It’s been over a month since we learned that Bishop Albert Vun was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Most of us go through a range of emotion from denial, shock, disbelief, confusion, fear, acceptance to a quiet confidence that God is totally in charge. What do we make out of BAV’s illness? Let us discuss the three most common answers to this question.
Some see BAV’s pancreatic cancer as a random event in life. Everyone dies, eventually. Whether unexpectedly in an accident, peacefully in old age, suddenly in a heart attack, death will overtake us all. Many Christians are ill. Some are diagnosed with cancer too. BAV is just one of them, a mortal to be called home soon by the Lord. There is no deeper meaning to BAV’s illness. He is probably overworked and stressed out, thus making him more susceptible to serious sickness.
To take on this view, we’ll have to disregard all that had transpired in the last two years in the Diocese. The Bishop is accused of serious indiscretions and investigated by the Province. Instead of refuting the allegations, BAV, Bishop Moses Tay and the clergy resorted to the posturing of power, telling the congregations that God is their judge, that the congregation not to “touch the Lord’s anointed” and let God deal with BAV. To view BAV’s illness as a random event in life would require us to disregard the context, ignore the sovereignty of God and forget what had happened so recently.
Then there are people who blame the pancreatic cancer on those who pray for God to remove BAV as the Bishop. “You brought down curses on the Bishop and now he is stricken with cancer,” they argue. This argument is problematic on several counts. First, praying to remove an unfit leader is not the same as cursing someone with cancer. Secondly, even if someone indeed cursed BAV, the Bible teaches us that an undeserved curse does not come to rest. See Proverbs 26:2. Thirdly, it assumes that God would grant the most vile of prayers. Yet Scripture teaches us God is righteous; He cannot act unrighteously or support unrighteousness. He is also just thus incapable of acting unjustly. Even when He judges and punishes, He does so from the basis of righteousness and his love for his people. Finally, God is sovereign. He is not a stooge that kowtow to our wishes just because we nag him long enough, pray loudly, use impressive words or drown the church with sounds of shofars. He is who He is. He does what He knows is right and just.
It is puzzling why prayer meetings are descending into a shouting match. Do we have to pray aggressively and militantly, breaking curses, “blocking the fiery darts”, declaring and decreeing for complete healing for God to listen to us? Is God deaf? Or is He deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened, like Baal who never answered? The Bible teaches us that Jesus is seated at the right hand of our Father interceding for us. God is a good father who knows what we want before we even ask. He will not give us scorpions when we ask for a fish or stones when we ask for a bread. If we truly believe our God is so, then why are prayer items are so scientific and specific that one wonders if God needs an oncologist to teach him how to heal a pancreatic cancer patient. He is our FATHER for goodness sake. Stop shouting at Him! He doesn’t need a medical manual!
My brothers and sisters, please do not mistake adrenaline for anointing and euphoria for effective prayer. The Bible teaches us the key to God hearing our prayers is a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Perhaps we should stop decreeing and declaring, but put on sackcloth and heap ashes on our heads. Perhaps we need more humility rather than presuming that God is on our side.
Finally, there are people who believe BAV’s illness did not happen by chance nor by curses, but rather because of God’s divine intervention. After two years of being in full blown crisis mode, with the PAC report and management letter concluding all is not well with the leadership of BAV, the Bishop of Sabah returned from six months of enforced leave seemingly unstoppable. He got away with lying to the congregation at All Saints Cathedral, millions in expenditure still unexplained, manipulating the election of PCC members in All Saints. After the PAC investigation and report, a court injunction, a signature campaign, vehement objection to Philip Lo’s ordination all came to nought, many wondered if this is a struggle worth fighting for. The church is in disarray. The people continued to suffer. BAV was home free.
