ATTENTION, Decision Makers:
What you fail to do can jeopardize the soul of one or more of those who have placed their faith in you.
In order to recognize the importance of and absolute need for a truly secure Sunday collection system, you must understand that the embezzlements you hear about are not the only ones that exist. Indeed, the embezzlements you hear about only constitute the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Sunday collection embezzlements can be likened to a pyramid. At the very top are those that are discovered, reported to the hierarchy, prosecuted and aired in the media. Just below those lie the ones that are discovered and reported to the hierarchy but are neither prosecuted nor aired in the media. Next come those that are discovered but are not reported upward because the pastor is embarrassed and wishes to avoid the anticipated fallout and humiliation. And finally, there are those embezzlements that are ongoing, having yet to be discovered. Logically, they are the most numerous.
A truly secure Sunday collection system allows no pre-deposit deductions. This can be a sticking point with pastors who make or direct that a weekly pre-deposit deduction be made to replenish the rectory Petty Cash fund. Assuming we are talking about a legitimate Petty Cash fund, this conflict is easily remedied by drawing a check on the church account whenever that fund needs to be replenished. Indeed, even the greenest of accountants will tell you that’s the way it should be done. If, however, it is more of a slush fund (money used for personal expenditures) then what we are really discussing is an improper practice which should be discontinued.
If you are a bishop or diocesan official involved in the process of deciding whether to close or merge a particular church due to declining attendance and/or declining revenues, the integrity of that church's Sunday collection system should be of vital interest to you. And if you make your decision even partly on the basis of declining revenues which, in reality, are the result of rampant embezzlement (review the cases cited elsewhere in this site), what does that say about your professional competence?
There is an overriding issue, however, which transcends your fiduciary obligation. That issue involves the question of whether, as a shepherd in our Lord’s vineyard, you are morally obliged to protect the sheep who have been entrusted to your care? Based upon holy scripture alone, you would say “yes” without hesitation. If so, you have just morally obligated yourself to ensure that any Sunday collection system under your jurisdiction is truly secure - that it is not susceptible to theft - because a vulnerable Sunday collection is a great temptation (for some persons) to commit the sin of theft, a serious harm to one’s soul, especially when that sin is committed repeatedly . . . . . as often as 52 times a year.
When He warned his disciples, “Things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen, but how terrible for the one who makes them happen”, Jesus did not exempt acts of omission such as knowingly failing or refusing to eliminate a proven temptation to sin when it is easily within your power to do so. And if you’ve read this far into our website, you already know a vulnerable Sunday collection is indeed a proven temptation to sin.
It all boils down to one simple truth: From both a moral and a practical standpoint, it is far better to have a genuinely secure Sunday collection system and not need it, than it is to need it and not have it. If you don't have genuine security in place, you have no mechanism that will alert you to the existence of a recurring theft situation if and when it arises.
In Harry Truman's world, the buck stopped on his desk; he didn't believe in shirking the tough decisions or leaving a mess for someone else to clean up. Where does that buck stop in your world?