Church members sue pastor for lost money

Nearly $1 million involved, civil suit says

Columbus Dispatch, Ohio/February 1, 2007
By Dennis M . Mahoney

An East Side pastor drained nearly $1 million from his church, according to a lawsuit filed by some members of his congregation.

In the civil suit, filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, 18 members of World of Pentecost Church accuse the Rev. David Thompson, 44, of taking the money for his own use. Several other church officials also are defendants.

The suit says Thompson told members recently that he had lost $800,000 of the church’s money by investing it in an unspecified "energies scheme." It also says he admitted taking out a second mortgage of $130,000 on the church at 3431 E. Main St.

Thompson, who has been pastor for more than 10 years, admitted he had taken the actions without the approval of the members, as required by church bylaws, the members assert. According to their lawsuit, he also told them he had fraudulently used the signature of the church administrator, Dave Simpson, to obtain the mortgage.

Repeated efforts to contact Thompson yesterday were unsuccessful. Telephone calls to a number of the plaintiffs were not returned, and their attorney, James Banks of Dublin, also could not be reached.

The church was founded in 1967 as Glencoe Apostolic Church, later became the Apostolic Church of Christ and got its current name in 1998. It is affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church International, based in Missouri.

The denomination’s Columbus-area supervisor, the Rev. William Sciscoe, known as the presbyter, said he could not comment because of the pending lawsuit. Several calls and e-mails to officials at the denomination’s Ohio headquarters in Toledo were not returned.

Thompson’s house, at 3207 Mistover Lane next to the Westchester Golf Course, is valued at $279,000, according to Franklin County auditor’s records. He bought it in 1996 for $222,000.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and the recovery of at least $800,000. It says the former pastor, the Rev. George Thompson, who is David Thompson’s father, is now running the church. He, too, is named in the lawsuit.

According to the suit, George Thompson attended a Biblestudy service on Jan. 23 and told the congregants that his son made a mistake and that they must forgive him. And if they pressed his son for answers about the money, they were "children of the devil."

The suit also says that all the defendants conspired to cover up David Thompson’s misuse of money. Among the defendants is his wife, Michelle.

No criminal charges have been brought against David Thompson.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.