Orthodox Church in America defrocks ex-chancellor accused of financial misconduct
The verdict by an OCA spiritual court against Robert Kondratick took effect July 31. Kondratick has said he's innocent. He held the second-highest job in the denomination.
Financial controls in the church had been ``circumvented'' at least since 1998, according to church leaders, and auditors uncovered a ``pattern of personal use of church money'' for years. No dollar amount has been given.
The issue became public last year after a former OCA treasurer alleged widespread financial misconduct involving millions of dollars. The treasurer had said Metropolitan Theodosius, the retired head of the church, was involved. But a church investigation concluded that Kondratick was solely responsible, said the Rev. Andrew Jarmus, an OCA spokesman.
Among the problems auditors discovered:
ˆ ``Hundreds of thousands of dollars'' in charges were made to church and employee credit cards that had been submitted for reimbursement, but no original receipts or documentation had been provided for most of the expenses.
ˆ The chancellor had taken nearly $10,000 in cash from church accounts, partly to pay unauthorized year-end employee bonuses. Auditors found no proof that the employees received the money.
_ The church had loaned money to employees _ in some cases interest-free _ and some of the loans weren't repaid.
ˆ Cash was being stored in unlocked drawers or cabinets.
ˆ The church had used some money donated for a specific purpose to instead cover operating costs.
Jarmus said Tuesday that he didn't know whether a criminal investigation was under way. He said the IRS hasn't contacted the church about its nonprofit status.
The 400,000-member church, based in Syosset, N.Y., is now overhauling its accounting and hiring practices. The Holy Synod of Bishops recently decided that all candidates for the priesthood must undergo national legal and psychological background tests.
Troubled Colorado megachurch selects new pastor from Texas
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - A pastor from a suburban Dallas megachurch has been chosen as the senior pastor at New Life Church, which has battled declining attendance since disgraced church founder Ted Haggard was fired.
More than 95 percent of New Life members backed Brady Boyd, 40, in an up-or-down vote by secret ballot. He will begin serving immediately, associate pastor Rob Brendle said.
Boyd had been an associate senior pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.
Haggard, 51, left New Life and resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals last year, after a former male prostitute alleged a three-year cash-for-sex relationship. The man also said he saw Haggard use methamphetamine. Haggard confessed to undisclosed ``sexual immorality'' and said he bought meth but never used it.
Now living in the Phoenix area, Haggard has come under further scrutiny for urging supporters to financially support his family through a nonprofit group, Families With a Mission, with ties to a registered sex offender.
At New Life, Boyd will oversee a church of about 10,000 members _ down from 14,000 since the Haggard scandal _ a $12 million budget and a staff of 150. Besides a drop in its attendance, New Life has seen its revenues drop by 10 percent since Haggard left.
D. James Kennedy, influential Christian broadcaster, retires
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - The Rev. D. James Kennedy, a megachurch pastor who became one of the nation's top Christian broadcasters, has resigned from the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church after 48 years.
The 76-year-old senior pastor preached his last sermon there on Dec. 24. He suffered cardiac arrest four days later, and has been unable to return to the pulpit.
Kennedy took the small church of 45 members in 1959 to a megachurch of nearly 10,000 members today.
In 1974, he started Coral Ridge Ministries, his radio and TV outreach arm, which now claims a weekly audience of 3.5 million people for all of its broadcasts. Kennedy's TV show ``The Coral Ridge Hour,'' airs on more than 400 stations and four cable networks, and is broadcast to more than 150 countries on the Armed Forces Network, his ministry says.
The congregation will have the final voice in determining Kennedy's successor, a process that could take as long as two years. The Rev. Ronald L. Siegenthaler, executive minister of the church, will administer the church following policy set by a governing body of elders.
A tribute worship service for Kennedy is set Sept. 23.