Thursday, 2 April 2009

still want to be a pastor?

we're used to the idea that pastors are paid low salaries. while it is generally true in malaysia, not so with our richer cousins in singapore. try to beat the salary of the highest paid pastor and no need to guess who he is.

p.s. and no wonder my 'poorer' colleague at myhomilia is squirming at what he gets ('peanuts' compared with our singapore counterparts).

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Church leader paid
S$500,000 (RM2.5mil)
The Straits Time (Singapore)

Monday MARCH 30th 2009 – The New Creation Church in Singapore, which made headlines for raising $19 million on one Sunday last month for its upcoming multi-million dollar building, pays good money to its staff, too.

The independent church paid one employee between $500,001 and $550,000 in its last financial year, checks by The Straits Times showed.

The church did not confirm if the amount went to its leader, Senior Pastor Joseph Prince, but told The Straits Times that its policy is to “recognise and reward key contributors to the church and Senior Pastor Prince is the main pillar of our church’s growth and revenue”.

Its honorary secretary Deacon Matthew Kang added: “Senior Pastor Prince is the key man responsible for bringing in about 95 per cent of our church’s income. I must concede that he has enriched the church and not the other way round.

“Above all, through Senior Pastor Prince’s ministry, many people have experienced the grace and love of our Lord Jesus for themselves and seen how their lives have been transformed and marriages restored.”

The salary disclosure was contained in the church’s last financial year’s annual report submitted to the Commissioner of Charities. It stated the compensation given to its top three key management staff.

One person earned between $500,001 and $550,000, while two others were paid between $150,001 and $200,000. No names were given.

The church had an income of $55.4 million in its last financial year. Over 95 per cent came from tithes and offerings from members. It has over 18,000 members who worship at the Rock Auditorium at Suntec City.

Deacon Kang told The Straits Times last week that Prince had asked to go on a “no-pay scheme” in 2006 but was turned down by the church’s council. He made the same request over a month ago but the council has yet to give him a reply.

The New Creation Church is one of Singapore’s fastest growing churches. Its business arm, Rock Productions, is partnering property giant CapitaLand to build a close to $1 billion lifestyle hub in Buona Vista.

In an update to members yesterday, Deacon Kang said Prince had given $563,360 to the building project.

For the first time, religious groups now have to follow a set of guidelines, called the Code of Governance for Charities and Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs), to ensure they are properly run.

Religious groups like churches and temples, make up about half of the close to 2,000 charities here.

Unlike IPCs, which are allowed to collect tax-exempt donations and have to make public how fully they have adhered to the Code from April 1, religious groups do not have to do so. However, they are encouraged to make such information public.

In 2007, the Commissioner did a governance review of seven religious groups here with annual incomes of over $10 million each.

The Straits Times asked all seven, including New Creation, about the salaries of the key officers. Only Trinity Christian Centre and Campus Crusade disclosed the information.

The Trinity Christian Centre, which holds services in Adam Road and Paya Lebar, paid two directors below $150,000 each in 2007.

They are its Senior Pastor Dominic Yeo and resident apostle Dr Naomi Dowdy. The church employs 112 staff and had an income of $17.4 million in 2007.

Singapore Campus Crusade for Christ paid its three top executives – Reverend Chan Chong Hiok, Dr Ho Chiao Ek and Reverend Lam Kok Hiang – below $100,000 each in its last financial year. The group, which provides Christian counselling, training and Christian publications, collected $11 million in “local donations” then.

It pegs its basic salaries to social workers’ pay, which is between $2,000 and $2,700 for a fresh graduate, as stated on the National Council of Social Service’s website.

Leslie Chiang, its director for corporate communications and IT, said: “We use this benchmark as the nature of our work is very similar to what an average social worker is doing – serving the needs of a community.” – The Straits Times

biblical Ur to reopen

Iraq to reopen Ur to public after US pullback


BAGHDAD (AFP) — Iraq will reopen ancient Ur, the Biblical birthplace of Abraham, to the public after the US military hands back the archaeological site next month, the government said on Wednesday.

"The transfer from US forces of Ur in Dhi Qar province is on May 13. On this occasion, we will hold a ceremony and then rehabilitate the place and open it to visitors," a tourism and antiquities ministry spokesman said.

The ancient site, which lies next to the US air base of Talila outside the southern city of Nasiriyah, has been closed to the public since the US-led invasion of 2003.

The ancient city, which dates back to 6000 BC, lies on a former course of the Euphrates, one of the two great rivers of Iraq, and is one of the country's oldest sites.

It is renowned for its well preserved stepped platform or ziggurat, which dates back to the third millennium BC.

Ur of the Chaldees was one of the great urban centres of the Sumerian civilisation of ancient southern Iraq and remained an important city until its conquest by Alexander the Great a few centuries before Christ.

After the invasion, the US military also took control of the site of ancient Babylon, returning it to Iraqi control only in December 2006.

Archaeologists heavily criticised Washington for its failure to do more to protect that site, near Hilla south of Baghdad, the location of the famed Hanging Gardens, one of the wonders of the ancient world.