SINGAPORE - An online report claiming that Joseph Prince, the founder and senior pastor of New Creation Church, has a net worth of US$5 million ($6.36 million), has been roundly dismissed by the church's council.
In a statement posted on its website on Tuesday, the council said that the pastor had stopped drawing a salary from the church since 2009.
They said that Mr Prince had shared with them that his net worth is "substantially lower than the US$5m that has been alleged". The council also said that it regards Mr Prince's net worth as personal in nature.
The Oct 7 report, which has been making its rounds online, was published on www.richestlifestyle.com, an entertainment website which describes itself as "dedicated to the celebrity lifestyle", and "giving you scoops on luxury cars and yachts" and "celebrity net worth". It is purportedly has an office in New York.
The site listed Mr Prince as the 10th richest pastor in the world - alongside preachers such as American evangelist Billy Graham and Nigerian bishop David Oyedepo. The post said Mr Prince reportedly draws a salary of $550,000 but did not attribute the source of the information.
The pastor hosts a religious television show called Destined to Reign, which is broadcast in the United States, Europe, Africa, Australia, Israel, South Korea and Indonesia. It is part of the non-profit international Joseph Prince Ministries which was established in 2007, and is independent of New Creation Church.
The church's council said that Mr Prince "recognises that a strong foundation of corporate governance can only enhance the church". They added that he had voluntarily stepped down as a member of the Council to focus on his spiritual role.
It added: "The Council is disappointed with the manner in which the reports were generated and circulated without proper effort having being made to validate the facts. The Council asks that these reports be withdrawn or clarified, so as not to undermine the good work of the church and Pastor Prince."
New Creation Church, which is a member of the National Council of Churches of Singapore, first started holding meetings from a flat in block 17 Holland Drive in 1983. Since then, it has grown to have more than 31,000 worshippers. Members congregate for services across five venues here, including the Star Performing Arts Centre in Buona Vista.
The 5,000-seater Star Theatre is located within the $500 million Star Performing Arts Centre which is operated by the church's business arm, Rock Productions. Members contributed to the centre's building fund.