Interim AME Emanuel pastor announces plan for donations amid allegations

Interim AME Emanuel pastor announces plan for donations amid allegations

Following the crisis at Emanuel AME Church, now come questions.

Questions asking how donations mailed directly to the church are being handled.

Questions over how much money was collected.

Even questions regarding who would receive those funds, once distribution began.

Arthur Hurd, whose wife Cynthia was among the nine people killed during the June 17 shooting rampage, filed a legal complaint against Emanuel AME Church, also asking for transparency in how donations following the tragedy are being handled.

An email from his attorney with McLeod Law Group said, "The suit was filed in order to ensure the intent of the donors is being carried out."

"A transparent accounting will benefit the donors, the Church and the victims," it continued.

Wednesday, Interim Emanuel pastor Elder Norvel Goff addressed many of those concerns in a news conference, surrounded and supported by dozens of his peers in the AME Church and members of Mother Emanuel.

"It's like pouring salt in an open wound," Goff said of the financial allegations. He also responded to a series of claims published in a local newspaper, questioning his money management at previous churches he pastored.

Among them includes claims he took out mortgages at a Columbia church without members' approval. Goff defended himself citing the church discipline, which supports church trustees providing housing for its pastor.

He also said he and his wife paid closing costs on the property.

The report also said Goff terminated the former church secretary at Emanuel AME, after she raised questions over how staff members were handling donations, or if victim's families were among those slated to receive them.

Goff denied ever firing the secretary, but said her contract, which expired August 30, 2015, was not renewed.

The Interim pastor also called on an attorney for the church, as well as an accountant from International Firm BDO, to address professional interactions with church officials concerning donations.

Both defended Goff.

Attorney Wilbur Johnson of Young Clement Rivers broke down how donations will be distributed, which includes four categories:  Emanuel AME Church, families of the Emanuel Nine, funds for a memorial, as well as an endowment.

Johnson suggested Hurd's complaint only asked that the church complete its accounting process, but did not contain allegations of financial mismanagement.

Donations discussed Wednesday remain separate from the City of Charleston Hope Fund, and only apply to money mailed directly to Emanuel AME Church.

Goff said Wednesday, he was not ready to disclose the total amount until the accounting process was complete.

Tyrone Sanders sat among dozens of members who attended the news conference.  His son Tywanza was also among the shooting victims, and his wife Felicia, among five people who survived.

Sanders questioned why survivors were not accounted for in the distribution process, to which Goff responded, checks mailed to the the church specifically addressed the Emanuel Nine.

Goff added each of the four categories were created as a result of how checks were addressed.

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