As the financial secretary of Corn Mennonite Brethren Church in Corn, Oklahoma, Ginnie Warkentin understands the need for teamwork when it comes to handling church finances. For Warkentin, this need recently received a huge exclamation point that's hard to ignore.
"I personally know of a church where one person took care of the offerings, wrote and signed the checks, and ended up embezzling a substantial amount of money," says Warkentin. With no one watching, the so-called "borrowing" got way out of hand.
"To reduce the chance of wrongdoing on the part of any one person," she stresses, "it's important for any church to have several people handle the offerings."
A Google search of "church embezzling" yields nearly 5,000 hits. "And those are only the cases that are leaked or made public by the media," says CPA Vonna Laue.
"When you have so many duties consolidated with one person, there is always the risk of fraud," explains Laue, also an editorial advisor for Church Law And Tax. "I always go back to the Scripture: 'In the multitude of counselors there is safety,' and in the church treasurer position that is true, too. When you have a team that you can rely on, it takes the responsibility and divides it up to the point that the pressure isn't all on one person."