August 22, 2008 01:10am
PASTOR Michael Guglielmucci has been told by church officials to report to police, who will investigate what has happened to money raised during his cancer deception.
The Australian Christian Churches told The Advertiser yesterday that it was auditing Mr Guglielmucci’s bank accounts, which included money donated from people touched by his hit song Healer.
Mr Guglielmucci confessed his two-year fraudulent cancer battle at a national executive meeting of the ACC on Saturday, and was stripped of his credentials.
Edge Church International’s executive pastor Jonathan Fontanarosa said Mr Guglielmucci had “made it clear that he is not sick”.
“But we’re waiting on further investigation to find out the full truth,” he said. “The church is in shock . . . we were totally unaware of the situation.”
It was decided at Saturday’s meeting that a statement would be read on Mr Guglielmucci’s behalf at churches around Australia this Sunday.
But an email sent on Wednesday from Sydney’s Hillsong Church detailing the hoax was obtained by The Advertiser.
It also said Mr Guglielmucci’s wife and family were unaware of the deception. The Melbourne-based preacher is in Adelaide, but has gone to ground.
His parents, who founded Edge Church International, an Assemblies of God church at Reynella, are assisting him while he seeks professional help.
The ACC has promised that all money raised deceptively will be returned or donated to charity.
The Assemblies of God, Australia’s largest Pentecostal movement, adopted its new name of Australian Christian Churches in 2007.
The former pastor with one of Australia’s biggest youth churches, Planetshakers, inspired hundreds of thousands of young Christians around the world as he performed with an oxygen tube in his nose.
Healer became an anthem of faith for believers, many of whom are suffering illnesses and were praying for Mr Guglielmucci.
The song, featured on Hillsong’s latest album, debuted at No. 2 on the ARIA charts.
In a YouTube video, he tells how the news from the hospital that he had “quite an aggressive form of cancer” inspired his song. “I just went home. I knew I had to go home and needed to get alone with God,” he says in the video.
“I walked into my studio at home and for some reason. . . I sat at a piano and began to worship.
“I sang that song from start to finish. I was crying. I just realised that God had given me an incredible gift and I realise that song was going to be my strength.”
Church community sources said Mr Guglielmucci attended his medical appointments alone.
A scheduled appearance by him at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne this weekend has been cancelled.
While many in the church were embarrassed by the betrayal, others showed support on Facebook, where a page titled “We are STILL praying for you Mike Guglielmucci” was set up yesterday.
“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). Continue to pray for Mike. Pray for his spiritual healing. And pray for those people he has inspired that even if they lost respect for Mike that they don’t lose hope in God.