Saturday, March 21, 2015

Forgive, as ye would be forgiven

About ten years ago, a few people in rural Owen County, Indiana, formed a non-denominational church. They had no building until 2010, when they acquired a vacant edifice near the town of Spencer. Church leaders asked one of their founding members, Danaye Taylor, to serve as unpaid treasurer, and since she was a former stock broker, she agreed to care for church finances. Everyone trusted her and nobody held her accountable.

Eventually the congregation grew to 180 members, and after saving for six years, they were ready to expand their church building. That's when they discovered the church was almost broke. Taylor had stolen $224,277 from church accounts. Now confined to a wheelchair, she said she had huge medical expenses. So what did the church do?

                                                                                                          Photo by Laura Lane

First, the members agreed to pray. Then, to expand their building without any savings, one member offered to be general contractor. Another member volunteered to do electrical work. The whole congregation pitched in. "We pulled together," said pastor Bill Grandi. "Our people refused to let it get us down. We did not talk much about what we had lost."

During Taylor's sentencing hearing, Grandi asked in behalf of the members that she not be sent to jail. Instead, she was put on 15 years probation and must repay the stolen funds. Her husband got a second job to help with repayment, and she has already repaid $13,000. Grandi said the church has no ill-will toward Taylor. "When her attorney cross-examined me in court, he said he had never seen a church more gracious," Grandi said. "It just felt good to know, because we believe we were doing what Jesus would want us to do."

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