When BAV’s position seemed most secure in 2 years and the people in the deepest despair, Bishop Albert Vun was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Those who had always insisted that only God could judge the Bishop, now argue that sicknesses do not come from God. How do we reconcile this stand with God sending 10 plagues to Egypt, striking Miriam with leprosy in Numbers 12, killing Ananias and Sapphira in church, blinding Saul on the road to Damascus? Nobody dare say BAV’s cancer is a judgement from God, yet as news of his illness spread, the fear of the Lord descend upon our church as it did to the Israelites in Egypt and wilderness, to the early church, and to Saul on the road to Damascus.
In Mathew 16:1-3, Jesus said, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”
Can we discern what our Father is doing? Or are we like the Pharisees and Sadducees who were oblivious of the forthcoming ruin? In Matthew 16, Jesus left the Pharisees and Sadducees and went away. A scholar interpreted the passage this manner, “Jesus left them to themselves, left them in the hand of their own counsels; so he gave them up to their own hearts’ lust.”
If BAV’s illness is not a random event or the result of curses, then we must conclude it is God’s sovereign act. Thus we must consider what God is saying both to us and to BAV and seek the Holy Spirit for an appropriate response, or risk Christ leaving us to our hearts’ lust as he did the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 16. This is a rare word from the Lord, a shout so loud that we ignore to our own peril.
May God help us and have mercy upon us.
After six months of rest, replenishing and reflection in UK and USA, Bishop Albert Vun in his first message to the Diocese, concluded he has nothing to apologize for and nobody to apologize to. This blog would like to remind BAV the tens of thousands in honorarium he received for speaking and conducting confirmation services around the Diocese.
Being Asians we love showing appreciation by buying meals or gifts. In Bishop Chhoa and Bishop Yong’s time, buying souvenirs or small gifts such as books were common. So when the Bishop visited the parishes, they would get some free meals and small gifts. It was a simple way of saying, “Thank you Bishop for your hard work.” The food and gifts may not be necessarily what the Bishop wanted or needed, but they were never despised. Who in the right mind would criticize a gift? Some would give Ang Pow but it was always voluntary, never demanded much less made into standard operating procedure or culture.
Things changed under BAV. In his first meeting with the clergy as the Bishop of Sabah, he directed churches to do away with gifts and souvenirs but give him money instead. BAV also taught his clergy they should not honor visiting speakers more than they did their own colleagues. That means Diocesan clergy should be given honorarium when they teach and speak at Diocesan events, just as visiting speakers do.
Our clergy who speak at Children Camp, Youth Camp, retreats and other Diocesan events received extra money, on top of paying for their traveling and accommodation expenses. Thus money becomes a measure of honor and BAV ushers in a culture of money and greed to the clergy.
What you will see here is a series of honorariums made to Bishop Albert Vun and Bishop John Yeo, Bishop Melter Tais from St. Patrick’s Church and All Saints Cathedral. This blog learns that in 2011, St. Luke in Telupid under Melter Tais gave BAV about RM7000 for one of BAV’s overseas trips and then another RM1000 or RM2000 for conducting confirmation service in the same year.
What you see above are only money given to the from 3 churches. It is unclear now much honorarium BAV, John Yeo and Melter Tais have received from various parishes in Sabah since they were appointed bishops.
1. Ethics & Corruption
The bishops receive monthly salaries, free accommodation, free use of church vehicles, fuel allowance plus whatever subsistence allowances they are entitled to. When they conduct confirmation out of town, the Diocese pay their airfares, the local parishes provided transport to and from the airport and likely host a dinner for the bishops. On top of all the above, the Bishop still get an honorarium of RM1000-7000 for conducting a confirmation service which can only be performed by a bishop already on Diocesan payroll? It would have been a different scenario if the an honorarium were given to a retired Bishop. Is it acceptable if a police accepted extra money to look into an investigation, or a land office staff took more money to process a land transfer, or a bank manager an expensive gift to approve a loan? Why should it be acceptable for bishops to receive extra money to do their job?
