THE congregation of New Creation Church has spoken again.
In fewer than 24 hours last Sunday, members of the megachurch donated an impressive $21.1 million towards its multimillion-dollar building fund over four services held at Suntec City and Golden Village Marina.
The sum breaks the church's record of over $18.8 million raised last February, and $18 million raised in April 2008.
In comparison, last year's President's Challenge raised a total of about $10 million for 37 beneficiaries.
When my paper broke the news last year that the church raised about $19 million in a day with about 21,300 people in attendance - what the church said was a "new record attendance and collection done during a worldwide recession" - it caused an uproar among netizens in online forums.
It also spawned reports in The Straits Times on the church's pay schemes for employees.
Checks last year revealed that the church paid one employee between $500,001 and $550,000 in its previous financial year, but the church did not confirm if the amount went to senior pastor Joseph Prince.
my paper understands that Mr Prince stopped taking a monthly salary around the middle of last year.
This year, a record number of over 22,000 people attended the special service last Sunday,
called Miracle Seed Sunday.
Church members donated money to help fund the construction of the Integrated Hub complex.
Located at Vista Xchange at one-north in Buona Vista, the civic and cultural complex will house a 5,000-seat auditorium when it is completed in 2012.
It is being co-developed by Rock Productions, the commercial- development arm of New Creation Church, andmall developer CapitaMalls Asia.
New Creation Church will be the auditorium's anchor tenant and hire the venue for its services
With this new amount, the total sum raised so far by the church for the project stands at about $259 million, or more than half the $500 million needed.
Yesterday, Mr Prince announced how much was raised during a celebration service.
He told an estimated 20,000 churchgoers that the church did not receive "a single $1-million cheque".
The sum raised, he said, was achieved thanks to a concerted effort by the entire congregation.
During the service, Mr Prince also thanked the congregation for its contribution, adding that the amount raised was a miracle, as members were given only a week's notice before the special service.
The church's website said there was "clear accountability".
Five external auditors from Deloitte & Touche were at the site to observe the donation, and at least two were present to witness the counting of cash and recording processes at all times, it was reported on the site.
New Creation Church member Stephanie Siow, 24, explained that people gave because they had faith.
"I think giving money is a personal choice and we should not judge what people do with their money," she said.
Engineer Mark Zhang, 26, who is Christian but does not attend any church, said: "As long as there was no impropriety, such as brainwashing and blatant pressuring, I don't feel that there's a problem."
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