Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Five leaders of Singapore’s largest church, including the founding Pastor, were arrested this week by the Singaporean police for criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts. They are now free on bail.
Kong Hee, the senior pastor of City Harvest Church, and four of the church’s executive staff, have been charged with allegedly siphoning $23m (SGD) to finance the music career of Kong’s wife Ho Yeow Sun.
A statement from the Commissioner of Charities (CoC) suggested, “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.”
Singapore’s main news outlet, The Straits Times, reports Kong faces three criminal charges each “carrying the punishment of a life imprisonment term or imprisonment for up to 20 years, and a fine”.
The charges were the culmination of an investigation launched by the CoC on May 31, 2010.
City Harvest Church says its congregations and cell groups will continue to meet.
Eternity makes no judgement about the veracity of the charges brought against members of the church leadership.
The CHC website names Phil Pringle, Senior Pastor and founder of Australia’s C3 church, along with New York Pastor A R Bernard, as continuing to provide “spiritual leadership” to the Singaporean congregation of more than 23 000 people. “Both pastors were appointed advisory senior pastors over CHC,” a statement issued on June 26 said.
Eternity is not aware that C3 had any knowledge of the activities of CHC that have led to the charges. We are not implying a close relationship between the churches.
C3 has been unable to respond to Eternity’s questions. We will update this story with any response they make.
Phil Pringle planted Christian City Church, which is now called C3, on Sydney’s northern beaches in the 1980s with his wife Christine. It has since grown into a global network of churches.
Earlier in the year Kong Hee spoke at C3’s Presence Conference at Darling Harbour in Sydney on the Biblical doctrine of sonship.
In an interview which appeared in 2011 on City News a website of City Harvest Church, Phil Pringle said he had a strong relationship with Kong Hee.
“From the start, I always felt a great affinity with Kong and Sun. There are some relationships that God joins together, and you’ve got to recognise, respect and nurture those relationships, no matter what,” Pringle was quoted as saying.
The five members of City Harvest Church will appear in court on July 25.
Image: Kong Hee from konghee.com