The bishops will argue these payments were approved by PCCs or exco. The question is not limited to how honorariums are approved, but whether they are reasonable. What is the guideline and quantum for honorariums? Who decides this? Is it ethical for bishops in active ministry to accept honorariums for conducting conformation? What is Bishop Albert Vun’s official stand on this? If BAV thinks it is legit, it would be fair for the three Bishops to voluntarily disclose how much honorarium they have received from the Diocese and parishes in Sabah since they become bishops.
Let’s not forget the bonuses BAV gave himself without prior consent from the Stand Comm.
2. Merry Go Round
Herbert Tong told the whole Diocese there was no loss of money or misappropriation of fund. How does this statement hold in the light of the latest evidence? Clearly, the bishops give each other honorariums. Is this a systematic way of moving church funds into private pockets under the banner of “honoring” the bishops? We’ve only seen honorariums paid by 3 churches, there are nearly 30 “self-sufficient” parishes in the Diocese. We don’t know how many give the bishops honorariums. If your fellow colleagues give, would you as a priest dare not to give? Those who don’t will look as if they do not honor their bosses. And our clergy has the audacity to preach to the members to tithe even when we disagree with the leadership?
3. Tax Evasion?
Did the bishops include free housing, cars and other allowance in their tax declarations? What about the honorariums they received here and abroad? Will they get into trouble if someone take these ledger entries and file a complaint with the Inland Revenue?
BAV often quotes 1 Timothy 5:17 to support his assertions pastors and those who teaches the Word of God deserves “double honour”. Does it mean priests and Bishops deserve double pay? We will explore the biblical angle of “honouring” in the next posting.
Bishop Albert Vun, can you think of something you need to say sorry for? A commenter wrote, “Judas did wrong, betrayed Jesus, and never said sorry. BAV: you are on dangerous ground.”
The farcical feet washing ceremony is 24 hours away. Here are the latest developments:
1. The 2010-2011 Account is NOT re-audited
During All Saints Cathedral’s PCC meeting last Saturday, when objection to the feet washing ceremony was raised, Dean Chak countered that the controversial accounts of 2010-2011 has been re-audited as per the instruction of Provincial House of Bishops. Other priests are telling church members the same story. To put an end to the speculations, the PCC decided to call Diocesan Treasurer Michael Tong for verification in the middle of the meeting. Mr. Tong confirmed only the 2012 accounts are being audited. How the Commissary Mr. Herbert Tong reached the conclusion that there was “no financial loss and no misappropriation of funds” is beyond right thinking members. To proclaim this LIE in the house of God is a sacrilege.
Herbert Tong’s statement also tantamount to slandering the honorary auditor who signed the management letter and stood by his professional findings. Do we accept the findings of a professional auditor or the statement of the Commissary?
2. A Calculated Political Move
Many asked whose feet will the House of Bishops wash? None of the members who took issue with Bishop Albert Vun’s the abuse of power, money and position is attending the feet washing ceremony. Why is the officialdom pushing forward with a whitewashed event? Many believe it is a calculated political move to show support for beleaguered BAV and to hoodwink the House of Bishops to believing BAV enjoys widespread support. The ASC AGM has taught us getting a packed church is very easy for BAV. The signed pledge card will be used as a barometer of support, painting the complainants as a vicious minority in any legal battles ahead.
Why does BAV need numbers to prop up his position when anyone who stands on the side of God’s truth and righteousness is already a majority?
3. Diocese-wide Coercion
Officially, the three main worship centres (All Saints Cathedral, Good Shepherd Church & St. Patrick’s Church) will conduct the feet washing ceremony tomorrow, while other worship centres “may” conduct it this Sunday. Christ Church Likas’ PCC decided not to go ahead it but the Commissary overruled the PCC. It is likely CCL will be coerced to do feet washing. Privately, some clergy have expressed unhappiness with Herbert Tong’s heavy handedness. Why should the clergy follow the decision of a man who is leaving his job in two weeks while they upset the PCC they have been working with for so long? It is unclear how many churches will do feet washing this Sunday. Perhaps the Commissary wrote “may” but he meant it as a “must”.
