The sadness continues. If you have not heard of the conflict between Michael Rood and Jamie Louis consider not reading this letter. If you are new to the faith and your faith will be weakened by the discovery that leaders in the faith may succumb to the flesh then you also should not read this document.
In this letter we refer to A Rood Awakening Ministries, the original ministry, as ARA or ARA Ministries. We refer to Michael Rood's new ministry by its full corporate name of A Rood Awakening Ministries International. Michael Rood has indeed filed suit against Jamie Louis. You should read the complaint and compare it to the web pages previously posted by Michael. We downloaded the complaint and exhibits from the US District Court web site so that you can read the files here:
It is not the intention of this committee to engage in endless reports and dialog over this issue. We published an initial set of findings on November 12, 2007 in order to inform the brethren of the causes of the discord in A Rood Awakening Ministries. In response we've had e-mails from people asking questions, disagreeing with us, and agreeing with us. Our answers to these e-mails, comments, and Michael Rood's court filing are published in this document. Michael Rood provides additional details in his complaint that we could not otherwise get from him because he refused to talk to us. We gained insight that enables us to publish our final conclusions. We also explain points where people misunderstand us or the situation. We are not responding to Glenn McWilliams at all because the suit makes Glenn's reply irrelevant.
This is our last posting. We will not answer questions. Our work is done and we are disbanding this committee. The
firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail account has been removed so all mail to this account will bounce back to you. By filing a law suit Michael Rood makes any more efforts by this panel irrelevant, except for our conclusions as elders.
From a scriptural perspective we are disappointed that Michael Rood has has filed suit. As you well know, brothers are not supposed to sue one another. The only positive outcome from this action will be that Michael Rood will be deposed and required to give evidence under penalty of perjury. He will have to answer all questions. As we have made clear, Michael Rood refused to give evidence to this committee. Nor did he, to our knowledge, approach any other brethren to mediate this dispute. By his actions, he declares that no brethren are competent to arbitrate, mediate, or judge this situation. We would not have objected to some other panel of believers performing this task. You need to determine whether you accept Michael's attitude.
For the record, we made one more attempt to lead Michael to mediation. Monte Judah was scheduled to meet with Michael Rood and Glenn McWilliams. Michael canceled the meeting.
This section answers questions and attempts to clarify issues that confused those who read our initial report.
Michael Rood charges us with being a "self-appointed arbitration panel". He bends the facts to say what he wants. Neal Brenner and Allen Dodge were among the elders who signed a public letter to both parties that called for a mediation panel of elders. As a result of this letter Michael Rood called Neal Brenner. After much discussion and strong urging by Neal Brenner, Michael asked Neal Brenner and Allen Dodge to be on this panel and to investigate the state of this ministry. Neal was shocked by this request because he thought there were many who were far more qualified. But Michael's logic was that as a major donor to ARA Neal Brenner has a right to ask how the money he has donated has been used and to demand an accounting. Michael's reason for selecting Allen Dodge to be on the panel was that Allen volunteered in Israel for three months and understands the organization from the inside. Jamie Louis asked Monte Judah and Todd Bennett to serve. Monte was selected because of his ties to both men, his ministry, and his work with ARA. Todd Bennett was selected because he had worked with and advised ARA for many years. Todd's closeness to both parties and his knowledge of the inner workings of ARA led him to recuse himself when it became clear that this would no longer be a mediation effort but a fact-finding effort. Phil Vellekamp was selected by these four to be a fifth member, a tie-breaker if needed. Phil is knowledgeable in ministry administration, and we felt that experience would help us.
Monte Judah also had early telephone calls with Michael Rood where Michael agreed to participate in the mediation effort. He also promised to speak for himself, to stop having others speak for him, and to stop making inflammatory statements in public.
There are those, apparently Glenn included, who believe we may have jumped at the chance to tear down Michael Rood and his ministry. Nothing is farther from the truth. As a group we have supported Michael Rood and his message. Some of us saw the light because of Michael's message. We were his supporters. We were his friends, and Jamie's friends also. We were trying to help them solve their issues with each other. But when the mediation effort failed because Michael would not participate we became determined fact-finders. Neal Brenner wanted to know if the money YHVH entrusted to him had been used wisely by donating it to ARA, and believed other donors would also want to know if their gifts were used appropriately. The committee as a whole also wanted to know if Michael Rood and Jamie Louis were practicing what they were preaching. Michael's own web site and Michael's own words cause us to ask if his behavior is righteous. We had to ask if this Torah teacher was following Torah. This was a job none of us wanted. Doing it has consumed months of our time and extracted a heavy emotional cost. Though we all wanted to walk away from this task we also are obligated by a duty to the body of Messiah to bring out the truth.
There has been a misunderstanding over whether Jamie Louis owns, or should own, the corporate sole A Rood Awakening Ministries. This part of the dispute is a smoke-screen and distraction from the real issue. A corporate sole is a not-for-profit entity which can be formed to allow a ministry to manage finances, enter into contracts, own property, and write checks. A corporate sole is not owned by anyone. An administrator is appointed to perform the administrative functions. In effect, when properly operated, the administrator is owned by the corporate sole. A corporate sole should not be treated as personal property by the administrator or anyone involved with it. When it is treated as personal property the assets are generally abused and the organization runs the risk of being investigated by the IRS for being a tax dodge. So Jamie Louis does not and never has owned the corporate sole. For those of us who gave to the ministry, this not-for-profit organization was the source of the receipts we used to deduct these gifts from our income taxes (allowing some of us to give more from our tax refunds). If you took a tax receipt, your gift was to the corporation that was formed to service the ministry, not to any individual within it.
Some people, apparently including Glenn, are confusing the legal designation of "contractor," which determines how you are paid with whether a person has an important role in the ministry. Jamie Louis, the administrator, was paid as a contractor instead of an employee. So was everyone else paid by the organization, including Michael Rood. Michael's role was an extremely important one. He set the spiritual direction of the organization, developed the teachings, and was the spokesman. In fact, the reason ARA existed was to enable Michael to get his message out to the public. But the administration of this organization was left to Jamie.
Stan Johnson has publicly withdrawn his letter of support for Michael and asked Michael to remove Stan's supporting letter from Michael's web site. Michael has complied with this request.
We've gotten a number of comments about "donor intent," and frankly we are amazed at the misunderstanding that exists. The very short version of "donor intent" is that the donor's intent must be made extremely clear, in writing, at the time the gift is given. If the written intent is at all ambiguous to the recipient, then the recipient may make a reasonable interpretation of the intent. Once a gift is given, the donor relinquishes all control over the gift. If you gave a gift without clear written instructions and you are not happy, you have no recourse. Any of you who gave to the ministry while really wanting to give to Michael Rood personally should have made your intent clear. Those of you who want more information or who disagree with us should read this paper.
With the filing of Michael Rood's suit, we now have Michael's statement of what happened. As we see it, the central issue in this dispute is money, and we are now going to address this specifically. We hold each party accountable to his own words and role. We hold Jamie accountable by what he has said and what we expect of him based on his statements and role. We hold Michael accountable based on what he has said in his web pages, recorded messages, his complaint, and his role in the ministry. We are not holding Jamie accountable to what Michael says, and we are not holding Michael accountable to what Jamie says.
From the evidence we reviewed it is clear to us that Jamie Louis knew that the corporate sole's financial records were not complete and in good standing because Michael Rood did not file expense reports for years. Note that we are not accusing Michael Rood of misspending funds. We are saying that since Michael did not file expense reports, there is not the proper paper trail to provide assurance of proper spending. Jamie's role as administrator of the corporate sole was to verify that all funds were properly spent. But without the expense reports Jamie could not fulfill his role. In our previous report we also noted that the contractors for A Rood Awakening Ministries were not provided with 1099 income statements. This is another reason why the ministry was not in good financial standing.
