Tithes swell Queenstown’s City Impact Church

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Queenstown’s City Impact Church received almost half a million dollars in “tithes and offerings” from its Wakatipu congregation for 2009. 

The church’s financial accounts, obtained by Mountain Scene, show a “tithes and offerings” total of $466,727 – up 36 per cent on 2008. 

Averaged across its 150 churchgoers, that’s $60 a week each or $3100 each a year. 

Tithing – a 10 per cent worship tax – is heavily pushed. Mountain Scene attended a Sunday morning service and 
it was pointed out that tithes are accepted via credit card, cheque, cash and automatic payment. 

The church’s Queenstown pastor Daryl Watson says people are welcome to attend services whether they tithe or not. 

Watson dismisses a claim in the Sunday Star-Times that City Impact adult tithes average $150 weekly. 

“It’s nowhere near that. Most people don’t tithe,” he says, claiming the average is $10-$12, including kids. 

Another City Impact earner is the attached day care centre – about 50 youngsters up to school age attend. The accounts show it earned $609,386 in parent fees and Education Ministry funding, against operating expenses of $535,178, leaving $74,208 over. Together, the church and childhood centre employ nine full-timers and four part-timers at an annual wage bill of $520,000. 

Combining church and childcare operations, City Impact Queenstown returned a surplus of $154,023 last year. As a registered charity, there’s no tax. 

City Impact’s complex at Frankton, built in 2007, seats more souls than Queenstown’s Memorial Hall and extra capacity planned will take total seating to 750. The church has a congregation of only 150, pastor Daryl Watson says – 40-50 families. 

A $1.6m BNZ loan, costing $149,000 in interest last year, is presumably a mortgage over the Frankton complex – but City Impact Queenstown still sits pretty with net equity of $2.732m. 

Senior pastor Peter Mortlock, the Aucklander at the pinnacle of City Impact’s empire, is a shareholding director of several spin-off companies, most of which appear dormant. 

City Impact Enterprises and City Impact Queens-town Enterprises – where Mortlock holds 30 and 40 per cent respectively – appear linked to online and bookshop sales of CDs, bibles and religious books, plus DVDs of Mortlock sermons and relationship programmes selling at between $12-$25. 

City Impact Church Trust, the master entity of all five NZ churches, had total assets of $17.5m in financial year 2008 – of which $16m was “property, plant and equipment”