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Christian Financial Accountability Organization Poised to Expand in 2008; Aspires to Greater Role with Churches

Contact: Alex Coffin, 704-364-2049, acoffin@inchristcommuincations.com


WINCHESTER, Va., Jan. 2 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), an oversight and accreditation organization with more than 2,000 Christian nonprofit organization members, is poised to have even greater influence for better managed ministries, agencies, schools – and now churches – than it has had in the past nearly 30 years of existence, ECFA President Ken Behr is quoted as saying in the current issue of "Church Executive" magazine.


ECFA, formed in 1979 to monitor fundraising of Christian nonprofits, has focused primarily on ministries and religious agencies. But last July it created a new division for churches, focusing on leadership, governance, financial stewardship, fundraising and accountability.


"There are more than 300,000 churches across the United States, and local congregations and their members are seeking guidance and the assurance that association with an organization like ECFA can bring," said Behr. "In order to help continue and expand its calling, ECFA's new Church Division will help churches demonstrate the highest standards of accountability that convey God-honoring, ethical practices."


Members of the Church Division will receive a number of unique benefits, including continuing education provided by ECFA staff at regional seminars and other conferences.


An affiliate membership also was introduced for smaller ministries and churches, said Behr. Costs have risen significantly for nonprofit CPA audits, which ECFA relies on in its oversight of its members. Affiliate membership, relying on CPA-compiled or CPA-reviewed financial statements, is a way to "begin the journey toward full accreditation," Behr said.


In October ECFA launched a powerful nonprofit executive salary comparison tool available on its web site (www.ECFA.org) that is updated daily from audited data submitted by members to maintain their accreditation status.


While in the past ECFA has been low key and hasn't marketed itself, it has now added a staff person for marketing and is seeking grants to create a campaign "to promote the message of integrity."


According to "Church Executive," ECFA's influence got a boost in November when the U.S. Senate Finance Committee began looking at the operations of six major televangelism ministries headed by Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer and Randy and Paula White.


The six are large media ministries organized as churches, Behr explained. Churches don't have to file the extensive Form 990 that nonprofits have to file. Of the six organizations under investigation, only two or three have a church connection. None are ECFA members.


ECFA (www.ECFA.org), founded in 1979, provides accreditation to evangelical Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with established standards for financial accountability, fund-raising and board governance. ECFA's 2,000-plus members collectively receive more than $16 billion per year in income from their ministry efforts and represent nearly $26 billion in assets.


"Church Executive" magazine (www.ChurchExecutive.com) is the leading business magazine for larger churches and megachurches and focuses on the leadership and management sides of church life. It is received by 20,000 senior pastors, executive pastors and business administrators in evangelical, Protestant and Catholic congregations.