|The following is Houston’s First Baptist Church’s statement in response to the Jerrell G. Altic indictment and alleged embezzlement of more than $800,000 from the church. This letter was sent out to all church members Tuesday.
December 11, 2018
Dear Houston’s First Family,
We want to share with you some difficult information involving a former employee of our church. In November 2017, we discovered a limited set of suspicious financial activity related to Jerrell Altic. When we approached him about the matter, he immediately tendered his resignation. We reported our initial findings to law enforcement and our insurance provider, in keeping with our legal and fiduciary responsibilities, and began a thorough investigation conducted by staff leadership, relevant church committees and deacons, as well as independent forensic accounting and legal experts.
This investigation, internally and by law enforcement, brought us to yesterday, December 10, when a Harris County grand jury indicted him for first degree felony theft of more than $800,000 of the church’s finances between 2011 and 2017, while he was employed here.
We have learned through the investigation process that, acting alone, he engaged in multiple deceptive and difficult-to-detect techniques to carry out this theft. That said, though his fraudulent activities involved missions funds, all of Houston’s First ministry partners received their designated monies, as his actions did not prevent our church from providing resources to local ministries, church plants or other strategic partners. Nevertheless, we have already enacted additional policies to help ensure all donations and expenses are protected and handled properly moving forward. The outside expertise we sought helped us not only to determine the extent of this serious violation of trust, but also provided recommendations on how our financial controls might be improved or strengthened.
We understand this is challenging news to process. Unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of the legal and investigative procedures triggered by this matter, we have not been able to provide these details until now. While we were unable to inform the church body because of the ongoing investigation, we informed and kept updated the related church committees, including personnel, finance, and missions committees, along with key staff and the deacon body, throughout this process. These past months have been challenging and painful for us as the extent of Jerrell’s actions came to light and as we wrestled with the tension of wanting to inform you, while also carefully following law enforcement’s lead in the investigation, balancing legal constraints with church procedures.
We are encouraged that our church’s insurance coverage paid $500,000, which reimbursed a significant part of the loss, while our church leadership approved using unallocated contingency funds to replace the balance.
As challenging as this discovery has been for everyone involved, we have also been encouraged by the continued generosity and passion for missions work from our congregation—including through generous, unsolicited financial gifts from those who have come to know of his wrongdoing.
Please pray for God’s work to continue to be done at Houston’s First, and for Jerrell and his family. Houston’s First remains committed to the advancement of the Gospel in our city, our nation and around the world (Acts 1:8). We understand and take seriously our responsibility to properly steward the resources God gives us through the generosity of our church family.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Executive Pastor David Self or Finance Committee Chair Kevin Jordan. We are committed to sharing as much information as we are able and are certainly open to receiving your questions.
Thank you for your partnership, patience and understanding in this season.
Gregg Matte, Senior Pastor
Craig Bloodworth, Deacon Chairman
Have a better week!
Daily Bible Verse:
“You are the world’s light–a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.”
Matthew 5:14-16 TLB (The Living Bible)
It’s day 26 of the partial American government shutdown. IRS has recalled 46,000 furloughed workers to process refunds, but no audits. The IRS workers will not be paid, national news media report.
Furloughed federal workers are turning to non-profits and charitable acts of kindness for food and help to provide for their families.
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Federally-funded museums, national parks, immigration courts, except for emergency deportation. and other federal agencies remain closed. The partial government shutdown affects more than 800,000 federal workers, including U.S. Coast Guard, TSA, IT workers, criminal investigators, mechanics, cooks, NASA employees and others who were layed off or working without pay. Furloughed NASA employees in Houston area rallied at Johnson Space Center to end the shutdown on Tuesday while some remained on the job without pay for the International Space Station.
Despite the federal government shutdown, Space Center Houston and its 400 exhibits will remain open.
USA Today reports Congress and the President still being paid during partial government shutdown. However, a few of the new people elected to Congress have requested to withhold their federal paychecks.
USA Today reports the President has donated his federal paycheck to different federal programs.