Tags: Religion | kong hee | City Harvest Church | singapore | trial | church money

Singapore Megachurch's Kong Hee on Trial for Misuse of Funds

Singapore Megachurch's Kong Hee on Trial for Misuse of Funds
City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee. (Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 09 February 2015 10:20 AM

A Singapore megachurch founder, who has supporters around the globe, is on trial for corruption in a case that pits religious freedom and modern worship practices against charges of inappropriate use of church funds, The Washington Times reports.

The Rev. Kong Hee, along with five other church members, is on trial on 2012 charges of "financial misdeeds," the Times said, adding that his case is drawing international attention.

Kong founded City Harvest Church in 1989 with his wife, Sun Ho, and thus far, the church has grown to 20,000 members.

The case alleges that $19 million in church-building monies were used to purchase investment bonds for two companies related to the church that promoted the pop music career of Mrs. Ho, who served as the church's minister of music, according to testimony at trial from a former church member who served as its investment manager.

Another $21 million was used to show the bonds were redeemed, the Times reports, citing the testimony.

Prosecutors have argued that the investment companies and bonds amounted to "shams," the Times said, alleging that elders in the church were "guilty of a conspiracy to commit criminal breach of trust with the building funds."

The church has denied such claims and said monies were returned to church coffers with interest, and no funds were lost.

A financial manager for City Harvest Church testified that members of the board were urged to not talk about the relationship between the music company, Xtron Productions, and the church, the Christian Post said.

Prosecutors, in opening statements offered in May 2013, struck back against a defense by church leaders that suggested that "pop music was a tool of evangelism that would help spread God's message," Christian Today said.

Charges against Sun Ho have been dropped, but the other six church elders could get up to 20 years in prison if convicted, the Times said.

The prosecution's opening statement in May 2013 ridiculed the church leaders' contention that "pop music was a tool of evangelism that would help spread God's message."

Well-known church leaders around the world have risen to support Kong, the Times said.

One of his strongest and most vocal supporters, A.R. Bernard of Brooklyn, New York, said Kong "made a few mistakes in judgment," but "never did anything illegal, never did anything to the inurement of his own pockets or that of his wife," the Times said.

Bernard urged church supporters to consider the big picture, noting that changes were occurring socially and among the faith communities in Singapore. He added that while in the U.S., secular musical artists often crossover to perform religious music, in Singapore, such conduct remains "strange."

A cadre of fellow pastors has visited Kong's church to encourage the faithful, the Times noted. They include Pentecostal Pastor Mary Hudson, co-founder of the Keith & Mary Hudson Ministries in Santa Barbara, California, and mother of pop star Katy Perry; Paul Scanlon, founder of LIFE Church, a large congregation from Bradford, England; and evangelist Phil Pringle, senior pastor of C3 Church in Sydney, Australia.

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A Singapore megachurch founder, who has supporters around the globe, is on trial for corruption in a case that pits religious freedom and modern worship practices against charges of inappropriate use of church funds, The Washington Times reports.
kong hee, City Harvest Church, singapore, trial, church money
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2015-20-09
Monday, 09 February 2015 10:20 AM
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