Jamie Louis knew the ministry was not in good standing, yet he continued to solicit donations. Instead, he should have stopped soliciting funds until he was able to force Michael Rood into compliance, or until he fired Michael Rood. If he couldn't do either he should have resigned his role as administrator and separated himself from the ministry. As donors we expect a ministry to be financially clean, and this ministry was not. It was Jamie's role as the administrator to provide us with this assurance, and Jamie did not.
It is our judgment that Jamie Louis does not have the proper skills to administer a ministry. These skills are knowing how to deal with difficult employees and tax laws, and being able to pay attention to details. He could have availed himself of professional advice and did not. Jamie needs more training in business administration before he attempts to administer another ministry. He does have skills that can benefit a ministry and we are not saying that he should not be involved in one. We are saying he should not be the person in charge. We cannot recommend that anyone donate to a ministry that Jamie administers until he improves his management skills and knowledge.
Jamie cooperated fully during our investigation. His cooperation and demeanor convinced us that he accepts his responsibility in this unfortunate situation and has repented for his role. We believe he should be forgiven. We believe there should be no objection to anyone donating to Jamie to help him pay legal expenses.
We start out with Michael's words in his September 2007 newsletter:
"I asked Don Harris to fly to Oregon to inform the staff of our move and to begin the two-month transition. Jamie praised the move to Michigan in front of the entire office on that Friday, but under the cover of the Sabbath, he changed the locks on the building, disconnected the servers and my websites, and erased the access codes to the financial records – putting a stop to an accounting that I had been seeking for the past three months. Jamie then informed Don that he had put all of the bank accounts, vehicles, websites, phone services, postal accounts, and contracts into a Corporation which he named 'A Rood Awakening,' and that the entire ministry now belonged to him." (emphasis on the word "now" added.)
When you read the above it sounds like Michael Rood is accusing Jamie Louis of "now" putting the ministry into a corporate sole and seizing control. Compare this to the words in Michael Rood's legal complaint:
"27. In 2004, Michael and Judith Rood, Defendant, and others attended an A Rood Awakening Meeting in Washington.
28. At the Washington meeting, Defendant recommended for the first time that A Rood Awakening incorporate as a corporate sole in the state of Arizona.
29. At the Washington meeting, Michael Rood learned that Defendant had, in fact, already organized A Rood Awakening as an Arizona corporate sole, even though he had neither the permission nor the authority to do so.
30. At the Washington meeting, Michael Rood also learned that Defendant opened checking accounts in his own name, and had placed funds sent by donors to Michael Rood and A Rood Awakening Ministries into these accounts.
31. Michael Rood informed Defendant that he had no authority to decide where to deposit money generated by the business and that he was to provide an accounting to Pam Harris, comptroller, and relinquish control over any company financial account or matter."
Which is it? Did Michael Rood find out about the corporate sole this summer (2007) or in 2004? If the complaint is an accurate rendering of events, then why didn't Michael Rood either promptly fire Jamie Louis or leave the organization? Instead, Michael Rood continued to solicit donations that flowed into the supposedly hijacked ministry with checking accounts controlled by the supposed hijacker. Michael Rood continued to solicit donations as the spiritual leader, teacher, and figurehead leader of the ministry. This went on for three years, while Jamie Louis continued to make deposits into Michael Rood's checking account and paid Michael Rood's credit cards. Further, Michael Rood says, in his "Why I Returned the Money" CD:
"I ask you to forgive me for not being more diligent in the past. I can give you the excuse that I have been so focused, so intense on getting the message out that I have given so much energy, so much focus that I did not see what was going on right in front of me. " (About 26 minutes into the tape.)
Michael Rood's complaint is a clear statement that he did see what was happening and he knew what was happening. He may have chosen to ignore it at the time, but he was not in the dark. So we really do not know which of Michael Rood's comments to believe. But since he has filed his complaint we now accept the complaint as his "official" story, and can only conclude that he was deceiving the public with his earlier comments.
We also believe that the attempt to transfer the assets from A Rood Awakening Ministries (administered by Jamie Louis) to A Rood Awakening Ministries International (with president Michael Rood) was an attempt to sweep away the record of all improprieties by forming a new corporation with new records. If Michael Rood and Jamie Louis had been successful in their efforts to collaborate in the transfer of assets, then the public would never have known of the improprieties in A Rood Awakening Ministries. If this committee had succeeded in mediating a solution between Michael Rood and Jamie Louis, we would have been complicit in hiding these details from the public and ministry donors. We thank YHVH that He did not let us succeed.
We believe these behaviors of soliciting funds for a hijacked ministry and deception are inconsistent with the proper way to operate a ministry. We cannot commend Michael Rood to the brethren because of this behavior. During this entire process Michael Rood has behaved like it is more important for him appear to be right than to do the right thing. This is pride. These behaviors are inconsistent with our faith and unbecoming a Messianic leader. It is extremely disappointing that Michael Rood is unwilling to submit to any other brothers in the faith since he formerly taught such principles. At this point it appears any donation to Michael Rood will be used to persecute a brother in the faith.
In August of 2007, a number of brethren were contacted by Michael Rood and/or Jamie Louis concerning a growing conflict within their ministry. On an individual basis, these brethren communicated with both men to help resolve the conflict. It was apparent that Michael Rood no longer wished to be a part of the organization called “A Rood Awakening Ministries” headquartered in Oregon, administered by Jamie Louis and the Corporate Sole (non-profit organization).
Most conflicts among brethren are caused by miscommunication and misunderstanding. Several individuals made an effort to transfer intellectual property to Michael Rood in exchange for several physical assets and equipment. Michael Rood needed the mailing data base and masters for his products (possessed by Jamie Louis), to be exchanged for equipment (possessed by Michael Rood) that needed to be paid for by Jamie Louis. In the course of these mediation efforts, Michael Rood levied a host of serious charges against all persons working at A Rood Awakening Ministries and specifically Jamie Louis, the administrator. Both Neal Brenner and Monte Judah were asked personally by Jamie Louis and Michael Rood to investigate those matters. They were asked to determine if the ministry was in “good standing” or if inappropriate things had in fact happened as charged by Michael Rood. Michael Rood insisted that an accurate financial record had never been produced. Jamie Louis stated that the very document in question was available at all times through the bookkeeper.
Because of the sheer scope of the ministry activities and questions that arose, a committee was formed and other persons were nominated to that committee with agreement by Jamie Louis and Michael Rood. The committee was established with Neal Brenner of Beit Emet Ministries as chairman and chief spokesman, Monte Judah and Phil Vellekamp of Lion and Lamb Ministries, Allen Dodge of Beit Emet Ministries, and Todd Bennett. Todd Bennett resigned from this committee in October citing conflict of interest issues as a result of what the committee discovered, wherein Todd was a material witness to certain events in question. Goals and objectives were defined by this committee to limit our investigation to only the matters at hand. The Corporate Sole incorporation document calls for a Ecclesiastical board to resolve any disciplinary matters for the organization. In accordance with the corporation documents and at the request of specific Messianic Brethren involved, the committee began its work.
The first action of the committee was to ask both parties, Jamie Louis and Michael Rood, to refrain from making any public disparaging remarks –to direct their communications toward resolution by speaking only with one another or to the committee of brethren assisting them. Jamie Louis agreed to this and complied. Michael Rood agreed to this and did not comply. Michael Rood began to encourage others to speak in his behalf adding to the accusations already made.
