Editorial note: This letter comes from the Standing Committee and will also be available on the web site. The President of the Standing Committee, Canon Gerns, has sent it to Vestry Officers and Bethlehem Clergy News prior to posting on the web site and newSpin blogs.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Before we gather to elect a bishop provisional on Saturday, I wanted to inform you of an important piece of diocesan news that has just recently come to light.
Late last month, the Standing Committee discovered that the diocese’s finances have not been audited since 2007. This came as a shock to us because both our diocesan canons and the canons of The Episcopal Church require an annual audit.
Upon learning of this situation we moved quickly to respond, creating an audit committee that is chaired by Libby House, a member of the Standing Committee, and includes members of the Diocesan Council and the Incorporated Trustees, as well as another member of the Standing Committee and the diocesan treasurer.
On February 7, the audit committee met with representatives of Campbell Rappold & Yurasits, LLP, a reputable Allentown accounting firm and requested a proposal for audits to be conducted on an aggressive schedule of the years 2008-2013. We received that proposal last week, and will be reviewing it on March 1 after our diocesan convention in a joint meeting with the Diocesan Council. Assuming a successful election, our Bishop Provisional, the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, will also be present.
Because the funds originally allocated for the 2008-13 audits were held in reserve, securing audits for those will not affect the diocese’s annual operating budget nor in any way affect the Diocesan Investment Trust.
We are deeply concerned that these audits were never conducted, and that the diocese failed to provide its members and donors with the accountability that they deserved. We are determined to discover why the audits were not conducted, and to put procedures in place to make sure that such a lapse in the diocese’s fiduciary responsibilities does not occur again. We will be reporting to you on these efforts and the findings of the auditors in the months ahead.
Please continue to hold the Diocese of Bethlehem in your prayers as we continue in our season of faithful change.
The Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns
Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Easton
President, Standing Committee