Will the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability Hold Gospel for Asia Accountable?

I am not betting on it.
CashThe Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors Conference ended yesterday with no public statements from anyone within the Calvary Chapel movement about Gospel for Asia. GFA exhibited at the conference but left their table unmanned much of the time according to sources there. Several pastors, speaking on condition of anonymity, told me that their church would soon drop support for GFA due to GFA’s public silence about various financial, personnel and leadership concerns.
Several sources have told me that GFA is holding up their membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability as proof that no real problems exist. Furthermore, GFA insiders have told me that ECFA executives have reviewed GFA’s finances and is privately expressing confidence in GFA. ECFA leaders have ignored my requests for clarification or explanation about the missing money, money carrying to India, etc.
Mars Hill Church similarly pointed to ECFA membership as an indication that funds were being used properly. Even as the church did that, Mars Hill made changes to their procedures to come more into compliance with ECFA guidelines. What I learned about ECFA via the Mars Hill experience and then later through ECFA’s handling of Faith Christian Church is that donors cannot count on ECFA to disclose problems with members.
Now ECFA membership is being used by GFA to avoid explanations of multiple concerns raised by around 100 former employees, former donors, and bloggers. In my opinion, ECFA is now responsible for whatever problems GFA manifests. Here again is a summary of issues that GFA and ECFA have ignored.

Millions of dollars are unaccounted for and GFA has not given any reasons or explanations. Now GFA is claiming that ECFA has seen the books and has given the all-clear.
Since GFA won’t be accountable, I publicly call on ECFA to provide information relevant to list of concerns listed above.

Former Faith Christian Church Members: ECFA Owes Us a Public Apology

After Faith Christian Church dropped membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, the point person for former FCC members involved in providing testimony to the EFCA, Rachel Mullis, expressed her disappointment with ECFA’s decision not to publicly release the results of the investigation.
Now joining in is another supporter of former FCC members, Sandy Wade, who said in a comment on this blog:

FCC took the cowards way out and so did ECFA. They obviously feel no moral obligation to protect the Christian community, and they have no interest in telling the truth. Their only public comment was to defend the FCC organization. You would think that after making such public remarks in their defense they would want to complete their investigation and release their findings. Cowards, they owe us all a public apology!

Wade makes a great point. The ECFA publicly defended the church before doing any kind of investigation. Given that the ECFA went out on a limb in the press to defend FCC, it seems reasonable to think they comment publicly now that they know more.
Former member Connie Cohn of Tucson, AZ is not impressed with ECFA’s integrity over the matter:

I believe that if an organization wants to maintain their credibility then, they must adhere to their policies and speak out when those policies/standards have not been met. They say that their mission is to protect the Christian community. To allow a church to resign in the middle of an investigation and not say anything about what was being investigated seems to make us question how respectable they are. They didn’t have to give all the details, but they could have at least said something about them leaving other than that they have decided to resign. They have a responsibility to the hundreds of people who left FCC and are still a part of the Christian community. I, for one, am not very impressed with the integrity of the ECFA.
Another former member said:
To me it shows laziness.  ECFA doesn’t want to finish compiling and publishing a report for an organization not under its oversight anymore.  But to let an organization just leave in order to halt any investigation is a major loophole that shouldn’t be there. The FBI doesn’t halt an investigation when someone leaves the country and just say “oh well nothing we can do, they left”.  ECFA needs to complete what they started ad make the results public so that people will take them seriously.  Since this loophole exists the ECFA really isn’t protecting members and donors at all.