The committee gathered relevant documents and financial data. Virtually all data was provided by Jamie Louis and A Rood Awakening Ministries. On the other hand, Michael Rood continued to direct others and to personally take actions that were counter-productive to any reasonable settlement. Additionally, the committee was informed by Michael Rood that he was going to be opposed to our review of this matter. It became apparent to Michael Rood that the committee was not accepting his version of the facts and was seeking verification for every statement involved. The committee interviewed Jamie Louis and the bookkeeper extensively. The committee’s request to Michael Rood for an interview was first accepted, ignored, then rejected in a hostile fashion. Therefore our report lacks some very relevant material to form a final conclusion due to Michael Rood’s non-compliance with our request. He has refused to answer our specific questions.
The committee's report focuses on the finding of facts and a review of the sequence of events leading to the August resignation of Michael Rood. The conclusions are not final but are offered as directly related to our findings.
In answer to the fundamental questions surrounding this matter, we believe that Michael Rood, in keeping with his call to the ministry, has the right to organize himself as he deems appropriate. His decision to depart from A Rood Awakening Ministries administered by Jamie Louis is not questioned. However, this committee does not believe that he has the right to use his public position and an Internet web site to falsely accuse other brethren or to materially misrepresent the facts. Michael Rood’s most serious public charge levied against the ARA ministry and Jamie Louis personally deals with improper accounting of ministry funds. Michael Rood has made that charge very public.
With regard to that specific charge, this committee did find evidence of impropriety by the standards of general accounting principles and common business practice. Specifically, Michael Rood received cash funds and checks written to “Michael Rood” from the offering boxes that were not deposited to the ARA ministry account. The amount of these monies is significant but not known. It does not appear that cash or checks written to "Michael Rood" were deposited to the account owned by ARA. His recent claim of returning monies to donors was simply checks written to ARA that Michael Rood could not cash or deposit to his personal accounts. Rather than give them to ARA, he redirected them back, blocking ARA ministry from meeting its on-going financial needs. While Michael Rood represented this to be an action of great integrity, the facts actually suggest that Michael Rood couldn’t cash the checks so he prevented ARA from doing so. With regard to his compensation, Michael Rood received deposits paid by ARA to his US bank and an Israel bank account (using another person’s name). He also had the use of a ministry credit card that was paid by ARA. All of the ARA payments to these accounts were made without Michael supplying expense reports.
This report does not delve into the details of Michael Rood’s finances or compensation. Instead, we consider all of these as failures on Michael Rood's part to file appropriate expense reports. In accordance with Michael Rood’s request and his own statements, we do not find ARA ministry to be in “good standing” due to the specific actions of Michael Rood. If and until those expense reports averaging more than $80,000 a year are provided, plus an accounting for $47,000 in deposits for the fall 2007 Israel tour, it is not possible to draw a complete conclusion of this matter.
The committee offers no other conclusions nor recommendations to anyone else. The brethren are free to draw whatever conclusions they deem appropriate. They should also withhold final judgment until Michael Rood explains his use of ministry funds and separates out his personal funds from the Lord’s funds. This report is neither a vindication of nor an accusation against Jamie Louis or Michael Rood. It is what we found.
In this section we present the evidence we have reviewed. This evidence includes taped telephone conversations, documents, e-mails,financial records, and direct testimony. Where we can we are including the evidence in this report. For the most part this evidence is presented in chronological order so that you can get a feel for what happened when. There are some conclusions that can be drawn just from individual pieces of evidence. Those conclusions will be stated here. In the next section we will do a review of all of the charges Michael Rood has made on his web pages and in the various e-mails and letters we have received from him. We have taken snapshots of Michael's web site and downloaded audio files overtime. We will include these snapshots and audio files in our evidence in order to document that these charges were really made.
It is informative to divide the evidence into three periods of time:
A Rood Awakening Ministries (ARA) was incorporated in the state of Arizona as a Corporate Sole on June 25, 2003. A Corporate Sole has an administrator as the only officer. The corporate sole holds property at the direction of the administrator. There is no board of directors. There are no corporate income tax forms filed because the IRS has no forms for a corporate sole to file. The IRS does not expect a corporate sole to file taxes. It does not expect a corporate sole to be in business. A corporate sole may take donations.
ARA's declared purposes are to care for the poor and needy, and to provide education. (Article 2, incorporation papers). This defines ARA as a ministry. The IRS considers ministry donations to be tax deductible. If you are concerned that your gifts to ARA are not tax deductible because ARA is not a 501(C)(3) you may stop worrying. However, there are other reasons for you to worry about the state of your donations. Read on.
When you review the corporate sole papers you will observe that they include the original corporate sole papers, and two sets of draft operating principles that were never ratified. The only named officer for the corporate sole is Jamie Louis, the administrator of the corporate sole. Generally for corporate soles the administrator is the only named officer. Everyone else in the ministry was paid as an independent contractor. In fact, even Jamie Louis was paid as an independent contractor. One of the proposed (but not ratified) operating principles identified Michael Rood as President,but did not assign him any of the duties or responsibilities that one would expect a president to perform.
The committee heard in the recordings that there was a "Board of Accountability" or a "Board of Advisers." This board was informally organized as a set of advisers that Jamie Louis and Michael Rood supposedly agreed to submit themselves to. This board was supposed to make major decisions so the ministry would not be run on Michael's or Jamie's whim. Note that because there were not recorded resolutions declaring otherwise, this board operated at the convenience of Jamie Louis, and the members were named by him. Also note that in our review we did not observe any instance of Jamie Louis flouting the board. He appears to have obeyed them as he has obeyed this committee that is reviewing the charges that Michael Rood has made.
Click here to read this e-mail.
Click here to read this e-mail.
Click here to read this e-mail.
This is a document Michael Rood wrote to Jamie Louis just before the attempted takeover. This letter has some interesting points. If you read the dream you will get some insight into the mistrust that had been growing between Michael and Jamie. In the second half of the letter you will see that Michael may have desired to properly transition the ministry. Unfortunately, there was not adequate planning and coordination on the follow-through.
This is a copy of a letter Michael wrote authorizing Don Harris to close the Oregon office. This letter was obtained from the postmaster in Jefferson, Oregon where A Rood Awakening Ministries mail is delivered to their postal box. Underneath it you will see the change of address card filled out by Don Harris. This letter was given to the postmaster by Don Harris, who attempted to have the mail diverted to the Michigan office. There was also an attempt to divert the web site. There are references to this in the July 31 recording. Note that the letter was written on the 22nd describing efforts taking place July 13-27. Notice that Michael is identifying himself as the president of A Rood Awakening Ministries, a position he has never held, and that Don Harris is the CEO. These are the positions they hold in A Rood Awakening Ministries International. This begs the question of whether the new company was in the planning stages at this point or if this is a change they were planning for A Rood Awakening Ministries. Note the comment that they want to continue relationships with vendors.
This contract covers the Albuquerque meetings. It was written because the ARA advisory board no longer trusted Michael. The ARA advisory board had recently aborted the poorly planned and executed takeover attempt. It is clear in the July 26 recording that they expected Michael to negotiate. Note that this represents one more level of lost trust. It is also a very severe contract. It should have been more generous in sharing the proceeds.
Note that this is not the original contract. The original contract was e-mailed to the committee in-line in an e-mail message. For this report we have copied the contract into a word document.
These sound files were transmitted to the committee on 3 CDs.
This is the recorded meeting that Michael claims was intercepted by an investigator. This is not true. A member of the ARA Advisory Board was supposed to forward the July 30 meeting in which Michael was a participant. He sent the wrong file by accident. This board member has identified himself as the person who transmitted the file.
We listened to this audio file as well as the edited conversation from Michael’s web site. It is an interesting exercise to compare the sentences in the edited version to the sentences in the whole version. (Note that we wanted to provide all recordings as evidence, but the posting of recorded telephone conversations is covered under conflicting state and federal laws, and we are choosing the path of caution. We are not willing to break the law by posting these various conversations without permission from all parties being recorded.) We were provided with a technical analysis of the tapes. You may read the statement that was sent to us with the graphs below.
