Evangelical Baptist Mission (EBM) Dissolution

It is with a heavy heart and much prayerful consideration that I, on behalf of the EBM Board of Directors, write this letter. Following extensive objective assessment and the advice of legal counsel, we are beginning action to dissolve EBM. The organization will be in the process of shutting down over the next week and a half. Funds to continue are not available. On September 2, 2011, the EBM home office will close its doors.

See attached PDF

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RPittman's picture

This always brings a note of sadness as other ministries have closed in the past few years. Undoubtedly, this is a difficult time for the people having to make major changes in their lives and ministry. Our prayers are for God's special care, grace, and strength for these folks during this time. The work of God, however, goes on. These missionaries and staff members will find new doors opened and new opportunities for serving God. May God meet their needs and provide expanded avenues for service.

Shaynus's picture

Not that this is totally on topic, but my brother is working in a new web-based method of raising funds for missionaries based on the kickstarter concept. It might be interesting in the future to discuss the future of missions boards as the exist now.

Steve Newman's picture

We support an EBM missionary, who has told supporting churches not to send any money until further notice. It is a cruel spot for these godly people to be in. They have to choose a new mission agency from the field within a week. It is very difficult and trying. Pray for the missionaries of EBM!

JohnBrian's picture

is such a short time for the missionaries on field to accomplish what is being asked of them. Why did EBM not extend their closing for a month.

Quote:
Further, the process will involve evaluation of what creditors’ claims should and should not be paid.

If there are creditors who they may decide not to pay, should they not have declared bankruptcy instead.

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Jonathan Charles's picture

How did this mission fund itself? Did the home office have churches supporting it, or did the missionaries have to give a % of their support to the home office to support it? It would seem that it would have been supported in one of these two ways and that such support must have unpredictably fallen rather rapidly.

Jim's picture

http://www.ibj.com/article/print?articleId=25088

Quote:
Evangelical Baptist Missions Inc., based in Indianapolis, filed a federal lawsuit in late January against the Beracha Foundation, a not-for-profit information technology company in Ohio, alleging conversion, unjust enrichment and violation of the anti-cybersquatting act. The suit charges that Beracha refuses to relinquish control of EBM’s Internet domains and website functions unless it receives certain payments.

...

Evangelical Baptist Missions’ main website, www.ebm.org, is still live, but the portal it uses to communicate with missionaries, along with web-based donation and accounting software, stopped working sometime after President David Culver severed his relationship with Beracha in early January, the lawsuit says.

...

Evangelical Baptist Missions says it registered its main site in 1997 and its video site, www.harvestproductions.org, in 2000. Beracha administered the domains by hosting them on its servers and paying yearly fees, which EBM reimbursed.

EBM claims that, at some unspecified time, Beracha listed Connie Dunmyer as the registrant for the domain names, which gives her the sole authority to transfer them to EBM or its new vendor.

Both domains are set to expire this year, ebm.org in May and harvestproductions.org in August, publicly available registry information shows. The registrant is the person who receives e-mail notices about impending expirations and typically carries out renewals.

Culver, who became EBM’s president last year, sent a letter to Dana Dunmyer on Jan. 10, asking him to turn over access to the domain names and software credentials. Dunmyer refused, unless EBM would “cover the costs for providing the information,” including a $1,000 retainer, the lawsuit says.

A few days later, Dunmyer sent a second e-mail that offered two choices, the suit says. EBM could either agree to a new annual contract, which would cost more than $67,000, and pay $30,342 for “alleged violations of other agreements unrelated to IT services,” plus $2,000 in setup fees. At the end of the one-year contract, Beracha would transition all data to a new vendor, at a cost to be determined.

The second option was for EBM to pay $125,821 to fulfill “agreements,” and Beracha would move all data to a new vendor, again for an undetermined fee.

There's more between the "...'s" but this is the gist of it

http://dockets.justia.com/docket/indiana/insdce/1:2011cv00111/32285/

http://o3-news.com/?p=5816

http://www.ibj.com/it-provider-fires-back-at-local-notforprofit/PARAMS/a...

Quote:
Information Technology services provider Beracha Foundation has filed the latest shot in its legal fight with Indianapolis-based Evangelical Baptist Missions Inc.

The Maineville, Ohio-based not-for-profit filed suit in Warren County, Ohio, civil court on Friday, saying EBM breached IT and consulting contracts, among other counts. It is seeking payment of more than $730,000 for the early termination of the contracts, plus real and punitive damages.

