Emanuel AME Church Pastor Being Questioned about Playing with the Money Honey!

emanuel-norvel-goff

The interim pastor of Emanuel AME Church, the Rev. Norvel Goff appears to be in the hot seat with regards to mismangement of funds at both his former church, Reid Chapel and Emanuel AME.

After nine worshippers were gunned down in Charleston during a Bible study in June, Goff was named interim pastor of Emanuel AME where he has overseen millions of dollars in donations sent to the church from around the world.

Recently, Charleston newspapers  detailed allegations that Goff mishandled money while at his former appointment, Reid Chapel.   The news coverage came as a as a result of  Emanuel AME shooting victims’ family members and attorneys complaining  that Rev. Goff wasn’t being transparent with them about the donations coming into the church. 

Among them, a woman who served as secretary to the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, slain pastor of Emanuel AME, said she was terminated after raising concerns about the oversight of incoming donations.

More than a year before he was murdered at a Bible study, Rev. Pinckney hired Althea Latham to serve as his part-time secretary. The 63-year-old woman grew up in the AME Church but wasn’t a member of Emanuel AME.

After the tragedy, she helped field a deluge of calls that flooded the church, including dealing with the Secret Service and Vice President Joe Biden’s staff, she said.

Latham saw money pour into the church office from well-wishers worldwide. She also witnessed office workers open letters addressed to victims’ families that contained checks, she said.

She questioned the practice and suggested the church hire an outside professional to oversee the funds, her attorney Bruce Miller said.

“Money was coming in that appeared to her to be designated for the families,” Miller said. “She was concerned money was not going to those families, raised concerns and shortly thereafter her employment was terminated.”

Two months after the shooting, Latham received a letter stating her employment agreement wasn’t being renewed.

“The timing of her termination certainly raises questions,” Miller said.

Latham said she tried to reach Goff, including by certified mail, but he didn’t respond.

“I want some answers,” she said. “Just tell me why.”

Goff confirmed she was terminated but declined to discuss a personnel matter.

Last week, before the Wednesday Bible study’s now-large weekly turnout, Goff’s wife was a volunteer manning the secretary’s desk. It’s where Pinckney’s wife and young daughter hid from the gunman during the rampage.

In October, The Post and Courier reported that across Goff’s path of past churches, from New York to Columbia to Charleston, accusations of poor financial oversight.

Goff, who also is treasurer of the statewide 7th Episcopal District, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and is seeking a jury trial to prove his case.

The Reid Chapel members contended that their former pastor took out mortgages against the church without the permissions required by AME Church’s bylaws while amassing federal and state tax liens that reached $200,000.

Rev. Goff has insisted that he did go through proper AME Church avenues — which require getting permission from a church conference and a quarterly conference — before acquiring the mortgages.

However, he has not provided documents to back up his statements, despite repeated requests from Reid Chapel parishioners, church members have said.

Eleven Reid members filed a civil lawsuit against their church last month in an effort to get their hands on those financial records.

His lawyer, Eduardo Curry, said Goff is an internationally known figure who has an excellent reputation in both the faith and secular communities. It pained Goff to have to take legal action against his former parishioners, but they need to be held accountable for their actions for the sake of “truthfulness, honesty and transparency,” he said.

“He has withheld any prior response to the baseless and scurrilous accusations made against him, but today is a new day,” Curry said. “The false accusations and the pain and suffering he and his family have experienced have forced him to respond in an appropriate manner.”

The Rev. Norvel Goff filed the lawsuit Dec. 2 in Richland County his suit, which alleges slander and negligence on the part of his former parishioners, seeks unspecified damages.

His lawsuit points:

As a result of the Reid Chapel allegations, Goff “has suffered emotional damage, embarrassment, his reputation has been damaged with the community both secular and ecclesiastical, and potential harm (has been done) to his employment.”

Click here to view Goff’s Civil Lawsuit filing

Reid Chapel members, including William Toney, are named as defendants in Goff’s suit.“We are not surprised,” said Toney, a Reid Chapel member who is seeking his church’s financial records to see how members’ money has been spent. “We stand by what we’ve said as factual.”

William Toney spent a career working for the federal government, much of it as a loan specialist in Washington, D.C. Before retiring, he directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s loan processing division, overseeing regulations for offices nationwide that processed housing loans.

His job had long involved checking public property records.

One day, he checked his own church’s records. He’d joined Reid Chapel AME in 2007 and served on its steward board, which assists the pastor and accounts for money spent.

Although Goff and church members had celebrated a mortgage burning a couple of years earlier, Toney said he had heard rumors that the church had amassed more debt and that Goff was spending money without accountability to members.

First, Toney saw a mortgage on the church’s property for $315,000 that had closed in March 2005, almost seven years earlier. The loan, signed by Goff and a church trustee, had closed shortly after the new pastor arrived from New York.

The mortgage was used to purchase a four-bedroom, 4,068-square-foot house for Goff to use as a parsonage about 10 miles away from the church, records show.

Toney saw other mortgages, too.

In 2008, one was taken out on the church for $109,238. In 2010, another was taken out for $150,000.

A few months later, in late 2012, Toney checked the church’s property records again. This time, he saw a new $75,000 mortgage that had just closed.

The mortgages all were signed by Goff and a church trustee. However, the AME Church’s bylaws say local churches can mortgage property “provided such action has been authorized by a majority vote of the membership present in a duly called Church Conference for this specific purpose.” The action also must be approved in a resolution at a quarterly conference.

Goff’s lawsuit states that he approved the mortgages and that members of Reid Chapel AME Church’s “directors” endorsed his decision to seek one loan. The lawsuit does not mention receiving permission from church or quarterly conferences.

Meanwhile, the husband of an Emanuel AME shooting victim also filed a civil lawsuit last month seeking accountability with the donations made to the Charleston church.

Arthur Hurd, whose wife Cynthia was gunned down that horrific night, told The Post and Courier that several weeks after the massacre he watched three women in the church’s fellowship hall open envelopes of donations addressed to victims’ families and remove cash and checks from them. He said Goff was a few feet away in his office while that occurred.

I pray that this man of God did not stoop that low to mess with monies that have been earmarked for persons who suffered such great losses, I also pray that Justice will be revealed in these cases and both churches are made whole if the accusations are true! (smh)

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