Thursday, May 25, 2006

Church Fraud in the Valley?

A Brownsville lawyer investigates "alleged mishandling" of money for starting up Baptist churches in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas hires business attorney Diane Dillard, who teaches business law at UT-Brownsville, to see whether the funds were "misapplied in the Valley either in a significant number of isolated instances or as a part of a more coordinated process," The Baptist Standard reports:

Suspicions surround the large number of cell-group missions reported as church-starts in the lower Rio Grande Valley from 1996 to 2003. Critics allege some church-starts that received financial assistance from the BGCT never existed, and some individuals profited by claiming to start multiple, nonexistent “mystery missions.”

In 1996, the BGCT Annual listed 92 churches and 38 missions in Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association. By 2003, the annual reported 105 churches and 240 missions in the association. Of those 240 missions, 151 listed as their sponsors six of the 10 churches that formed The Borderlands Baptist Association the following year. Listing as a mission in the BGCT Annual does not necessarily mean a congregation received BGCT funding.

Dillard has the help of another BrownTown lawyer, former U.S. prosecutor Michael Rodriguez, a partner in the law firm Rodriguez & Nicholas. The BGCT board OKs spending up to a hundred grand on the investigation, which a former pastor in Donna Donna has been requesting for years.

Well, at least the Diocese of Brownsville can point at another denomination and say, "See, Catholics aren't the only ones who are screwed up!"


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