The two organizations have been involved in a contract dispute since last fall. In February, EBM sued Beracha in federal court in Indianapolis, alleging that IT provider was holding its website hostage.

EBM, which provides back-office and logistical support for missionaries, accused Beracha of conversion, unjust enrichment, and violation of the anti-cybersquatting act. The suit charged that Beracha refuses to relinquish control of EBM’s Internet domains and website functions unless it receives certain payments.

In its lawsuit, however, Beracha said it has kept its contractual obligations and even renegotiated the contracts after it became clear that EMB was having financial difficulties. Beracha also said it arranged sponsorship agreements to help EBM reduce its IT costs. EBM, the lawsuit said, accepted the sponsorship donations, then began pursuing other IT service providers in violation of the agreement.

Beracha also said it designed and hosted websites for EBM on a lease rather than purchase basis, and the lease agreement cannot be broken unless EBM fully pays its debts to Beracha.

Beracha’ cofounder Dana Dunmyer told IBJ on Monday that EBM doesn’t understand all of Beracha’s work, which included cloud-based hosting and accounting. Based on the federal lawsuit, he said, “You would think it was just a simple website. That couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Dunmyer declined to elaborate on EBM's financial problems, but the lawsuit alleges that EBM failed "to provide full disclosure of its financial position to its missionaries and donors.” Dunmyer also became aware of “bookkeeping irregularities,” the suit says.

Jay's picture

Steve Newman wrote:
We support an EBM missionary, who has told supporting churches not to send any money until further notice. It is a cruel spot for these godly people to be in. They have to choose a new mission agency from the field within a week. It is very difficult and trying. Pray for the missionaries of EBM!

Wow...one more reason why the missions agency model needs to be overhauled completely. I can't imagine having to select a new governing agency and all the consequences if I was working in Europe and having only a week to do it.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jim's picture

Not purposely dumping on EBM but ...

Another example of a Missions agency that did not see a need to be transparent about their finances (look them up on guidestar.org).

And then like a lightning bolt they are gone ... with 1 week's notice

In contrast .... consider http://www.bhm.org/bhm/lang-en/home.html Baptist Haiti Missions (an organization that we are privileged to support)

  • Full 990 disclosure (on http://www.guidestar.org) AND
  • Per their website: "The accounts of BHM are independently audited yearly by the Certified Public Accounting firm of Vredeveld Haefner LLC. of Grand Rapids, Michigan. AND
  • If a donor requests more information: "Detailed financial statements are available upon request."
Vickie's picture

I have no knowledge of EBM`s financial transparency or lack thereof today, but in the past they were transparent. We were with EBM from 1977 through 1994. In those years, there was an annual independent audit and a yearly financial statement was released to missionaries and supporters and made available to anyone who asked to see it.

RPittman's picture

Jay C. wrote:
Steve Newman wrote:
We support an EBM missionary, who has told supporting churches not to send any money until further notice. It is a cruel spot for these godly people to be in. They have to choose a new mission agency from the field within a week. It is very difficult and trying. Pray for the missionaries of EBM!

Wow...one more reason why the missions agency model needs to be overhauled completely. I can't imagine having to select a new governing agency and all the consequences if I was working in Europe and having only a week to do it.
The failure of a single part is not a reason to overhaul the whole model anymore than a flat tire means buying a new car. Individual businesses patterned on highly successful models routinely fail due to management, local conditions, or a host of other factors. At first look, it appears the the mission got in over its head with IT services. This can be a pitfall of any business. I know a ministry that reportedly dropped a million bucks on IT only to scratch the program. What bothers me is the sacrifice of many well-meaning donors who gave beyond their means only to have their sacrificial efforts negated by poor decisions.

Jonathan Charles's picture

This letter is on the foundation web-site:

The Beracha Foundation and one of our ministry partners had enjoyed a long term ministry partnership which was beneficial to their mission and missionaries since 2005. This contractual relationship was entered into by both Beracha and the ministry partner. Unfortunately, they breeched the contract on January 10, 2011, still owing Beracha many thousands of dollars. Despite this unresolved debt, Beracha continued to maintain websites for this ministry partner and their missionaries, allowing them to continue to conduct business. In no way were missionaries placed at risk, and in no way has Beracha interfered with their organization and their missionaries’ ability to collect and access their funds through Beracha maintained websites and IT infrastructure.

