ACA Repeal Concerns • Church Camp Rape Lawsuit • Embezzlement and Zoning: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
ACA Repeal Concerns • Church Camp Rape Lawsuit • Embezzlement and Zoning: News Roundup

Many Ministers Concerned About Repeal of Affordable Care Act. “Like most Americans, ministers and their families are facing exploding health-care costs. And for many clergy, the resulting frustration and stress comes on top of the long hours and low pay associated with their callings. Throw in the rising suspense around the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act, to which ministers have increasingly turned for health coverage, and ministers and the experts who know them say there is a growing sense of pessimism and fear. . . . The [ACA] was designed to make health insurance affordable to Americans with low and moderate incomes. Plans are purchased through a marketplace, or exchange, where consumers can shop for coverage. Insurance companies are barred from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Many ministers have gone that route. But now Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have vowed to kill it. That would demoralize ministers who have relied on the ACA, and still face very high premiums and deductibles” (“For clergy and churches, repeal of health law poses serious consequences,” Baptist News Global).

Read about how churches are responding to the rising costs of healthcare in the October issue of Church Finance Today. For more information on how churches can navigate the ACA, see this downloadable resource.

Alleged Rape at Oklahoma Church Camp Prompts Lawsuit. “The alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl at Falls Creek church camp last summer has prompted the filing of a civil lawsuit against the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. A 35-year-old cook brought to the Oklahoma church camp by Country Estates Baptist Church of Midwest City tied up and raped the girl June 16 while she was attending the camp, attorneys for the girl allege in a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in Oklahoma County District Court. . . . The convention does not independently investigate the backgrounds of adults that churches bring to the camp as sponsors, but requires participating churches to perform background checks on its sponsors and cooks prior to arrival, the lawsuit says. . . . The lawsuit accuses the convention and two churches of negligence, saying ‘minimal effort’ on their part would have revealed that ‘Petty [the cook] was a convicted criminal and it was readily apparent that he was involved in a lifestyle contrary and repugnant’ to the values they espoused” (“Baptist General Convention faces lawsuit over alleged rape at Falls Creek church camp,” NewsOK).

To learn more about how to avoid negligence in your ministries, see this article on common questions about background checks, as well as our guide to safety in youth ministry.

Embezzlement and Decreased Attendance Cause Closure, Rezoning Appeal for Indiana Church. “A [Muncie, Indiana] church is for sale because of declining attendance and alleged embezzlement. First Baptist Church of Morningside . . . is being sold due to a shortage of members ‘to keep it going’ and because of embezzlement from the church's checking and savings accounts, according to a zoning variance application filed by Pastor James Cummings. . . . The church is asking the Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals for a ‘special use’ to allow the building to be used as a commercial enterprise, which, unlike churches, is not permitted in the residential zone. The church plans to sell to Melissa Dehn, who wants to use the property for a variety of purposes, including office space and an event center for Tupperware parties, weddings, baby showers, etc., said Fred Daniel, a city-county planner. 'A special use is required because a commercial enterprise of any kind, such as charging rent for offices or leasing the building out, is not permitted in the residence zone,' he said.” (“Church closes after losing money, members,” The Star Press).

If you suspect someone has stolen church funds, see this download for 10 steps to consider. If your church needs to inform the congregation about embezzlement, read this article by attorney Richard Hammar. Also, it's critical for church leaders to understand zoning laws. See this article on what churches should know about zoning.

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