Marcus DiMarco
Former Member of FCC

Former Members of Faith Christian Church (Tucson, AZ) to Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability: Talk to Us

Previously, I posted stories of abuse and pastoral control being alleged by former members of Faith Christian Church in Tucson, AZ. In the Arizona Daily Star article that broke the story, Faith Christian Church was defended by Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability as a member in good standing. Since then, the ECFA told the Daily Star that an executive is investigating.
However, the ECFA has not talked to any former members of Faith Christian Church. Some have now decided to take initiative and contact ECFA directly with the following letter. Signed by 22 former members, the letter makes request to speak with the ECFA in order to explain the coercion and other practices which may placed Faith Christian on the wrong side of the ECFA guidelines for member organizations. Here is that letter sent earlier today to the ECFA:

March 19, 2015
Dear Mr. Busby:
We write as former members hoping to engage you in a discussion of our experience at Faith Christian Church in Tucson, AZ.
We are aware that Faith Christian Church has been a member of the ECFA since 2004. Many of us have attended since then and are aware of the practices of the church while it was a member in good standing with the ECFA.
We saw in the March 12 issue of the Arizona Daily Star that the ECFA is conducting an investigation of Faith Christian Church and has sent an executive to Tucson for that purpose. We welcome this news, however we respectfully ask that the ECFA investigators speak to former members about violations of ECFA guidelines.  We can offer unique insight to the financial policies that current members or current church leadership cannot.
In violation of ECFA’s Donor’s Bill of Rights, most of us experienced pressure to donate at least 10% of our income while at the church.  In fact, it is clearly written in their membership that tithing is a requirement for membership.  If someone did not comply with this requirement, they were often notified that they were not trusting in the Lord and that they would be cursed.  The pastor, Steve Hall, often said he would not pastor cursed people. Weekly, most of us gave our 10%, but the church also encouraged a financial offering on top of that.  We could not designate where our tithe went, but we could designate where we wanted the offering to go (missions, building fund, etc.).  Sometimes, staff members from the church would ask to see the tax returns or bank statements of church members so that the leaders could know the exact figure the members were to give. Some members were even pushed out of the church for not giving the required amount.
Church members were allowed to see the church budget if they asked, although most of us would have felt uncomfortable doing so.  The financial statements were never reported in a church bulletin or discussed at a church meeting.  There was no outside agency that helped determine church spending, salaries, audits, or financial policies, although Steve Hall did use a formula to justify his salary of $100,000+  a year.  Non-staff members did not know how the tithe was being spent.
We ask that you contact ___________ at ­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________ or _____________ to facilitate interviews with former members for the purpose of investigating the issue of compliance by FCC with ECFA standards.
The Undersigned Former Members (22 names redacted at their request).

Last week, I asked Dan Busby if the ECFA had plans to talk with the former members. He did not reply. However, according to Rachel Mullis, none of the former members disclosed any contact from the ECFA to date.
Below see the requirements for members. While other churches require financial support as a part of a covenant, according to the former members, FCC tied curses, and loss of membership to invasive enforcement.
FCC membership

Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability Defends Tucson Church at Center of Investigative Report

Faith Christian Church in Tucson emerged from the demise of Maranatha Christian Church in 1990.  The church seeks to convert college students as a part of the church’s ministry and as such has had a long standing relationship with the University of Arizona. Now the church is the subject of an investigation by the Arizona Daily Star over allegations of cult-like control over members and inappropriate punishments of children. Faith Christian Church has several affiliated churches around the country and one in New Zealand. I welcome input from FCC members and members of the affiliates. I have contacted FCC for comment about the allegations, especially those relating to children.
An aspect of the investigative report is the role of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. ECFA president Dan Busby is quoted extensively in the report in defense of the church. However, his comments raise concerns for me, especially knowing how he responded to the Mars Hill Church situation.
Busby defended several aspects of the church’s practices seemingly without the benefit of an investigation. I have contacted Busby for clarification.  I also contacted Arizona Daily Star reporter Carol Ann Alaimo to ask her if she asked Busby if ECFA had investigated the many allegations at FCC. Furthermore, I asked her if she asked Busby his opinion about the corporal punishment of babies described in the article. Numerous former members said the ministers told members to spank babies as young as 8 weeks old for rebellious reactions. One such reaction was demonstrated by babies raising their heads while laying on their stomachs. Members were instructed to spank the baby with a cardboard tube until the baby stopped raising his/her head.
Alaimo said Busby did not respond to her questions about the extent of an ECFA investigation of the church and the corporal punishment of babies.
I will keep up with this story and report any reply I get from ECFA.
Given the allegations, the ECFA should investigate the church. Probably child protective services should as well.
Additional information: The Arizona Daily Star is not the first article to call attention to Faith Christian Church. See this Arizona University student paper article back in 2012. According to the ECFA website, FCC has been a member of ECFA since 2004.
The churches affiliated with Faith Christian Church are (from a former members Facebook group):
Faith Christian Church in Tucson, AZ (http://www.faithchristianchurchtucson.org/)
Grace Christian Church in Fort Collins, CO (http://www.gracechristianchurchfortcollins.org/)
Palmerston North Victory Christian Church in Palmerston North, New Zealand (http://www.pnvictorychurch.org.nz/ and http://www.nzcm.org.nz/)
Cornerstone Christian Church in Tampa, FL (http://www.cornerstonetampa.org/)
Hope Christian Church in Tempe, AZ (http://hope4asu.org/)
New Covenant Christian Church in Albuquerque, NM (http://www.ncccabq.com/)
New Life Christian Church in Flagstaff, AZ (http://www.newlifeflagstaff.org/)
Resurrection Church in Boulder, CO (http://resurrectionchurchboulder.org/)
Living Hope Christian Church in Las Cruces, NM (http://www.livinghopelascruces.com/)


