Saturday, January 29, 2011

His name is written in the Book

Bradley Dean Smith, that is. But it’s not the Book of Life I’m talking about, it’s the Big Book of Reverends maintained by Wright County. A clerk in the license bureau there told me that Smith signed the book on May 22, 2008. And he’s Bradley Dean Smith in the book, not Bradlee Dean. In order to sign the book, and therefore have the civil authority to marry people, you must be ordained or licensed by a denomination, or have “authority from the minister’s spiritual assembly.”

The latter is the route that Smith apparently followed, listing as his spiritual assembly Sky Ministries – His Present Glory, Newport, Minnesota. “Sky Ministries” has a “heaven above,” “big guy upstairs” kind of a ring to it doesn’t it? Well, in this case, it refers to Judy Sky, the senior minister at the church. Really. So Bradley got his authority from Judy.

Hang on to that name; we’ll come back to it later.

But hasn’t Smith been in the “youth ministry” business for a decade or more? The earliest Form 990 non-profit return to the IRS for Dean’s youth ministry that I can find is for 2002. The return says that the principal purpose of the organization is a “religious youth ministry.” And it is a very curious return, indeed. Here is the top of the first page:

2002 990ez ycr heading

The hand-written language on the top just identifies it as an amended return, no big deal there. That happens all the time. But what is noteworthy is that it indicates that it is a short period “final return” for YCR, as if it was winding up and going out of business. And sure enough, YCR said it was closing up shop:

dissolution recitation by ycr

No forwarding address! But maybe there was! Shortly after this winding up, winding down, and jumping off the corporate cliff, Smith joined the Kingdom of Heaven. He even got a new picture ID for voting purposes:


They’re apparently very worried about voter fraud in the Kingdom of Heaven, too!

Smith and YCR attempted to slip the surly bonds of earth at about the same time. Smith and YCR did both return from taking a spin on Comet Kohoutek in 2008; Smith files as a minister in May, and YCR incorporates (or reincorporates) in April. It is the interim period between blast off and returning to earth that is especially interesting, and which has been the subject of some attention, already.

Also in 2008, in July, Old Paths Church, Inc. was incorporated in Minnesota as a nonprofit, with the same address as YCR in Annandale; Jake MacAulay is listed as the agent for both.

YCR and Old Paths are obviously related entities; in 2008, YCR gave or contributed just under $44,000 to Old Paths or an unincorporated entity with the same name; the figure for 2009 is $37,700. It’s funny, though, that no Form 990 non-profit returns can be found for Old Paths Church, Inc., even though according to YCR itself Old Paths received substantial money from YCR in 2008 and 2009, and the two organizations engaged in “joint ministry activities.” There ARE a number of religious Old Paths organizations, so it is possible that the monies were paid by YCR to another Old Paths, but YCR’s 990s are not transparent on the subject. In any event, there doesn’t seem to be any Old Paths Church entity that has filed a Form 990, from anywhere in the country.

So, did $81K plus get raptured, or what?

In the next installment, I’ll write about “YCR, The Missing Years,” and the taking of tax free ministerial housing allowances by Bradley Dean Smith and Jake MacAulay.

Karl Bremer and Andy Birkey did a lot of early spadework on this story; my thanks, well our thanks, to them.

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