|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 joyous Easter!
Daily Bible Verses:
The Journey of Faith, Hope and a Fresh Start
After Jesus dies on the cross, it is night time. Joseph, a wealthy man and a disciple of Jesus asks Pilate for the body. Pilate releases Jesus’ body to Joseph, who wraps it in clean linen. Joseph places the body in his new tomb and rolls a large stone against the tomb’s door. The next day, the chief priests and Pharisees meet with Pilate. Afraid Jesus will come back to life in 3 days, they ask Pilate to order sealing the tomb to prevent Jesus’ disciples from stealing the body and telling everyone Jesus came back to life. Pilate tells the chief priests and Pharisees to use the Temple guards. They go to seal the tomb securely and post guards to keep out intruders. Early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary visit the tomb. There is a great earthquake. An angel of the Lord from heaven rolls back the stone from the tomb’s door and sits on the stone. The angel’s face is like lightning and his clothing is white as snow. The guards afraid become like dead men.
“The angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. behold, I have told you.”
Matthew 28: 5-7 NKJV
With great joy, the women run to tell Jesus’ disciples of Jesus’ resurrection. The tomb guards also tell the elders and chief priests what happened. The chief priests and elders bribe the guards to tell the Jewish people that while the guards slept, Jesus’ disciples came at night and stole the body.
Jesus’ eleven disciples go to Galilee and see Jesus, but some doubt it is Jesus, resurrected. Jesus assures them.
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.”
Matthew 28: 18-20 NKJV
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