Monday, June 18, 2012

Is Calvary’s Faith Promise Giving a Sham?

For many years, Senior Pastor Prince Guneratnam (PG) has boasted to the world that Calvary Church has given away millions of ringgit to Missions and Evangelism every year.

Twice a year on Faith Promise Sunday in January and July, when new 6-month pledges are solicited from the congregation, PG and the Missions Director will show video clips of the Missions Projects which the Church has supported in the previous 6 months. And as always is the case, PG will also proudly declare to the congregation that due to their overwhelming giving towards their faith promise pledges, there is a surplus over the Missions Budget and that surplus will be channeled to the Church Building Fund.

The members have constantly been led to believe that all their Faith Promise contributions are given away to support Bible schools, Christian organizations, missionaries and missions work throughout the world and only the surplus funds over the budget are kept by the Church for Calvary’s own building fund.

Before the Calvary saga erupted about 4 years ago with the exposure of financial mismanagement, unethical practices and abuse of power and position in the Church, Calvarites have never doubted PG and his Pastors and Deacons. Now, the members, having been wised up to PG’s true character are beginning to question the utilization of the Faith Promise funds collected from members.

Picking up on several requests from readers, CT decided to investigate this particular topic of discussion going on in the Blog and for this purpose, CT perused through the past years’ Church Annual Reports, Missions Fund Reports and the reports of the Extended Ministries of the Church.

At a glance, the Missions Fund Reports appeared to be in order. All the Faith Promise collections appeared to be properly disbursed and accounted for. It was only when CT started cross referencing and extracting various figures from all the various reports that CT discovered a shocking fact.

And the shocking fact is that from 2008 to 2012, from the total Faith Promise collection each year, less than 10% was given away to external parties. More than 90% of Faith Promise collections was kept internally to finance Calvary’s own ministries, staff payroll and the church building program, which is now, the Calvary Convention Centre (CCC).

For 2011, only
RM228,246 or 6.6% of the total Faith Promise collection of RM3.44 million was distributed to Bible schools and external Missions work.

19.3% were utilized to pay the church staff salaries and church outreach workers,
18.9% was utilized to support the church’s Extended Ministries like AIM, Communication Ministry, Prayer Tower, Calvaryland etc,
7.2% was transferred to Outreach Property Fund,
39.4% transferred to fund the CCC construction and the balance
8.5% retained in the Missions Fund.

Click on the image 1 to view the comparison between the official version and the real version of the utilization of the Faith Promise collections for the years 2008 to 2011.

Click on image 2 to view the Missions Fund’s Statement of Income and Expenditure.

It is fair to conclude that what is presented and declared to the congregation year after year, is nothing but pure misrepresentation of what actually happens to their sacrificial giving in Faith Promise. This act of misrepresentation and misleading the congregation by PG and his Pastors and Deacons is totally unacceptable and despicable.

On the subject of misrepresentation, CT also investigated the issue of the “real” staff costs of all the pastors and employees of Calvary Church. Most members do not realize that the amount of staff costs/stipends stated in the main Church accounts in the Annual Report does not cover the entire staff force of the Church. That amount stated represents the salaries of only the Pastors and some selected church staff. The rest of the church staff and all the outreach workers are paid from the Missions Fund with a handful of staff being paid from the Extended Ministries’ accounts.

This breaking up of staff costs and hiding under separate accounts or funds is again another issue of transparency.

The actual total staff costs of the Church come up to a mind-boggling figure of RM4.5 million for 2011. This represents about 54% of the total Income of the Church from tithes and offerings and donations/income received by the Extended Ministries. The contributions to the church building fund and faith promise are excluded in computing the percentage as both these collections are specific and meant for their respective purposes and are not deemed as income for church operational use.

Click on image 3 to view the breakdown of staff costs.

According to the MISSIONS MANUAL of Calvary Church, it states that,
The Missions Dept was then formed to look into the matter of the administration of missionary funds and the development of a strong missions programme to look into the sending out of missionaries, the accomplishing of greater nation-wide and worldwide expansion in missions and the attaining of greater efficiency in missionary matters in    general.


This fund seeks to provide full or partial financial support or sponsorship towards approved missions projects carried out locally or abroad. It also provides a reliable and responsible channel (or vehicle) for which designated offerings may be transmitted.

Has the Missions Department fulfilled its original purpose as stated in the Mission Manual?

Have the funds collected through the Faith Promise Programme been distributed in accordance to the stated Purpose of the Missions Fund?

With another Faith Promise Sunday coming up in July, let us hope that the congregation will be smart and seek God’s wisdom before they put their pen to the Pledge Card. Above all, let us hope that PG and his Pastors and Deacons will respect the intent and faith of the giver and release every ringgit collected through the Faith Promise program to fulfill the purposes of Missions and Evangelism for which the program was originally intended.

