Financial oversight paramount
The criminal case tied to the theft of $123,481 from the Pleasantville Assembly of God in Bedford County between 2011 and 2017 is winding toward a close, but there’s still an important issue that needs to be addressed.
It’s the question of why only one person was entrusted with official handling of the church’s financial assets when more than one individual or a committee should have been designated to carry out that important responsibility.
This isn’t the first time, and no doubt won’t be the last, in this region and beyond, that too much trust regarding money will have been placed in one person, with a financial loss as the result.
But, like now, such a situation can be expected to evoke wonderment about the reasons for the victimized entity having opened the way for its loss, when it should have heeded lessons from others’ troubling, widely reported experiences.
This editorial isn’t intended to heap criticism on the Pleasantville Assembly of God’s pastor or other leaders of the congregation. They are good people doing their best to serve their congregation’s needs while trying, at the same time, to carry out the will of God.
Rather, this editorial’s purpose is to remind others that, no matter the record of honesty that a trusted individual has compiled, financial duties require oversight to ensure that errors or bad decisions aren’t made along the way.
Regarding the Pleasantville church, it was the now-former treasurer who pleaded guilty to theft of the money in question, purportedly for the purpose of helping a family member. Over the years, other entities, such as businesses or organizations, have experienced losses in cases rooted in gambling, out-of-control indebtedness, or simply falling victim to money’s temptations.
The woman at the center of the Pleasantville case has a sizable price to pay for her wrongdoing. Under a plea bargain connected to her guilty plea, she’ll be expected to make restitution to the church of no less than $123,480, serve five years’ probation and perform 500 hours of community service.
From her perspective, she’s fortunate not to be facing jail time, but the best interests of the church still will be served.
Nevertheless, pilfering of the money deprived the church of some opportunities to do good works or provide other help to people in need in the right way.
That was the big tragedy embedded in what occurred.
No entity, whether it be a unit of government, business, club or organization – or church — should hand all money responsibilities to one individual, even though probably more than 99 percent of people shouldering money responsibilities never would misappropriate even one penny.
It’s long been clear how much damage one person can do, if there’s no human mechanism in place to serve as a second set of eyes.
Going forward, the challenge facing members of the Pleasantville Assembly of God will be to try to live the Bible’s message about forgiveness while allowing the justice system to do its necessary job.