Pastor Michael Guglielmucci spun gospel of lies
HE preached to thousands about his terminal illness and tugged at hearts with a hit song.
The problem is, the pastor wasn't dying at all.
Michael Guglielmucci, who inspired hundreds of thousands of young Christians with his terminal cancer "battle", has been exposed as a fraud.
Guglielmucci, whose parents established Edge Church International, an Assemblies of God church at O'Halloran Hill in Adelaide's southern suburbs, now is seeking professional help.
Earlier this year, Mr Guglielmucci released a hit song, Healer, which was featured on Sydney church Hillsong's latest album.
The song debuted at No. 2 on the ARIA charts.
It since has become an anthem of faith for believers, many of whom are suffering their own illness and were praying for a miracle for Mr Guglielmucci, who has claimed for two years to be terminally ill.
In one church performance that has attracted 300,000 hits on YouTube, he performs his hit song with an oxygen tube in his nose.
It appears Mr Guglielmucci, who was a pastor with one of Australia's biggest youth churches, Planetshakers, may even have deceived his own family.
Pastor told congregation he had cancer
Recorded hit song Healer to inspire people
He's a fraud "This news has come as a great shock to everyone including, it seems, his own wife and family," Hillsong general manager George Aghajanian said in an email to his congregation yesterday.
"Michael has confirmed that he is not suffering with a terminal illness and is seeking professional help in Adelaide with the support of his family. We are asking our church to pray for the Guglielmucci family during this difficult time."
The Australian Christian Church said Mr Guglielmucci's credentials immediately were suspended once he told the national executive that his cancer claims were "untrue".
"The national executive is taking this matter very seriously and is awaiting the results of medical tests before determining the full extent of the discipline that will be imposed upon him," vice president Alun Davies said.
"We are very concerned for the many people who have been or will be hurt by Michael's actions.
"We encourage all of our churches to pray for all those affected."
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, (no longer available) 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.
On August 21, 2008, Michael Guglielmucci, the composer of the track Healer from the album Saviour of the World and a former pastor of Planetshakers City Church, announced that, contrary to his earlier statments, he had not suffered from cancer during the previous two years. He also stated that close friends, family, and even his wife didn't know. Planetshakers City Church pastors, as well as Hillsong Church (where Michael was serving in the music ministry), released communications to church members confirming this.
In an email sent to the Planetshakers City Church congregation, Russell & Sam Evans wrote:
It is with great sadness that we send you this email. We wanted to tell you all in person but because others were being informed outside our church we felt it necessary to send you this correspondence. Michael Guglielmucci has informed us that he does not suffer from cancer, was never diagnosed with cancer, and has never suffered from the disease. This admission has come as a great shock to everyone including his Wife and family who had no knowledge of the matter. We know this will shock and hurt many of you and we offer you our support and prayers. Our pastoral team will be available to offer any assistance in regard to this situation. We are all saddened by this revelation and our prayers are with the Guglielmucci family. We would encourage you to take this situation to the Lord in prayer responding out of a heart of love, grace and truth. While it is difficult for all of us to understand why this happened we would encourage you all to a closer personal walk with our Lord Jesus.