In our listening to the entire tape we were able to determine the following:
This meeting was to clear the air between the two camps and put an end to rumors.
The meeting opens with Chaim Goldman reviewing a conversation he had with Michael, where he discussed reconciliation from a scriptural perspective. The key point from Chaim is that the charges that Michael and Jamie are making against each other are the same in actions and dollar amounts, only the names of the responsible party change. It also sounds like Jamie and Michael never had adequate discussions about ministry finances.
In this meeting Michael says there is no accounting and no bookkeeping. He also says he has been out of the loop for a longtime. He wants a fresh start on bookkeeping. Later in the tape he describes the records as undecipherable. Note that the committee has seen the books. They exist and can be analyzed. The only missing records we noticed are Michael’s expense reports.
Michael speaks about engineering the recording system. Unfortunately he did not share the plan for the system with Jamie. There was no shared budget that the person spending the money and the person with the checkbook could track against.
It is clear that Michael believes that some of Jamie’s purchases showed bad judgment. We asked Jamie about these purchases,totaling about $3,000, and agree that they may not have been in the best judgment, but that does not rise to criminal behavior or even a firing offense for a normal manager.
It is very clear, about 6 minutes into the second CD, that there was no project plan for the prior attempted transition of the management from Oregon to Michigan. Michael says this could not be handled in a haphazard way but he neglected to present a plan. The lack of a plan is what torpedoed the initial attempt.
Michael did not trust Jamie and proceeded under that assumption. This behavior caused Jamie not to trust Michael. The behaviors formed a negative reinforcement loop until all trust was lost. Note that in the end, when Michael got the contract and the July 26 recording, he proceeded as if all his suspicions were facts. He assumed that because he does not understand the financial statement that nobody could understand it. He assumed that there was no accounting. The appropriate action at this point was to demand an independent audit of the books. But instead Michael chose to end the tour he was doing and posted his web pages.
Perry suggested Michael and Jamie meet regularly. He thinks the root of their problem is they do not talk enough. This is an insightful observation.
Michael’s suggestion is that he send the checks to Oregon. He wants Jamie and Connie to stop signing checks. He wants a neutral party signing checks, and suggests Don Visser. He will give Charles 2 months to prove himself in fund raising, with the funds Charles raises going to Michael. The web site funds continue going into the Oregon office. Note that the contract that was sent out days before does not recognize this negotiation. Perry counters that the money cannot be split between two organizations, that it is a bookkeeping nightmare. Perry again suggests that the corporate sole can send the money to Michael, after it is put into the corporate sole accounts.
Perry asks Michael what he needs to get the process rolling to do the Albuquerque meeting. Michael's plan is to do a bare bones presentation without equipment but Jamie asks why Michael can’t use the equipment he already has. Michael says the people to run the equipment are in Michigan. The folks with him can run the bookstore and handle the money. Jamie says he wants Michael to use the equipment and have the best shot for success, and he does not want this to be an excuse for Charles to fail. Then the conversation degenerates into a discussion of Charles’shortcomings. Michael says he will work with Charles for a week solid in Colorado and determine if he (Michael) can work with him. This will be a performance evaluation.
This tape ends here as the final agreement is being reached.
In this morning conversation Michael, Jamie, and we believe Don Visser and Michael Detwiler begin discussing some of the mechanics of the transition. There is mention of loss of trust on both sides and the difficulties of moving forward. The participants of this meeting are going to leave the details of the transition to the transition team, and they scheduled the first meeting of the team,though the ARA members did review the progress they have made on the steps identified in the July 26 meeting.
This is an afternoon meeting. There is reference made to the morning meeting above.
This is a working level meeting by the folks who were going to implement the agreement made with Michael. Reference the July 30call.
Jamie and Connie are not signing checks, Quickbooks financial is available to Michael’s team and the board. Don Harris is going to mail the checks that have been held. Sounds like the corporate sole is going to support the employees in Michigan, launching the new office. Also ARA is supplying Rochelle with a ticket to Albuquerque so she can help with the meeting. The changes Michael asked for in the previous conversation are being implemented.
Don Harris wants the ministries to move forward with the transfer of intellectual property to A Rood Awakening Ministries International,with the legalities catching up. Don Visser is bothered by this view, and they are moving forward, but they are drawing the lines in a different place based on what they believe their lawyer is suggesting. This is the difficult working level conversation of how they will move from the corporate sole to the new Michigan company. As one would expect, the representatives of the new company want access to records sooner than the old company is willing to give them.
The ARA representatives are talking about turning over all assets after the bills are paid, even if the turnover means they are losing their jobs. They are not trying to keep their jobs. They are trying to end the corporate sole as fast as possible and within their understanding of their legal obligations. They are responsible to the existing corporate sole, not to the new company Michael is setting up.
Don Harris has a valid concern that the income stream continue and the assets be used efficiently to generate income.
Perry then questions Don Harris about whether the existing employees will have jobs in the new company. Note that Perry is a donor to the ministry and does not draw a salary. Don Harris makes clear that they are planning to continue to employ Don Visser, but in a different capacity. He is not able to commit to Michael Detwiler and discusses the disagreements between the two Michaels. Chaim Goldman has verbal agreements with Michael and Perry asks if the agreements will be honored. Don Harris says he expects the agreements to be honored.
Don Harris says there were lots of rumors about the new company not keeping employees but nobody bothered asking him. He also makes allegations of misspent funds and that the board is complicit in allowing it. When Perry says the board has been looking at the finances and they expect to demonstrate that there was no financial impropriety, Don H. says he would be happy to continue with the current corporate sole.
These are the state incorporation papers for a Rood Awakening Ministries International, a Michigan corporation. This may have been planned for some time as Neal Brenner and Ruth Wagner received a letter in April 2007 inviting them to be on the A Rood Awakening Ministries International Advisory Board. The signatures are dated August 1, so this may have been in formation while Michael was negotiating with Jamie.
Note that the listed directors are Michael Rood, Glenn McWilliams, and Pam Harris. In tapes and letter, Michael Rood is named as president, Glenn McWilliams as vice-president, and Don Harris as CEO. If you want to hold anyone responsible for the content of Michael Rood's web pages consider these named directors and officers. Note that at the time of this writing Don Harris has resigned.
This letter contains Michael’s official resignation, plus a number of charges against Jamie and the board. The interesting thing about this letter is Michael accusing Jamie of not having an accounting system and not providing receipts when it is Michael who has not filed expense reports. Also notice the huge change in tone from "The Ugly Truth About Michael Rood". The difference here is the misinterpretation of the July 26 recording.
While this may seem like an unrelated point, there is a great change in Michael's opinion of Jamie that was expressed in Michael's book "The Pagan-Christian Connection Exposed": "Jamie ... Words cannot convey my gratitude for your years of difficult and faithful service. Let the words of this book , which represent a fraction of our years of toil and tears together, be a token of my respect for you. No one has greater reason to appreciate you. I dedicate this book to you."
Letters like this one were sent to all Oregon employees. In this letter Michael identifies himself as the president of A Rood Awakening Ministries when in fact he is the president of A Rood Awakening Ministries International. It is not clear how these firings correspond with Michael's two claims that he disassociated himself from A Rood Awakening Ministries: in his "Return the Money" message of August 7, and the resignation in his demand letter above. Either he has disassociated himself (resigned) and we are observing the president of one ministry firing an employee of another ministry (think of the president of McDonald's firing an employee of Burger King) or Michael is assuming a position he does not have within A Rood Awakening Ministries.
In the file we are presenting here, we have copied the e-mail message to a web page and provided web formatting. We have retained the original letter we received, with the exception of removing personal e-mail addresses. We also wonder if Michael understands the meaning of sedition and treason.
