Epworth Church denies claims of misappropriating funds, some parents want them to prove it

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 6:46 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2023 at 3:12 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Epworth Church staff released a statement saying “Epworth Church misappropriating any sum of funds from our Preschool accounts is completely false.” Some parents, church members, and former staff are asking them to prove it.

“They need to show where the money is. There is a lot of money, we’re not talking about a couple of thousand dollars. We’re talking probably closer to 80 or 90 thousand dollars that have been missing or quote-on-quote absorbed into the church’s budget. But where in the budget did that money go,” says Brianna Smith, a former parent and preschool board member.

According to a church member the congregation at the church has declined over the years, and she thinks that is part of the reason the church wanted more control of the preschool.

“I understand that the church was not in very good financial straits because everybody has left the church and the contributions are not there. I understand that. But at the same time don’t take it from the preschool,” says Melinda Davis, a church member and former preschool board treasurer.

Former board members tell 13abc that the former director applied for grants from the state of Ohio, and they say the money should only be used for the preschool.

“We are very fortunate and lucky to qualify for some grants and we receive quite a bit of money from these grants. Most of our surplus was related to the grants. The money was for the preschool and not the overall church. It was to provide for the staff at the preschool,” says Davis.

For the first time since the school fired director Jane Lyon, a representative from the church tells 13abc Lyon was fired after he says an egregious situation happened that led them to act swiftly.

Lyon’s former administrative assistant tells 13abc she thinks the representative is referring to the email Lyon sent out the day before she was fired, where she asked for answers regarding the school finances being short over 47 thousand dollars.

“Their safety was never in question. It was not a compliance issue, it was not a safety issue. And yet they want to term it egregious,” says Maria Jun, the preschool’s former administrative assistant.

The District Superintendent released the following statement to 13abc on Thursday.

“The West Ohio Conference is aware of the situation at Epworth and that the church has reached out to the preschool parents. Because this is a personnel matter, any information is confidential, yet we are conducting an internal investigation,” Rev. Amy Haines said in a statement.

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