Where is the involvement of the lay people in feet washing? It was all hatched by Bishop Moses Tay and Herbert Tong with zero input from the laity. If they are serious about healing wounds and closing the divide, wouldn’t it be wise for both sides to organise this and come forth with a joint statement?
4. BAV Back in Town?
There are reported sightings of BAV in Kota Kinabalu. Until there’s photographic evidence, this blog cannot confirm this news. An Anglican member pointed out, “How sad it is that a Bishop has to hole up like a fugitive.”
5. Last Minute Plea
Sensing the massive rejection of the feet washing ceremony, its architect Bishop Moses Tay, met with James Chhoa and Rev. Clarence Fun last night urging them to attend the ceremony. The duo rejected overtures of the former Archbishop. While BMT told James and Clarence to stand on God’s side, the duo retorted BMT was taking the Lord’s name in vain when the ceremony starts with proclaiming a lie from Herbert Tong.
Here is an interesting historical fact. The last time BMT initiated feet washing in Singapore, he ended up resigning as a large section of the clergy threatened to resign en bloc. Will this round of feet washing result in another Bishop resigning? We’ll wait and see.
There is a competition and obsession amongst pastors to build the mega churches. It may come from different denominations but the rhetoric is the same and it goes like this. “Half the urban population is under 30. They are swarmed by declining moral values, fast paced lifestyle and incredible demands of their time and priorities. To reach out to the next generation, we are building a 3000-seater church, equipped with media center, sports facilities, a training center. Let us sow into the next generation. Let’s give our best to honor God.”
Let us examine the obsession with building mega churches and lavish furnishing in the name of glorifying God. Let us put in biblical perspective. Where did this idea stem from?
It was King David who first thought of building a grand building for God, albeit in my opinion a conceited one despite his good intention. This is what David said:
2 Sam 7.1 Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.”
However, this is what the LORD said:
2Sam 7:5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel.
It is clear The LORD has no desire or idea to have a “mega” building because it cannot add to His glory nor does it add to His enjoyment or satisfaction, for God is in Perfect existence. How can a building made by the created bring glory to the Creator? God eventually “ALLOWED” the building of the temple as a condescension to human needs and desire for a visible dwelling place for God. The proof is that God “ALLOWED” the temple to be destroyed by the Babylonians, and even the second temple built by Herod was destroyed by the Romans. The prophets and Jesus foretold the destruction. If these earthly monuments can in anywhere enhance or bring glory to God would He “ALLOWED” them to be destroyed? Just look at the incredibly beautiful and expensive churches in Europe and around the world, a large number of which have only a few worshipers, are they glorifying God or “mock” God because of the lack of worshipers? One very good example is the Methodist Central Hall in Birmingham, which was converted to a night club in 1991…I have been there, it saddens me to the core. It is a magnificent building, but does it glorify God or “mock” God?
Did the leaders and people who built those building not have zeal and passion? Were they not sold out for God and wanting only to glorify God? Did the people not give sacrificially and enthusiastically for the building? Were the people not absolutely sure that the building will serve the people and expand the Kingdom of God? Were they not thinking of the future generation when they built such a huge building? The answer all these questions is YES!But what a WASTE! How many lives could be touched, reached and helped with their sacrifice.
BAV and his like minded people is thinking exactly the same today! BAV argument goes like this: the buildings and facilities serve the people, I am passionate about loving and serving the people, so I must be passionate and committed to “serve” the building that serve the people. We must give sacrificially and invest sacrificially in building to serve the present and future generations, our children and youth. Sounds logical, sounds passionate and full of zeal, sounds like that is the only thing we should do, sounds charismatic and a man of faith and vision, sounds like a clarion call of God, sounds like trumpet and shofar. Is it? To me it sounds like the voice of SATAN all over again!
