Donald Lee Reynolds was a pastor at High Plains Ministry in North Dakota. Over a 14-year period, he stole nearly $35,000 from his congregation. Now Reynolds is facing 10 years in prison.
According to Grand Forks Herald, “A criminal complaint filed in late October alleges he stole $34,668. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Bishop Terry Brandt of the Eastern North Dakota Synod in Fargo confirmed the document refers to funds allegedly stolen from the High Plains Ministry, a congregation of six churches in northeast North Dakota that consolidated in 2004.”
High Plains Ministry covers North Dakota churches in Edmore, Nekoma, Adams, Lawton, Fairdale and Doyon. They reportedly became one church due to declining attendance. Grand Forks Herald reports Reynolds “submitted false charges to the parish and received reimbursements for fraudulent purchases from 2004 to 2018.”
Bishop Brandt told the outlet, “Mr. Reynolds violated the trust of his congregation, his colleagues and that of this entire church. Though this church proclaims and lives by God’s grace, this kind of betrayal has consequences. … I invite prayers for the High Plains Parish, Mr. Reynold’s friends and family, his former colleagues in ministry and even for Mr. Reynolds himself.” He closed his statement with scripture, Psalm 34:18, “The psalmist was correct in stating, ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.'”
So sad that so many alleged people of faith will use God to steal. Let’s hope Reynolds is the only pastor at this church who is guilty. One would think it’s hard to steal nearly $35,000 with no one noticing.