Never, I say never, "shine" a reporter on, especially one who comes bearing records and testimonies.Musgrave [the Palm Beach Post reporter] had some of the most important building blocks a reporter can have on this kind of story - like court documents, an anonymous tip that checked out and, then, on-the-record interviews with members of a church that Flockhart left in debt eight years ago.Today's Via Dolorosa is stained with the blood of pastors and churches falsely accused ... and litered with their carcasses.
She also did a good job of telling the positive side of the story, stressing that those touched by the preacher's troubles retained a remarkable degree of affection for him as a person, as a leader and, most of all, as a spectacular orator. [Get Religion]
I initially side with the pastor in in-house fights; and I'm especially fond of Southern Baptist pastors and their churches ... so this one doubly grieves me.According to a lawsuit, Flockhart is accused of misappropriating "several hundred thousand dollars" from the church. The suit alleges that he used church credit cards for his personal bills and wrote checks to himself without permission from church leaders.I hate gossips and people who sign things "anonymous."The Rev. Kevin Mahoney, executive pastor of the imposing Baptist church along the Intracoastal Waterway just south of downtown West Palm Beach, said he and other church leaders learned of the lawsuit after they offered Flockhart the prestigious position of head pastor, which had been vacant for three years.My best friend was done this way by a man who couldn't stand in my friend's shadow!
Like The Palm Beach Post, the church received a copy of the lawsuit and other court documents from a person who signed a short note only as "A former Crosspointe Member."
Another thing church officials must never, never do is dissemble ... to anyone, but especially never to someone who can do you harm. Information was given to the church about several things Pastor Flockhart was involved in.When asked about it, Mahoney said, Flockhart denied ever having any problems with the IRS and said he had not had an American Express card for 12 or 15 years. After The Palm Beach Post faxed the Georgia court documents to Mahoney, he talked to Flockhart again.Another thing which should not be done is leave the door open to further inquiry. One way or another close that door!
Roughly a half-hour later, Mahoney called to say Flockhart did remember a dispute over payroll taxes with the IRS. Further, he remembered the dispute with American Express.
Mahoney said he was not troubled that Flockhart's story changed dramatically in less than two hours.
I recommend not speaking to anyone at this point, except through the church's legal counsel ... but never leave a door open!After talking with Flockhart and Crosspointe leaders, Mahoney said he is convinced that Flockhart's financial problems in Georgia were a result of a bad real estate decision, not bad character.Denial like this can kill a pastor and his church; when it does we lose another minister and a ministry.
"In his mind, he did an honorable thing when he was put in a difficult financial position," Mahoney said.
And there is no doubt Flockhart was in bad financial straits even before his former church sued him.
I pray brother Flockhart doesn't chose to go the way of so many and put up an impenetrable wall ... the devil loves to work his magic in front of walls like that!
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HT: Get Religion