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PUBLISHED MONDAY NOVEMBER 17, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All rights reserved
New lifestyle includes a $310,000 coach

By John W. Allman
News Journal staff writer

PENSACOLA - It is a bus big enough for a band.

The 42,000-pound Newell Coach towers over the garage next to Pastor John Kilpatrick's home in a Seminole, Ala., subdivision.

His corporation, Feast of Fire Ministries Inc., bought the bus in 1996 for $310,000 because Kilpatrick does not like to fly.

"I travel, but this bus has not changed me," Kilpatrick said.

"I have always strived to set an example by not living above the means of my people," he said.

But the bus is one example of the expansive lifestyle he has moved up to since he brought revival to his church, the Brownsville Assembly of God, in June 1995.

Kilpatrick sold his Coila Street house in Pensacola last year and moved to a far grander home in Seminole Landing, an upscale lakefront and riverfront subdivision near the Alabama-Florida line. Now he and his wife, Brenda, are building an even grander home fronting the Styx River. The house plans are from a selection of luxury-home designs from "Southern Living" magazine.

Present and former friends and church members say Kilpatrick has always liked to mix socially with wealthy people. They say he has a noticeable penchant for luxury: custom suits, a Rolex watch and a diamond ring.

He cares about his appearance so much that he got a perfectly styled hair piece. He made a joke about it the first Sunday he wore it: He asked the congregation, "Have you noticed my 'new tie' today?" and got a big laugh.

Kilpatrick rebuffs criticism that he is living in luxury.

"I used to get pants custom-made way before the revival even started because my calves are so large," he said. "But I have not done that in years."

He said the bus is an economical way for him to travel to speak at pastor conferences and at other churches around the country.

"If I paid for airline tickets, it would cost a fortune. The bus is much cheaper," he said. "I use it strictly for ministry, never for personal use."

But that specific motor coach model is available only by custom order. Kilpatrick's bus, which had a previous owner, is nearly 40 feet long and includes all the amenities of a home: a lounge area with a color television set, white leather sleeper sofa and matching leather chair; a full kitchen with microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator and stove; a dining table with cushioned booths; a bathroom with sink, toilet and full shower with a curved-glass door; and a roomy bedroom.

Kilpatrick does not drive the bus himself; he has a personal driver.

Neither Kilpatrick nor the Brownsville church would say who pays the driver or who else travels with Kilpatrick.

A salesman at Leisure Tyme RV in Pensacola said the Newell line of buses is the best and most luxurious available. "Just like you can buy a Rolls-Royce --or you can get a nice Toyota."

Kilpatrick's ministry listed the purchase price of the bus as $310,000 and paid $6,200 in Alabama tax. Annual renewal of the bus's Alabama license tag is about $1,300.

News Journal staff writer Alice Crann contributed to this report.

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