March 4, 2007
For the folks at Oxford Document Management Co., it’s not snooping. It’s a divine mission.
With a full-time staff of just three, the Anoka, Minn.-based background-investigation firm has beaten bigger rivals to become the go-to gumshoes for religious groups across the United States.
All but a handful of Oxford’s 1,000 clients are churches or denominational bodies. Glen Johnson, who founded the company 16 years ago, said those are the only clients he seeks.
“I wanted to help them out because I’m a Christian person, and I saw the need for this,” said Johnson, 48. Oxford keeps the business’s prices low—up to $225 for a “full-service” check—so churches don’t have to pass the plate to keep safe, said Chuck Koterba, the firm’s director of client services.
Oxford employees have been called by God, they say, to keep churches clear of sexual predators, fiduciary finaglers and general ne’er-do-wells. Clients praise the firm for helping them determine how serious a potential employee’s infractions are.
… The Rev. Warren Lynn, director of “search and call” in the Disciples of Christ’s office of Christian Vocations, said Oxford was the only background firm that could provide what his denomination needed.
“They were originally set up to work with the ecclesiastical system. They weren’t set up for the business community. They were set up to meet the needs of the Christian community,” said Lynn.
… When Oxford conducts full credit and criminal checks, it most often “find hits” on traffic violations and financial problems, said Koterba, Oxford’s director of client services.
“With lots of clergy, their spiritual gift is not financial management,” Koterba said, adding that money issues can lead to other problems, such as gambling, spousal abuse and drug use.
Still, serious infractions are rare among the pulpit set, said Koterba and Johnson, despite the media attention surrounding clergy misconduct.
Must be looking in the wrong place.
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