From a Texas source:
Church of God Big Sandy Scandal ContinuesThe situation in the Church of God Big Sandy continues to draw attention. And not just because David Havir III was determined to have acted “inappropriately” with a minor girl by Wood County, Texas, Judge Jeff Fletcher on July 6, 2017. (Case number 2017-357).
There are now questions about David III’s relationship with the minor girl’s older sister, Karina, who is 19 years old. In the same way that David III says he is a father figure to the younger sister, he also claims his relationship with this older girl is the same. He has told others that she lives with him and his wife and daughter.
It may be relevant that a COGBS board member abruptly resigned recently. No public explanation has been given for his resignation. Some have wondered if it could be because he disapproves of David III’s recent behavior. This board member has two young daughters who have been involved in the COGBS youth program.
Further, questions about COGBS have now moved from morality to finance. In order to understand this, it is important to understand the inner workings of COGBS.
COGBS has always had an elected board. From its very beginning, the board would set an annual budget. Within that budget was a private fund for the pastor to administer. The board members were never allowed to review the expenditures (which are done at Pastor Dave’s sole discretion) of this private fund because Pastor Dave said it would be a “violation of minister/parishioner confidentiality”. Pastor Dave insists that any money given from the fund to a recipient should be done with complete privacy.
The exception to this privacy rule was Treasurer Don Mishnick. Don reviewed all transactions out of Pastor Dave’s private fund. This exception to the minister/parishioner privacy rule is interesting because Don is not a minister. Nevertheless, since Don was the treasurer and perhaps the biggest contributor to COGBS, the board has always just shrugged its collective shoulders about this policy and gone along with it. They assumed that, if there were an improper expenditure from Pastor Dave’s private fund, Don (who is notoriously frugal) would quickly blow the whistle and get the problem corrected.
This arrangement went on for many years until Don resigned from the board and also gave up his membership at COGBS. He now attends church elsewhere because he had a falling out with Pastor Dave over (get this) David III’s spending of church money to take his youth group to Winter Family Retreat in Lexington KY.
And who has since taken Don’s place in overseeing Pastor Dave’s secret fund? You guessed it. Several months ago, the board of directors appointed David III to be the treasurer of COGBS! It is now David III who provides financial oversight over his father’s secret fund expenditures!
What a sweet deal the Havir family has fallen into. If only David III could have hung on at CEM, the Havir family would be sitting in tall cotton with access to the funds of two of the biggest ACOG groups in east Texas.
Like too many churches, the attitude of COGBS leadership has been, “We all know each other. We trust each other. Surely we can trust our brothers and sisters in these matters.” Anyone with any sense knows that this attitude can lead to disaster.
From all of this, it can be reasonably deduced that the current (and past) members of the COGBS board do not understand their responsibility as board members. The bylaws of COGBS clearly state that the board of directors manages that church. This is clearly written within the first lines of the bylaws. The bylaws do NOT give management of the church to the pastor, even though this has been the de facto situation during most of COGBS’s existence.
If the current board is to really perform its fiduciary responsibilities to COGBS, they will ask the following questions to the Havirs in an open board meeting and not in closed executive session. The membership of that church and contributors to that church deserve answers to these questions:
1) Who paid for David III’s legal fees in his recent court hearing regarding his judicially-declared inappropriate relationship with the minor girl? If these fees were paid for by COGBS, did the funds come from Pastor Dave’s secret fund or was it an expenditure that was approved by a vote of the board? (The current board has three new members who were not on the board when the David III scandal began so they might not be aware of the previous board’s actions.)
2) Has David III ever received financial assistance from Pastor Dave’s secret fund? If so, how much has he received? It is no secret that David III has had problems finding and keeping jobs over the past five years.
3) Has David III ever been employed by COGBS? This question is germane because Pastor Dave once vowed never to put anyone else on the church payroll again. This was after the church had hired a part-time sound man and then let him go. After that incident, Pastor Dave made it very clear that, from that moment on, he would be the only person employed the COGBS. So, if David III has received funds from COGBS, did he receive these funds as an employee or contract worker? Or did he receive them as a “needy person” under the auspices of financial aid from the secret fund?
4) Besides widows, who has received money from the COGBS secret fund? If a non-widow has received funds, how does the amount compare with how much widows usually receive?
5) Are COGBS bills being paid late at this time? If so, is it because of a cash flow problem or is it because of mismanagement by the church treasurer? Have any of the widows’ checks recently been late?
It was no secret that, as long Don Mishnick was present to financially prop up COGBS, the church would do just fine in the area of income. They might continue hemorrhaging members, but they would be kept financially afloat. Now that Don is gone, it is feared that this church organization will eventually go bankrupt. Is it possible that the Havir family realizes that inevitability and they are now milking as much money out of the COGBS treasury while they can? Do the Havirs see the handwriting on the wall and are they preparing to bail?
An outside, external audit is needed for COGBS. There is no one currently on the board who is qualified to review the books to determine whether or not there have been inappropriate expenditures. Any audit should be done by a qualified accounting firm that has experience in business audits.
If an outside audit exonerates the Havir family and if the board of directors unanimously concludes that all post-Don Mischnick expenditures are on the up-and-up, the church should say so via a public announcement in a publication such as The Journal. Even though the Journal no longer has a significant number of subscribers, any such announcement in The Journal would subsequently get spread on the internet for all the various ACOGs to see.
In the meantime, any parent whose child is involved in David III’s youth program should be wary. Parents should be asking whether or not it is wise to send an underage girl to the COGBS annual summer camp at Timberline Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas.
And, until a professional audit is completed with all questions answered, anyone who contributes money to COGBS does so at his/her own peril.
If the Havir family and the COGBS board of directors are truly desirous of doing the right thing and avoiding all appearance of evil, they will take the proper steps to assure their church members (and the public) that this church organization, its leadership, and its policies/procedures involving money and underage children are above reproach.
Let’s see if the COGBS board of directors is willing to step up to the plate and do its job. It’s never happened before with a COGBS board, so this could be a first. By giving the Havir family unchecked power to run that church, the COGBS has entered into a Faustian Bargain that will come back to haunt them probably sooner than later.