Tuesday, February 15, 2011

PG says No to Christian Arbitration

NECF efforts at mediation fails

Since December 2009, the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF) had quietly worked on a mediation effort to try to resolve the ongoing legal suit involving Pastor Prince Guneratnam (PG) and his Board of Deacons and a group of 7 Concerned Calvary Church members.

The 7 plaintiffs, representing a class of Concerned Members, had filed an Originating Summons to the High Court seeking to declare the 2009 Church AGM null and void and for the 7 rejected Resolutions to be tabled. (Please refer to the older posts in this blog for the full story and details of the rejected resolutions)

NECF was aware that an earlier attempt at mediation initiated in October 2009 by a prominent Calvarite and the Assemblies of God General Superintendent (AOG-GS) had failed. That meeting was called off when PG told the AOG-GS just two days before the scheduled meeting that “the date was not convenient”. The time, date, place and terms of reference had all been agreed at least 7 to 10 days before. For reasons best known to himself, PG got cold feet. The plaintiffs were disappointed because they had accepted the Terms of Reference and were all ready for mediation.

After the failure of the above mediation effort by the two individuals, NECF waiting patiently for the Assemblies of God Malaysia (AG) to take action to resolve the conflict which has set the Christian community in Malaysia abuzz. However, to the disappointment of NECF and the Christian community at large, AG failed or refused to intervene, probably in fear of their mentor who is now a Tan Sri.

To their credit, NECF then took it upon themselves to attempt to mediate between the two parties. They contacted one of the Plaintiffs sometime in December 2009 to explore the possibility of resolving the crisis through mediation or Christian arbitration. The Plaintiffs readily agreed to mediation but however, PG proved to be very elusive and despite a number of attempts by NECF, PG just refused to provide any dates to meet.

In spite of this discouraging setback, NECF persevered and proposed Christian arbitration in keeping with the teachings of 1 Corinthians 6. They proposed that the Plaintiffs take the matter out from the secular court and put the matter before a panel of Christian senior lawyers and ex-judges. The Plaintiffs readily agreed to the proposal. NECF then met PG and conveyed the proposal.

However, on 25 May 2010, the Plaintiffs were told by NECF that Steven Kum had telephoned them the day before to convey PG’s reply. PG refused mediation and arbitration. This was most shocking news. Yet NECF was not willing to give up. They wanted to meet with PG again to try to persuade him that Christian arbitration would be the right and proper way to resolve the crisis. The Plaintiffs waited with much hope but in September 2010, the Plaintiffs were finally told that NECF had given up on trying to persuade PG to go for Christian arbitration. As far as NECF was concerned, PG had officially refused mediation and Christian arbitration.

NECF, being just a fellowship of churches and Christian organistions, has no authority over Calvary Church or PG but for the sake of the Kingdom, let us hope that they will rely on their spiritual authority as the umbrella body for nearly all the evangelical churches in Malaysia to help bring the Calvary Church crisis to a close.