Bangor, Maine - A scandal broke at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Bangor when it was recently discovered that the church's pastor, the Reverend Howard Lee, had been claiming a number of personal expenditures as "ministry expenses." Many of the alleged charges are still being disputed, including the purchase of an iPod, which Lee claims he uses to "listen to sermons" and several expensive watches, which Lee claims he "needs so he can know when to end his sermons on time." But of all the expenses being question, one stands out as particularly odd; the pastor's weekly pedicures. When confronted about the expenses Lee justified his actions with Romans 10:15 which reads "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."
"It is important that a minister have good healthy feet" stated Lee. "In getting these weekly pedicures I'm only following Scripture. The Bible says that those who bring the good news need to have beautiful feet, so therefore I keep mine beautiful."
The investigation has revealed receipts dating back to 2003 showing that Lee has visited a local establishment known as "Tammy's Nail Salon" and received full pedicure treatment with massage costing $100 per session. Lee had been turning in the receipts each year classifying them as "medical ministry expenses."
"We have been spending over $5000 dollars per year for our pastor to go get his toenails filed!" stated an angry Paul Woodward, one of the church's deacons. "I can't believe we let this slip by us for so long."
The issue has since been taken up by the region's head bishop of the UMC, but many fear the damage has already been done in regards to Lee's reputation amongst the congregation.
"The congregation is furious with him too" stated Woodward. "Last week almost everyone stayed home from church in protest. There were only like 10 people here, and we normally have 90-100."
Among other items that are still in question include numerous bottles of Cool Water Cologne which Lee had recorded as "anointing oil." Also under investigation now is Lee's 2005 trip to Tahiti which he had recorded as a "missions trip."