Montana Public Radio

Potter's Field Donations Drop After Abuse Allegations

Jan 29, 2020

Donations to an embattled Whitefish Christian ministry have dropped significantly since former workers alleged its leaders psychologically abused them and coerced them into largely unpaid labor. Potter’s Field Ministry is defending itself in several wage claim cases filed by former workers.

As Potter’s Field shut down local pieces of the ministry amid the allegations last summer, it maintained that its donor program funding overseas missions work with kids would live on. And according to the ministry, it has. But Potter’s Field says its receiving half of the $100,000 monthly donations it took in prior to public allegations against the ministry.

It’s unclear how much the ministry’s overseas work has been impacted but according to a recent letter sent out to donors, it currently serves 14,000 meals monthly and provides other services to children in seven countries. It says it closed two programs in Costa Rica and Uganda since last summer.

There’s been another change to program as well: the work being done by overseas churches and funded by donors is no longer being overseen by Potter’s Field missionaries on the ground.

“That made it possible for us to have someone who was a stable contact person that could give us accountability for how the funds were being used,” says Potter’s Field in-house counsel Sharon DiMuro.

DiMuro says that the ministry is crafting new protocols to safeguard donations from being spent improperly.

“But right now, where we’re funneling money, we have people we trust.”

The ministry also recently announced it no longer intends to fully shut down. DiMuro says its board is still deciding what that reorganization might look like.