Need advice....embezzlement of church funds....

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by doodlebug, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. doodlebug

    doodlebug
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    There is so much more to this story, but I have to keep the details limited otherwise this post would be pages long. The bottom line is that our SB church has two funds -- general and a building fund. The building fund treasurer's name was the only one on her account (no one else has access to this account but her). She had all the statements mailed to her house, and all bills paid by her were mailed to her house as well. The assistant treasurer of the general fund was at the bank doing business, and the teller mentioned they received a deposit, but they didn't know which fund it was supposed to go into. When it was determined to go in the building fund, the teller alerted the asst. treas. that there was some strange transactions with that account and the balance was much higher than was being reported to the church. The asst treas. took one of our deacons (we only have two) to the bank to investigate (since the head deacon is related to the building fund treasurer) and the bank manager called the b.f. treasurer and denied access to the account. For two weeks, our pastor kept mentioning that people in our church were being falsely accused. During this time, the b.f. treas resigned from all her positions (she was also counting all the money for Sunday School by herself). Basically there has been no accountablity for this woman because of her relation to the head deacon. This past Wednesday night, she asked for prayers and forgiveness from the church because she "made some mistakes on the books". My husband asked our pastor point blank if she was stealing, and his answer was "YES". The pastor then said he advised her to tell the truth because it would be easier on her. She didn't tell the whole truth in her statement to the church however. The pastor (somewhat with the personality of gomer pyle...golly gee, can it be?) is not doing anything at this moment. The former b.f. treas refuses to turn over the bank statements. The two deacons are split on what to do because the head deacon is related closely to this treas. I'm distraught. I know I have to forgive her, and I feel in my heart I have already, but I also believe we are supposed to hold her accountable. We have to set an example for our church and community that sin has natural consequences. How do we hold her accountable in this situation if she won't turn over the bank records and we have to have a court order to get them without her permission??? How do we fight the Ten Commandments being removed in our community public areas if we can't even uphold them in our church? Is this something that I should sit back and be quiet, or should I be doing something (besides prayer)? Help....
     
  2. williemakeit

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    She broke the law (both God's and man). There are consequences to both. Definately pray for her considering that she robbed from God, but also pray for her as she is spending jail time for breaking man's law. Of course, they could give her probation depending upon the seriousness of the embezzlement, and if this is her first offense. Repentence is required of her, and forgiveness is required of you, but there are consequences from God, and from Caesar. Remember the denominational cover-up recently in the news? An abomination that wrecked the lives of children and was allowed to continue unabated for years. Is this sin any greater or less? Should you be quiet? There are too many quiet in the church these days.
     
  3. USN2Pulpit

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    Something very similar has recently taken place in my neck of the woods, except on a community-wide scale. It was our ministerial alliance treasurer. Now the community - and many of its churches - are rougly split on how to handle it.
     
  4. Brother Ian

    Brother Ian
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    You must hold her accountable. She must turn over the bank records. If she won't do that, you can easily get copies from the bank. Have an independant person review these records and conduct a acomplete audit to determine the extent of the problem.

    Church discipline is probably in order if she continues to make things difficult for the church. The deacon with which she has close ties to may need to be addressed as well.

    Additionally, it sounds like the bank is aware of this person's misdeeds and the church needs to make things right with them as well.
     
  5. Helen

    Helen
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    And never, NEVER give just one person access to an account like that! By removing accountability from her in the beginning, the church handed her a monstrous temptation which she clearly fell for. There is double culpability here, for whoever set up the building fund under just her name was not doing an intelligent or even common sense thing.

    But yes, she must be held accountable. You can forgive her, but that doesn't mean you forgive the debt. Two different things. Arrangements should be made for her to pay back what she took.
     
  6. doodlebug

    doodlebug
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    Thanks for the replies so far. According to the bank, due to the Patriot Act, we cannot get access to the bank records because she was the only individual listed on the account. No one else can have access without a court order. Our church will not pursue this matter legally at this point because the head deacon is related and is calling the shots. He wants to handle it personally without the other deacon involved. As I said before there is a lot more history involved. The head deacon has pretty much run the church, the pastor is afraid of him, and the second deacon is fairly "green". The two deacons families do not get along and have had many disputes over the years (prior to the second becoming a deacon). There has been no church discipline in the church except when deemed necessary by the head deacon. We had an issue of child abuse by our youth director (his wife was abusing their child physically at church and home and were under investigation by the state), and the head deacon scolded the "green" deacon's wife for reporting the child abuse. The youth director stayed in his position until his wife insisted they leave the church. This is where the ultimate dividing of the church started more than a year ago. The pastor is on the fence because of many complications (the b.f. treasurer got the pastor's son a job, and the pastor is afraid she will get it taken away)...among other things. Our pastor is great except when it comes to admin and church discipline. He wants everyone to like him, and worries too much about it.
    My husband will not leave this church (again, a long story), and I cannot live like this....I can't stop feeling that God wants me to do something, but I don't know what. I want to act within His parameters and not mine. So confused!
     
  7. dianetavegia

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    The church secretary of our previous (small, country) church stole over $20,000. When police went to her home, they found uncashed checks everywhere. The treasurer had allowed HER to make our bank deposits and count the money each money.

    The church is receiving a few dollars each month from this mother of 3 and will probably never bounce back from such a loss.
     
  8. doodlebug

    doodlebug
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    I agree with you Helen. However, our church is old fashioned, and the belief before now was that we do things the way we always have. (Not my belief, but the elder folks of the church.)
    It was not public knowledge that only her name was on the account until this all came out and she refused access to the records (after all, if you have nothing to hide, why wouldn't you show your records?). According to our pastor, she has paid back most of what she took, but there is no actual proof of what she has taken and put back because we don't have the bank records. I am so disheartened at the fact that our pastor is accepting her word on this knowing she has committed fraud on our church. We don't really know the extent of this problem as she served as S.S. Secretary and B.F. Treas for years and was always left alone with money. The head deacon has always protected this woman (she is his sister-in-law) and her husband. As I said, I am confused. If the pastor and deacons aren't going to do anything, what can I do that will still be of God?
     
