Founder of first megachurch in Singapore dies in Brazil car crash

The Reverend Rick Seaward was killed instantly when his car crashed into another on a highway in Três Pontas, a municipality in southern Minas Gerais state.
The Reverend Rick Seaward was killed instantly when his car crashed into another on a highway in Três Pontas, a municipality in southern Minas Gerais state.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/VICTORY FAMILY CENTRE SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - A prominent figure in the Christian community and founder of Singapore's first megachurch, Victory Family Centre, formerly known as Calvary Charismatic Centre, died in a car accident in Brazil on Saturday (March 24). He was 63.

The Reverend Rick Seaward was killed instantly when his car crashed into another on the MG-167 highway in Três Pontas, a municipality in southern Minas Gerais state, according to local media.

Photos in local media showed Rev Seaward's car with its front crumpled following the crash, and its windscreen shattered. Reports said the fire department had to extricate the body from the mangled vehicle.

The other driver sustained minor injuries.

A Victory Family Centre spokesman told The Straits Times that Rev Seaward spearheaded the Love East Timor initiative in 2004, aimed at unifying churches here to transform the then-newly independent Timor Leste. Clinics, schools, training centres and community projects were built in villages in every province, and the work is still ongoing today.

Back home, Rev Seaward launched the Banquet of Honour in 2008, an annual event to honour blue-collared foreign workers from India, Bangladesh, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.

The Victory Family Centre has seven locations across the island, according to its website.

According to Pastor Gabriel Han, Senior Overseer of Victory Family Centre, it has more than 10,000 churches in over 93 nations worldwide. This includes places such as Uganda, Timor Leste and Brazil.

Rev Seaward was born and raised in Singapore and is survived by his wife and two sons. His son, Jeremy, is the lead pastor at Victory Family Centre.

Mr Seaward, in a brief posting on his Facebook page, said that he was "still in shock".

He added: "My dad's brief moments on earth left a legacy for eternity and I am grateful to have had him in my life."

National Council of Churches Singapore (NCCS) president, Anglican Bishop Rennis Ponniah, told The Straits Times that Rev Seaward had a big impact in encouraging the Church in Singapore to spread the faith, particularly to South-east and East Asian countries.

Rev Seaward was involved in a controversy in 1986 when he and other pastors called for the sharing of the Christian faith to all Singaporeans.

He was also convicted in July 1992 of conspiring to cheat Hong Leong Finance between February and March 1987 over the hire-purchase financing of US$66,937 worth of audio and musical equipment

In mitigation, his Queen's Counsel had urged the court to consider three factors including how the offence was technical rather than a real offence of dishonesty, and his work for the community.

Additional reporting by Tan Tam Mei