By Bob Allen
A North Carolina pastor and his wife have been arrested for allegedly stealing more than $40,000 from the church they helped plant in 2006.
George Keith Hall, 51, and Leslie Hill Hall, 52, turned themselves into police in High Point, N.C., Aug. 25 after an internal audit showed $40,393.55 in cash missing from The Journey Church of the Triad.
Keith Hall was lead pastor of the congregation. His wife worked in an unofficial capacity at the seeker-friendly congregation they helped a veteran church planter launch with eight other couples that for a while met in their backyard.
According to the Greensboro News & Record, the couple is accused of making questionable purchases using church money between Jan. 1, 2012, and May 31, 2015. They were jailed with bail set at $50,000 unsecured each.
While The Journey Church doesn’t advertise any denomination, it’s listed as an affiliated church by the Piedmont Baptist Association, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and the Southern Baptist Convention.
A 2008 Biblical Recorder article reported that the state convention helped fund the church plant, and a 2014 article in Baptist Press quoted Keith Hall as saying his inspiration for church planting was boosted by Crossover Greensboro, a North American Baptist Mission Board outreach initiative held in advance of the SBC annual meeting in Greensboro in 2006.
Keith and Leslie Hall grew up in the High Point area and met in a restaurant where she was waiting on tables in the summer of 1983. They married two years later and had two children before professing faith in Christ in the late 1980s.
They moved to Birmingham, Ala., where he became active as a lay minister, before returning to High Point in 2000. There they met Alan Cox, who left one of North Carolina’s largest Baptist churches, Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, to start a new church on the city’s growing north side.
The Journey Church began meeting in Cox’s home and then moved to Hall’s, because they had a bigger back yard. In the summer of 2008 the congregation purchased a former Moose Lodge building on six acres not far from the Oak Hollow Mall, where the current sanctuary was built in 2010.