-- After its last pastor allegedly bilked them out of $10,000, leaders of Rejoice Ministries church thought they were being extra careful when they hired James Poole.
Still reeling from the theft, they asked Poole to come to the church and preach in an act of caution to ensure Poole was legitimate before hiring him.
"He did a good service," church secretary Mary Steffen told the West Central Tribune of Willmar for a report in Saturday's paper. "I will give him credit for that."
Poole was hired in August, but less than a month later, he allegedly skipped town without repaying $3,344 he "borrowed" from the church for rent, trips, even a new bathtub, Steffen said.
Church officials later learned that Poole -- whose real name authorities believe is Jerry Andrews -- had served jail time for writing bad checks and credit card theft.
"I feel like we are a clearinghouse for bad pastors," Steffen said.
Last winter, Rejoice Ministries hired Dennis Bennett as pastor, not knowing that he was a veteran con artist. Prosecutors filed criminal charges after Bennett was accused of stealing $10,000 that the church gave him for a car, a home down payment and other expenses.
As with Bennett, church leaders found Poole in an Internet advertisement when they searched for a new pastor.
Rejoice's congregation of 12 is now trying to decide whether to look for a new pastor or just shut down.
"I don't know where we are going to go from here," Steffen said. "Each time it's cost us a lot of money."