Pastor allegedly used church money to pay for vacations

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WZZM) -- A West Michigan pastor is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from his former church. Gary Petersen, former pastor of Wellspring Church, is facing embezzlement charges for allegedly using church money for his personal vacations.

Court documents show how Petersen allegedly stole about $3,000 with a credit card that church leaders didn't know about. The documents allege Petersen opened an American Express card connected to a Wellspring Church bank account in 2006.

Investigators say Petersen charged about $1,400 on the credit card for a cruise with his wife in Rome, Italy in 2010. Then, Petersen allegedly spent about $1,500 from the credit card to pay for a resort vacation in Avon, Colorado.

Before the investigation began in September, Petersen left the church and is now Pastor of Rock Church in Grandville.

WZZM 13 sent a crew to Petersen's home in Hudsonville to offer him a chance to respond, but no one came to the door.

Wellspring Church released a statement saying, "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 Christian leader."

Peterson is facing two felony counts of embezzlement. He's out on a $2,000 bond and scheduled to be arraigned next Wednesday.


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