Notice the extra text at the bottom of this firing letter. It refers to a particular element of supposed fraudulent behavior by Michael Detwiler. There is a follow-up letter exonerating Michael Detwiler of any bad behavior. We contacted David Matthews and verified that he did indeed write the follow-up letter and obtained further explanation consistent with what is written in his letter. We have no dispute with brother Mathews' conclusions.
August 12 is when Neal Brenner first saw ReallyRood.com. Neal found out about this page from Jamie Louis. Neal had heard rumors in July about conflict between Michael and Jamie and was asking about them. Jamie visited Neal and his wife Ruth on August 12 to discuss the problems between him and Michael, and he suggested Neal view the web site. This is what prompted Neal to author the letter to Michael and Jamie suggesting that a board of elders mediate their dispute.
We did not make a copy of the web page at this time. We have later copies.
After seeing Michael Rood's web pages, Neal Brenner and his wife Ruth Wagner authored a letter to Michael and Jamie. This letter was sent in the name of all the elders of Beit Emet Ministries and their wives.
Jamie Louis wrote this letter in response to Michael Rood's charges on the web.
This letter is Michael Rood's response to the letter sent to both Michael and Jamie by Neal Brenner. Contemporary to this letter was Neal's initial telephone conversation with Michael where Michael named Neal Brenner and Allen Dodge to be his appointees to the investigation committee. The logic for naming Neal Brenner was that Neal has been a major donor to the ministry and if anyone has a right to ask about where money has been spent Neal has the right to ask. Allen Dodge was a volunteer in Israel and understands the ministry from that perspective.
Michael was hesitant to participate in this process.
This telephone conversation was not recorded.
In this letter Michael Rood’s lawyer seems to think that Michael Rood is the administrator of the Corporate Sole and demands that Michael Detwiler turn over all of the ARA property in his possession, and Michael’s intellectual property. Similar letters were received by other ARA board members.
In this letter Jamie’s lawyer responds to Michael’s lawyer, pointing out that Michael has possession of over$200,000 of ARA assets, and disputes that Michael had intellectual property rights.
After the breakup Michael Rood launched a new websiteReallyRood.com. This website was a list of Michael’s complaints and accusations against Jamie and the ARA board. We did not save a copy of the initial site but ultimately made copies. These copies are image files, snapshots of Michael’s pages. When you click on the links below to see these images, they may open very small on your system. Increase the size and you will be able to read everything. Since links do not work in images we are giving you the links to all pages here.
Are you wondering why Michael had to return $30,000? Here is a photo of one of the returned checks. Bleeding through the check is the deposit stamp. Apparently the people collecting the donations and working the sales tables were doing their jobs properly and stamped each check for deposit to A Rood Awakening in Oregon. Therefore, Michael could not cash them. He could either return them quietly, return them with a self-serving message, or send them to Oregon. The question you have to ask yourself is whether he would have deposited them into the account of A Rood Awakening Ministries International if they had not been stamped.
We are also showing the cover letter that accompanied the returned check to verify that this check is what we say it is.
You must also consider that some of these checks were given in exchange for product: CDs, books, and other materials. These products were produced and paid for by A Rood Awakening Ministries. So by returning the checks for these items Michael was in effect giving away materials that did not belong to him.
You may also read Michael's main page, and Glenn McWilliams letter 1, letter 2, letter 3, and letter 4. These are image snapshots also.
This was a revision to Michael’s web site. The recordings are the same, some of the text has changed. Stan Johnson (Prophecy Club) weighs in.
View the changed pages:
Rather than deal with Stan Johnson in this document, we will let others take on this task.
This is www.reallyrood.com/Answer.html. Michael takes Jamie Louis’ letter of August 16 and adds his own comments in blue. Our comments are in green. To further distinguish the text if you print in black and white, Michael’s text is bold, Jamie’s text is normal weight, and our text is italic. We are placing this letter in-line in the report because of our in-line comments.
MICHAEL ROOD'S RESPONSE TO JAMIE LOUIS' UNSOLICITED LETTER TO MICHAEL'S SUPPORTERS
Introduction by Michael Rood: Jamie Louis has sent out tens of thousands of emails and U.S. postal letters under the pretense that he represents me, even though I have legally disassociated myself from him because of his egregious financial practices. Since he absconded with the entire ministry database, my only means of communication is through this new website and the good favor of those who will pass on my circumstances to their friends and families. This is one of Jamie's letters which I am reprinting in its entirety along with my section-by-section response to key points.
Note that there is no specification of any of the "egregious financial practices". We also question how Jamie has absconded with anything since all property still resides with the corporate sole. To abscond you have to leave, and Jamie has not left.
When Michael left he took electronic equipment that cost ARA $100,000 plus some tens of thousands of dollars of ARA merchandise. Who really absconded with what?
From Jamie Louis' Letter: First, I am writing to you personally to express my gratitude. So many of you have taken your valuable time to call, write and mostly pray for me and my family over the past year. I want to thank you and let you know how YHVH has answered your prayers. I have been on a two-month sabbatical to focus on my physical health and the emotional and spiritual healing of my family. This past year has been filled with many challenges, the greatest of which was the tragic loss of our daughter, Michayla, and Connie's dad, Lyle, in a car accident last Sukkot. Thanks to YHVH, we are all doing much better and moving forward stronger and healthier, as a family and as individuals. My personal health is the best it has been in years and I am thankful to YHVH and A Rood Awakening! Ministries to have had the opportunity to allow YHVH to bring healing and restoration to my body.
As the Administrator for A Rood Awakening!Ministries, I have a responsibility to each of you who have so faithfully given, prayed and encouraged this ministry over the years. We have experienced major growth and seen amazing fruit,and YHVH is to be praised for all these things.
Answer by Michael Rood: I agree.Jamie, as Administrator, not only had a responsibility to you, the supporters of the ministry, but also had a legal responsibility to the state of Arizona, to every state in which we did conferences, and to the IRS to be a legitimate tax exempt organization.
Two years ago, the Advisory Board asked Jamie to put a proper accounting procedure into place. People were hired to implement this, but Jamie refused to cooperate with them and turn over the accounting information, so after a year they finally resigned in frustration. Jamie would not give a weekly, monthly,or even a yearly accounting of the ministry finances.
I depended on the Board to give oversight and counsel in this area. For two years I patiently waited for the Board to demand an accounting and to officially look into the allegations that the Corporation Sole was not paying employment taxes,filing IRS returns or filing proper papers with the appropriate agencies in order to maintain compliance with all the laws and to keep in good standing with the federal and state agencies that have oversight of Corporate Soles.
I was alarmed when a minister friend of mine was given 10 years in federal prison for not filing the proper returns and paying the required taxes.
After our fall U.S. Jonah Code tour, I asked Jamie for an accounting, but never received anything. I reported this and my other concerns to members of the Board. Since the Board was refusing to do its fiduciary duty and investigate, I had no choice but to engage a professional firm to look into these allegations.
To my alarm, they reported back to me that,according to their investigation, there were no tax returns filed by the Corporate Sole, "A Rood Awakening! Ministry", for the years 2003,2004, 2005, and 2006.
They reported that federal employment taxes,withholding taxes, Medicaid and state taxes had not been paid or the proper forms filed. Therefore, the Corporate Sole was not in "Good Standing", and if the administrator was representing to the public that it's donations were tax deductible, that could be a violation of federal law.
This professional firm also reported that it looked as if Mr. Louis was transferring corporate funds and assets into his personal name and use, which was also a violation of the tenants of a Corporate Sole 508,and that the Administrator had not reported this to the IRS and was liable for the personal taxes on this.
