Potter's Field Ministries Allegedly Diverted Funds From Kids Food Program
Whitefish-based Potter’s Field Ministry is facing new allegations that it misrepresented a program that provided food to kids in foreign countries. The ministry’s new CFO is now saying that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations were diverted to a missionary training program.
In a video posted on the international church group Calvary Chapel Association’s Facebook page Wednesday, the group’s leader, Don McClure, said donations to Potter’s Field Ministries’ kids program weren’t all being used to feed children at camps in Uganda, Guatemala and Cambodia.
“One of the things, sadly, of the byproducts of this thing falling apart was that a lot of the money, whether – it’s none of my business here now – but it wasn’t going to the kids, which can easily happen,” McClure said.
McClure did not provide details on where that money was allegedly going, and could not be reached for comment. The chapel also did not provide documents to corroborate their claims.
Calvary Chapel Association severed ties with Potter’s Field Ministries leaders Mike and Pam Rozell this spring after learning about alleged abuse. Verbal and psychological abuse was claimed at Potter’s Field facilities, which include three Mudman Burger locations in the Flathead Valley and two food trucks elsewhere.
Calvary Chapel members were reportedly the main source of donations to Potter’s Field.
Rob McCoy, mayor of Thousand Oaks, California, and pastor at Godspeak Calvary Chapel, came in to shut down Potter’s Field after the Rozells stepped down. McCoy stated that roughly half of the monthly donations to the Potter’s Field Kids Club, which total more than $100,000, were not used to feed children. Instead, they were used on another program.
“The money that came in from the sponsors not only went to helping the kids clubs in countries like Uganda, Cambodia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and also the missionaries in those locations that oversaw the work with the children of those countries, but the money also went to support all of the Ignite students,” McCoy said.
Ignite students would live and learn from missionaries in those countries for months at time, and pay up to $6,000 of their own money to participate in the program. McCoy says it cost more than that to feed, house and buy plane tickets for students, and that’s why donations were used to subsidize the program.
Kenzie Kinney is a former Ignite student and handled Potter’s Field’s finances a few years ago. She said there were always more donations coming in than there were kids in the program.
“And this would be a very high guesstimate of how many kids were actually in the program, I would say maybe like 500, and that would be between all five countries,” Kinney said.
Kinney added the Rozells would show videos with hundreds of children being fed during their presentations in order to solicit donations from Calvary church members, but that those images were from infrequent larger pastor conferences. She remembered working with about 20 kids on a weekly basis during her time in the program.
She also said Potter’s Field workers were told to photoshop old letters from kids in the program, with the altered letters being sent out to donors.
“We would always have to cut off the dates so that they wouldn't know how old they were,” Kinney said.
“Then we'd just photocopy hundreds of them, and then just tri-fold them all and mail them out, because we mail out these little things like, ‘Thanks again for your support, and here is, you know, a thing from your prayer child. They wrote you a letter.’”
Kinney alleged the Rozells would write off personal expenses using excess donations and other profits from their popular Mudman Burger restaurants. She did not have financial documents to corroborate her allegations about how Potter’s Field handled donations.
Calvary Chapel’s Rob McCoy said he found strange transfers of funds from Potter’s Field Ministries to Potter’s Field Ranch, both 501-c3 nonprofits. That money, he added, was used on missionary work, and he has not found any illegal transactions.
“I haven’t at this point, but that doesn’t mean I won’t find that out,” McCoy said.
As for the Kids Club program, McCoy said it will remain operational after the ministry shuts down, but added he is working to contact the roughly 8,000 donors in the program.
“We’re holding off running any of the monthly credit cards until all of the donors know what’s taken place, and give them the option to continue,” McCoy said.
He is currently seeking a reputable ministry that can run the program cheaply. The remainders of Potter’s Field’s assets are being liquidated by Godspeak Calvary Chapel. McCoy said Godspeak will not hold onto any funds left over after the liquidation process.