Unfortunately, without exhausting what we believe to be our scriptural mandates for handling disputes, our brothers filed suit against us in the courts. We are deeply saddened by this matter. We pleaded with our brothers not to reject the authority of the scriptures in favor of the courts fully believing we could readily work through our differences. Unbeknownst to us, we were surprised to find that while we were engaged in seeking a resolution with them, they were already in process of launching legal action.

Beracha’s services to this ministry partner had been thorough and expansive. Beracha was asked in 2005 to provide 100% of their IT, IT infrastructure, and data center needs. We had provided them with 100% of their IT workers, management and support. Additionally, we had provided systems which enabled them to utilize up to 1,000 web sites to be used by them, their missionaries and mission church plants throughout the world. This included custom web designs, e-Newsletters, network, donor management, e-commerce, accounting, and secure portals, as well as, marketing and communications services.

Beracha had also served this ministry partner by providing, at their request, their Chief Financial Officer (CFO), their Chief Information Officer (CIO), their Chief Security Officer (CSO), and other accounting professionals through our Forte Group, which provides senior level consulting programs at highly reduced prices through our subsidies.

In addition to providing all their IT requests, Beracha also provided opportunities by which our ministry partner could benefit from several new revenue streams designed to provide funding for all of their stated Information Technology, communications and marketing needs.

Our team of professionals, when asked to help them through a crisis, provided our ministry partner with wise business and spiritual counsel. They rejected our counsel. We were asked to provide them with plans to come to their aid. They rejected all our plans even though we met their stated objectives. We were asked to provide increased subsidies and funding. They rejected our increased subsides, donations and additional funding. We were asked to help them gain more corporate sponsors to fund their needs. They rejected our corporate sponsorships.

Beracha has worked tirelessly to resolve this matter without court intervention. We sought mediation by having one of their board members – a man I believe to be godly and wise – to facilitate a joint resolution agreement, which was signed by them and Beracha in September, 2010. Beracha reached written agreements as late as October 31, 2010, to come to a peaceful resolution of the financial issues facing our ministry partner. Beracha recognized their financial issues as early as May, 2010. Since then, Beracha has worked tirelessly to resolve the financial issues facing their ministry. Unfortunately, they refused to follow through upon which was agreed. We are saddened by their rush to litigation, and with their false allegations. We stand by the contracts we had in place with them, and now we are faced with having to defend ourselves in this suit.

Beracha helps many non-profit organizations by providing services at substantially reduced costs. Beracha’s mission and passion is serving those who serve. While this matter is sad, Beracha will continue to provide strong leadership and services to all our existing ministry partners and new ministry partners who continue to join with us. We remain in a growth mode and our viability is without question. We thank many who have called to share encouragement, prayer, a declaration of their faith in our integrity and an ongoing appreciation for our ministry.

Will you also partner with us in prayer that this will come to a scriptural and Spirit-led resolution and that we may have God's wisdom?

Sincerely,
Dana A. Dunmyer
Executive Director

*** Forum Director Comment ***
I added a PDF attachment

Brenda T's picture

http://www.beracha.org/maintain-domain

http://www.beracha.org/domain-management

Quote:
It is the policy of The Beracha Foundation to transfer all domains associated with our internet-based services into our care unless the mission or ministry partner we are working with is able to show that they possess the technical and business acumen necessary to manage their domains.

It would be interesting to know if Beracha has ever gladly, and without exorbitant penalty, transferred all domains back to their rightful owners or allowed owners to retain domains at the onset of a contract, or if they ever thought another entity (besides themselves) possessed the necessary technical and business acumen.

JohnBrian's picture

With all of this information it seems that bankruptcy would be the correct option instead of dissolution, as that would give them protection against creditors like Beracha.

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Donn R Arms's picture

It sounds like they need to fire their "legal counsel," walk across the street to the NANC office, and enlist the help of a biblical counselor.

Donn R Arms

Andy's picture

EBM's insolvency and its dispute with the Beracha Foundation were, at most, indirectly related.

The moral of this story is simple: Godly pastors with good intentions don't always make good administrative/business decisions. Multiple bad decisions, compounded over many years, have hard consequences.

Brenda T's picture

EBM and Beracha had become business partners. The following quote is from the EBM website.

