Pastor faces embezzlement charges

Pastor Gary Petersen. (Courtesy Wellspring Church video podcast)

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan pastor is expected to be charged Wednesday with embezzlement.

The Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office Tuesday authorized two counts embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000 against Gary Petersen.

Petersen is the pastor at The Rock Church in Grandville.

He previously worked at Wellspring Church in Hudsonville. His split with the church last year led to complaints and an investigation by the sheriff’s department.

A Tuesday night statement from Wellspring Church said it found during an external audit that Petersen had been “using church money for personal expenditures.”

Petersen is expected to turn himself in to the Hudsonville District Court Wednesday for arraignment.

Wellspring Church released this statement Tuesday night:

“It came to light through an external audit of the Wellspring Church financial records that former pastor Gary Petersen had been using church money for personal expenditures. Ottawa County authorities have investigated the financial improprieties and have decided to file criminal charges, which is what brings this matter into the public eye at this time.

“The Wellspring Church Board of Elders and Deacons has cooperated with authorities throughout this investigation. The greatest desire and intention of Wellspring Church is to move forward and to keep its focus on Christ with the ongoing ministry of the church. We ask others to respect the privacy of this matter and not to engage the interests of those who only wish to highlight the moral failures of a Christian leader.”

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