International House of Prayer Kansas City denies report it plans to close

International House of Prayer founder Mike Bickle.
International House of Prayer founder Mike Bickle. | YouTube/Mike Bickle Official

International House of Prayer Kansas City has denied a report that the ministry is in the process of shutting down but says it's in a restructuring phase that will shutter some aspects of its operations this year, including its school of ministry.

"In a word, IHOPKC is NOT closing," the ministry told The Christian Post in a statement Monday.

"To state the obvious, the last six months have been a test to the strengths and fortitude of our missions-based organization. Over the course of these last months, our leadership team has tirelessly endeavored to review and analyze the entire IHOPKC organizational structure and the many missions we have undertaken over our 24 years of existence," the statement continued. "That review and reflection has led to internal decisions to begin a transition and reorganization process, which will allow us to focus on our main mission yet deal with the realities of finance."

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The Roys Report, citing a leaked recording from leaders at an internal IHOP University staff meeting as well as an email from IHOP University President Matt Candler, reported this week that IHOPKC was in the process of shuttering for good due to the financial impact of founder Mike Bickle's sexual abuse scandal. IHOPKC permanently cut ties with Bickle last December.

In the statement to CP, IHOPKC insisted that the ministry intends to continue despite phasing out IHOPU, its ministry school.

"We are NOT closing the 24/7 prayer room; it remains a main stay of our existence. We do intend to review the functionality of various operational locations and will likely consolidate several. We have also decided to conclude the operation of IHOPU, our ministry school, after this year's graduation," the ministry said.

Officials with the ministry also appeared to deny claims that they are seeking to escape liability connected to the allegations of sexual abuse against Bickle.

"We have supported and will continue to support any and all victims of abuse, sexual or otherwise, whether here within IHOPKC, or anywhere in the community. To be clear, there have been no lawsuits filed against IHOPKC; the allegations of prior misconduct pertained to an individual, not our organization," the ministry said.

"As we seek to create a 'bettered' version of IHOPKC, we may close some windows of our mission while opening others, but once again, IHOPKC is NOT closing," officials added.

Leaders of IHOPKC, including IHOP University President Matt Candler, revealed that the ministry was losing some $500,000 per month due to donors being too connected to Bickle, The Roys Report noted. 

"IHOPKC as an organization is beginning to wind down," Candler said in the leaked recording of the meeting. "We're going to be maintaining our prayer room and eventually beginning a new organization."

Isaac Bennett, who leads IHOPKC's Forerunner Church, also noted that lawsuits from the victims in Bickle's sexual abuse scandal presented the ministry with "significant liabilities."

"We're the people to sue at the end of the day," he said. "That produces significant liabilities."

Boz Tchividjian, Billy Graham's grandson, an attorney and longtime advocate of sexual abuse survivors who is representing one of Bickle's alleged victims, said if IHOPKC leaders believe the ministry can just shutter then re-emerge as a rebranded organization to escape liability, they are living in "fantasyland."

"The notion that they can just shut it down and start a new organization and all of that prior potential liability is wiped away is fantasyland," he told the news outlet. "To suddenly take all the property, put it in name of [a] new organization to limit liability that would what I believe be called a fraudulent transfer. A court would not allow that."

Bennett reportedly explained in the leaked recording that while IHOPKC has been looking at different ways to navigate the Bickle scandal, they have found no way around the liability the organization has been exposed to as a result of the allegations of the ministry's mishandling of the abuse allegations.

"In cases where there's clergy abuse, where there's allegations that are outstanding — when there's now interest in having an investigation that goes back through all of our 24-year history to find cases where there's been mishandling of abuse, or where there's been cover-up, or whatever else it is people believe has been gone on — those things will produce inevitably a contingent of individuals who are wanting to get restitution," Bennett said. "And they're not going to go knock on Mike's door because, well, he probably won't answer. But they're not going to knock on Mike's door because he doesn't have any money. But IHOPKC has facilities."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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