The bishop for the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church is urging congregations to review their safeguards against embezzlement and fraud after a bookkeeper pleaded guilty to stealing $274,000 from a Mason City church.

Melissa Noland has been sentenced to 27 months in prison and ordered to repay what she stole from the First United Methodist Church of Mason City over a five-year period.

Bishop Laurie Haller says it’s an “unpleasant and uncomfortable” topic, but she’s calling on all Methodist churches in Iowa to review procedures for counting offerings and accounting for donations as well as how expenditures are reviewed and approved.

The bishop says these conversations may make people uncomfortable, but she says having good internal controls shows congregations “care about the church’s ministry and the people who support it with their prayers, labor, and money.”