There's is no question Bishop I. V. Billiard has built a religious empire at New Light Church in Houston. There are thousands of members with 6 locations including one in Austin.
This is the controversy that's sparking heated debates on social media. It's a news letter by Bishop Billiard sent to some members of New Light.
It tells members of the flock they would like to raise $50,000 to replace the blades on the church's helicopter. The letter goes on to tell those who donate $52 each will receive a blessing from God. The letter from Billiard indicates if you donate they could received the transportation mode or car of their choice from God...That blessing would arrive in either 52 days or 52 weeks.
We spoke to this Houston couple who briefly attended New Light - they differ on the issue of donating to replace the blades on the helicopter.
Michelle says, "there are people out there who need that $50 for something else and transportation maybe he can get a company to donate it."
By the way, we're concealing their identities because they still have ties to New Light.
Roger says, "yeah I think it's a good idea if that's what it needs."
If you didn't know according to this newsletter New Light and Bishop Billiard actually have an aviation department at the church. Members say it's used to fly the Bishop and staff to multiple churches during Sunday services. After all there are six different locations.
Bishop Billiard's office responded to our request for a comment on this matter and they issued this statement:
New Light Church World Outreach and Worship Centers, Inc. regularly make appeals to Special Partners, Members and friends of the church for the support of various programs and services. Occasionally, it is not uncommon for an appeal to be directed toward specific Kingdom projects or specific needs. In this instance, the appeal was directed to our Special Partners and friends who are familiar with the Biblical principles upon which we base our faith. We sincerely regret if anyone was offended by this appeal in that it was not our intent.
Bishop Ira V. Billiard