Former Pastor Chew Eng Han of City Harvest Church (CHC) stepped down from his position recently, testifying that the church leadership’s actions have failed to align with Scripture. The megachurch in Singapore, which has over 30,000 members, faces accusation of financial fraud. Six of its members, including Chew, are currently on trial.
City Harvest Church Pastor Kong Hee and several of his staff members are being accused of misappropriating $41 million of church funds in order to promote his wife’s singing career. Kong says his wife’s music can help spread the word of God, and that the church has funded her Crossover Project as a ministry effort to attract non-believers. The project has helped Sun Ho to release five albums and to perform concerts at the church. The funds were raised by CHC and were supposed to be used for specific charitable purposes; however, the opposition argues that Sun Ho’s music was not explicitly Christian and that the funds were essentially used to promote her singing career.
In a personal statement, Chew says that he has “a deep conviction that the right thing to do is to depart from City Harvest Church.” He accuses the leadership of CHC for being manipulative, for abusing authority, for being greedy and prideful, and for lying. “Leadership cannot be measured by words but by action. Nobody qualifies to lead, or to preach what he cannot practice in real life,” he wrote.
Those indicted are being charged with a conspiracy to commit a criminal breach of trust and will face 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted. Says Chew of his decision to leave the church, “Unity is good, but it cannot come at the expense of truth and justice and be imposed for the personal benefit of a few … In the end, principles such as accountability, honesty, fair-dealing, justice and truth will for me take precedence over position, popularity, recognition and acceptance.”