People of God, we need buildings not monuments, we need facilities not concert hall, we need transportation not luxury travel, we need office and communication equipments not the latest from Samsung or Apple, we need salary not profit sharing (bonus is profit sharing), we need pastors and friends not CEO (chief executive officer), COO (chief operating officer) or manager.
People who question the wisdom of building an expensive house of worship is often refuted with the story of Mary breaking the alabaster jar, pouring all the perfume on Jesus’ feet and washing it with her tears and hair. Judas pointed out the perfume, which is worth a year’s wages, could have been sold and given to the poor. “For God, nothing is too expensive,” the fundraising clergy would argue. Does God dwell in expensive buildings? The more lavish the building, the more it pleases God? If this were true, then God must detest house churches in China and church with mud floors in our Sabah interior!
The church and the people of God need to REFOCUS! Jesus said, (Luke 11:34) Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Our eyes need to focus on the Lord Jesus, the source of light, so that the body of Christ, the church, may have light!
Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
God desires to dwell in men and women who are humble, contrite in spirit and trembles at his Word–not in marbles, bricks, stones and concrete. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Are we fit for his dwelling?
Seventeen days had passed since the four emails were published in this blog. As expected, neither Bishop Albert Vun nor Dean Chak replied. If the emails were fabricated they would have come charging with a strong denial. So what are the repercussions of these emails?
1. The Church Lost Her Voice
All of us witnessed the fraud, manipulation, racism in the recent general election. Other religious bodies, churches and denominations can be a voice of conscience at this time. Our Diocese however cannot speak up against such darkness because she is mired in the same problems and lost trust of the people. So what is the use of salt when it losses it saltiness?Dean Chak had lost the ability to pray together with the choir before the service started–a cherished ASC tradition. The giving of ASC was around RM150,000 in April 2013, down from RM285,000 monthly average in 2011.
2. Blaming the Whistleblower
Dean Chak is playing the victim and blaming the whistleblower. His hypocrisy makes Chua Soi Lek looks like an angel. When a clandestine video proved his infidelity, the MCA politician resigned and took time to mend his marriage. Dean Chak on the other hand just ignore his immorality. What a sad day when a non-believing politician (a tax collector in New Testament context) has the conscience to do the right thing, while a senior priest donned in white robs does not. How long can Dean Chak continues to hide from church members? BAV’s priority, the tithing and offering of ASC, slides to RM150,000 in April, down from the RM285,000 average in 2011. ASC struggles to pay its assessment to the Diocese.Meanwhile, when confronted by church members Rev. Sim Ka Seng replied he did not follow Bishop Albert Vun’s instructions in the email.
3. Does HOB Still Have a Conscience?
It is a widely held view HOB will not act against another fellow Bishop. Bishop Moses Tay is not here to address the issues–which to many is clear cut–but to shore up support for BAV. It is unclear whether these emails will awake the conscience of HOB and open their eyes to see the real Bishop Albert Vun.The Management Letter was discredited and the PAC report deemed biased. Now we have heard from directly from the horse’s mouth. What HOB does next will tell us a lot about the Bishops in our province.
Another batch of emails will be revealed soon to show the masquerade at play at Wisma Anglican.
The following is an open email sent last night to BMT, BAV and Chak, plus the 3 Bishops in the Provincial House of Bishops, and clergy of ADOS last night.
Dear Bishop Moses Tay, Bishop Albert Vun and Dean Chak,
I am writing to seek your clarification to the revelation published here:
Many questions are raised about your integrity, trustworthiness and moral standards. This blog has long been accused of being one sided. In the spirit of openness, I welcome you to challenge what is presented, argue your stand, clarify your position and point out any flaws.