The advice to me from the firm I had hired,as well as from other professionals, was that, if the board was not going to do its duty and correct this situation or at least investigate it thoroughly, then I should sever relationship with this Corporation due to the fact that I was its main spokesperson and that my name and image were connected to it.
Michael Rood has not turned over or made public any accounting that was done by any company. We have no idea what professional firm he is referring to. Does it exist?
The fact is that a corporate sole does not have to file federal tax returns. There are no tax forms for a corporate sole to fill out.
The corporate sole was paying all employees as independent contractors. In doing this, Jamie Louis, the administrator, needed to send Form 1099s to every contractor. He failed to do this and is correcting this shortcoming.
When we inspected the finances, we discovered that it was not Jamie who appeared to be transferring assets into his own accounts, but Michael Rood. Michael Rood failed to file expense reports for hundreds of thousands of dollars of spending.
From Jamie Louis' Letter: Many of you have received an email indicating that our A Rood Awakening!Ministries offices have moved. I apologize to you for any confusion, and it grieves me to have to notify you of some very disturbing information. First, I want to inform you that nothing has changed regarding the location of the ministry or the telephone numbers, website, etc. In addition, Michael Rood has taken it upon himself to establish a new ministry, with a very similar name, in Michigan, in order to subvert the accountability and oversight which have been put in place to protect the operations and integrity of this ministry. Michael has been the A Rood Awakening! Ministries visionary, teacher and primary spokesperson for many years, and is obviously the namesake of the organization. However, A Rood Awakening! Ministries, the organization, is a Corporate Sole with myself as the Administrator, responsible for the oversight of the ministry. Thankfully, I was alerted in time regarding the plans to usurp the authority and operations of the official ministry body,but in the process some very startling truths came out about Michael Rood.
Many years ago, desiring to be accountable and seeking the Biblical mandate to find "wisdom in a multitude of counselors," I, as the official Administrator of the Corporate Sole,with the full knowledge and support of Michael Rood, appointed an Advisory Board and submitted myself to their counsel. The Board(which Michael Rood was a member of until he stopped recognizing the Board's authority) and I are responsible for overseeing the ministry.
Answer by Michael Rood: As stated in the recording of the Advisory Board meeting that I posted on my new website, www.reallyrood.com, I was not a member of the Advisory Board - I was not an employee - rather, according to their own statements, I was just a paid spokesperson.
In fact, Michael had been a member of the advisory board. But at the time of the recording he had been replaced because of his own activities. Note that all the other members of the advisory board were also contractors just like Michael.
From Jamie Louis' Letter: Rood Awakening! Ministries, the organization, is not "Michael Rood's ministry", but was created as an official accountable body to assist and support the ministry that Michael Rood envisioned. This is a very important distinction. One of the main reasons ministries establish themselves officially, appoint oversight boards, etc. is to handle situations like this when things get out of hand internally. It is time now for our organization and the Board to fulfill their official mandate.
Answer by Michael Rood: When the report of Jamie's lock out of the ministry office reached me days later, I did not want to believe it. I was sick. The people involved were long time friends that I trusted with my most personal information. When I learned that Jamie had disconnected the servers with the financial records and completely obscured his financial dealings for the past two years, I contacted members of the Advisory Board and told them of my concerns and that I could not, in any way, be associated with Jamie Louis or the Corporate Sole which he admittedly owns. I explained to the board that the new Ministry in Michigan would take on any legitimate ministry debts, but that neither the new Ministry organization, its board, nor I could in any way be associated with the Corporate Sole that Jamie Louis owned and managed with his board of paid employees.
Michael Rood and Don Harris had just tried to divert the mail and the on-line store. His “professional”programmer had deleted the content on the ARA web site. Michael Rood was attempting to take over ARA, with Jamie Louis' consent, but was not communicating a transition plan to the people he was taking over from and therefore his actions were interpreted as a hostile takeover.
Once I heard the recording of the covert Board Meeting, which is posted on this site, I was so shocked and disheartened that I could not continue with the second night meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I felt as if my Brother had stabbed me in the back and ripped my heart out.
The Advisory Board I had trusted to give us oversight not only had not done their fiduciary duty, but were now conspiring to cover up their mistakes and perhaps their own non-compliance with the law. The most disheartening thing to me is that they were willing to ruin my name and castigate my reputation - all for the sake of money.
I informed the staff that was with me in Albuquerque of the plan to hijack and fire-sale the television broadcast equipment, so we loaded everything up and began one of the longest drives of my life. For 32 hours, watching the lines go by on the road, I realized that the Advisory Board - friends whom I trusted implicitly and in whom I had believed - were planning things I just could not comprehend.
Remember that this tape closes with everyone agreeing to turn over the ministry to Michael. There were three subsequent meetings, two of them with Michael, where they were all working out the procedures to do this. The point here, and Michael says so, is that Michael walked away from the agreement.
How does A Rood Awakening Ministries plan to hijack equipment when they already own it?
Against the advise of the professional that I had hired, I was personally willing to step into harms way in an attempt to save Jamie and my other friends by making sure that all legal and moral obligations of the ministry were met. Good intentions on my part would have been just that. I soon came to know that it wasn't just someone failing to do what they were required to do by law, but their acts implied a cover up that seemed intentional.
This is another backhanded accusation, saying“their acts implied a cover up that seemed intentional.” No. They were working with Michael Rood and Michael failed to investigate the date of this recorded conversation or to pay attention to its conclusion and the behavior of the ARA staff after the call. As we said earlier, Michael Rood and Jamie Louis no longer trusted each other.
From Jamie Louis' Letter: Despite verbal agreements made between the Board and Michael, which were committed to on a conference call that all parties were aware was being recorded, early on the morning of the second day of the Albuquerque meeting, Michael left with the ministry vehicles, equipment and inventory leaving only a note saying the meeting was canceled due to a family emergency. He neglected to call the Advisory Board to explain why he was leaving with the equipment and abandoning the teaching. This was in direct violation of the agreement that he made with the Board just days earlier - an agreement which was made in the hopes of peaceably resolving our differences without having to air any "dirty laundry" publicly.
Answer by Michael Rood: The verbal agreement over the phone was based on faith and trust, but with the exposure of their private phone conversation, I then realized that their conspiracy to destroy me had been going on for months. My faith and trust in these men and their word was gone. The recorded meeting illustrated their hidden plans, and I had that plan in hand just moments before their Albuquerque coup was to be executed.
Michael assumed a conspiracy. There was no Albuquerque coup. They were working with Michael with the intent of turning over the ministry to him.
From Jamie Louis' Letter: Due to Michael Rood's recent actions and the pace at which this situation is escalating, the official Advisory Board of A Rood Awakening! Ministries has been forced to sever all official ties with Michael Rood at this time, while we hope, pray, and seek reconciliation. Unfortunately, this action on our part was basically made for us, as Michael formally divorced himself from A Rood Awakening! Ministries about a week ago, forming a new organization, and telling anyone who challenges his actions to get out of his way - even those who have faithfully co-labored with him for years.
Answer by Michael Rood: My action was simply to be accountable to my supporters and demand accountability of the Board and of Jamie Louis, the stated owner of the Corporate Sole.
If Michael wanted to be accountable, why didn't he file expense reports all along? Why isn't he responsive to his donors who are asking him to explain himself? Why doesn't he respond to the major donor on this committee, the one to whom he said“If anyone has a right to ask questions, you do”?
My action was the same as that of my friend Glen McWilliams when he requested of them, "Please take down my name,my image and my intellectual properties from your website; don't use my name any longer to raise funds for your organization!" They honored Glen's request, but at the time of this answering of Jamie's letter,they are still in defiance of my same request.
The corporate sole was paying Glen McWilliams a monthly fee for the use of his name, image, and teachings. Glen was not being paid to develop materials for the ministry. Also,the ministry is not named “A McWilliams Awakening Ministries” in its incorporation papers. These are completely different circumstances.
