Church Pastor in Court for Embezzlement Hearing

| February 4, 2012

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich— A Grand Rapids pastor was in court today for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to send him to trial. Arthur Pearson is pastor of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church on the southeast side of Grand Rapids.

Pearson is facing allegations that he stole between $50,000 and $100,000 by using church bank accounts and credit cards for things like personal license plate renewals, gym memberships, and clothing. The allegations go back three years, when he first became pastor.

The chairman of the church Board of Trustees at the time of the allegations, Stephon Blackwell, testified about the moments when church leaders first became suspicious of Pearson. He said that in 2010 Pearson told the board that he gave himself a $5,000 raise.

"He told me that he got it handled,” said Blackwell.

Blackwell said he and the head deacon, Nathan Mayfield, had communication problems with Pearson and in 2011 demanded Pearson’s financial records, including church credit card and bank statements.

"He basically said as the pastor he has the authority," said Mayfield. "And there are some things he’ll bring to the board and some things he won’t.”

Eventually Blackwell said they planned to tell the entire congregation about the situation. He said Pearson took Blackwell and the deacon aside and pleaded with them.

“He asked if we could just forget about that, forget about the 5,000,” said Blackwell. “We said we couldn’t just forget about that.”,0,119402.story

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Category: Church Security

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