New legal filing highlights how McLean Bible Church secretly funneled money to the SBC and claimed it was getting money back for church planting.
McLean Bible Church hid its financial dealings with the Southern Baptist Convention from its Treasurer, according to a bombshell filing in the court case against the church. The new affidavit filed in the case by a former elder and treasurer said he was told to authorize financial contributions to the Southern Baptist Convention and its associated entities of over $500,000 and was not provided documents of how much money the SBC was providing back to the church through the SBC’s North American Mission Board (NAMB).
Financial dealings with the SBC began in 2017, according to the affidavit signed under penalty of perjury by former elder Craig Proulx. He estimated that McLean Bible Church wrote checks to the Southern Baptist Convention of about $500,000 between 2017 and 2020, when Proulx retired and moved out of state.
According to the affidavit, “Starting in the year of 2017, I began receiving requests to sign Church checks made payable to ‘the Southern Baptist Convention’ or similarly-named entities.”
Proulx continued, “Such checks were relatively large in amount, such as five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or even fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00). The memo lines and the backup information for such checks were blank. Nor was there an attached invoice and, therefore, I did not know the reasons why these checks were written.”
And then comes an interesting insight into how MBC’s leaders conducted financial dealings.
Proulx said, “I communicated with two individuals at the Church to address my concerns about signing these checks, which lacked any explanation. The two individuals I spoke with were Larry Cooper and Bill Steele.” He continued, “Larry Cooper was the Chairman of the Board of Elders at that time. He provided no explanation and instead told me ‘don’t worry about it.’”
And the SBC was apparently sending money back to the church through its New City Network. The SBC money was allegedly coming into the church for church planting efforts from the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
According to the affidavit, “Bill Steele was the Director of Central Operations and Finance at the Church,” and told Proulx, “that the checks reflected the Church’s contributions to the ‘New City Network,’ and organization charted by the Southern Baptist Convention for church planting. I was told that similar checks were coming into McLean Bible Church form the Southern Baptist Convention and being funneled back to New City Network for church planting…I never saw evidence of any checks from the Southern Baptist Convention to the Church, and, to this date, I have no evidence of that.”
This type of financial shuffling of funds raises all sorts of questions.
What sort of deal did McLean have with the Southern Baptist Convention and Kevin Ezell’s North American Mission Board?
How much money did the Southern Baptist Convention funnel back into McLean Bible Church? Also, why would a newly established member church of the Southern Baptist Convention receive hundreds of thousands (if not millions) to aid church planting when other churches that were members for much longer did not receive this type of favorable arrangement?
These types of opaque financial transactions appear to be a serious problem in the Southern Baptist Convention as multiple affidavits in a separate case show Ezell used SBC money to influence and takeover several state conventions.
It also highlights the lack of oversight local churches have over what their leaders are doing with money they give. Even though McLean Bible Church’s constitution forbids joining a denomination, the church leaders did it anyway and funneled without telling members or even an elder how much it was giving to the SBC.
This type of behavior is just begging for the IRS to increase scrutiny of what is happening at these religious non-profits.
You can read the affidavit below: