Leadership "Change" at CHC


 On 25 June 2010, it was reported in the Business Times of a "Leadership Change at City Harvest Church". Apparently, Pastor Kong would no longer be the Senior Pastor during this period of commercial investigation by the Government and replaced by Pastor Dunn and Aries.  However, he still remains as the President of the Management Board. There is therefore little change. The annoucement was made only in BT and not in the CHC website. Surprisingly, Pastor Tan Ye Peng, his deputy was not mentioned at all.

There appears to be an attempt to mitigate the dropping  reputation of CHC. They seem to be preparing and positioning for the events ahead by the leadership change and appointing auditors from RSM Chio Lim in a show of transparency and responsibility to set things right. It was also reported that CHC hired a team of experts to "help" them in the financial investigation, including Senior Counsel Michael Hwang, and Mr Desmond Ong, manager director of law firm Eversheds LLP. Pastor Kong will also have legal representation by Allen & Gledhill.

(Isa 29:14 NKJV) Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work Among this people, A marvelous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden."

(Isa 29:15 NKJV) Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD, And their works are in the dark; They say, "Who sees us?" and, "Who knows us?"

What was notable for a Church that brings in 40 million a year for the work of God, is the lack of basic information in its website (as at 25 June 10) about the people/leaders running this business/church/charity. For example, there were

a) No names of the people holding key position holders mentioned in their “organizational chart”.

b) No listing of any of its 24 Pastors

c) No listing of the peoples in the Church member Management Board (supposed to be a 10 member team with 3 pastors).       

We would not be secretive, if there was nothing to hide. So much financial accountability is demanded of the members to tithe and give to the building fund, yet when it comes to disclosure, only the minimum is given. The audited full Financial Statements was not available from the CHC websites. The web sites of their linked companies such as Xtron were equally vague on who was running the show and again their Financial statements were not available online. It would be intesresting to see how long CHC remains a charity with so much complicated web with busineses.

The Straits Times dashboard facts on the church on 04 june 2010 (see here) gives much more information and we begin to see possible conflicts of interests from church linked companies such as Xtron whose accounts seems suspicious including involvement to purchase property in the Riverwalk, loans from third parties, and sub-leasing the halls at Singapore Expo to a "Church". The Financial Statements seem to be from the same accountant doing the financials for CHC. Interestingly in the CHC FS under "Operating Least and Commitments" , we have an 8 year license agreement of 46.3 million to procure an acceptable premises from 01 Oct 2009, and having paid out 16 million even without having an actual premise.

The BT article mentioned that there were 750 voting members. In fact, these are Executive Members (EM). The rest making the bulk of the 33,000 strong membership would then be either Ordinary Members (OM) or Visitors Only. They gave most of the money, yet only a few have a say in the running of the church. All are equal but some seem more equal than others.

Pastor Dunn explained Pastor Kong and Sun's lifesyle as reflective of Kong's popularity in the speaking circuit. It is indeed a circuit with Pastors visiting Singapore and get paid well for it, whilst Pastor Kong in return visiting their churches and getting speaking fees. This is a win win situation.

Pastor Kong justified his lifestyle by saying that Jesus was rich being able to feed and support the multitudes and have a treasurer of his own. What Pastor Kong left out was that the treasurer, Judas, was in charge of the communal fund because they lived in a community where everything was shared. Jesus was not rich in a sense of having a personal wealth. He had nothing by himself, all was shared. They were able to feed the masses, for Jesus could do miracles and out of a loaf of bread and fishes comes buckets full to feed thousands. The early church lacked nothing, because all was shared. There was no notion of the Jewish tithes which Pastor Kong often urged the congregation to give and give. It was truly, one body. 

Pastor Kong preached that we should have the funds to be ready to do God's will. Therefore, Jesus was able to pay the taxes. However, when the time came for taxation, the discples were worried because they did not have the money. Jesus took it miraculously from the mouth of a fish. If they were rich, they would not have bothered Jesus.

Pastor Kong's notion of being rich is not being poor. For Jesus however, it is about having enough only when the need arises or "just in time" approach to finances. When it was time to feed the 5,000 ,the miracle occured. It was trusting God, living one day at a time, rather than having so much abundance to give or a large storehouse.    

Judas was also a thief who stole money from the common fund, and utlimately betrayed Jesus for money. It was not a lot of money they had for when the Jesus asked for the multitudes to be fed, they obviously could not afford it. When Mary poured out her precious perfume on Jesus, some were agitated because the money could have been better used. If they were wealthy as Pastor Kong had said, they wouldn't have such concerns or desiring money from a Prostitute. 

The issue with Judas was that he considered the church funds his own bank account, ie his own money. We too have this problem in many charities. Proper Governance and accountability is part of the solution but should never replace an intrinsic morality and responsiblity within each one of us to be accountable to each other and to God without being told to do so. The Law results in conformance, but grace results in inward change.

The incredible fact concerning Judas was that he was with Jesus, God incarnate, day in and day out. The presence of God was with him. Yet, he sinned. However, so much grace was given. Jesus would have known that he was stealing, yet they did not take him to task for it. Grace was given, to the very end, even at the last supper, He offered Judas redemption. Hence, whatever the outcome of the investigation, we cannot but offer God's Grace and Mercy, and to pray that Pastor Kong would soon return to His ministry.

Many Gays have to hide because their family, society, church, work place would not accept them openly. Many can't even accept themselves. They were innocent, yet condemned. They had no choice but to hide their intrinsic same sex orientation. We now have Pastor Kong and Sun joining us in the dark closet and its not a very nice place to be especially when we are not guilty. 






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