Your church, the Unitarian Universalist church of Manchester, NH is for all practical purposes a public corporation and you are one of the stock holders. Even if the argument can be made that UUCM is a charity organization, you as a donor, have the right to know how your money is used. Unfortunately for the dozen years we’ve been members and the eight years we’ve been members and employees what we’ve seen is a culture of “What they don’t know, won’t hurt them” combined with “We need to protect our reputation.”
Paul Kleihauer was a respected member of the church, looked the part with the shirts, sweaters and beard associated with a serious academic but when it came to computers he liked to talk in a dizzying flurry of buzzwords. Watching him work, and talking to Paul K. I began to realize that he really didn’t know what he was talking about. I mentioned this to people in authority but Paul K. had the look and sound of competence and was a trusted member of the “go along to get along club” so my fears were dismissed. Until Paul K. suddenly and without warning left for Montana to “pursue his next degree.” Paul K. was your trusted Treasurer. UUCM doesn’t have a separate accountant to account for the money so the UUCM Treasurer does both jobs. Or neither.
Barbara Stadtmiller is an upbeat, positive energetic person who at the time of Paul K.’s departure was working on a Masters of Business Administration, non-profit. Barb S. volunteered to take over the position of Treasurer and was accepted and dug in the way she always does, with her full attention and effort. I can go on in some detail but let’s just say the books were a mess and things that really needed to be done weren’t. You never heard any of this because of the culture of secrecy and the attitude of keeping up a good face at UUCM.
Now everybody knows Rick Carkin! He is the director of Religious Education, sings in the Choir, and runs a popular Pampered Chef business. What you don’t know and really should have known since it’s your money that’s being spent is that Rick C. had a vague idea of where your money ended and his began. Until Barb S. came along. Barb S. began reconciling the UUCM books by going back many years and checking bills, receipts and checks against each other and eliminating duplicate accounts and missing or duplicate entries in the journal. And this is after Webster Anderson had worked on the same thing for several years. Along the way to a book balance that was based in reality, Barb S. found a pattern of missing receipts from Rick C. members of the Religious Education committee went to Rick for routine purchases because Rick C. “Had a church credit card.” Well, sort of, it turns out. Rick C. had a personal credit card and would submit a list of charges to be reëmbursed to him for official purchases. But this was a minor annoyance compared to the big one. He slipped in a few on-line doo-dads he liked to use for his Pampered Chef business but when he was made DRE he discovered Professional Development reëmbursment and travel and fun at your expense. You never heard of this now did you and neither did the Religious Education committee. But Paul K. wrote the checks because it was the easy way out.
When people fell they need to keep secrets, how often is this a good thing?
Oh, and Barbara Stadtmiller? You guys owe her big time for the work she did. If you had hired an accounting firm to sort out your bookkeeping mess the total would have run into the tens of thousands of dollars for the work that she did as a volunteer.