BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The pastor of a Bossier City church facing two lawsuits from former members of his congregation is pushing back on the claims made in the filings of a lack of transparency in the church’s finances and oversight.

“These lawsuits represent an attempt by former members of First Baptist Bossier to inappropriately litigate an internal church dispute,” First Baptist Church Bossier senior pastor Dr. Brad Jurkovich said in a statement Thursday in response to the suits brought against him, the church, worship pastor Eddie Colvin, and church administrative secretary Lorine Spratt.

The lawsuits came after what petitioners claim was months of trying to get Jurkovich and the church to share financial, personnel, and other church-related records with them and other members of the congregation.

“The first lawsuit falsely claims that we have refused to make financial information available to our members. Our budget process is open and transparent. Each annual budget is approved by the membership.”

In addition, Jurkovich says the church publishes monthly financial statements that are available for review by the entire membership and that the results of two different external audits conducted during the last six years have also been published.

“Our pastoral staff, director of finances, and leadership team have made themselves available on numerous occasions to review the church finances with any interested member – including many of the plaintiffs.”

Jurkovich goes on to question why the petitioners need to see any of the information they have requested.

“Although these individuals have never identified a legitimate need for any of the information requested, we have voluntarily produced over 16,000 pages of financial records, membership records, and meeting minutes for examination,” the statement reads.

“These records represent a complete accounting of our church’s activities over the past decade. Despite this transparency, these individuals demanded even more information – including records of member donations, access to personnel files and salary histories, and access to the church’s computer system, database, and software. Thankfully, the recent ruling issued by the Court protects this information.”

Still, Jurkovich asserts, the additional financial records a Bossier Parish district judge has ordered the church to produce “are primarily the original documents used to prepare the financial reports already made available. Except for a few items, these documents had already been offered for examination as part of a compromise proposal. Importantly, the Court incorporated the parties’ confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement into its ruling, acknowledging these individuals’ ongoing obligations under the agreement.”

A second lawsuit alleges Jurkovich illegally amended the church’s 1937 articles of incorporation after he arrived in 2014, giving himself total power over the church, its finances, employees, members, and all other church-related matters, with no oversight.

“The second lawsuit seeks to invalidate articles of incorporation that were unanimously adopted during a properly noticed membership meeting in 2014. Approximately 1,500 members – including many of the plaintiffs to the lawsuit – attended the meeting and participated in the vote. We have filed a motion to dismiss this claim based on its untimeliness, the plaintiffs’ lack of standing as non-members, and a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

Jurkovich went on to reference an amended petition in which the plaintiffs made more claims that Jurkovich misused FBC funds and funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in church money to outside organizations, friends, and the pastor’s family.

“These individuals responded to this motion by recently amending the lawsuit to assert claims against me, my associate pastor, and my secretary. We believe these claims are entirely without merit and intend to vigorously defend the matter.”

A hearing on that motion is scheduled for June 21.