Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Church Finances: Discovery

Some pieces of evidence recently led me down a twisting journey of discovery. I know a lot more about my old Church's finances this week than I did last week or the week before. I gained access to crucial information -- and I learnt two things, mainly:
• In 2002, three people signed a bank mandate which contravened the Church's 1998 constitution. Then in 2014, the same three and one more, signed a bank mandate which contravened both the 1998 and 2004 constitutions. They then acted in terms of the contraventions, not the constitution. The bank at first denied that it was in possession of the Church constitution, stating that they had checked this. Then they showed me a copy, on their system. It was the same as mine.
• More important, perhaps, are the actual mandates signed. Every executive (voting) member of the Church is now excluded from any knowledge of financial transactions, without express permission of the signatories. To put it simply, every bit of information about the Church's finances must be accessed through the signatories, every possible misgiving must be channeled through them, and they effect all transactions. Not even a minister or trustee has access besides.
I said to the bank that this was a "self-referencing" system. How could this happen? There is no way that anyone else can look in -- and that with the auditor having resigned, for posing as an auditor. Ralph Egar, a Regional Manager of Standard Bank, advised that the Church should now call a Special Church Meeting -- a meeting of its "executive" (its voting members) -- to break out of the situation it is now in -- and he offered specific advice. This is based on hard evidence that I shared with the bank, and hard evidence that the bank shared with me -- let no one say that it was loose talk. In fact I would commend the bank for, themselves, having broken out of this situation. It was procedurally questionable but morally right, and an answer to specific prayer. I have put up just a snippet of my conversation with Ralph Egar above (click on Play). OBSERVATION: And, once the members have broken out of this situation -- if they ever can -- I have said (backed up by the Auditors' Board) that there should be a complete independent review of the finances -- with the past minister on board, and anyone who has vital information as to what was going on. Also, when this opens up, the Church should examine what they did to their minister.

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