Due to an ongoing police investigation into missing pension funds, the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church has chosen to stop paying their retired members.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the A.M.E. Church has also “discussed steep cuts to the savings of its ministers,” citing church documents and officials.
The publication goes on to reveal that church officials are investigating the possibility of the occurrence of a “financial crime” related to monies “managed by its retirement-services department.” The department reportedly covers about 5,000 beneficiaries.
Church officials have not revealed exactly how much money may be missing. However, the WSJ reports that documents reveal a previous discussion about the historically Black Protestant denomination possibly borrowing $45 million or even selling property to replace the affected funds.
So far, there has been no word on who may be responsible for the financial mismanagement.
Among those affected by the financial freeze are church officials, clergy and bishops, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The publication reports that the matter of missing monies was discovered while new leadership was transitioning into the A.M.E. Church’s retirement department.
Church officials told the AJC: “Out of an abundance of caution, we immediately engaged outside legal counsel and forensics experts to conduct an independent and comprehensive investigation into holdings managed by the Department of Retirement Services.”
The statement went on to reveal that, due to the ongoing police probe, “we do not yet have all of the answers.”
The A.M.E. Church, founded in 1787 by Black Christians rejected by racist White congregations, has its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. The denomination counts about 7,000 congregations and at least 2.5 million members worldwide.