Founder of Singapore's first megachurch dies in Brazil car crash

Reverend Rick Seaward.
Reverend Rick Seaward.

A prominent figure in the Christian community and the founder of Singapore's first megachurch died in a car accident in Brazil last Saturday. He was 63.

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

Photos showed his damaged car with its front crumpled and windscreen shattered. According to reports, Rev Seaward's body had to be extricated from the mangled vehicle. The other driver had minor injuries.

A spokesman for Victory Family Centre, formerly known as the Calvary Charismatic Centre, told The Straits Times that Rev Seaward was in Brazil to conduct training for local pastors there.

Rev Seaward was active in overseas missions and had spearheaded the Love East Timor initiative in 2004, said the spokesman. That was aimed at unifying churches here to transform the newly independent Timor-Leste. Clinics, schools, training centres and community projects were built in villages in every province, and the work continues today.

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

DAD'S LEGACY

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

MR JEREMY SEAWARD, in a post on his Facebook page, on Reverend Rick Seaward.

Victory Family Centre has seven locations in Singapore.

According to its senior overseer, Pastor Gabriel Han, it has more than 10,000 churches in over 93 countries worldwide.

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.

In a brief post on his Facebook page, Mr Seaward said 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."

Anglican Bishop Rennis Ponniah, president of the National Council of Churches of Singapore, told The Straits Times that Rev Seaward had a big impact on encouraging the Church in Singapore to spread the faith, particularly to South-east Asian 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 1992 of conspiring to cheat Hong Leong Finance over the hire-purchase financing of about $140,000 worth of audio and musical equipment. In mitigation, his Queen's Counsel had urged the court to consider how the offence was technical rather than a real offence of dishonesty, as well as Rev Seaward's work for the community.

Victory Family Centre's spokesman said a memorial service will be held for all church members and friends at 7.30pm on April 13 at The Star Performing Arts Centre.

Additional reporting by Tan Tam Mei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2018, with the headline 'Founder of S'pore's first megachurch dies in Brazil car crash'. Print Edition | Subscribe