Amid the Mars Hill Church Controversies, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability Goes Quiet, Purges Website

I don’t understand the approach of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability to the controversies surrounding Mars Hill Church.
Two petitions signed by hundreds have called on the ECFA to address financial accountability at Mars Hill Church. Numerous people, including many former and current Mars Hill members and donors, have written the ECFA asking for answers regarding Mars Hill’s Global Fund. I have written several emails requesting on the record comments about Mars Hill. Recently, silence is the answer.
Then on Monday, October 13, I wrote this email to Dan Busby, President of the ECFA:

According to this information:

  • ECFA’s only public relations contacts are its President (or his designee) and Board Chair. While they will protect confidential and proprietary information, they will communicate publicly that a Compliance Review is in process or has been completed, what the Standards of concern are or were, and the final decision once the Compliance Review has been completed.

According to Justin Dean, the ECFA examined the dealings of Mars Hill Church regarding the Global Fund.
“I’m sure you’ll appreciate that we submit to outside CPA firms to review our financials, as well as submit to the ECFA who has reviewed our financials and in particular has reviewed in detail our donations from our Global audience and all communications and efforts around Global.”
Is this true? And did you communicate the results publicly? If so, where?
Thank you, Warren Throckmorton

Mars Hill spokesman Justin Dean had made this statement about the ECFA and the Global Fund as a part of a conversation with Alex Terry which is reported in a post on Monday.
Then, yesterday, a commenter let me know that the Complaints page is no longer available.
The Google cache of the page is still available and I have the page saved.
I wrote to ask Dan Busby why the page was removed. No answer as yet.
If enforced, this principles on the missing page would address some of my concerns about the ECFA. For instance:

Standards that are not respected by members or that are violated – whether through ignorance or intentionally – and go unenforced lose their effectiveness in demonstrating God-honoring ethical practice.
Just as ECFA’s Standards stress members’ integrity and honesty in action and in communication with the public with certain obligations of disclosure, ECFA will conduct itself with the same requirements when communicating to the public regarding compliance matters.
ECFA’s only public relations contacts are its President (or his designee) and Board Chair. While they will protect confidential and proprietary information, they will communicate publicly that a Compliance Review is in process or has been completed, what the Standards of concern are or were, and the final decision once the Compliance Review has been completed.

Unfortunately, the ECFA has not communicated on this matter.
If the ECFA has no intention of commenting regarding Mars Hill, then we can only assume the Board found no reason to investigate. In light of the evidence surround Mars Hill Global, that finding would be troublesome. On the other hand, if the organization has investigated as Dean implied, then it would be good for the organization to address the many emails, call, petitions and other clear concerns raised by members and former members of Mars Hill as well as other members of the public and the media.
The Mars Hill/ECFA petitions are here and here.