a $1.8 million house with basketball and tennis courts and a putting green, the Sun-Sentinel reported May 11.
Mundell filed for bankruptcy protection last June and in January lost his Safety Harbor home in foreclosure.
On his radio program last week, Mundell said the newspaper report had actually brought former followers back to him. He did not address his fundraising or spending of donations.
“Is it something I’m ashamed of?” he asked on his Thursday broadcast. “No, I’m holding my head up high.”
• Original title: Hallandale Beach church cuts ties with evangelist after Sun-Sentinel report
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