Tools

Youth Pastor Accused of Stealing From Church

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn.- One Jackson Church leader trusted to supervise his congregation's money is charged with stealing from those donations.

Jackson Police said Jason Lee Ray, Treasurer and Youth Pastor at First Assembly of God, admitted to secretly taking money from the church from more than a year. Officials would not reveal the exact amount taken but according to the charge it was more than $60,000 dollars. Police said the money was taken from the church's general funds between May 2011-Dec. 2012.

"We used to, thought nothing bad would happen to a church that people would have more respect for a church," said Senior Pastor Gary Martin, of First Assembly of God Church. "It hurt us financially it's hard to put into words, it's just one of those things that happens and we were devastated, we were hurt, we still are, but we are going on and we are holding together."

Pastor Martin told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News this experience is one the church can learn from, a testament of faith in people, that will make his congregation stronger.

"Through those tests those trials we become stronger we learn from those things," said Pastor Martin, "We have to trust God through it all and we go on with it. When in doubt, you open up the word and get the direction and we learn together and we overcome together."

Church leaders said members have already started coming together, working to make up for the loss and helping the church to continue to make a difference.

Those are the good aspects and the good things that make a pastor smile where you know you are serving people that have a heart for serving people, that really makes a difference," said Pastor Martin.

One of the biggest programs at the Jackson First Assembly of God Church is a food drive where more than 4,000 pounds of food is given away to the needy in Jackson -Madison County, the third Thursday each month. Pastor Martin said because of the overwhelming support and unity within the church community, this month's drive set for next week will not be affected.