Minister Receives Restoration After Stealing $100,000 From Church

Charles Lohn is a former youth minister and church administrator at Shelbyville Mills Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Tenn., according to the Baptist Press. However, he was removed from the church in Aug. 2009 for embezzling over $100,000.

Lohn served nine months in jail after being found guilty on embezzlement charges in a civil court. He resumed attending church services at Shelbyville Mills, but was considered a non-member.

Pastor Jonathan Sims said that it took another 16 months of working with Lohn before church leaders felt he was ready to be restored.

During his restoration service in January, Lohn was appreciative that his church chose to discipline him, according to the Baptist Press.

"Church discipline isolated me out of my world that I had conformed to and forced me to face God one-on-one," Lohn told the congregation. "God did use it in my life to help convict me. Thank you for not departing from the Word."

In his address to the congregation at his restoration service, Lohn admitted that he was no longer in control when he was stealing money, but under the influence of sin.

"I cannot tell you the exact date that everything started. I can tell you that I had not been the leader in my house or the man that I should have been," Lohn said. "I had gotten into a tough situation with debt and many things coming at once. I thought it would be all right to 'borrow' some money and pay it back at a later date."

Lohn said that he knew he would get caught soon and even prayed for the day to come, revealing that he had spent the money excessively.

Pastor Sims said that Lohn's sins were especially frustrating because Lohn was like a son to him since high-school. Lohn served on Sims staff for six years in Alabama before moving to Shelbyville where Sims became pastor at Shelbyville Mills.

"It was difficult, very heart-wrenching," Sims said.

Sims said that he got devastating news that his church was broke, while on vacation. He said that after reviewing financial records, he questioned Lohn about missing funds. At first he admitted partially to stealing money, but didn't disclose all his transgressions.

When the church found out Lohn was still lying, they felt they had no choice but to go to the authorities. Sims said that it had grieved his heart.

At the end of Lohn's testimony, Pastor Sims pleaded with the congregation to forgive Lohn.

"I call upon you to forgive and to forgive completely Bro. Charles," Sims said.

Sims added that he felt compelled to publicly declare that he and the church had forgiven Lohn.

"Because this was a highly publicized and reported sin, we felt the church as a whole needed to come publicly and declare we had forgiven him," Sims said. "We wanted to be completely transparent."