Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Co Down church founded by love-cheat pastor has £3m in assets


Gareth Mills, who was the former lead Pastor at Thriving Life Church in Newtownards pictured with his wife Melissa Mills .
Gareth Mills, who was the former lead Pastor at Thriving Life Church in Newtownards pictured with his wife Melissa Mills .

By Christopher Woodhouse

The church founded by disgraced love-cheat pastor Gareth Mills hauled in excess of £500,000 from its members in a year, Sunday Life can reveal.

Thriving Life also has assets worth more than £3million, according to documents filed with the Charity Commission.

The American-style super church in Newtownards asks members to make regular payments, starting at 10 per cent of their salary, to fund its charitable work and to support the staff who work there.

As a registered charity, Thriving Life does not pay any tax on money it receives.

Last week this newspaper exposed the illicit love affair between married Mills (41) and a female member of the church who is also married and who is around half his age.

The shamed man of God has not been heard from since and has not publicly commented on the scandal since being run out of the organisation by the remaining leaders.

Both Mills's marriage and that of the woman he had an affair with have been broken, with one source saying that he plans to start a new life with the woman.

Sign In

Thriving Life Church (TLC) - Newtownards
Thriving Life Church (TLC) - Newtownards

sad

Father-of-one Mills, along with another pastor, were paid a combined £89,789 under their contracts with Thriving Life in the year to May 2018.

Financial statements which are publicly available on the Charity Commission website show Thriving Life's income in the year to May 2018 was £808,750.

This was made of what are referred to as "Church Givings" totalling £518,343 and "other income" of £285,106.

Wages paid out that year to its other full-time staff members amounted to £113,494, with £501,511 spent on "charitable activities directly undertaken", according accounts lodged with the Charity Commission.

One man, who wished to remain anonymous, said one of his relatives has to pay 10 per cent of his wages every month directly to Thriving Life.

Gareth Mills
Gareth Mills

"That's the minimum amount you have pay, just to be at the party, so to speak," he told Sunday Life.

Another former member, who also did not wish to be named, said that church members are devastated by the sex scandal.

"What happened to that family is the most sad set of circumstances, especially as it happened under the church roof," they said.

The woman with whom Mills conducted his affair was baptised by him along with her future husband when they became members of the Thriving Life church.

But just 18 months after their marriage, Mills would betray the husband's faith in him and the church by having a sexual relationship with his wife behind his back.

When pastor Philip Allen broke the news to the congregation last Sunday, he said: "We acknowledge that trust in leadership has been severely damaged by this.

"Trust is built over a long time and broken in a second."

The father of the spurned husband said of Thriving Life: "That church was his entire life, but it has betrayed him, he's had everything torn away from him through no fault of his own.

"This is all about self-preservation and paying the mortgage now."

Thriving Life did not respond to our calls last night.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph