Nearly six months after former co-pastors Anthony and Harriet Jinwright were sentenced to prison for conspiracy and tax evasion, their former west Charlotte congregation installed a new senior minister Saturday.
Bishop Alan Porter, who at one point served as executive pastor under the Jinwrights, became the 12th senior pastor of Greater Salem Church. He inherited a congregation still struggling in the aftermath of the Jinwrights’ imprisonment and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition that was filed to avoid a foreclosure sale after the church defaulted on a $5 million loan.
Porter was raised in Washington, D.C., and has led churches in suburban Maryland. He now lives in Huntersville and had served as Greater Salem’s interim pastor since shortly after the Jinwrights were sentenced. At Saturday’s installation service, no mention was made of the Jinwrights, but several speakers alluded to the church’s recent struggles. Bishop Ralph Dennis of Kingdom Worship Center in Baltimore, who performed the installation, told Greater Salem members they had earned the right to rejoice.
“You’ve been through enough,” he said, “But we are still here… You’ve earned this praise.
The Jinwrights were convicted in May 2010 on multiple counts relating to tax evasion. In December, Anthony Jinwright was sentenced to eight years and nine months; his wife was sentenced to six years and eight months. Both are serving their sentences in federal prisons in West Virginia.
Witnesses testified during the couple’s five-week trial that the Jinwrights routinely collected “love offerings” from Greater Salem members, sometimes taking the cash home in bags. Others told of luxury cars, lavish expense accounts and vacations, all funded by the church.
An IRS agent who testified during sentencing said the Jinwrights failed to report more than $2.3 million in income between 1991 and 2008. Based on those calculations, the agent said, the couple failed to pay $1.4 million in state and federal taxes.