A program at Calvary United Methodist Church in Annapolis that provides assistance for people facing eviction has been shut down after being drained of more than $3,500 from a ministry account.
In a letter to the church community Wednesday, the pastor and staff of Calvary UMC said they discovered the fraudulent charge Tuesday on the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund. They immediately closed the account and filed a police report.
Director of Communication and Administration Alicia Sweeney said that money is used to help people who have turn-off notices from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and court-ordered eviction notices. The money allows their utilities to stay on, and they’re not stuck outside in the summer.
“Sometimes people just need help,” she said. “Sometimes things fall through the cracks.”
Sweeney said they had to turn away 10 families who were seeking help Wednesday. The program serves an average of 13 individuals or families a week. Sweeney said they’re seeing an uptick in the number of people reaching out for help.
“We are unable to provide this assistance until the generosity of our members or the community can help us, so we can start it up again,” Sweeney said.
The Annapolis Police Department is investigating. No charges have been filed, spokeswoman Sgt. Amy Miguez said.
In the letter, church officials said they are confident they know who is responsible. Police said the money was used to pay bills in excess of $3,500, without the permission of the church.
The church has provided the ministry for more than 20 years. The church didn’t condemn the individual or individuals responsible but rather asked people to join in prayer.
“Because at the end of the day, only God knows their story.”
“We will continue to be a light in dark times for this community even as we learn through this process,” the letter said.
They’re accepting donations to replenish the fund so they can continue helping people in need as soon as possible.
Donations can be made online at www.calumc.com by clicking “donate” in the upper left-hand corner of the page and selecting the communion/discretionary fund in the drop-down menu. Checks can also be sent to the church at 301 Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis. Mention “Pastor’s Discretionary Fund” in the memo.
“We know that the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund supports an important ministry to our neighbors in Anne Arundel County,” officials said. “We are committed to bringing it back at our earliest opportunity.”