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Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

Pastors predict bleak future if local casinos open (12/28/03)

Soap, figurines, candles keep books company in Christian stores (12/21/03)

In order to form a more perfect union (11/30/03)

Federal Marriage Amendment receives Fellowship’s endorsement (11/23/03)

Drug czar congratulates Teen Challenge (11/16/03)

Christian fiction no long back-shelf item (10/19/03)

DREAM3 benefits churches (10/19/03)

Youth rise to DC03 challenge (10/12/03)

Ministry uses drama, music to touch city for Christ (9/28/03)

Displeased viewers protest raunchy programs (9/21/03)

Grit, determination key to cities blocking cable pornography (8/31/03)

Economic slump doesn't always derail giving (8/24/03)

Ruling threatens family, Christian leaders say (8/17/03)

Anti-aging options require balanced approach to health, beauty (8/10/03)

Convoy of Hope reaches out to inner-city neighborhood (7/27/03)

Fight for the flag moves to nation’s schools (7/20/03)

Drama speaks volumes to alienated veterans (7/13/03)

Church's integrity well received following nightmarish ordeal (6/29/03)

Tornadoes cut wide swath across nation's midsection (6/22/03)

Accountability partners provide human feedback that filters don't (6/15/03)

Checking out your horoscope? God advises you to skip it (6/8/03)

Christian filmmakers pursue wider market success (5/25/03)

Intervention is key to preventing suicide (5/18/03)

Adoption often right decision for young expectant mothers (5/11/03)

Dallas-based ministry keeps inmates out of jail (4/27/03)

Medical analysis of Jesus' death generates interest (4/20/03)

Small-town church reaches community (4/13/03)

Young married couples lulled by false sense of security (3/30/03)

Virtual gambling days may be numbered (3/23/03)

Contemporary Christian music copes with its continuing success (3/16/03)

A/G prayer event set for gathering in nation's capital (3/9/03)

Volunteers give church voice in community (2/23/02)

Federal law protects churches in zoning battles (2/16/03)

Singles find cyberspace dating not always match made in heaven (2/9/03)

Predators often plan strategies long in advance (1/19/03)

The Cross and the Switchblade still makes impact 40 years later (1/12/03)

Frontline Reports

2002 PE Report stories

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Church’s integrity well received following nightmarish ordeal

By John W. Kennedy (6/29/03)

It hasn’t been an easy couple of years for J. Lowell Harrup, senior pastor of Northland Cathedral in Kansas City, Mo.

Less than a month before Harrup and the Assemblies of God congregation planned to relocate to new $12 million facilities in August 2001, a member called and told the pastor to flip on his television to a local news report. Harrup saw a church council member (name withheld), a pharmacist, being charged with an unthinkable crime: diluting drugs of cancer patients.

Eventually, the church member pleaded guilty to 20 counts of misbranding, tampering with and adulterating cancer drugs for 34 late-stage cancer patients. Now 50, he is serving a 30-year prison sentence after being convicted in the worst drug-dilution case in modern U.S. history.

Although the pharmacist ultimately admitted greed motivated his behavior, initially he claimed he watered down drugs in part to finance a $1 million pledge for the church building fund. In reality, he never paid $400,000 of the pledge, and he confessed that he had started altering doses a decade earlier.

In the aftermath of the consuming nightmare, Northland Cathedral has emerged battered but strengthened. For months, the church received daily calls from media outlets seeking comment. With resolution of the court case, Harrup has broken the silence that he maintained through the ordeal.

In March, the church announced that it would donate $600,000 to victims of the drug-diluting scheme. That figure represents the amount of stock the pharmacist liquidated to donate to the building fund, even though the entire amount probably didn’t represent tainted money. To avoid the appearance of gaining from the atrocities, Harrup and the Northland Cathedral council decided to relinquish contributions the member had made.

The church decision to act with integrity prompted a laudatory editorial in the Kansas City Star plus commendations from U.S. Attorney Todd Graves, who prosecuted the case, and lawyer Michael Ketchmark who represented victims.

“From the beginning the church found itself in an awful situation, not only because he was a member of the church but because of the wide media coverage,” Ketchmark, 37, told PE Report. “It was a tremendous witness to their faith that they returned the money, which they thought had been rightfully given. For nonbelievers to see a church act in a Christlike fashion was marvelous.”

After selling two houses, the church has made a $250,000 contribution to an existing $11 million restitution fund for victims and their families. Northland Cathedral also has committed to donating $350,000 to a victim trust fund during the next three years. That money will have to be raised by additional contributions from church members. The dollars the pharmacist donated to the building fund were spent long ago.

Harrup, who has been Northland Cathedral’s pastor for 14 years, believes he couldn’t preach ethically to the congregation if the church somehow had benefited from oncology patients who didn’t receive the prescribed chemotherapy dosages.

“One wants to be careful how he builds the kingdom of God,” Harrup told PE Report. “I cannot deliberately build a church with money that I know was illegally gained.”

The pharmacist led a secret life hidden from even his family members. He began weakening chemotherapy drugs administered intravenously or through injections and pocketing the gains.

Authorities seized the two pharmacies he operated, his home and investments.

The man’s wife and children remain active members of the church, where attendance averages 1,200 on Sunday mornings. Instead of withdrawing, Harrup says the family has allowed others to minister to them.

Harrup says he empathizes with those whose loved ones have suffered. “I understood their hurt,” Harrup says. “My wife is a cancer survivor. If someone had given my wife watered-down drugs I would have been angry.”

Still, Harrup has not forsaken his former church member, whom he visits in prison in hopes of bringing restoration and redemption. “The activity was terribly evil,” Harrup says. “My job is not to make him feel good; my job is to make him be good. I’m still his pastor. Pastors do not wash their hands of people.”

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