City Harvest trial: I went from 'shepherd' to 'rancher' as church grew, says Kong Hee
Published on Aug 11, 2014 12:04 PM
SINGAPORE - As City Harvest Church's congregation grew, the role of its founder Kong Hee turned from that of a "shepherd" to a "rancher", he told the court on Monday. The senior pastor, who faces three counts of criminal breach of trust, was taking the stand for the first time in a long-running trial, over the alleged misuse of $50 million of church funds.
The mood in court was calm as Kong answered questions posed by his lawyer, Mr Edwin Tong. Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, was not present as she has been named as a defence witness.
He began by describing his evolving role in the megachurch over the years. Kong said that he was on a first-name basis with all members when it was established in 1992, but after 2001, his focus shifted away from day to day management as he led work trips overseas, among other things.
Kong added that an "overwhelming majority" of the congregation supported the Crossover Project, the church's mission to reach out to non-churchgoers through pop music. It was fronted by Ms Ho, who performs under the stage name Sun Ho. Many church members had bought Ms Ho's albums, said Kong. The church board had also backed Ms Ho's foray into the United States market, and wanted to expand the project "to the whole world".
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