                             Added on 22 June 2012

In response to queries from some readers concerning the legal status of Calvary Church as a registered body, we post below an audio clip explanation by lawyer Mr KK Wong during an EGM held on 15 August 2008.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

AGM 2012 – A Tame Affair

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Calvary Church held recently on 25 May 2012 was a tame affair in the absence of the 7 concerned TTG members, who have been removed from the Church Membership for the second time.

The Membership Roll

The remnant 7 TTG members who had, a few years earlier filed a Suit against Senior Pastor Prince Guneratnam (PG) and his Board of Deacons on various Church Constitutional matters after the exposure of questionable transfers of Church funds to PG’s Personal Ministry’s Bank Accounts, had their membership reinstated by the Court during the course of legal process.

The 7 members do not know exactly when their memberships were removed this second time around but it is believed that it was done after the 2011 AGM. As with the sacking of the 400+ members in 2010, no reason was given for their removal and neither were any of the 7 members notified of their removal.

The entire episode of the crisis in the Church would have put most pastors to shame and humbled them but alas, PG has remained steadfast in his pride and arrogance. This arbitrary and unconstitutional act of removing Church membership without cause or reason is a classic example of PG’s continued high-handedness.

A total of 439 Voting Members attended the recent AGM. All the usual AGM items on the Agenda were considered and approved by the members without much fanfare.

Three (3) deacons, namely Stephen Liu, Chow Sang Hoe and Puan Chek Keck were elected at the AGM. Stephen Liu and Chow Sang Hoe were seeking re-election while Puan Chek Kuan was a first time elected Deacon. He replaces Edward Rajasingam, who did not wish to seek re-election, citing his job posting overseas as the reason. The other 4 existing deacons are David Peter, Ngeow Zoo Gin, Helen Read and Bernadette Foo.

Church Treasurer's Report

Deacon Bro Edward, in his report as the Church Treasurer, mentioned that the Church Income went up in 2011 compared to 2010. The Tithes went up 10% from RM5.30m to RM6.09 while Contributions to Building Fund went up 40% from RM4.58m to RM8.39m. He alluded the big increase of RM3.81m in Contributions to Building Fund to the “congregation rising in faith, Journey to Jerusalem trips and other fund raising activities” without furnishing the full details.

On close scrutiny of the Annual Report, Missions Report and Financial Report of the Extended Ministries, it is clear that out of the RM3.81m increase, a total of  RM2,122,836 was actually from Internal Fund Transfers, as listed below :

1) RM765,310 was transferred from Calvary Communication Ministry’s accumulated funds, 
2) RM1,357,526 was transferred from Missions Funds which is from Faith Promise offerings received.

The main purpose for the Internal Transfers was most likely to shore up the Income of the Church so that the Church’s capacity to borrow is not affected as the Church continues to seek further loans to complete the Calvary Convention Centre (CCC).

Legal & Professional Fees

During question time, a member queried about the expenses of RM100,000 in the accounts classified as “Legal & Professional Fees”. Bro Edward explained that it was a lump sum fees paid to the lawyer engaged by the Church for a Court case that the Church was involved in.

Bro Edward did not clarify the fact that the “court case the Church was involved in” was actually the legal suit filed by the 7 concerned members against PG and the Deacons in their personal capacity. Since the legal suit was not against the Church, it is a misrepresentation to state that it was a “court case that the Church was involved in”.

Since the case is not against the Church, the legal fees should have been borne by PG and the Deacons personally and not paid from Church funds. This is a clear abuse or misuse of Church funds by PG and the Deacons and maybe grounds for a case for CBT.

Church Auditors' expressed "Emphasis of Matter"

Another member, Bro Samuel expressed his concern about the Church Auditors, Baker Tilly Monteiro Heng’s ‘Emphasis of Matter” opinion in the audited accounts, wherein they expressed their concern that whilst the Church has contracted capital expenditure of RM101,067,886 in relation to the construction of Calvary Convention Centre (CCC) as at 31st December 2011, the total balance of the church’s fixed deposits and bank balances is only RM9,388,744.

PG responded that “if everyone of us plays our part….. we won’t need to worry about finances” and promptly told Bro Samuel to make sure his Tithes and offering are coming in.

Other Matters

The meeting continued with a short presentation on the CCC by Deacon Bro Zoo Gin. After that, Pastor David and Pastor Richard presented the Church’s growth plan and their goal and vision as a fountain-head church to achieve a life group membership of 25,600 with 2,880 life group cells by year 2017.

The last item on the AGM Agenda was the tabling of Resolutions for appointment of Auditors and for ratification of the Resolution pertaining to the Dispute Resolution Provision, earlier tabled at the previous AGM on 27 June 2011. This Resolution was originally approved by the members at the AGM last year but was subsequently rejected by the AG Malaysia, following a complaint of non-compliance of Church Constitution filed by one of the concerned members, Sis Liza. The Resolutions were approved.

Listen to the audio clip highlighting some questions and responses during the AGM.  

Coming article in July: Is PG planning his escape?