I was down visiting my parents Labor Day weekend 1995 and Pastor Cracker, my dad’s friend, was there visiting also. I had taken copies of my résumé so that I could look for jobs there, but wasn’t too serious about it. I was in college back in my hometown, and I also had a pretty good job there.
While the Preacher, my mom, Pastor Cracker and I were talking, Pastor Cracker mentioned that they were about to the point of needing a full-time secretary at his church. The Preacher got all excited and told Pastor Cracker that I was an excellent secretary and might be interested. Me, a church secretary? Don’t make me laugh. Actually at that time I was still a “good girl” and hadn’t done much sowing of my wild oats yet. Don’t worry. That all changed in due time.
The thought of getting out of my hometown was enough to entice me into taking the job. Up until then I had only lived outside of my hometown once, and that was when I was working with yet another pastor. That only lasted a few months though, and I was living with the pastor and his wife while I was there. Trust me. You don’t want to live with a pastor & his family unless you are on the verge of being homeless. Even then, I’d probably rather sleep in my car. Yep, it was that traumatic.
Anyway, a month later I was up at Pastor Cracker’s church interviewing for the position of church secretary. On the way back home I had an accident, totalled my car, and almost got killed. The car flipped several times, but I came out of it without a scratch. I should have taken it as a sign that I shouldn’t take the job. I was still in my uber-Christian-good-girl phase and believed it to be just the devil trying to keep me from taking the job. Silly devil.
In December 1995 I moved out-of-state to take the job at Pastor Cracker’s church. At first everything was going great. I got involved in a young adult group and a county-wide Christian singles group. Not the hippest crowd, but they were good folks. I was usually the youngest one in the groups. I went to church every Sunday and was a very active member of the church.
Somewhere along the way I got really bored at work. Being a secretary for a church of about 200 members was nice, but I was rarely very busy. That’s when it all started going to hell.
Some of you who are older might remember that back in 1996 AOL 2.7 was the bomb. Or at least I thought so. It was my first time being on the “internet” and I was immediately hooked. There were chat rooms where I could talk to people in my state, and then I could “PM” (private message) them. I had seen the light, opened a door to new possibilities, and found my new addiction all at the same time. Woohoo!
Unfortunately, back then, AOL charged by the minute, so it was very expensive if you were online for more than 30 minutes a day. You also had to either have a credit card, bank account or phone number to charge it to. I only had a bank account, and there wasn’t much in it because being church secretary isn’t the highest paying job. This is where I turned to the dark side. I set it up for AOL to charge to the church’s bank account. I also was spending a lot of time on the phone, long-distance mostly, and those charges were beginning to add up.
During this time I also started going to a few of the close major cities on the weekends to visit new and old friends. I had reconnected with my best friend from high school the year before and was going out-of-town to hang out with him often. He had come out to me after I moved up to work at the church, and he took me to lots of gay clubs and bars and helped me to sow some of those wild oats.
I had not dated at all before moving there. Once I got hooked on AOL though, that was all a thing of the past. I met a few people who I had talked to online, but I was still a virgin. It wasn’t until my last month working there at the church that I lost my virginity.
It was Monday, October 30th, the Preacher’s birthday. The deacons would take up the offering on Sundays, count it, fill out a slip listing the amount, and then put it in the safe in the office. As usual I was preparing the deposit when I noticed that it was a couple hundred dollars short. I went and told Pastor Cracker that it was short. He just said ok and that he would check it later. Just so you know, I didn’t take that money. I may have taken the other, but I think they were just trying to set a trap or something by having that come up short.
I was sitting in my office at work and not doing much when Pastor Cracker came in and told me to come into his office. He informed me that there was money missing out of the petty cash, the phone bill had large charges on it for long distance calls, and that he had found the AOL charges to the church bank account. The total amount was around $2,000.
While I was sitting in his office stunned and ashamed, mainly because I had been caught, one of the deacons came in and started asking me questions. He wasn’t asking questions about the misspent money or the missing petty cash. He was asking questions like, “Were you at this restaurant on this date?” and “Were you with a man?” and “Were you at this hotel on this date?” and…wait, what the fuck? It suddenly hit me that they had followed me for at least a month. How else would they know where I had been and who I had been with? Right then it went from “dear God I’m going to jail” to “these creepy controlling assholes have been tailing my ass!”
Of course I still felt guilty about what I had done. I mean embezzlement is a serious thing. On the other hand I hadn’t taken much cash, and the total charges including the phone and AOL bills was only $2,000. At least I didn’t embezzle hundreds of thousands or even millions like some former church secretaries.
- Former East Tennessee church secretary who stole $1.5 million sent to prison
- JC church secretary accused of embezzlement charged again, this time for credit card purchases
- Church secretary admits stealing $200,000
- Church Secretary Arrested
No, I kept it small. Stupid me. The only good thing about it was that since it was such a small amount, they didn’t press charges. I tried at first to deny everything, but I caved when they told me that they were going to call the sheriff and have me do a polygraph test. At the time I didn’t know that the polygraph test would probably have been illegal, but I was young and naïve at the time.
After being grilled on my whereabouts over the past month, which was none of their business, the pastor told me to get my things and go home.
I went home and immediately called my friend and told him what had happened. He told me to pack some clothes and come down to his place. So I started packing. Hey, it was better than waiting around for the sheriff to make a house-call.
Then the Preacher called. He told me that Pastor Cracker had called and told him what I had done and that they had fired me. The Preacher said that he was “very disappointed in me.” No shit, so was I.
My parents drove up that night and the following morning we all had a meeting in Pastor Cracker’s office regarding my fate. While waiting for Pastor Cracker and the Preacher to come in, I sat on the couch with my mother. I guess they told her about my trips to go see my best friend and about him being gay. Her response to that was to ask me if I was gay. LOL I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Was she serious? I think so. Oh, well. I had bigger things to worry about. My sexuality being questioned was at the bottom of my worry list.
We had our little meeting. I didn’t say much. I figured I’d be better off not saying any more than necessary. In the end I had to write an apology letter to the church admitting what I had done and I agreed to pay back the money to the church. That was good enough for me. I wasn’t going to jail that day. Praise Jesus!
I honestly can’t say why I chose to turn to the dark side and take that money, so for now I’ll just blame it on Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker. They were not the best of influences for a young Christian girl growing up, yet my parents loved them. Well, that is until they got outed. 😉
Of course I’m joking. I know that it was all my fault that I ended up fired for embezzlement from my job as church secretary. I’m not proud of it and I’d never do it again. Once a person loses someone’s trust, in my case the Preacher’s, it’s extremely hard to get that back. Still today I am very careful about not allowing myself to do anything that might make it seem or look like I can’t be trusted with money. Not that I’m perfect, but I’m trying at least.
Wow. That’s one story that I never thought I’d tell anyone. Until now, I’ve only told one other person. I’m glad I wrote this though. I’ve held it in for a long time, and it’s a big relief to confess this one.
So do you think you could confess to doing something like that? I now understand why people tell me to always deny, deny, deny.
Happy humping & keep your hands out of the cookie jar! 😉