The assets of Potter’s Field Ministries, which over the course of 27 years of operation has grown to include multiple properties, vehicles and businesses, will be sold, according to the lead pastor of Godspeak Calvary Chapel, a religious nonprofit based in California that has taken over operations and ownership of the multi-faceted ministry based in Whitefish.
Potter’s Field Ministries and associated businesses, including the MudMan Burgers restaurants, closed down earlier this week amid allegations claiming the ministry’s founders, Michael “Mike” and Pamela “Pam” Rozell, emotionally and verbally abused members for years. More than a dozen sources previously involved with Potter’s Field told the Daily Inter Lake the ministry allegedly operated in a cult-like atmosphere.
The Rozells could not be reached by the Daily Inter Lake, but Rob McCoy, the lead pastor of Godspeak, who is also the mayor of Thousand Oaks, California, reported they will not be taking questions out of respect for the interns and staff. The Rozells, as well as former board members with the Potter’s Field nonprofit, have stepped down from the ministry and will have no part in the liquidation process moving forward.
“We’re liquidating anything under the purview of PFM — selling trucks, equipment and properties,” McCoy explained. “When all is said and done, there will be no remnant of what the Flathead knew as Potter’s Field.”
He elaborated, saying Godspeak will “not receive a dime.”
When a nonprofit dissolves, the Montana Department of Justice outlines various requirements that include the stipulation that those assets be given to another nonprofit. That nonprofit is then able to liquidate the assets, should they choose to. According to information on the Montana Department of Justice website, among other requirements, the “public benefit and religious corporations must provide written notice to the attorney general 20 days before the organization in any way disposes of all or substantially all of its property.”
A full explanation of the requirements can be found at https://dojmt.gov/consumer/for-nonprofits-2/
McCoy only recently took over as chief executive officer of Potter’s Field before the ministry ended its operations.
“I’ve been doing this for four days or so,” he said. “We’re still figuring it out and sifting through a lot of things.”
In addition to McCoy, five former staff members of Potter’s Field Ministries have stayed on temporarily to assist with the transition.
McCoy said when the assets are eventually sold, some of the funds will go toward addressing any litigation that may come forward from the recent closing of Potter’s Field Ministries and the MudMan Burgers locations, where interns with the ministry often worked 60 to 80 hours per week while being paid only two to three dollars an hour.
McCoy also said a large portion of what is made from the selling of the assets will go toward bringing former Potter’s Field missionary members home from international locations, including Cambodia, Guatemala, Uganda and others. The missions trips were a highlight among Potter’s Field programs and have involved dozens of ministry members over the years.
McCoy says there are at least seven vehicles associated with Potter’s Field and MudMan Burgers that will be sold. He also estimates there are about 10 properties throughout the Flathead Valley that are currently owned or leased by the ministry. Those that are owned will eventually be sold and leases that were already in place will be fulfilled.
“We will honor all previous arrangements,” McCoy said.
Flathead County’s primary land records mapping application, a tool that displays who owns what property in the valley, indicates two large properties in Whitefish fall under Potter’s Field Ministries ownership.
One includes the Selah Fellowship property located on Second Street and Somers Avenue on the east side of Whitefish, which was the religious nonprofit arm of the ministry. Records show the lot, which spans five parcels and holds two properties including the 4,000 square-foot church, is owned by Potter’s Field Ranch Inc. The most recent 2019 appraisals value the lot and its properties at a little over $1 million.
The second property — a nine bedroom home off U.S. 93 west of downtown Whitefish, is owned by Potter’s Field Ministries of Montana. The property spans more than 4 acres and is worth nearly $400,000 in land and home value combined.
While the two properties that fall under the Potter’s Field name can legally be sold by Godspeak, there are about six other Whitefish properties that are owned by the Rozells themselves. Those properties, which are collectively appraised at more than $1.2 million, are by label not assets of the ministry and are not subject to be sold as such.
Moving forward, a paramount goal for McCoy and others leaders with Calvary Chapel is to address any concerns that may come forward from parents whose children were involved with Potter’s Field.
The only remaining portion of the former ministry may be the sponsorship program, according to Calvary Chapel officials. At the time Potter’s Field closed, McCoy stated there were around 8,000 regular monthly donors to the organization’s outreach missions in Central America, Africa and Asia. An announcement on Potter’s Field’s website stated: “Godspeak will be taking over the sponsorship program in hopes that the children and missionaries on the field will not bear the full impact of these recent events.”
Don McClure, a head pastor within the Calvary Chapel Association, pointed out the children’s programs initially were intended to bring aid to underserved communities in the developing world.
“We really want to do everything we can to help these [programs],” he said at a recent Calvary Chapel conference.
Numerous sources who shared stories of mistreatment at Potter’s Field also insisted that the children’s programs were a positive part of their ministry experience.
As McCoy takes over the management of the former ministry, he said he hopes that Godspeak will have the capacity to continue supporting the kids programs abroad once the dust settles.
“I want to do it in a way that’s above board,” he said. To start, he said they are informing all of their regular donors about the organizational changes through notices that are going out in the coming weeks. Until the sponsors have been briefed, “we’re holding off on running their credit cards,” he said.
McCoy said he hopes to be able to transfer the sponsorship to a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a “low administrative fee and huge accountability.” He recognized that Potter’s Field Ministries had operated with little transparency and that there was a significant difference between the money raised and the actual contributions to the charity programs.
“I want to do the best I can,” he said, to continue supporting the missions abroad.
But he recognized the sponsorship arm of Potter’s Field may not remain viable in the wake of what has recently transpired with the organization. Even so, he pledged that the money generated by selling Potter’s Fields assets will not be used for the international sponsorships.
“Sponsorship is completely different,” from the plans for the ministry’s Whitefish properties. “I’m not going to mix the two.”
Reporter Kianna Gardner may be reached at 758-4439 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at 758-4459 or email@example.com.