  9. Helen

    Helen
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    Perhaps get thee to another church....
     
  10. buckster75

    buckster75
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    I agree with williemakeit we are to hold people accountable. No one should be doing any counting "alone" not because you don't trust them but because we remain above reproach. and if you expected the "head" deacon to do something then the Treas. and "head" deacon should have had no relationship that would have prevented the "head" deacon from taking action.
    Other lesson learned . keep no stements at someones house. the bank documents of a church are open records. they need be kept at the church and anyone who wants to see tham can. This lady needs to be told those records belong to the church and the church will take what ever action necessary to get them back. have a lawyer call her. it is time for her to come completely clean. she can not say she is asking forgiveness and still holding on to the records.
    don't sit and take this . if the chuch gets into that "keep the peace" mode remind them that unity comes before peace in the church and for this to heal all proper steps must be taken. this person needs to be churched after she has given up the records regardless of her attitude.
     
  11. Brother Ian

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    Helen hit it. Single point failure and lack of accountability.
     
  12. buckster75

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    do not allow this to handled like the head deacon is suggesting . there are no secret dealing in the baptist church. our church had a similar incedent several years ago and it was handled by the deacons and you guessed it secretly. many in the church are still not trusting of some of the deacons because of this. your church will suffer long term if this is not handled in the open and by the Book.
     
  13. PamelaK

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    Where is this woman's husband? He may not be held accountable legally but should be involved in this as far as the church is concerned.
    Also, I agree with Helen about the dual culpability. Pastor, deacons, whoever was responsible for allowing this lack of accountability, should also have to apologize to the church for not doing things decently and in order.
     
  14. buckster75

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    we had a business meeting a few months ago to add another name to the bank account. all we needed was a statement telling the bank when we met and the church had added so and so the the account.
     
  15. buckster75

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    don't leave the church. sounds like the Spirit is moving you to a concern or you would not have posted this here.
     
  16. buckster75

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    you are in a Baptist church. you have a voice that counts as much as any deacon(or any one else in the church). you are to hold those in autority accountable to. They are accountable to do things scripturally. the deacons really have no authority given to them except what the church gives them . many baptist do not realize this.
     
  17. buckster75

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    deacons=servant
    servant of the body of Christ, the chuch.
    don't let them bully you or any one who wants to do right by scripture.
     
  18. Magnetic Poles

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    Helen is absolutely correct. There was a major failure of accountability and control. I would not give donations to an organization that handles their finances this way.

    Oh, and I would forgive her, but have no problem turning the matter over to the police.
     
  19. doodlebug

    doodlebug
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    I struggled so much today. Part of me wanted to report her to the county attorney, police, and even at her work (because she works with some accounts at her job). I couldn't find peace with it. I know that Sunday morning will be very very difficult for me. Please pray for us. The husband claims he didn't know anything about the embezzlement, but he was the S.S. director and he never went to class, he stayed in the area of the office and often went outside to smoke a cigarette. The husband has been very quiet and has not defended his wife publicly. She is doing all of the talking.
    The head deacon issues have been a problem for a while, and though the pastor agrees there is a problem, he is afraid of the deacon. He stated that the head deacon "holds the pulse of the church". One example of our personal experience with the head deacon -- I was asked to take a position in the church (the pastor personally asked me because he felt God had told him to, and I had been praying about a similar position for over two years), but the now-ex-b.f.treas found out that they were asking me, and she pushed her way into the position. When I say "pushed" I should say that the nominating committee in which she was a member of, was bullied into placing her in the position. In the 12-15 weeks she was the teacher (another position she has resigned), she missed over half of the classes. She was not sick, she went camping over the weekends or just chose not to show up. During this time, I was asked to fill in. After a few weeks of her not showing up, my husband and I asked to meet with the deacons (our pastor was extremely busy). We asked if the deacons would consider stepping into the situation. We asked for a meeting with this woman with witnesses (she refused to even acknowledge me, and refused any attempts for me to speak privately with her). We were denied by the head deacon. We were told by this head deacon that Matthew 18 has never been upheld by the deacons of our church in his 30 years as a deacon, even though our church by-laws clearly state that we are to use Matthew 18 as a guideline for church discipline. The head deacon basically said he would speak to the woman (his sister-in-law) and that was the end of it. She remained in the position until she quit (after missing 2 weeks in a row). I was finally asked again, and though I had some negative votes, it was not enough to keep me from the position.
    What this is -- church politics.....I can't even begin to tell you the things that have happened personally to us involving these families. This family has been a wrecking ball for years, and everyone has been so afraid of them. It's time to take our church back! I just don't know how.
    The worst part about all of this is that my husband and I have been working very hard to get people (including unsaved relatives) to come to church...how can we invite others to a church which is so messed up?
    Please pray that God will give me the strength and discernment to do His will. Please continue with your responses. They are a great help.
     
  20. Thankful

    Thankful
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    Doodlebug, I am sorry that you and your church are experiencing so many problems.
    Fortunately, I have never been involved in a like situation.

    I would probably leave the church because I do not like conflict that keeps people from praising and worshiping our Lord.

    However,

    You have said that your husband will not leave the church. What does your husband want you to do about this matter? He is your spiritual leader. The two of you should pray together and decide what God wants you to do.

    I would certainly hesitate to involve any authorities myself without proof of what is going on. It seems that a lot of this might be hearsay other than the woman will not give the bank statements to the church, etc.
     

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