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‘Losing Our Church Would Be Very Scary’—Joliet Church Ordered To Return Donations From Local Business That Defrauded Investors

The church’s website links to a donation page, more information about the crisis, and upcoming prayer vigils. Messiah lists a series of FAQs surrounding the situation and clearly claims no wrongdoing.

“Messiah Lutheran Church needs to pay a judgement despite no accusation of wrongdoing.  Not paying it will likely result in the forced sale of its building,” says the site. “Illinois law does not protect the clawback of donations from nonprofits.”

“David trusted God to help him stand against his giant, Goliath,” the statement from Messiah continues. “Messiah is trusting God to help it continue in ministry against the huge SEC demand.”

Financial Best Practices and Accountability

Every church leader knows the importance of financial accountability and best practices for the stewardship of God’s funds. While no church can be protected from all fraudulent activity, churches can avoid common financial mistakes.

After the pandemic, studies show that the “smallest churches are the most likely to be struggling financially. This was true prior to the pandemic as well. These congregations only have so many people to share the impact of any negative financial factor.”

“Every week, tithes and offerings are given with the expectation of funding ministry. Establishing a system of accountability is not a detriment to ministry but rather a conduit of generosity,” coaches Pastor Sam Rainer. “Financial policies and procedures create a pathway towards being above reproach.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated the church had 10 years to return the money. The church has until Nov. 15, 2023. This article also been updated to reflect that the gifts Messiah Lutheran Church received were given between the years of 2010 and 2019.