The long-awaited trial of Singapore's popular pastor, Kong Hee of City Harvest Church, began on Wednesday, with a prosecutor stating that the church leader conspired with five others to misuse $41 million in church funds to help promote the career of his pop-star wife, Ho Yeow Sun.
"The evidence will show that the offenses were part of a deliberately planned, meticulously coordinated and carefully executed scheme," said prosecutor Mavis Chionh, according to Bloomberg.com.
Many from the City Harvest congregation queued up outside the Singapore court house at the start of the trial, the Associated Press reported, showing their support for the troubled pastor. The church and its affiliates are said to have a membership of more than 30,000, making it one of the biggest and richest worship groups in the region. more >>
Two movements among Christian congregations in the U.S. today, churches with multiple locations (multisite) and leadership development (discipleship), continue to gain momentum as new innovations are being introduced. In addition, perhaps in an even newer development, a growing number of churches are intentionally developing a culture of generosity, an effort to help carry the gospel message outside the church, says the director of new media and technology for the Leadership Network.
"The multisite (one church, multiple locations) movement continues to gain momentum," Todd Rhoades, of Leadership Network, told The Christian Post via email. "We're seeing no slow down at all in the number of churches being involved in multisite ministry. In fact, we're seeing new waves of innovation in the movement itself: including international campuses, online campuses, the move from big cities to rural environments, and more churches partnering to redeem facilities and struggling churches through church mergers."
Rhoades, along with Leadership Nework, hosted a webcast conference on Tuesday called, Church Innovate North America. Guest speakers, which included pastors from around the country, spoke about multisite churches, leadership training, and generosity. more >>
Singapore's Commissioner of Charities(COC) has given City Harvest Church Pastor Kong Hee and seven of his staff more time to submit official protests against a proposal to have them permanently removed from the ministry's board. The COC has also lifted its suspension of Kong's wife, Sun Ho, allowing her to resume her executive duties at the church. The news comes just two days before Kong heads to court to fight charges related to the mishandling of church funds.
In a statement shared with supporters on City Harvest Church's Facebook page and website Monday, Executive Pastor Aries Zulkarnain revealed, "This morning, Sun, wife of our senior pastor Kong Hee received a letter from the Commissioner of Charities. In the letter, COC informed Sun that the suspension of her status as an Executive member of City Harvest Church has been lifted. The suspension of her executive powers has also been lifted.
"Both suspensions have been lifted with immediate effect. Sun is once again able to exercise her executive powers for City Harvest Church. She is once again an Executive member of the church she co-founded." more >>
The past year has seen a bevy of faith-based reality programming from major networks like TLC, Lifetime and BET. Now, Oxygen Media is joining the pack with its own reality show looking at the lives of Southern California pastors, tentatively titled "Pastors of L.A."
The "authentic new docu-series" starring Bishop Noel Jones, Deitrick Haddon and four other high-profile Christian ministers is scheduled to debut in the fall of this year, and appears to follow in the vein of BET's "The Sheards" and WE tv's "Mary Mary" – promising viewers an inside look at the lives of popular and otherwise inaccessible men of faith.
"'Pastors of L.A.' will give viewers a candid and revealing look at six boldly different and world renowned mega-pastors in Southern California, who are willing to share diverse aspects of their lives, from their work in the community and with their parishioners to the very large and sometimes provocative lives they lead away from the pulpit," according to a press release from Oxygen. more >>
The Singapore Commissioner of Charities has given City Harvest Church Senior Pastor Kong Hee and seven of his staff until May 13 to challenge their removal from their church posts amid a criminal case alleging fraud. Meanwhile, church members and supporters are rallying in support of their pastor and ministry leaders.
"We are sad to inform you that the Commissioner of Charities has notified the Management Board of his intention to remove eight City Harvest Church leaders and members from their office(s) or employment as governing board member, officer, agent or employee of, or trustee for, the Church," reads a statement from CHC Executive Pastor the Rev. Aries Zulkarnain, who also serves as chairman of the church's management board.
Among those leaders and members threatened with removal are: Senior Pastor Kong, Pastor Tan Ye Peng, Serina Wee, Sharon Tan, John Lam, Chew Eng Han, Teo Meng How and Jacqueline Tan. more >>
Prominent pastors Steven Furtick and Louie Giglio recently conveyed the importance of pastors maintaining humility when communicating God's message to a congregation, rather than focusing on their personal performance.
"I struggle with whether people like me, if people like my messages," Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Ga. and founder of the anti-slavery Passion Movement, told host Jeff Henderson during The Rocket Company's "Preach Better Sermons" web seminar, which aired Wednesday.
Giglio went on to share that he believes being a pastor can prove to be a dangerous recipe for any human being, as pastors often have so much attention focused on them. more >>