Quote:
EBM is partnering with the BERACHA Foundation to provide world-class websites through a program called Share.net.gain. BERACHA is the non-profit foundation of TQI net that provides web services to many Fortune 500 companies. With your annual donation to EBM for technology, you will receive free website hosting and development. Find out about this incredible opportunity on the EBM website www.ebm.org and click on Share.net.gain on the left side of the home page.

I have seen a number of church and christian group websites with the copyright at the bottom saying EBM and The Beracha Foundation.

Not only had EBM and Beracha become business partners, the president of Beracha as well as some other Beracha employees had served on the board of EBM and also in administrative, financial, decision-making positions at EBM. The following quote is from Beracha's website.

Quote:
Beracha’s services to this ministry partner had been thorough and expansive. Beracha was asked in 2005 to provide 100% of their IT, IT infrastructure, and data center needs. We had provided them with 100% of their IT workers, management and support. Additionally, we had provided systems which enabled them to utilize up to 1,000 web sites to be used by them, their missionaries and mission church plants throughout the world. This included custom web designs, e-Newsletters, network, donor management, e-commerce, accounting, and secure portals, as well as, marketing and communications services.

Beracha had also served this ministry partner by providing, at their request, their Chief Financial Officer (CFO), their Chief Information Officer (CIO), their Chief Security Officer (CSO), and other accounting professionals through our Forte Group, which provides senior level consulting programs at highly reduced prices through our subsidies.

In addition to providing all their IT requests, Beracha also provided opportunities by which our ministry partner could benefit from several new revenue streams designed to provide funding for all of their stated Information Technology, communications and marketing needs.

It seems there were not too many areas of EBM where Beracha did not have their hand in it.

Andy's picture

Perhaps I should have stated it this way: The relationship was not the cause of the insolvency. The seeds that grew into insolvency were planted long before the relationship existed, and the relationship was originally intended to help address the problems before they grew further. Unfortunately, the business relationship could not address the problems quick enough.

The legal dispute between EBM and Beracha was dropped. It shouldn't have occurred in the first place, but it did to the detriment of both parties.

I don't usually comment here, and I probably should have kept my thoughts to myself again today. Knowing several of the principals involved on both sides, I felt compelled to offer some general direction to the conversation without betraying too many details. I'll drop back out of the conversation now. Smile

Brenda T's picture

Quote:
It seems there were not too many areas of EBM where Beracha did not have their hand in it.

I should have added "since 2005."

Beracha began filling these administrative, financial roles at EBM in 2005 (as per Beracha's website), but they state that they didn't realize there were financial troubles until five years later.

Quote:
Beracha recognized their [EBM ] financial issues as early as May, 2010. Since then, Beracha has worked tirelessly to resolve the financial issues facing their ministry.

I had read that the lawsuit was dropped. It is curious, then, that Beracha still has on their website a letter stating that EBM is suing them, but yet they don't mention their own countersuit.

Jim's picture

http://www.abwe.org/news/article/abwes-offer-to-assist-transitioning-of-...

Quote:
We recently we learned with sadness that a sister missionary organization has determined that it is necessary to dissolve its ministry. Our hearts have been heavy since hearing this news regarding Evangelical Baptist Mission. (http://www.ebm.org) The decision affects more than 200 servants of God with ministries in 22 countries.

Our heart goes out to all of them, especially those faithful missionaries serving around the world. ABWE has always had great respect and admiration for the efforts of our EBM colleagues fulfilling the Great Commission.

As we partner in the gospel, we desire to be ready to serve, help, and assist them at this critical time. We thank God for His grace, which allows us to offer members of the EBM family immediate administrative and financial services. It is our hope that this offer allows them to continue in their ministries, while providing them time to discern their next steps.

Please join us in praying for the EBM family.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Sorry to hear the mission is closing. For many years, they were headquartered in our town, Kokomo, IN.

I wish all the missionaries God's blessing as they transition.

"The Midrash Detective"

JohnBrian's picture

...my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were accepted by EBM to go to France as missionaries. They never got there as the Lord took them in a different direction.

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JoshMontez's picture

Some new information about this situation:

http://christiannewswire.com/news/6026417638.html

Beracha Foundation Responds to Evangelical Baptist Missions (EBM) Bankruptcy

MAINEVILLE, Ohio, August 29, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- It is with great sadness that we at the Beracha Foundation have learned of Evangelical Baptist Mission's decision to file bankruptcy. Our prayers go out to all the missionaries, their families, supporters and churches who are impacted by this decision.

