Pastor Steals 167 Grand, Judge Lets It Go

Leniency was on a judge’s mind in Grand Rapids, Michigan, yesterday. He ordered the defendants in the case to merely pay back the money they pilfered. No jailtime necessary.

I’m sure such a slight slap on the wrist has nothing to do with the divine calling of the accused.

Arthur Pearson, the fired former pastor of the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, and the removed church secretary Gerolanita Bailey, were told they have 48 months to pay back a combined total of more than $220,000.

Former Grand Rapids pastor, church secretary will repay $220,000 taken from church, judge vows |

Pearson is accused of taking some $167,000 that he used to give himself raises and bonuses of as much as $20,000. He used the church credit card for personal expenses at several area retail stores and restaurants, including the Electric Cheetah, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret and Hearthstone Bistro, according to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.

Bailey used more than $60,000 in church money to pay utility and cable bills for herself and family members and wrote checks intended for personal use.

Among the allegations laid out following an audit of church finances was that Bailey diverted $6,100 to Comcast, $7,300 to Sprint, $10,000 for a Capital One credit card and about $18,000 taken in written checks to “cash” or herself. This embezzlement went on between 2008 and 2012.

Such representatives of God may well be accelerating the pace at which Americans identify as “nones” — having no particular religion.

The experience divided the Franklin Street SE church, causing membership to plummet and leaving the church without a full-time pastor for the last year and a half.