Kingsway International Christian Centre
|Kingsway International Christian Centre|
|Senior pastor(s)||Matthew Ashimolowo|
Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) is based in London, England and was established in 1992 with 200 adults and 100 children. It currently has up to 12,000 people in attendance at the main church every Sunday. The church is pastored by Matthew Ashimolowo.
The church, whose majority membership is under 50 years of age, is predominantly of West African origin but claims that worshippers come from 46 nations. It was located for nine years on a 9.5-acre (38,000 m2) site in Hackney, London, close to the site of the 2012 Olympics Village.
KICC had to vacate the site by November 2006 in order to make way for proposed developments for the 2012 London Olympics but did so only in late 2007. The last programme held at the old Hackney site was IGOC 2007, with many international guest speakers. The church relocated to Hoe Street, Walthamstow, awaiting planning consent and the development of a large new site in Rainham, near the A13. However, the government was reluctant to give the required development planning consent. Eventually the church purchased and moved into its present huge site, Prayer City in Chatham, Kent, while retaining use of the Walthamstow site.
Charity Commission Enquiries
Irregularities in the operation of the charity behind Kingsway International Christian Centre (The King's Ministries Trust) has led to it being investigated by the Charity Commission on two occasions.
The first investigation started in 2002 and reported in October 2005. This report concluded that there had been serious misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity. At an early stage in the investigation, it was considered that the charity's assets were at risk, and control was removed from the existing trustees and placed in the hands of an independent external company (the accountancy and management consultancy practice KPMG), who regularised the charity's affairs. The Charity Commission reported that senior pastor Matthew Ashimolowo acted as both a trustee and a paid employee of the charity, in contravention of charity law. He had been responsible for approving payments and benefits to himself and his wife, Yemisi, totalling more than £384,000. Benefits received included free accommodation for himself and family, an £80,000 car, purchase of a timeshare in Florida for £13,000 using a charity credit card, and over half a million pounds paid out to Ashimolowo's private companies, which were operated from church property and had unclear business relationships with the charity. £120,000 was spent celebrating Ashimolowo's birthday. He repaid £200,000 to the charity.
A second statutory investigation into misapplication of funds was reported to have started in February 2011. The charity had received £10m from the London Development Agency for the compulsory purchase of its property in Hackney wanted for the 2012 Olympics. Subsequently the Commission enquired into £5m given for investment to a former trustee, the former professional footballer Richard Rufus in 2009/10 and 2010/11. Although the trust reported returns from the investment of £1,336,720 in its accounts, the Commission's appointed accountant says that there is doubt about whether the charity would get the original £5m back. The Trust has been told it must obtain written permission from the Charity Commission before making any more investments.
The cost of the Charity Commission's running of the first investigation was questioned in the House of Lords by Lord Swinfen during a review of charity law. The three-year-long investigation had cost £1.2 million, chargeable to the charity. 
KICC have bought a site in Crystal Palace that was previously used as a bingo hall, but planning permission to use it as a church has not been granted. They held a business seminar there on 25 August 2012. The intention is to use it for their South West branch based in Wimbledon, London.
KICC originally applied for planning permission to change the use class of the building from D2 to D1,[note 1] in order to allow use for religious ceremonies, on 13 August 2009. This application was refused, on two grounds - that the development would result in the loss of an important leisure venue "harmful to the social, cultural and economic characteristics of the area" and that the wide catchment area for the congregation would attract a large number of cars, resulting in "a significant adverse impact on the surrounding area in terms of parking demand and pedestrian safety". Despite the planning refusal and opposition from a group of local residents campaigning for the building to be converted into a cinema, KICC performed renovation work inside the building to convert its use from a bingo hall. The building subsequently opened in August 2012.
In 2013, over 70 complaints were received by Bromley Council relating to a New Year's Eve event to be held at the venue called "Watchnight". The council issued KICC a notice under section 330 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to determine the format of the event, and officials visited the event on the night. Bromley's head of licensing confirmed that a public entertainments licence was not required due to the religious content of the event. The council determined that the building had also been used for a religious event falling within use class D1 in February 2013. The chief planner of Bromley was of the view that the irregular nature of the religious events did not constitute a material change of use and suggested at a meeting of planning sub-committee number 1 on 6 February 2014 that Bromley continue monitoring the use of the site and request the owners to submit a new planning application for the intended use. A councillor for Crystal Palace complained that KICC "seem to be able to have their cake and eat it" and stated that the council "...must demonstrate to owners we will enforce planning law if they choose to breach it. We should reject these recommendations and take enforcement action". The committee subsequently overturned the planner's recommendation by a vote of 5 to 3, instead giving KICC 30 days to submit a new planning application for mixed D2/D1 use or face enforcement action under planning regulations.
New Home for KICC
In October 2012 after many months of negotiation, KICC successfully acquired a facility at Buckmore Park, Chatham, Kent that was to house the new headquarter church and offices on a 24-acre site called Prayer City. The church expects that it will be an ideal place of worship.
Pastor Dipo Oluyomi, KICC CEO said: "We can confidently declare that the Lord has made a way where there appeared to be no way for us. We are grateful once again to be seen as a pioneering ministry changing the way Church is perceived and conducted in the Western world. We are pleased with the acquisition and now look forward to doing some refurbishment work and starting to connect with our new neighbours". In recent press releases, KICC unveiled plans and unique programmes scheduled for Prayer City from 2013 onwards.
- "Church web site". Archived from the original on 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
- Kevin Donovan (20 June 2006). "Kingsway International Christian Centre Steps Back for 2012 Olympics Venue". Christian Today. Retrieved 2006-08-26.
- "'Mega church' plans turned down". BBC News. 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Prayer City" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-04.
- "Christian charity told to gain Charity Commission approval before making investments". Third Sector. 2012-06-14. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Lords Hansard text for 8 Nov 2005". UK Parliament. 2005-11-08. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- crystalpalacelocal.co.uk KICC SET TO OPEN IN FORMER CINEMA
- yourlocalguardian.co.uk Jaws not Jesus: Crystal Palace cinema campaigners continue fight against church Wednesday 24 June 2009
- KICC SOUTH WEST MOVING TO CRYSTAL PALACE LONDON
- "09/02202/FULL1 Change of use from bingo hall (Class D2) to church/ community use (Class D1) together with ancillary offices, cafe and bookshop 25 Church Road London SE19 2TE". London Borough of Bromley planning website. London Borough of Bromley. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- "DC/09/02202/FULL1 - Notification of refusal of planning permission" (PDF). London Borough of Bromley. 21 December 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- "Cinema protest at disused site". Croydon Advertiser. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- "Church's silence on bingo club's future". Croydon Advertiser. 26 November 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- "DRR14/016, Kingsway International Christian Centre, 25 CHURCH ROAD, ANERLEY, SE19" (PDF). London Borough of Bromley Website. London Borough of Bromley. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- Green, Jerry (21 March 2014). "NEW BID TO USE FORMER CINEMA FOR CHURCH SERVICES ‘Dual purpose’ application expected". Retrieved 9 May 2014.
- "Prayer City" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-04.
- KICC Website
- Charity Commission report on The King's Ministries Trust
- "So Shall You Reap" - A short documentary film showing how money was raised at a 2007 KICC event