Current Events

$1.5m Gone

Barbara Whitt headed the generosity ministry at First Baptist Church of Morristown, TN.  Only thing was, she was being generous with herself. A mother and son pleaded guilty in federal court Feb. 19 to stealing more than $1.5 million from a Southern Baptist church where the mother worked for 47 years. Barbara Whitt, 69, and Michael Whitt, 43, pleaded guilty in U.S. district court to bank fraud and money laundering related to funds embezzled from First Baptist Church in Morristown, Tenn. According to the Morristown Citizen Tribune, the pair remain free on bond until their sentencing is set in July. A widow and trusted financial secretary of the 1,800-member church, Whitt was accused of writing 1,647 checks to herself between January 2008 and April 2010. She was arrested in May, after a church audit found $500,000 was missing. via Associated Baptist Press – Mother, son confess to stealing church funds. WOW.  Over 1600 checks to herself in 28 months.  That’s over 50 checks per month.  written. to. herself. Can that be right? And the audit found $500k missing?  Wonder if they also found the 1,647 checks WRITTEN. TO. HERSELF. And I’m surprised that this didn’t raise a red flag at the church. This could quiet possibly be the worst case of financial oversight I’ve ever seen in a church. But, then again… I guess… who would ever suspect sweet 69 year old Barbara, who’d been working at the church for 47 years, would do a thing like that? The truth… it shouldn’t have mattered.  SOMEONE besides Barbara or her son should have been having checks and balances (pun intended) over the church books. What safeguards does your church have in place to make sure this doesn’t happen?