A former minister at First Baptist Church in Houston surrendered Tuesday to police, the day after a grand jury indicted him for allegedly stealing $800,000 from the Southern Baptist megachurch over six years.
Jerrell Altic, 40, served as minister of mobilization in First Baptist’s missions department until November 2017, when he resigned after church leaders confronted him about suspicious financial activity. A statement on the church website said appropriate church leaders were told, but “the sensitive nature of the legal and investigative procedures” kept them from commenting openly until now.
“These past months have been challenging and painful for us as the extent of Jerrell’s actions came to light and as we wrestled with the tension of wanting to inform the congregation, while also carefully following law enforcement’s lead in the investigation, balancing legal constraints with church procedures,” senior pastor Gregg Matte and deacon chair Craig Bloodworth said in the statement dated Dec. 11.
Church leaders said Altic “engaged in multiple deceptive and difficult-to-detect techniques to carry out this theft” dating back to 2011. His attorney told local media that Altic admitted to stealing the money, is sorry and intends to pay it back.
Matte and Bloodworth said an insurance company paid $500,000 to reimburse much of the loss and contingency funds were available to make up the rest. All ministry partners received their designated amounts, they said, and steps are underway to improve financial controls currently in place.
Altic grew up in Missouri. He is a Christian ministries graduate of Southwest Baptist University with a master’s in evangelism and spiritual formation from Wheaton College.