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Deeper Life Church

Deeper Life Church
Accused of Exploiting the Indigent
San Antonio’s Deeper Life Church, part of a Tampa, FL-based organization comprising 38 churches stretching from Michigan to New Mexico, is being investigated following allegations that it closely controls and exploits homeless recruits, including children, especially in its fundraising efforts.[csr 3.2 2004]

A Deeper Life spokesman said recruits, whom he called volunteers, spend all of their time memorizing the word of God, except when they’re sleeping, or collecting money for the church “to help women and children.” Deeper Life calls itself a fund-raising entity rather than a church, although it files returns to the IRS as if it were a church, which means local authorities cannot investigate the organization’s finances. [csr 3.2 2004]

The Deeper Life founder is mail-order minister Melvin B. Jefferson, who trains the church’s pastors. Members live in rickety housing while Jefferson and his wife live in an 8,400 square foot home, fly a private jet, and own five cars, including a Bentley.[csr 3.2 2004]

Marjorie Suggs, of SAMM Ministries, who has worked with former Deeper Life members, says one family was evicted from church housing when parents refused to take their children out of school for the yearly pilgrimage to Florida required of members. In 1997 and 1998, four church officials and the church corporation were found guilty in a $20,000-a-month food stamp fraud case in Florida; the church accepted food stamps as offerings and then cashed them in at Deeper Life-owned meat markets. A number of children have been removed by Child Protective Services from the San Antonio establishment because of parental neglect. (Rachel L. Toalson, San Antonio Express-News, Internet, 6/21/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]