PUBLISHED SUNDAY NOVEMBER 16, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All
Ministry fails to
meet watchdog's guidelines
By J. Lowe
Davis and Amie K. Streater
PENSACOLA - Doctors,
lawyers, teachers -- all have to pass tests to do
their work. Colleges, hospitals, restaurants --
all have to undergo scrutiny by accrediting or
But who reviews religious
organizations and evangelists? Who determines
whether they deserve the public's trust?
The Evangelical Council for
Financial Accountability, a nationwide watchdog
group formed in 1979 by Billy Graham and several
other evangelists, exists specifically to oversee
religious organizations' financial dealings.
The ECFA coaches its 860
organization members into earning that trust by
requiring that they follow a strict set of
guidelines for handling donors' money ethically.
participate in ECFA and must abide by strict
rules. Nine organizations in the Pensacola area
are in the ECFA: Globe Missionary Evangelism,
Waterfront Rescue Mission, Arise and Shine
Evangelistic Association, Globe Europe, Living
Water Adopt-a-Child, Living Water Ministries,
Manna Bible Institute, New Hope Home of
Waterfront Rescue Mission, and Rhema Bible
None of the organizations
involved in Pensacola's Brownsville Revival are
Brownsville Revival evangelist
Steve Hill's organization, Together in the
Harvest Ministries Inc., has a membership
Paul Nelson, president of ECFA,
said that to be accepted, a religious
organization must meet these requirements:
Adopt a written statement
affirming its commitment to the Christian faith
and operate in a manner that reflects Biblical
The statement Hill filed in
Texas when he incorporated Together in the
Harvest states that the organization was formed
"to promote and perpetuate the doctrines of
Christianity as a religion by going into all the
world and preaching the Gospel of Jesus
Set up a board of directors,
the majority of which cannot be staff members or
Hill's organization has four
directors: Hill, who is president. Jeff Gardner,
who works in the Together in the Harvest office
at Hill's home and handles Awake America, one of
Hill's joint ventures. Gary Brady, former pastor
of Faith Assembly of God in Tallahassee, where
Hill also used to work. Ronald Ardt, a friend of
Hill's who lives in Dallas.
Submit to an annual audit
from an independent certified public accountant.
Hill said his friend, Jody
Fauss of Lindale, Texas, handles his ministry's
finances. Fauss, however, told the News Journal
that he is not a certified public accountant, and
that he does not do the audit for Together in the
Exercise financial control
to ensure resources are used as intended.
An informal financial statement
Hill released to the News Journal listed 32.15
percent of the Together in the Harvest money goes
to "other" and
"uncategorized" expenditures. Hill did
not provide details about those expenditures.
Provide copies of audited
financial statements on request.
Hill's attorney, Walter
Chandler, refused to provide those.
The ECFA would not tolerate
that, according to Nelson. "If they were a
member, that wouldn't fly," he said.
Conflicts of interest should
be avoided by fully disclosing on audited
financial statements any transactions between
Hill has not provided a list of
Together in the Harvest staff. He has not
provided an audited statement. He has not
specified what role his wife, Jeri Hill, plays in
the organization or how much she is paid. Her
name appears with Steve Hill's on the Together in
the Harvest letterhead.
Comply with ECFA's 12
standards of fund-raising, which include
accurately describing the group's activities,
avoiding giving potential donors any unrealistic
expectations of what their gifts will accomplish,
truthfulness in communication and providing, on
request, detailed reports of a project for which
it is soliciting gifts.
Hill provided an informal
financial statement that said $900,000, or 75
percent, of his share of the Brownsville Revival
offering goes to missions. Elsewhere in the
statement, he indicates $789,000 goes for such
giving. His lawyer's figure was $639,000 and
Hill's IRS return indicates his ministry gave
Despite repeated requests from
the News Journal, neither Hill nor his lawyer
identified specific missions and addresses, other
than lists of countries and general
identifications such as "Misc. - Central and
South America and various countries."
Neither Hill nor his lawyer
would provide copies of the IRS returns for the
nonprofit organization, even though they are, by
law, public information. The News Journal had to
obtain copies through the IRS.
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