J. W. Thompson

Regarding the Importance of Financial Controls, James W. Thompson (St. John’s University, New York) wrote on July 28, 2011:

First, let me take a moment to thank Professor Fischer for taking the time to review our text and especially for the time he spent reviewing my chapter on stewardship in The Concise Guide to Catholic Church Management.

Financial reporting in the for-profit world has been evolving for the past one-hundred years. It had its beginnings with an emphasis on the “Balance Sheet.” It now encompasses the results of operations (hence, the business focus on “Earnings per Share”) and the sources and uses of cash from all aspects of the business, not just operations. Therefore, I felt it appropriate to apply this perspective to parish operations. I believe it would take much more time in the chapter to develop this topic, especially as to how these financial statements interact. I felt in that in writing the chapter the time would be better spent discussing parish fraud and its effects.

The review failed to mention the time devoted to the chapter presentation of the effects of fraud. The results of fraud are not only felt in an individual parish, but the bad publicity which may result can have long-lasting effects on the ability of the “Universal Church” to raise the funds necessary to finance its operations. Hence, I believe that understanding of controls over all the parish assets, including cash, buildings, purchasing and equipment are essential. For this reason I devoted a good portion of the chapter to the bad publicity that resulted from a series of actual parish frauds and how they were perpetrated. I believe an understanding of these negative effects is essential not only to the pastor, but also to the parish board. Hence, I believe that the text is essential reading not only for pastors, but parish board members also.

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