Get It in Writing
We all would admit that these are strange times. It calls for keen discernment. Churches now have to protect themselves from lawsuits initiated by supposed brothers. Brother Whitman related to me of a treasurer who embezzled money from his church out of an overflow account. Every month that had a fifth Sunday, money was put in a special account.
In the beginning of his new ministry at this church he wanted to orient himself on the finances. Upon inquiring he found out that the treasurer had all canceled checks sent to his home address. Brother Whitman called the bank and requested that they send the canceled checks to the church.
When he went through them he found a $300 check written to the treasurer and signed.
At this very time the deacon board had a business meeting. Pastor Whitman waited till the treasurer's report was accepted and showed the check cashed by the treasurer. The chairman looked at the check and handed it back to the treasurer. The incident was dropped and Brother Whitman thought he had lost his evidence.
The very next day the chairman of the board called and explained that he was asked by the treasurer to co-sign for a $1,000 loan to pay back money "borrowed" from the church by the treasurer. The chairman was told that if he did he was as big a crook as the treasurer.
Pastor Whitman immediately called the bank and asked of they had any canceled checks from the church. They didn't but did have all checks written from the church on microfilm. After going through them he found that the treasurer had embezzled $7,500 from the church.
A lawyer friend was immediately consulted. It was advised that if the church did not legally prosecute the man they must get a signed written confession and an agreement to pay back the church.
The lawyer then shared this story. A deacon in a church caught a man in the act of embezzling $5,000. The man admitted it and asked for forgiveness at a deacon's meeting. They forgave him and dropped it. The man left the church and two years later when someone inquired why he left, the inquirer was told that "it was because of the $5,000 he stole."
This got back to the embezzler and he hired a lawyer. They sued the church for $10,000 and won. The church had nothing in writing.
Armed with the lawyer's information Brother Whitman went to his board and shared everything. They then confronted the embezzler and in the presence of the lawyer he signed a confession and an agreement to pay the money back.
At approximately the same time it was found out that the embezzler had a summer cottage. When confronted, the ex-treasurer denied it until the pastor pointed out the color and many details. He was then instructed by gutsy Pastor Whitman to sell it and pay the church $7,500.
The embezzler reluctantly carried out the request and paid the church from the sale of his cottage.
The men of this church did not go to court over the embezzlement, but getting his confession signed and an agreement to pay back the church was important to protect the church and have the Lord's money returned.
"Pastor, the Lord told us that you are to move on."
One Saturday morning in one of Pastor Whitman's churches he was praying in his study. When he concluded, he gathered his family together and went to the scheduled Sunday School picnic.
Getting out of the car he was approached by a man who had gathered a group of brothers around him; and as his pattern had been with other previous pastors, he said, "Pastor, we've been talking (no doubt at his instigation) and the Lord told us that your pastorate is over."
Without blinking an eye, Pastor Whitman said, "That is very interesting! Why I was just talking to the Lord no more than 20 minutes ago and He never mentioned it."
Needless to say Pastor Whitman Stayed!