Friday, September 3, 2010

Did AOG Malaysia Lie to the Court?

On 5 July 2010, the Kuala Lumpur High Court had allowed Assemblies of God’s (AOG) application to strike out the Originating Summons which cited them as the Third Defendant. This means that the Court agreed that the AOG is not a party to the case.

The 7 Plaintiffs, who are concerned members of Calvary Church, had included the AOG as the Third Defendant on the basis that the AOG is the supreme body of all the Assemblies of God churches in Malaysia including Calvary Church and as the supreme body, they ought to look after the welfare of the members of their member-churches.

All the concerned members of Calvary Church are naturally disappointed with the Court’s decision as they strongly hold to the belief that the AOG should take responsibility and intervene in the affairs of Calvary Church which has become a joke in the Christian community. The AOG’s act of applying to Court to strike out the Plaintiff’s inclusion of them as the Third Defendant is testament of their “couldn’t-care-less” attitude. The shame is on the AOG and their Executive Council members.

But what shocked the CT team were The Statements made by the AOG in their sworn Affidavits filed in Court. In their attempt to “wash their hands off” the matter, they resorted to twisted interpretation of their Constitution and telling half-truths.

The following are some of what the AOG has stated in their sworn Affidavits:-

1. AOG not responsible for Calvary Church

AOG claimed that Calvary Church is only affiliated to AOG and that it has no authority over Senior Pastor Prince Guneratnam or the Board of Deacons (BOD).

A) AOG Constitution Article III, Aims and Objects, states under (D):
“To have the right to establish churches and provide for their development…”

B) Article V.A.3 of their Bylaws further states:
“The church shall submit its annual report of its progress and financial statement to the General Council.”

Does this not mean that Calvary Church is established by AOG and under its control?

Isn’t it a fact that all pastors of AOG churches are ordained by the AOG and receive their credentials from them?

The mere fact that the AOG can remove and have, in the past, removed the credentials of their AOG pastors is evident of their authority over their AOG pastors.

2. Calvary Church members are not Members of AOG Malaysia

They denied that the AOG Malaysia is a family to members of Calvary Church and stated that Calvary Church members are not members of AOG Malaysia.

Their Article VI, Membership of the AOG of Malaysia says:

A. “The membership of the AOG of Malaysia shall consist of all ministers….”

B. “The membership shall also consist of all members of local assemblies which have been set in order by a duly constituted official of the AOG of Malaysia and have been granted a Certificate of Affiliation.”

Article VII (B) even provides for one lay delegate to be sent from each sovereign church to attend and vote at the AOG General Council.

Yet they submitted to the Court that Calvary Church members are not members of the AOG.

3. Calvary Church Constitution not approved by AOG Malaysia

They denied that Calvary Church’s Constitution was approved by them. They denied that they are a party to the Calvary Church Constitution. They claimed that they only endorsed the Constitution based solely on the approval and acceptance of the Calvary Church Constitution by the church members.

Their Article V.C.1 clearly states:

“Amendments to the constitution (of local church) may be made at any general meeting of the church provided that the proposed amendments have been submitted in writing to all voting members of the church at least one month before the meeting in question. The proposed and accepted amendments will only come into effect after a written approval of the Executive Committee of the General Council has been given”

Their submission to Court clearly contradicted what is stated in their Constitution. If they “only endorsed the church constitution based solely on the approval and acceptance of the church members”, then why is there a need for a written approval of the Executive Committee of the AOG for amendments to the churches’ Constitutions? This is clearly twisting the facts.

4. Calvary Church Attendance Figures

In the AOG Commemorative Year Book 2002, they had stated that Calvary Church has 10,000 members. In their sworn affidavit filed in Court, they told the Court that Calvary Church has only more than 1000 members and its regular service were attended by more than 3000 persons.

So if the figures they stated in the affidavit are true, then did they lie in the Commemorative Year Book? Obviously so, especially bearing in mind that in the 48-year history of Calvary Church, they have never ever had such a large membership!

5. Ronnie Chin’s Role at the AGM

They admitted that their Assistant General Superintendent Pastor Ronnie Chin met with some of the Calvary Church Deacons before the 2009 AGM but claimed that it was only for him to be briefed. They denied that it was for these Deacons and Ronnie Chin to strategize how to throw out the Resolutions from the concerned members.

The fact still remains that 6 out of 7 Resolutions were thrown out by Ronnie Chin on the request by Philip Tan (on behalf of the BOD) at the AGM.

Was there a conspiracy between Ronnie Chin who was representing the AOG and these Deacons?

Did the AOG lie to the court?

Certainly looks obvious. Anyway you look at it, the fact that Ronnie Chin was briefed by the Deacons beforehand goes against the very basic principle of corporate governance, ethics and transparency and reflect very badly on the AOG.

6. Coup d’etat

This is the mother of lies!

The AOG claimed that the High Court proceedings taken by the Plaintiffs appeared to be an attempt by a minority of just 69 members to try to take over control of the Church against the wishes of the majority.

There has never been any Resolution proposed to place any of the concerned members onto the Board of Deacons. There was never any attempt to remove the Deacons from their position. In fact for the 2009 AGM, the concerned members advised the church members to vote wisely to place responsible Deacons on the Board.

One of the Proposed Resolutions actually called for the intervention of the AOG into the affairs of Calvary Church and to manage the Church. Certainly none of the Plaintiffs has any desire to pastor or to take control of Calvary Church.

Some of the Plaintiffs are personally known to some of the Executive Council members and these Council Members know that there is no such intention by the Plaintiffs.

The AOG therefore, knows this is a blatant lie and yet they can swear this under oath. Where is their conscience and Christian principles? It is sad indeed that a national Christian body like AOG which represents the largest growing Christian denomination in Malaysia can stooped this low.

It is even more sad to a few of the Plaintiffs who had done so much for the AOG and Bible College of Malaysia (BCM) and were actually in very good terms with AOG and BCM.

From what we have gathered, one of the 7 Plaintiffs was instrumental in acquiring the building in which the AOG Headquarters today occupies. This Plaintiff personally raised half of the Purchase Price of this building. He also helped out financially many times towards the needs of BCM.

Another one of the 7 Plaintiffs bought a brand new van for BCM a couple of years ago. Today that vehicle is still being used to ferry BCM students around and for missions work. This same person has also helped out financially many times towards the needs of BCM. He also sponsored the entire cost of the AOG Widows’ Fund-raising dinner held last year.

It is certainly ironic or rather the humour of God to have chosen the above two Plaintiffs, out of the thousands of Christians in Malaysia, years before this Calvary Saga started, to be a channel of His blessings to AOG and BCM. There must be a lesson that God wants us to learn from and a message He wants us to heed and follow in this test that God has placed before us all as Christians and as Church organizations through this CCC – Calvary Church Crisis!

Whatever the outcome of the Originating Summons is, it does not matter to the concerned members and the Plaintiffs. It is not their battle but the Lord’s. But through this chain of events, one can clearly see that God is certainly in control. The true colours and character of the Church leaders are being exposed today. God is cleansing His Church in Malaysia and in His time, we shall all see His glory and His purposes for His Church in this land.

Footnote: After this article was published, CT received a request from one of the above two Plaintiffs to delete the mention of his contributions to AOG and BCM. Much as CT appreciates the wish of the person to remain anonymous, CT is of the opinion that since no names were mentioned, the anonymity of the person remains intact. CT wishes to elaborate that the purpose was not to highlight the contributions or the contributor but to expose the ungratefulness, nonchalance and gutlessness of the AOG leaders when push comes to shove.