From Jamie Louis' Letter: We will make sure that this severance is done cleanly and with accountability to you our faithful supporters. Therefore, we are currently in the process of performing an official financial audit, to prove the financial integrity of the ministry. I believe YHVH requires clean hands, and that cleaning things up is the purpose for our current situation. My desire is to be clean, no matter the cost.
Questions by Michael Rood: Why won't Jamie and the Advisory Board turn over the tax returns for the years 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006? Why won't they answer the simple question, "Is the Corporate Sole in "Good Standing " with all Federal and State agencies?"
Why all this superspiritualized doubletalk instead of providing the documentation that any donor has the right to receive upon request and which ANY compliant organization can produce within 24 hours? These are legal issues! Don't talk about clean, just produce the documents!!!
There are no tax returns because a corporate sole does not have to file any. Donors get receipts for donations they make. It is part of the ARA internal process. If a donor has not received a receipt, then the donor should mail a canceled check to the ministry and request one.
Form 1099s are being prepared. As we have already said, this is a shortcoming.
However, the biggest shortcoming is the lack of expense reports from Michael Rood.
From Jamie Louis' Letter: I have delayed writing this letter in the hopes that we could work things out with Michael Rood in a spirit of truth, trust and peace (shalom), but Michael has left us no choice. He continues on a literal"rampage" and appears to be out of control without any regard for the Torah, the truth, or the law. It seems that he will continue at any cost to advance his agenda. In the meantime, A Rood Awakening! Ministries will continue to advance the message of Torah and Messiah with a new and fresh outlook on the needs of those to whom we are ministering, as well as those we labor with. Because it will take some time to make a clean and righteous break with Michael Rood,we will continue as A Rood Awakening! Ministries at this time.
I sincerely regret having to send you this letter, but we could not stand by and watch while you were being deceived and encouraged to send money to Michael's new organization, an organization which you have not supported in the past. We are still laboring together with the staff that has served this ministry over the years. What we envision is a work so grand that only YHVH can accomplish it. We need your prayers and support now more than ever. We do not want to be a people who perish for lack of vision. We want to "Shuv" return to the vision YHVH gave us from the beginning and get back to doing what He called and commanded us to do. We need to be restored to YHVH and to His Kingdom purpose.
Answer by Michael Rood: You have read the rest of the story. You must seek true wisdom so that you can decide for yourself. I demanded facts and all I have received to date is Jamie's spiritualized verbiage as articulated in his insipid letter.
I, as a former hired spokesperson for Jamie's Corporate Sole, have no legal standing to demand an account of how he or his board have spent the donations of supporters. In their recorded meeting, they clearly stated that they would "exploit" me in order to make me look like the guilty party, even to the extreme of typifying me as a "cult leader", while they planned to liquidate the ministry to satisfy debts they would not substantiate. Once I only suspected foul play; now there was no doubt. The smokescreen of "Torah-talk," "Hebrew-speak," and pontificating about"accountability" is still providing them with a covering fog as months of deception have ensued. They continue to send out letters with my forged signature encouraging people to give to Jamie's private corporation - that is why they are still deceptively and illegally using my name!! You can call Mr. Louis at xxx-xxx-xxxx or xxx-xxx-xxxx or xxx-xxx-xxxx and tell him where to "Shuv" his organization.
You on the other hand, the supporters of the ministry, now have more than a suspicion, and YOU have the right to demand an answer for the following questions:
* Is Jamie Louis' Corporate Sole in "Good Standing"with the State and Federal Agencies through the filing of proper returns and documents?
* Are your donations, in fact, tax deductible according to law - as they were purported to be?
Have the proper taxes been paid? Has full disclosure been made? Or has the Advisory Board and Jamie Louis' lack of fiduciary responsibility put us all "IN HARMS WAY?"
As this committee has stated before, the main one who has mostly put donors in harm's way has been Michael Rood,failing to file expense reports. The IRS can interpret this as Michael profiting improperly from a tax-exempt organization. We urge Michael Rood to file the required expense reports and account for his spending so that no donations are at risk.
The committee interviewed Jamie Louis via telephone. We are not posting the recording of this interview. We are saying that Jamie answered every question we asked without hesitation and was consistent in all his answers. He also supplied full access to his bookkeeper, and when we asked for access to the on-line accounting system he immediately approved it. We have had full cooperation from Jamie.
This woman was the bookkeeper at ARA from approximately the inception of the corporate sole to mid-September. Her tenure ended because she, her husband, and children moved to California.
She was also open and cooperative. She provided the 2006 financial summary, 2007 profit/loss statement and more detailed financial records. She also answered questions about specific line items.
First and foremost, she disputes that there was no accounting. She kept the books to professional accounting standards. We asked if she ever observed any spending by Jamie that she thought was questionable. She said she has not seen any questionable spending by Jamie. We asked if there was anything questionable in the ministry finances, and she did voice one concern: accounting for Michael’s spending.
The way the ministry has worked, Michael has a checking account and a credit card. Jamie, as administrator, supplied the funds for Michael’s checking account and paid the credit card bills. Unfortunately, Michael never filed expense reports for the funds he received. He was asked but never complied. He would not account for his spending. Because she could not account for Michael’s spending, his expenses are in the line item “Michael Professional Services.”
If you have listened to Michael’s recorded message you have heard Michael disparage this accounting line. We are not commenting on whether Michael spent this money appropriately. What we observe is that it is not standard business practice for officers or employees not to account for the money they receive. In fact, this is often a firing offense. In today’s corporations employees spend their own money on business expenses, and then are reimbursed when they submit their expense account. So while we fault Michael for not filing expense reports, we fault Jamie for continuing to pay Michael’s expenses without receiving an accounting.
We have heard and read Michael’s charge that the ARA Advisory board at a meeting in Seattle two years ago resolved to have an accounting system, and his complaint that ARA still is not accountable. Thesis a disingenuous charge since Michael’s own practices make a full and accurate accounting impossible.
Here are the links to the 2006 and 2007 financial statements. The 2007 statement is for 6 months. Note that in the first 6months of 2007 that the “Michael Professional Expense” line is about as large as for the entire 2006 year.
Finally, on this topic of Michael’s expenses, we have heard and read Michael’s claim that Jamie’s mismanagement has put at risk the tax-exempt status of ARA, and the tax deductions taken by donors. The real cause of this risk is Michael’s lack of expense reports. Because Michael has not accounted for these expenses, the IRS will impute them as income to Michael, and may determine that Michael has profited excessively from this charity.
This is approximately the time when Jamie was going to return deposits to those who reserved space on Michael’s fall trip to Israel. These deposits were made to A Rood Awakening Ministries, and now the tour would be put on by A Rood Awakening Ministries International. When Jamie went to place the funds into escrow for his attorney to return, he discovered that the tour director emptied the account, mostly by writing checks to herself. While we suspect the funds were ultimately used for their correct purpose, we are not sure without an accounting, and it is Michael's ministry or the tour director who must supply the accounting. We leave it as an exercise for the reader to name the legal term for one company to use the funds in another company's checking account. Click here to see the canceled checks.
We attempted to question the tour director about these checks and she would not respond. Neal Brenner sent her an e-mail asking fora response. What we got was the letter below.
Michael replied with this letter. Please note the change in tone from his previous letter. As Michael demands in this letter, I, Neal Brenner, declare that I do not represent Michael Rood. I do say that I was appointed or asked by him to be on this committee. For those of you who wonder why I did not go to Colorado to see him, I had family commitments that had already been delayed by a year. I also was not about to attend a fund-raising meeting when he and Jamie were in the middle of this public and messy dispute, and after I was or was not appointed to this committee.
