A U. S. District Court of Appeal has upheld a $1.2-million award against a Glendale minister and four church organizations charged with defrauding former parishioners through bad loans.
The order was levied Jan. 5 against the Rev. William Steuart McBirnie and the McBirnie-founded groups United Community Church, California Graduate School of Theology, Concord Senior Housing Foundation and Voice of Americanism.
All four groups have filed for protection from creditors under the bankruptcy code. McBirnie has said he no longer controls the organizations and is not responsible for their finances. He resigned as senior minister of United Community Church last May.
Twenty-six former church members, most of them elderly Glendale residents, filed suit in April, 1984, to recover loans made to McBirnie in the late 1970s and early 1980s. McBirnie said he was unable to repay them because of bad investments, rising interest rates and poor financial advice.