14,000 people turn up for City Harvest services

CITY Harvest Church members rallied over the weekend, with 14,000 people attending English and Chinese worship services.

Some 13,500 packed the English services at Singapore Expo's Max Atria yesterday morning and Saturday evening. Church founding pastor Kong Hee, 47, preached at both services.

His deputy, Tan Ye Peng, 39, preached at a Chinese service in Jurong West yesterday.

Both men and three other church leaders were charged in court last Wednesday with allegedly misappropriating funds worth $50.6 million.

Of this, $24 million was allegedly misused from the church's building fund, largely to fund the music career of singer Ho Yeow Sun, Kong's wife. The church is a registered charity.

A City Harvest spokesman said the Commissioner of Charities was aware that Kong and Tan were preaching yesterday.

About 45 minutes before yesterday's 10am service, Kong tweeted: "Give me strength for today, Lord."

At the sermon's start, he said last Saturday's service was "great" and added: "God, how am I going to replicate what happened (on Saturday)?"

Still, yesterday's service was lively, with Kong receiving at least two standing ovations.

Kong, who appeared mostly calm and pensive, reiterated his Saturday messages. For instance, he said: "I do maintain my integrity."

He also said: "You have no idea how broken I feel, standing before all of you. I just want to be here to thank you for your love and support for me, for Sun, for the leadership."

He ended his sermon by inviting on stage his wife, who led the congregation in worship songs.

For the finale, he chose an old favourite, Father Make Us One.

After the service, Kong tweeted "the answer to prayer is in the knocking", quoting text from the Bible.

A church-goer of nine years, Abel, 23, told my paper that yesterday's service was no different from those of other weeks, although there was an emphasis on church unity.

Tan said at the Chinese service he had been under tremendous stress for the past two years, Lianhe Wanbao reported.

He was alluding to investigations starting back in 2010.

However, Tan said he had been coping through prayers.

adrianl@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Ethan Lou

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