As the situation continues to unfold, we would like to clarify some statements which have been made regarding the relationship between the Beracha Foundation and EBM, particularly concerning lawsuits filed against Beracha by EBM leadership.

To understand the recent news, one must understand that the current issues leading to the bankruptcy of EBM started long before its relationship with Beracha. Unfortunately the lawsuit brought by EBM leadership against Beracha--and the demand of Federal Law that Beracha defend itself through a countersuit--has clouded the real issues.

After many months of compelling testimony and evidence showing that EBM leadership was wrong to have damaged Beracha's reputation by filing suit, EBM leadership dropped their suit and asked to open a discourse toward mediation. The EBM Board even issued a signed apology addressing this matter. In later meetings it was admitted by board members that EBM's problems started as early as 2001. Remorse was expressed by the Chairman of the Board for having purchased a large facility without the financial means to adequately provide for EBM's future. Statements of regret for not holding its President and Treasurer accountable for their actions were also expressed.

Beracha was EBM's largest donor. This was possible because our subsidies to them exceeded $4.32 for every $1.00 they paid for IT services. Additionally, we brought them many tens of thousands of dollars of donations from corporate sponsors we sought on their behalf. Any accusations that Beracha is the cause of EBM's financial problems and current state could not be further from the truth.

Where are we now? Like you, we are watching and waiting to see how this scenario plays out. We can only ask that fervent prayer be lifted up for the missionaries who are affected by this and that their vital ministries throughout the world will be able to continue unimpeded. We hope and pray for an outcome that brings honor and glory to our Savior's name.

The Beracha Foundation of Ohio exists to emancipate, enable, empower and educate the non-profit ministries, organizations and foundations of the world through our expertise, our resources and our experience.

Josh Montez, Digital Media Producer, Beracha Foundation

Shaynus's picture

Josh,

Do you think any one of us would recommend your organization to a non-profit ministry after this? EBM probably made all kinds of mistakes. But to let website fees topple an organization is at very best, bad client management.

I get that this wasn't completely your fault, but please spare the damage control. If I were to recommend a web group for a ministries, it would be one that didn't let a ministry get in over its head.

Shayne

Jay's picture

Quote:
After many months of compelling testimony and evidence showing that EBM leadership was wrong to have damaged Beracha's reputation by filing suit, EBM leadership dropped their suit and asked to open a discourse toward mediation. The EBM Board even issued a signed apology addressing this matter. In later meetings it was admitted by board members that EBM's problems started as early as 2001. Remorse was expressed by the Chairman of the Board for having purchased a large facility without the financial means to adequately provide for EBM's future. Statements of regret for not holding its President and Treasurer accountable for their actions were also expressed.

I'd say that goes a little further than just some unpaid website hosting fees. Did you see the part in bold?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jim's picture

Shaynus wrote:
Josh,

Do you think any one of us would recommend your organization to a non-profit ministry after this? EBM probably made all kinds of mistakes. But to let website fees topple an organization is at very best, bad client management.

I get that this wasn't completely your fault, but please spare the damage control. If I were to recommend a web group for a ministries, it would be one that didn't let a ministry get in over its head.

Shayne

Not sure how you can blame Beracha Foundation for EBM getting in over its head

From these statements above:

  • "...issues leading to the bankruptcy of EBM started long before its relationship with Beracha.
  • ... it was admitted by board members that EBM's problems started as early as 2001.
  • ... Statements of regret for not holding its President and Treasurer accountable for their actions were also expressed.
  • ...Beracha was EBM's largest donor.

I place the blame ONLY ON EBM:

  • No transparency in financial reporting (I know I harp on this a lot on S/I but really why cant these ministries be more public with their finances! Fundamentalist organizations won't submit to the standards of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelical_Council_for_Financial_Accountab... ]Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (there are some exceptions .. ABWE is a member for example). Pillsbury is another example if fiscal mismanagement. Someone should write a book on these fiscal fiascoes so that the next generation doesn't repeat these mistakes
  • Pastors make great church leaders but poor financial leaders. They don't have the education or the experience for the task
Shaynus's picture

I wouldn't trust this company to manage a client. I've been an outsourced IT consultant in all kinds of circumstances, and it should never have gotten this far. Part of that is the provider's responsibility.

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