Yesterday, I read this article about Pastor, Dr. John J. Hunter Jr., the Senior Pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church after going to the the ABC/Channel 7 website. The article stated that Pastor Hunter had used $122,000 on the church's credit card for various expenses including jewelry and trips.
The article then stated that Pastor Hunter has not filed Federal Taxes in three years!
I checked out the pastor's resume and he holds a Juris Doctorate, he has a BA and a degree in Divinity studies. He is the son of a Bishop in the AME denomination so why or how did he get caught up in this mess? Greed? Ambition? Hubris? Maybe...and then maybe not!
One thing that I peeped cause I didn't see anything that contradicted it was that maybe and only pastor and God (IAM) know for sure but maybe he used the church's credit card as if it was a part of his salary. I am sure that F.AME, a large, very vibrant congregation in Los Angeles has afforded a salary or offerings that in addition to a pastors career were very generous.
This may explain the lack of oversight from the congregation and the presiding officers. Was this considered even treated by other pastors in the denonination if not this particular congregation as a perk? A fringe benefit?
JJ, over at The Old Black Church recently wrote about what is happening to the so called MEGA church who has adopted wall street's business operating models into how the institution is ran and the costs. So, ask yourself, if I have a pastor, who otherwise, would be an upperly mobile, buppie professional, making a nice chunk of dough in the regular business world and possiblly a MEGA church business model described by JJ then are fringe benefits such as using the business credit card so out of pocket?
Or is it just cause he's a PASTOR? A MAN of GAWD! That this is frowned upon?
Huh? Think about it?
I'll wait.......( Girl from Ipanema, playing in my head)
For the record, Pastor Hunter has apologized to his congregation and made plans to pay restitution to the church. Pastor Hunter also advised and agreed to implement new procedures including frequent independent audits.
Done thinking yet cause Girl from Ipanema starting to get to me?
Regardless of how this shakes out I have to ask. Where in the heck was the oversight in the CHURCH?
FAME is not a small church! This is Cecil Chip Murray's Church! Where were the Deacons, the Church board, the accountants? Where was the congregation?
That's right the Congregation? The final check and balance. Were they asleep?
It's unfair to just brand a pastor and there are several where this is occuring, a shyster or jack leg! It's almost hilarious that we want our pastors and public officials to be above reproach all while we are not! Just saying.....
A few hundred dollars can be overlooked, a few thousand dollars should be questioned but a Hundred Thousand dollars has to and I mean, has to....scratch that Better BE QUESTIONED!
The Churches money is NOT the Pastor's Money! That money is so the work can go forth. That means the ministry of the church and the health of the congregation. Now should the minister be paid well? Yes! But remember that's not what a minister got into ministry for? At least I hope not!
The church, all churches, should make sure that there are checks and balances on it's budget. The church budget is part of the churches ministry.
Will A Man (the congregation) rob God (IAM)?
Where in have we (The Congregation) robbed thee?
You ( The Congregation) have robbed me (IAM) in tithe's and offerings.
Bring me (God IAM) all the tithe's and offerings into the store house
and I (IAM) will pour out a blessing that you (The Congregation) will not have
room enough to receive!
Things like this damage a Pastors standing and diminish the impact of his ministry. Sure, we all mess up and none of us are perfect. No not one! None! Nada! Except he that is just and has come for the remittance of sins! That's Yeshua! (Jesus)
In the Black community we are already cynical towards our institutions! The last thing we need is another Jack Leg Preacher! ( Preacher/Pimp/Religion Hustler)
Now, I am not saying that Dr. Hunter is a Jack Leg or a Preacher Pimp! No, I believe he is probably a good minister and desires to be a good pastor but if he was to become a preacher/pimp it's because y'all, the congregation, the community, let him!
Oversight is not to be neglected! Not now, not never!
The church let him charge that money! It ain't his fault that you neglected your duty!
But he's a PASTOR! A MAN OF GOD (IAM) MISTA JAYCEE!
You're a Christian! You worship where he passsstors! So, shouldn't you have shown up to the monthly budget meeting? Shouldn't the church as a whole made sure that the ministry and resources were used properly? We are to be good STEWARDS, right?
Common Sense should tell you, that if you driving a older model Toyota, on bald tires, and questionable brakes, and everyone in the church is doing darn near the same, You shouldn't give the pastor a $50,000 Love Offering, A new Mercedes and his Monthly salary too. The Pastor ain't hustlin you! You hustlin yourself!
May the God (IAM)! Bless F.AME Church and Pastor Hunter! May God(IAM) Bless you and your church too especially if you being hustled or worse hustlin yourself!
BE Mindful! BE Prayerful! BE Careful!