City Harvest Church
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|City Harvest Church|
|Weekly attendance||16,202 |
|Founder(s)||Kong Hee and Sun Ho|
|Senior pastor(s)||Kong Hee|
Founded in 1989 by Kong Hee, the church officially bases its values on Charismatic and Pentecostal teachings, with emphases on such "doctrines" as "the Great Commandment", "the Great Commission" and "the Cultural Mandate".
City Harvest Church is a congregational member of the National Council of Churches of Singapore. Services are held at its church building in Jurong West and rented hall space at Suntec International Convention Centre.
The church had a congregation size of 16,202 in 2017. 45.2% of them are men, 54.8% of them are female, 33.9% are married, 62.3% are single. 56.1% of them are working adults, while most of the rest are serving the military, non-salaried, students, and children.
The church has 22 pastors and assistant pastors, with eleven of them ordained as reverends, while at least two incumbent pastors are in line to serve their imprisonment sentences at Changi Prison from 2016. The 165 full-time staff work from two locations: the Jurong West premises and the corporate office at Suntec City. Committees report to the main CHC Management Board, whose office bearers are elected annually by its 720 executive members.
Early days (1989–2002)
The church was founded by Kong Hee and his wife Sun Ho on 7 May 1989, and held its first service at Peace Centre. It first functioned as "Ekklesia Ministry," a youth department under the legal covering of Bethany Christian Centre, an Assemblies of God church. On 21 December 1992, City Harvest Church was set up as a society. It was registered under the Charities Act on 16 October 1993.
In its early days, CHC had to move through different venues to accommodate its growing congregation. Past venues include the Bible House, Katong Park Hotel, World Trade Centre, DBS Auditorium, PUB Auditorium, NTUC Auditorium, Ministry of Environment Building, National Productivity Board Auditorium, Hotel Grand Central, Orchard Hotel, Westin Hotel, and Singapore Expo.
On 4 June 1995, CHC leased the former Hollywood Theatre at Tanjong Katong Road and held its services there for another six years. By 2001, the church had grown to 10,310 and was conducting up to 15 services every weekend.
On 15 December 2001, the church moved to its permanent 2,300-seater venue at Jurong West Street 91. On 11 December 2005, CHC rented another worship site at Singapore Expo for its weekend English congregations. And on 19 March 2011, CHC moved to the Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Centre where it currently holds its service.
In 2012, SUNTEC Singapore went through a renovation process. As a result, City Harvest Church moved to Singapore Expo temporary till July 2013.
From 2002, Kong began to teach on the Cultural Mandate and encourage the church members to excel in the marketplace. On 1 November 2005, Kong withdrew himself from the staff payroll and he now serves the church as an honorary founder/senior pastor. Later, in an investigation leading to trial and conviction, it was revealed that Kong had set up a private fund and diverted over $3 million of tithes and pledges to a 'multi purpose account'. Givers to the account were told this was for the funding of a 'Crossover project'.
The church runs "City News, a Christian news portal, which was established in 2008.
School of Theology
The School of Theology (formerly known as City Harvest Bible Training Center) was started on 18 January 1994 with the purpose of training up pastors, missionaries and church workers for the establishing of local churches in Asia. It conducts a seven-month, full-time program offering an Advanced Certificate of Theology with 34 credits. By the end of 2012, 5,937 students from at least 30 countries have graduated from its courses.
City Harvest Church Criminal Breach of Trust Case
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the biggest corruption case on the island revolved around City Harvest Church and founders Kong Hee involving a total of S$50 million of funds mis-use. 6 of the senior leadership, including its church founder Kong Hee, have been convicted of the misuse of millions of dollars of the church's money. The court found that the church's senior leadership had channelled $24 million from CHC's Building Fund into sham bonds in music production company Xtron and glass-maker Firna. They used the money to fund the singing career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, as part of the Crossover Project, a church mission which they said was to evangelise through Ms Ho's music. The church had told the congregation that the Building Fund would be used for the acquisition of a church premise. However, a large part of the building fund was used instead for Pastor Kong Hee’s wife’s career
Sun Ho scandal
In 2013, a scandal took place involving founding clergy Sun Ho after hackers self-styled 'Messiah' hacked her official website, following which a police report was made by City Harvest Church. Around the same time, a spam-like email is further published on the Internet suggested another self-styled 'Messiah-Two' making allegations regarding Sun Ho.
S$310 million Suntec investment
On 6 March 2010, City Harvest Church announced that it had purchased a significant stake in Suntec Convention Centre and will be using its facilities for church services, the project will cost an estimated S$310 million, including shares acquisition, renovation and rental costs. Church founder Kong Hee said in a statement that the move "allows [the church] to move from a present expensive rental model to a more financially sustainable ownership model for the long term". However, some brought up the point that as a registered charity, CHC's income – expected to include profits and dividends from space rental and tenant leases in Suntec Singapore in the future – is non-taxable. The church has clarified that the investment is indirect, through a wholly owned subsidiary for the purpose of taxation and separate accounting. Questions surfaced among the public whether religious organisations, which are registered as charities, should be allowed to go into business using what are essentially donor funds.
The Commissioner of Charities (COC) sought clarifications on the transaction. The church stated it was under a non-disclosure agreement which required the details of the transaction to remain confidential, but explained that the investment was made through a holding company that is not a charity organization and does not enjoy tax breaks; and had disclosed details of the deal to the COC as well as the Urban Redevelopment Authority upon request. The church also said that there was a "strong and unfounded allegation" floating online that the Management Board and Kong were "deliberately concealing a number of embarrassing facts from its members" with regard to the Suntec investment, saying that the allegation was "furthest from the truth", and later released a notice stating that Charities and foundations often use donor funds to invest and generate sustainable income for their intended causes.
On 21 July 2012, the church announced details of its investment in Suntec Singapore. A total of 39.2% shareholding was acquired at a total cost of $97.75 million. Public-listed Suntec REIT holds the other 60.8%. The remaining balance in the projected building fund will be used for costs such as equipment, furniture and fittings, periodical shifting costs (due to other events at the venue), committed rentals, optional rentals and refundable rental deposits. In 2013, it was revealed that the church had undertaken a $50m loan with high interests to finance the acquisition of additional shares, as the building fund had largely been exhausted over the years on venue and equipment rentals, while using the Singapore Expo from 2006-2010. If the church is unable to finance the loan, it may in default lose up to 19.2% of its shareholding as part of the loan agreement.
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- City Harvest Annual Report 2017
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- "Sun Ho's website hacked by 'The Messiah'". Retrieved 1 December 2015.
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- Tan, Cathryn. "Does CHC Pastor Kong's Wife, Sun Ho, Having an Affair with One of her Church-Mates?". sgcircle.com. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
- http://news.asiaone.com/News/the%2BStraits%2BTimes/Story/A1Story20100320-205694.html Charity commissioner questions City Harvest. 20 March 2010
- "City Harvest's expansion plan". Today. Singapore. 22 March 2010.
- http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1047863/1/.html City Harvest Church responds to questions over non-disclosure of Suntec deal. 4 April 2010.
- Esther Teo (7 March 2010). "City Harvest paying $310m to become Suntec co-owner". The Sunday Times. p. 1,3.
- "Details could not be disclosed, says church". Today. Singapore. 5 April 2010.
- "Notice to members of chc" (PDF). City Harvest Church. 22 May 2010.
- Chua, Linus (21 July 2012). "Singapore's City Harvest Church Doubles Convention Center Stake". Bloomberg. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
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