"You who are watching this tape are hurting and hurting badly," says John G. Bennett, Jr., former president of the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy, at the beginning of a 14-minute videotaped message to ministries and individuals affected by the foundation's collapse in May.
Hundreds of evangelical and other nonprofit organizations became associated with New Era based on the promise that money they gave to the foundation would be returned after being matched by anonymous donors (CT, Aug. 14, 1995, p. 56). These organizations continue to await the results of a bankruptcy process. Bennett is under investigation for fraud.
Bennett asked for the forgiveness of donors, charities, and former New Era staff members. "I have learned a great deal through all of this," he says in the somber-toned tape. "I'm ashamed. I'm remorseful. And yet I know that God has forgiven me, and I pray that you can find it in your heart to forgive me as well." At times in his message, however, Bennett indicates he has little for which to apologize. He suggests that New Era's problems arose because he was a "visionary"—not a manager or administrator.
Bennett says "despite many attempts in the early months to get into our offices to help resolve the issues at hand, it has only been within the last few weeks that we have begun to get copies of the documents that would substantiate our response to these accusations."