The bible verses that most bothered me

One of the Bible messages that bothered me a lot (Matthew 10:34–36):

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Mega-church faithfuls invest in malls

Misguided? Maybe, here’s excerpts from Bloomberg that amuses me:

Wearing a white leather jacket and jeans, Senior Pastor Joseph Prince asked God to reward a crowd of about 1,200 with houses, cars, jobs, pay raises and holidays if they contributed to New Creation’s multimillion-dollar funding drive.

At the New Creation service, PowerPoint slides showed attendees how to write checks to the church, while armed security guards watched the cash.

Worship and Holy Communion were followed by a video about a woman who donated on Miracle Seed Sundays even when her husband’s cancer treatments saddled the couple with debt. Images of a Volkswagen and a condominium showed the rewards that came to them for giving.

“As they come forth Lord to sow, release upon them Father the power to get, to create, to receive wealth in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Prince said in the rented Rock Auditorium at the Suntec City Mall. “Prosperity is right. Amen. We prosper to prosper others. We prosper to prosper God’s kingdom, so come believing.”

City Harvest Church, a non-denominational church founded by senior pastor Kong Hee, 48, has attracted a reported 20,619 members as of last year. It proposed in 2010 to spend S$310 million for a stake in the Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Centre as well as related rents and renovation costs.

In contrast to the U.S., where churches often champion political and sometimes anti-government views, religious groups in Singapore refrain from criticizing those in power. The laws “provide a broad framework to ensure that these pastors stay clear from discussing the politics of the day,” said Mathew Mathews, a research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies in Singapore who has written about mega churches.

Source: Bloomberg

This is what churches can do to attract funds.

Pastor Kong Hee charged

Five senior members of City Harvest Church (CHC), including its founder Kong Hee, have been charged in court for alleged criminal breach of trust. The three charges they faced are:

  1. Sham transactions to fund Sun Ho’s music endeavor
  2. Series of transactions to clear (1), round tipping
  3. Covering of tracks

Continue reading “Pastor Kong Hee charged”

Where did the 23 million go?

With regards to the City Harvest Church inquiry, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) commenced investigations into financial transactions involving several individuals and companies, related or connected to the City Harvest Church (Charity). Misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the Charity is uncovered.

Key notes:

  • Financial irregularities of at least $23 million from the Charity’s funds have been discovered. These funds were used with the purported intention to finance Ho Yeow Sun’s secular music career to connect with people.
  • There was a concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from its stakeholders.
  • The following persons from the exercise of their office or employment as governing board members, officers, agents or employees of the Charity are suspended with immediate effect:
    1. Kong Hee (Member of the Charity’s Board and Executive Member);
    2. Lam Leng Hung (Chairman of the Charity’s Board, Trustee, Agent and Executive Member);
    3. Tan Ye Peng (Vice-Chairman of the Charity’s Board, Trustee, Employee, Agent and Executive Member);
    4. Tan Shao Yuen Sharon (Employee and Executive Member);
    5. Chew Eng Han (Agent and Executive Member);
    6. Ho Yeow Sun (Agent and Executive Member);
    7. Kelvin Teo Meng How (Agent, Employee and Executive Member); and
    8. Tan Su Pheng Jacqueline (Employee and Executive Member).

Ho Yeow Sun (or Sun Ho) music endeavor

In 2002, the Charity’s founders, Kong Hee and Ho Yeow Sun (“Sun Ho”), embarked on a “Crossover Project” [“the Project”], with the purported intention to use Sun Ho’s secular music to connect with people and reach out to non-Christians.

Despite the representations made by the Charity and unknown to the Executive Members, the Charity’s funds were used to fund the Project. Over a period of 3 years (2007 to 2010), at least $23 million was used. However, during this period of time, the Executive members were not told of the actual purpose of the use of these funds.

Between December 2007 and May 2010, the Charity’s funds were used to finance the Project under the guise of donations to its affiliated church in Kuala Lumpur, known as the City Harvest Church Kuala Lumpur [“CHCKL”]. The funds were then transmitted by CHCKL to support the Project in the United States. During this period, at least $2.1 million was transferred from the Charity to CHCKL to fund the Project.

In addition, donations and tithes to the Charity were transferred into a private fund known as the Multi-Purpose Account [“MPA”]

For the period April 2007 to March 2010, the funds were used for purported expenditures of Kong Hee and Sun Ho, amounting to approximately $600,000 and $3 million respectively.

In or around April 2009, a plan was conceptualised by Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han, Serina Wee Gek Yin and Tan Shao Yuen Sharon to transfer monies amounting to $600,000 donated by Wahju Hanafi to the Charity’s Building Fund via a “refund” of Building Fund donations into the MPA to meet some funding needs of the Project, which included US$100,000 to finance a media team from Singapore to publicise and write about Sun Ho’s music career in the United States.

Source: MCYS

Summary of misappropriation

  • at least $23 million was used, over a period of 3 years (2007 to 2010),
  • at least $2.1 million was transferred from the City Harvest Church to City Harvest Church Kuala Lumpur to fund the “Crossover Project,”
  • Kong Hee expenditure: $600,000,
  • Sun Ho expenditure: $3 million,
  • transfer monies amounting to $600,000 donated by Wahju Hanafi to the Charity’s Building Fund,
  • US$100,000 to finance a media team from Singapore to publicise and write about Sun Ho’s music career in the United States,
  • Love gifts,
  • Kong Hee’s company sold over $3 million worth of merchandise to the City Harvest Church,
  • However, in 2008, Kong Hee “refunded” royalties to the Charity amounting to approximately $770,000,
  • Chew Eng Han suffered financial difficulties, the Charity refunded donations amounting to about $338,000 to him in two separate tranches, i.e. $240,000 and $98,000. However, in respect of the $98,000, the Charity’s Board only gave approval for the refund of donations to Chew Eng Han 9 months after the refunds were made.