This letter contains charges from Ms. Victoria Cross. Neal Brenner spoke with Ms. Cross and she forthrightly admitted that she took her complaints against Jamie Louis to their church's elders who found in Jamies favor. Since there was a previous decision and Ms. Cross could not provide a second witness or paperwork documenting her claim, we did not take up Ms. Cross' charges.
Before Mr. Rood charges that A Rood Awakening Ministries has failed to file tax forms, he ought to read the instructions for those forms and note the exemptions. The instructions for form 990 excludes "An exclusively religious activity of any religious order." The instructions also exclude "A church".
Now that the evidence has been presented, we can review the various charges made by Michael Rood in various web pages, letters, and e-mails. As there is great commonality between Michael’s various communications, we will concentrate on the web pages. This analysis is exhaustive. We will address enough of the charges to show Michael’s pattern and what reality is. The rest is left as an exercise for the reader. As above, Michael's text is in bold blue and our responses are in green italic. Our responses are also organized in bullets.
The charges in Michael Rood’s “Under Siege” web site begin with
“As soon as the new Michigan office was confirmed, Don flew out to Oregon to announce the move of our ministry from the tiny unfinished store front (at twice the price) in Albany to our new complex in Michigan. Some of the staff would make the move - others had family ties that prevented, but Jamie publicly endorsed the move and assured everyone that this was Yahweh's provision.
As the day closed on that Friday, some of the staff made plans to return early Sunday morning to begin moving equipment and start the two-month transition - but early in the morning on the first day of the week, the staff returned to the office and were stunned by what they found.
Under the cover of the Sabbath, Jamie had changed the locks. He brought in a computer specialist who disconnected the server containing all the contribution and personal records of my ministry partners and shut down and changed the passwords on all of my websites.
All access to the financial records for which I had been asking an account for the past three months disappeared into cyberspace. I soon learned that two men in my ministry office had been plotting for months to vilify me in order to hide some apparent financial misdealings involving contributions made to the ministry. Jamie had opened an obscure Arizona corporation in the name of A Rood Awakening in which all bank accounts, phone services,postal service contracts and vehicles donated to the ministry were put in his personal name - without my permission.”
When you read Michael’s “Under Siege” web page in the context of the evidence above, it is clear that Michael is complaining about his failed takeover attempt, which went from about May to mid-July. The great conspiracy Michael refers to is no more than a group of angry people venting. They are venting in part because Michael has been making unfounded charges and because he is acting unilaterally. They were also making contingency plans to pay off the debts of the ministry by selling assets should they have to close down. And they complete their conference call by concluding to work with Michael to turn over the ministry and its assets to Michael. This is not a conspiracy.
From the evidence, we’ve concluded the following:
Michael’s Under Siege page goes on to say:
“I first became aware of some serious financial irregularities when I came to the U.S. this past May. I asked to see the accounting, but still after three months, nothing was produced. I called the Oregon office and asked the office staff to send me a copy of the financials, but each person in the chain of command denied any knowledge that any such documents existed. Even the bookkeeper said she had no idea - no one had provided her with any books to keep. Now my heart was in my throat. Now it was possible that the allegations that had been floating to my attention over a period of time could be based in a dark reality.”
Again, from the “Under Siege” web page:
“I asked an independent investigator to look into the state of the ministry, and what was reported back to me shook me to the core of my being. The investigation produced, among other startling revelations, an audio recording of a phone conversation revealing a conspiracy to manufacture lies and to destroy me so that these men could end up with this ministry in which you and I have invested so much. They planned to continue selling my materials and keeping all of your donations while contracting other speakers to take my place on their public platform. They made meticulous plans to abscond with the staging and audiovisual equipment that was recently acquired with donations given for that specific purchase, and to sell it off.
After you hear these recordings, you can decide for yourself if their plan is the work of a "Judas/Korah spirit"
After I heard the recording, it became apparent why I was being strung along for months receiving no accounting concerning the financial records and why, on the very day after my move to Michigan was endorsed and moving forward, all the work that I've done for the past thirty-five years was seized out from under me by these renegade hirelings.”
The “Under Siege” page says:
“My first act was to legally disassociate myself from and dissolve any financial or ministry relationships to Jamie Louis or his right-hand man, Mike Detweiler - who I knew was a convicted felon, but like the Messiah has shown us, I extended a helping hand to help him during his dark hours.”
The “Under Siege” page says:
“One of the remaining loyal staff members revealed that Mike Detwiler disclosed to the Oregon staff that if he doesn't come up with $40,000 by October 2007, according to his court ordered reparations schedule, he would be sent back to jail, and that when he was originally hired on board with A Rood Awakening!, Jamie had told him, "We can help you out with that."”
The “Under Siege” page says:
“The most personally devastating reality concerning this situation is, that when I demanded an accounting in the face of numerous allegations by supporters and staff - instead of honestly providing that accounting, you will hear for yourself, that Jamie and Mike immediately began to make plans on how they could "fire Michael Rood" by manufacturing blatant lies and evil innuendo to disparage my character, question my credibility, and throw up a smokescreen.
It seems that these people would rather destroy me and this ministry that you helped to build than to admit the truth about what they were doing.”
The “Under Siege” page says:
“I have done all I can do to extend the olive branch to these men, but once I was apprised by my investigative team and legal professionals of the serious consequences of Jamie's possible non compliance with standard accounting and tax reporting requirements and breaking of the "Public Trust" concerning the possible conversion of funds, then I realized that I could have nothing to do with their company. They have been notified that they no longer have the right to use my name, my image, or my creative work in any form. They no longer represent Michael Rood AKA A Rood Awakening!”
The “Under Siege” page says:
“I have been advised by the professionals to step back away "from the door of his tent" and to allow the authorities and the Almighty to deal with these men. This grieves me, so I have been up all hours of the night interceding for these co-conspirators that HE will have mercy on them.
I will continue on the path the Almighty has laid out for this ministry with the handful of honest and dedicated staff that are committed to living the Torah and not just spouting the words.
The “Under Siege” says:
“I am sorry to be the bearer of such tidings,but we must embrace this reality as the work of the Almighty to cleanse the camp before HE launches us into His greater plan for declaring the Gospel of the Kingdom throughout the entire world. In my magnum opus"The Jonah Code" you will understand why it is essential to have our own camp clean before we walk into the battle that this profound and"revelationary" articulation of Yahshua's ministry will no doubt provoke. Raging demons are coming out of the woodwork as the truth of the Gospel is being declared through this seminar. Will you continue to stand with me in the fight? Give me a quick drink of water and hand me another clip of ammo…
You can be assured that we will continue to be led into the truth and walk in the light HE has given us and not down the dark path of "ever learning but being unable to come to a knowledge of the truth".”
The home page of Michael Rood’s web page says:
“The conspiracy was so beautifully disguised and the deception so well devised, that had not a private investigator secured the telephone recording of my "friends" and fellow laborers carefully orchestrating my demise while continuing to parlay the tithes and offerings from my supporters into their personal accounts, it was difficult to believe the facts glaring me in the face!
At first you too may be reticent to acknowledge that such a twisted plot is possible from people we all have trusted, so I attached excerpts from that telephone recording -the entirety of which is being preserved for the appropriate authorities.”
You may have noticed that Jamie Louis has been silent during this entire dispute. It has been a one-sided dispute. Jamie has been quiet because we asked him to be quiet while we investigated and attempted to mediate. Jamie subjected himself to our requests. Michael did not. It is a grave mistake to assume Jamie is guilty of all that Michael charged because he did not reply. It is a grave mistake to believe unsubstantiated charges.
This ends this investigative committee's report. We could review more web pages and letters. We could point out more contradictions. They would only reinforce what we have already pointed out. It would be more repetitive than this report already is. Now draw your own conclusions.
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