NEWS | John Sandeman
Tuesday 3 November 2015
Phil Pringle, leader of C3, has comforted the members of Singapore’s City Harvest Church following an adverse court finding against its leadership. Six leaders of Singapore’s largest pentecostal church with a congregation of 17,000 have been found guilty of misappropriating $A25 million in church funds.
The money was alleged to have been funnelled into the singing career of Pastor Kong Hee’s wife, Ho Yeow Sun. The Straits Times reports that the six face varying counts of criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts.
Judge See Kee Oon said the facts were undisputed: the accused planned to channel City Harvest Church (CHC)’s Building Fund through music firm Xtron, which manages Ho, for the Crossover Project.
The project was started by the church in 2002 to evangelise through Ho’s pop music.
Pringle is advisory pastor to CHC. He told CHC’s citynews.org: “Obviously, the verdict is very serious. I was initially shocked, and then deeply concerned for the families – I’m praying for comfort for them.
“I feel that even though the judge commended them for intending to do the right thing, he [found] that the investment strategy of CHC was not acceptable to the law. I think the situation was that he said, ‘You meant well, but you did wrong’.”
CHC has been a major centre for evangelism in Singapore. Eternity understands that its large congregation has been built up by conversions rather than transfer growth. In 2014, 5005 people came to Christ through CHC’s evangelistic work, and thousands more rededicated themselves to follow Christ.
The church responded on Facebook: “The judge has rendered his decision and, naturally, we are disappointed by the outcome. Nonetheless, I know that Pastor Kong and the rest are studying the judgment intently and will take legal advice from their respective lawyers in the days to come.”
City News, a Christian news portal run by the church, reported: “It had been shown in evidence that the church did not actually lose money in these transactions; in fact, the bond investments had been fully redeemed with interest. The defence team also showed that none of the six had benefited personally from any of the transactions.
“However, the court noted that the prosecution’s case was not the intent for wrongful gain but wrongful loss to the church.”