Schol releases expanded statement on misuse of funds

In a letter to clergy first released at umcconnections.org, Bishop John Schol, the leader of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference responded to the allegations made against the Rev. Sungnam Choi by the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) regarding the misappropriation of funds by Choi while he was on staff at GBOD. Choi’s most recent appointment had been in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.

Schol wrote:

Dear Clergy Colleagues,
I am sharing with you the following materials because you or your parishioners may read or hear about this matter in the press or from others. I value your leadership and judgment in sharing as necessary information with your congregation. I will share with you the facts as I know them.

I have been informed by General Board of Discipleship General Secretary Karen Greenwaldt that findings from a forensic audit have been forwarded to appropriate law enforcement bodies implicating Sungnam Choi of misappropriating tens of thousands of dollars while he served with the General Board of Discipleship. The alleged infraction involved multiple misappropriations of funds.

Sungnam Choi worked for the General Board of Discipleship prior to receiving an appointment to the Korean Community Church in Englewood in the Greater New Jersey Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2010. In 2013 Mr. Choi was reassigned to a new appointment after significant conflict in the church and accusations of misappropriated funds. Upon further questioning about financial matters and other concerns, Mr. Choi surrendered his credentials in March of 2013. Upon exiting the United Methodist Church, Mr. Choi began serving a group of members from Korean Community Church who supported his ministry.

This has been a painful and challenging matter for the congregation, the General Board of Discipleship and the Greater New Jersey Conference. I am grateful for the careful review of these matters by the General Board of Discipleship. The General Board of Discipleship has practices and procedures that identified the issues and is now taking corrective steps to secure the apportionment funds that were misappropriated.

The leadership of Korean Community Church has been working to heal the deep division that was created in their congregation. I call each of you to prayer for the pastoral staff, leadership and all of the disciples of Korean Community Church who have suffered and endured a very trying situation. I also ask you to pray for the General Board of Discipleship and its leaders. I also invite you to pray for Mr. Choi, his family and others who were implicated or harmed by the alleged behavior that resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of dollars.

Lastly, I invite you to recommit your life and ministry to Christ Jesus and to practice the highest ethical standards in your ministry and personal life. When any one of us transgresses, it hurts the entire body of Christ.

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