This is not the first time a charity, in this case City Harvest Church (CHC), was scrutinized, previously there was the National Kidney Foundation as well as Ren Ci.

City Harvest’s Kong Hee arrested

Latest after the Commercial Affairs Department probed into the alleged misuse of church funds in May 2010, this has led to the arrest of the pastors:

City Harvest church founder Kong Hee and 4 others arrested

City Harvest church founder Kong Hee and four others from his ministry were arrested by the police on Tuesday morning, two years after investigations first began into the homegrown church.

Mr Kong, deputy pastor Tan Ye Peng and three other church leaders were picked up by the police at their homes early on Tuesday morning and taken in for questioning over the alleged misuse of church funds as well as alleged breaches under charity laws.

Source: Straits Times

And on Channel News Asia:

CAD arrests 5 City Harvest Church members, including Pastor Kong Hee

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean has stressed that the charges filed by CAD are against the five individuals from the City Harvest Church regarding the use of church funds.

He said the charges are not filed against CHC itself and the church is free to continue its church services and activities.

Mr Teo added that CAD carries out investigations when it receives information that a criminal offence may have been committed.

Sun Ho has not been arrested but is suspended from her position as an Executive Member of the Church. Story is still developing.

Rick Perry’s strength

I can only frown.

Strong by Rick Perry

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.

As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.

Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.

I’m Rick Perry and I approve this message.

Ho Yeow Sun called in to assist police

Some updates from Channel News Asia:

Over 18 people from City Harvest Church called up in probe so far

SINGAPORE : More than 18 people from City Harvest Church, including pop singer Ho Yeow Sun, have been called up so far to help police investigations into the alleged misuse of funds at the church.

Founder Kong Hee and 16 others were questioned on May 31.

MediaCorp understands that others have also been called in since then.

The police probe into the church concerns specific incidents that could involve the possible falsification of accounts and criminal breach of trust, involving millions of dollars and transactions that date back years. (Source: Channel News Asia)

Other notes from The Straits Times:

TNP said Ms Ho, 40, had flown in from the US on Monday, and was called in to assist police with their investigation into the finances of City Harvest Church. She was at the Police Cantonment Complex from about 10 am to 6.30pm and was questioned by officers from the Commercial Affairs Department. (Source: Straits Times)

When would this end, I wonder.

Thor disapproves

Touchdown Jesus at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio was struck by lightning tonight during the ferocious storms and is reported to be engulfed in flames! I’ll try and get some video and/or photos early in the morning.

UPDATE 6/15 1AM: The statue has been destroyed except for the metal skeleton underneath. Here are links to a couple pictures…

Touchdown Jesus Struck by Lightning!

Thor doesn’t approve?

CHC ordinary members cannot attend AGMs

It appears that normal church members of City Harvest Church (CHC) are not allowed to be present in their general meetings despite being entitled to as CHC is registered as a society too. I’ve attached the relevant news article for your reading:

Ordinary members ‘have no right to attend general meetings’

According to City Harvest Church’s (CHC) constitution, which MediaCorp has obtained a copy of, ordinary church members have “no right to attend General Meetings”.

Only executive members – such as pastors, the board of directors and cell group leaders who have served at least three years – are entitled to do so.

Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) said that while it encourages members to comply with the Code, it is a voluntary association and each member determines its own policy and action.

CHC is a member of NCCS.

NCCS does not oversee its members’ financial matters, said its general secretary Lim K Tham.

Whether members are able to attend AGMs depends on how their church is incorporated, he added.

Members of churches registered as societies are entitled to attend AGMs. City Harvest is registered as a society and a charity.

Some churches are, however, registered as companies limited by guarantee, and whether members are allowed to attend AGMs would rest on a document called a memorandum of association – which sets out the contract between the organisation and its members, said Mr Lim. (Read more coverage at Today Online)

New Creation Church discusses their business affiliations

Following the allegations against the managements of City Harvest Church, another mega church has voluntarily discussed their business affiliations. It appears they are quite business-oriented too.

New Creation Church talks about its affiliated companies

SINGAPORE: About a week after it emerged that 17 members of City Harvest Church had been called up for investigations into alleged misuse of funds, another mega church, New Creation Church, spent time during each of its four services on Sunday to talk about its five affiliated companies.

That year, New Creation, which has 17,000 followers, announced that its business arm Rock Productions had teamed up with mall developer CapitaMalls Asia to build an “integrated hub” in Buona Vista.

The $1-billion project – half of which the church has invested in – will house shops, a concert hall and a 5,000-seat theatre for services when ready in 2012.

Rock Productions also owns and manages the Rock Auditorium in Suntec City where services are held now and its adjoining Rock Gifts and Book Centre as well.

It also owns Marine Cove, a recreational and restaurant cluster at East Coast Park, which cost $10 million.

Meanwhile, a 10,000-strong congregation at City Harvest Church’s weekend services at Singapore Expo was told that senior pastor Kong Hee, 46, is taking a “needed rest”. (Source: ChannelNewsAsia)

In my opinion, it isn’t so much as to what businesses a church is associated with that their members want to know; rather, it’s why do they even need to get into these business affiliations. To grow money? Perhaps I’m shortsighted, but what justifiable reason is there for a church to get richer than it already is?