I love Rev. Jerry Johnston. He is my brother in Christ, and I love him.
I'm afraid I don't have a lot of respect for him, but I love him. I have prayed for him several times in the past nine days, ever since the Kansas City Star ran five separate pieces on First Family Church Rev. Johnston--who calls himself "Dr. Jerry," even though he doesn't have a doctorate...or a Bachelor's degree.
I deserve no kudos for saying I love Rev. Johnston and am praying for him. Truth be told, I wasn't all that sad about the Star hatchet job. Some yucky stuff is going on at First Family Church. It likely goes all the way to pastoral misconduct, though all the Star unveiled was a ridiculously high level of secrecy about the financial dealings of the church.
I disagree with Pastor Jerry about just about everything, but it is this financial stuff that is galling. He repeatedly declares that it is "common practice" in the church for parishoners to be kept in the dark about the church's spending, including things like the pastor's salary.
In any church I have known, the people of the church have the right to an accounting of every dime the church spends and what it is spent on. After all, the assets of the church--money and property--belong to the parishoners. Except in congregations in which some property is owned by the denomination. Want to bet that denominations who own church property know about the finances of those congregations?
My church met on Sunday to go over the budget for our new worship space. We're spending around $8,000 on the new space, which is probably what First Family spends on copier paper in a year. But we walked through the budget, line by line, allowing folks to raise any concerns and ask any questions. There weren't many, but it was still an important thing to do. Everything the church does should be out front and beyond scrutiny. Otherwise you wind up in the paper.
I hope it turns out that the people who have devoted time and money to the ministry at First Family have gotten what they paid for. I guess that will be true either way.