After the long drawn-out court battle involving six City Harvest Church officials that dramatically tarnished the name of the Singaporean congregation, its rabidly loyal members insist that they will continue to support the convicted officials, and that the handed down verdict has not affected the growth of the church's membership one bit, Yahoo News reports.
A news website affiliated with the City Harvest Church published a video of members speaking of support for the persecuted leaders.
One of them is Elim Chew, founder of clothing brand 77th Street, who remarked that the church should continue to pray for and support the fallen leaders. Another said that, "Over the past three years, my cell group doubled in size, so it proves that trial or no trial, God is still with us ... We will go to the next level with CHC 2.0"
Nevertheless, though the trial has ended, things are only beginning for the six convicted officials.
Kong Hee recently came out in public for the first time since the judge's verdict was handed down, Christian Today reports. The fallen pastor apologized to his congregation after being found guilty for fraud. "Pastor is sorry," Kong had bowed and said to the crowd at the Suntec convention center on Sunday morning and on Saturday night.
In the speech, he said, "You have suffered much over the past few years because of your commitment to City Harvest Church... I am so sorry for all the pain and the turmoil you have had to endure under my leadership, under my watch. You have had to answer questions, and criticisms from family, from friends, from colleagues. Pastor is so very sorry...that you have to endure through all this under my leadership."
Singapore's office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) has also announced that it would continue the process of removing seven church office-holders, one of whom is church founder Kong Hee. The COC had to postpone investigations in August 2013 until after the trial was concluded. Now that it has been, the organization will now only allow the officials in question to assume religious duties but may not hold any of the following offices: governing board member, key officer, trustee, agent, or employee, the Middle Ground reports.
The report further elaborates that the COC can in fact enforce stronger powers on the City Harvest Church than what is being invoked. According to the Charities Act, after conducting an inquiry, the COC may remove office-holders, remove their membership, limit financial transactions, appoint key staff at will, and control the errant charity's property, subject to the Attorney-General's approval.