Elders act to prevent megachurch pastor from privatizing church assets

Posted on : 2011-07-21 14:14 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
During Yoido Full Gospel’s leadership transfer, disputes have arisen over control of ministries, the national newspaper, and university
 July 20. (Photo by Ryu Woo-jong)
July 20. (Photo by Ryu Woo-jong)

By Lim Ji-sun 


Around 30 elders at Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul have begun a protest aimed at Emeritus Paster David Yonggi Cho and his wife, demanding that the couple refrain from making the church their own private assets.

From around noon on July 20, the elders protested outside the Main Sanctuary at “Osanri Choi Ja-sil Memorial Fasting Prayer Mountain” in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, holding a banner demanding that Kim Sung-hye, Cho’s wife, quickly return 10 billion won ($9.5 million) in construction fees that she had taken in order to build a memorial to Cho. On the day, a religious gathering for Asian believers was being held and Kim, who is also president of Hansei University, was delivering a sermon.

At around 1 p.m., the elders held up placards with slogans such as “Don’t make the church your own private possession” and “Do you like material possessions more than heaven?” toward Cho and Kim, who were coming out of the sanctuary at the end of the gathering. In the process, scuffles broke out between the elders and church officials and Hansei University professors who blocked them.

Since April this year, the elders have been curbing attempts by Cho’s family to make the church part of their private assets through resolutions passed at the council, the church’s highest decision making body. On April 17, the council resolved to make Kim concentrate solely on Hansei University and overseas missionary activity; to make Cho and Kim’s second son and president of the daily Kukmin Ilbo newspaper, Cho Min-je, concentrate only on the Kukmin Ilbo; and to make their eldest son and former Kukmin Ilbo chairman, Cho Hoe-jun, choose only one of either Elim Welfare Town or an organization related to overseas churches.

On June 26, the council passed resolutions on five further issues, including deciding to take over the office in Yeouido’s CCMM Building that Kim had been using for free, and to make Kim return the 10 billion won she had taken from the church, saying that she would build a memorial hall for Cho.

Cho and Kim rejected these resolutions, and went a step further when Kim, who had decided not to give sermons in Korea, gave a sermon at the gathering at Prayer Mountain. This was when the elders decided to act.

The elders plan to conduct a sit-in protest at Yoido Full Gospel Church on July 24 to criticize the Cho family’s private appropriation of church assets.  

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