ECFA indefinitely suspended HBC’s accreditation, according to a statement on Friday 15 March 2019. Dan Busby, EFCA president, said, “During the indefinite suspension, the church may not represent that they are an ECFA member or display ECFA’s membership seal.” Busby cited several reasons for this suspension, not the least of which were concerns over HBC elder’s financial oversight and governance. This decision came on the heels of Julie Roys’ reporting last Saturday 9 March 2019, regarding several scandalous financial decisions HBC and former pastor, James Macdonald, and her reporting on 13 March 2019, about the troubling “oversight” of ECFA in light of these reports of lavish spending. It would appear that the “watcher” need watching. Which, of course, raises several questions.
What did ECFA know and when did it know it?
Recall that in the summer of 2017 – as James MacDonald was tearing asunder HBF, his former church planting organization – MacDonald wrote a $50,000 check from HBF to his friend and disgraced “pastor” Mark Driscoll. HBC Elders at that time “disciplined” MacDonald for his unauthorized use of funds, and HBC repaid the HBF account. And, during the aftermath of the dissolution of HBF, the elders reprimanded MacDonald for acting outside the perimeters of his authority as president of HBF. This was all made public and known by ECFA at the time. Did this not cause “concern” about financial oversight and governance back in 2017? Did ECFA not require greater accountability after the HBF debacle? Why not?
Recall also that Jeff Parham, former HBC CIO, was accused by HBC of allegedly embezzling $270,000. He allegedly (he has yet to be prosecuted let alone be found guilty) began this activity back in 2017. If embezzlement can potentially occur while receiving ECFA accreditation, what earthly good is their seal of approval?
What would motivate EFCA to be so lax in their duties as an oversight and accrediting body?
This question may be answered by simply following the money. HBC would have, according to this ECFA chart, paid thousands of dollars each year to keep up their membership. ECFA form 990 from 2017 shows that member donations make up the bulk of their funding (over $3,000,000). It is worth noting that, as president, Mr. Busby earned in excess of $280,000 in 2017 to oversee this accrediting body. What many may not be aware of was that ECFA was an organization that began as a negotiated settlement between large evangelical institutions and some in the Federal government that were seeking legislation to exercise greater oversight and provide greater transparency. When has self-policing ever been effective?