Sutherland Springs church responds to questions about donation spending for mass shooting victims

(Reuters/Jonathan Bachman)An aerial photo shows the site of a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

The First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs has assured its members that it is properly handling the money that has been donated for the victims of the mass shooting in November.

Questions about donation spending have been raised after two donors who raised over $1.3 million for victim relief reportedly cut ties with First Baptist. The victims are also asking for more information following the announcement of plans for the construction of a new $3 million church.

Lisa McNulty, who lost her daughter in the massacre, said that she has never received any of the money that has been donated for the victims.

"This has gotten way out of hand — way out of hand. There's some greed going on, and it's wrong." McNulty said, as reported by Dallas News.

Reports have indicated that the church has received at least $3,023,675 from individuals and corporate donors.

The fundraising campaign on GoFundMe has reportedly collected more than $1.4 million, while $405,000 was donated to various victims' funds. Another $1 million has been raised for the rebuilding of the church.

In a statement, the church's Restoration Committee assured victims that the money that has been allocated for them will not be used for other purposes.

"The committee has been deliberate and prayerful, and has coordinated with other groups offering support, to respond to needs and exercise good stewardship and honor the intent of various donors," the letter stated, according to the Baptist Press.

"Donations received for victim needs are kept in accounts separate from church operating funds and will only be used for that purpose. We are committed to integrity in the allocation of this money," it continued.

The committee is reportedly receiving help in the proper handling the funds from church leaders and members, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), the North American Mission Board (NAMB), banking officials and community representatives.

NAMB has reportedly vowed to help pay for the remaining costs of the construction of a sanctuary and education building at the site.

Apart from handling donations for the construction projects, the committee is also responsible for receiving and distributing the money that has been donated to the massacre victims and their families.

"Money and in-kind assistance have been received to provide counseling and to meet tangible needs such as handicap access for wounded members, medical supplies, living expenses and legal fees related to probate issues for those with losses. These gifts received to alleviate the needs of victims are being disbursed to directly pay for the needs of the victims," the letter stated, according to Baptist Press.

The Restoration Committee pointed out that it has no control over GoFundMe pages that were set up for individual victims. It further noted that a new account has been opened for victim assistance separate from accounts that handle normal church operations.

Additionally, a second special account was set up for the donations, so that it can be processed by an independent third party with an independent data record.

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