Let’s engage the charges, issues and evidence before us. Bishop Albert Vun and Dean Chak, they are afterall, your words. I am please to publish your arguments/clarification verbatim on the blog as I did for Bishop Melter Tais’ apology last year. There is only one condition. You must not resort to name calling, spiritualizing the issues or issuing a simple denial as it is proven beyond reasonable doubt these are indeed your emails.
Dear Rev. Sim Ka Seng, Rev. Lin Khee Vun, Pastor Jemmie, Pastor Flora & Winston Nathaniel, you have been named co-conspirators in Bishop Albert Vun’s scheme to influence All Saints Cathedral’s AGM. You are welcome to defend yourself too.
Your response or refusal to respond will be reported back to the readers. I trust 72 hours is more than enough for you to respond, and believe you have the basic decency to be accountable to the members you lead.
This open email will be published on the blog.
The recently concluded AGM had the most transparent election held at ASC in the last seven years. It implemented a foul-proof ballot system, invited each candidate to nominate an observer during vote casting and counting process. Dean Chak together with the PCC initiated the openness and reformed the voting process. To me this is a great move by the new Dean to restore law, orderliness and transparency after controversies of vote rigging marred the AGM in 2011 & 2012. It also showed the new Dean is eager to reunite the church and kick out the nonsense that plagued ASC during BAV’s leadership.
I questioned the need to number the ballots, whether the move eliminated secret ballots. After further investigation, it became clear every ballot carried a unique number. This is to prevent the ballot from being duplicated illegal and placed into the ballot box, a move common known as “ballot stuffing”. Currency notes carry a unique number to protect its authenticity. No two ballots carry the same number, just like currency notes. I can imagine the hard work put into the ballots and voting system. The leadership deserves credit.
On Sunday, casting a vote involved 3 stages. One, a voter is screened for eligibility by presenting his I/C or passport and had it cross checked against the electoral. Two, if the voter is found eligible and legit, he/she was given an serialized card and then join a queue to cast vote. Three, just before the voters enter the voting booth, they handed over the serialized card in exchanged for a ballot. It seemed like an awkward system because we are using it for the first time, however it eliminated fraud. Nobody could run off and duplicate the ballots. There was NO REPORT of anyone recording numbered ballot to a voter’s identity. Thus the suspicion this system violates the secrecy of voting is unfounded.
While some pastors were campaigning aggressively in some congregations, there was no evidence to suggest Dean Chak was involved at all. Also, many admired the fact Dean Chak and the PCC would give an audience to Joshua Kong whose 3 motions were denied. While the previous leadership often ridiculed Joshua, the new leadership had shown respect and magnanimity.
It was reported some overzealous observers were abrasive and rough. While it is understandable the observers were keen to weed out abuse and foul play after being outmaneuvered by BAV in the last two AGMs, such behaviors only confirmed the accusations the reformers were “troublemakers”. Dean Chak is not BAV. We need to be clear. We must give the new Dean and PCC support and time to do their job. To nick pick and complain incessantly will only hamstrung any fresh efforts to restore and unite All Saints Cathedral. Let us not play into Satan’s ploy who is bend on killing, stealing and destroying.
There is one area I would like to seek clarification from Dean Chak and the PCC. For three Sundays leading to the AGM, it was announced in ASC every voter must show their I/Cs or passports to be eligible to vote. Yet last Sunday afternoon, some members produced their baptism certificates only and were given the right to vote. Is this a last-minute change of rules? Is it different rules for different congregation? A clarification from either Dean Chak or the PCC will be much appreciated.
UPDATED 7:45pm It’s time to consolidate and rally around the new PCC to move the church forward. Accord them the respect and goodwill to do their job. We all need to take stock and discern what the Lord is saying to us. Yet to finger point or blame anyone or any congregation when some of us do not get the outcome we desired is not helpful. We will never have PERFECT leadership, yet we can hope for HEALTHY leadership. Throughout history, the church has always been flawed and at times gravely flawed, yet through her the grace of God flows. Keep our hope in God’s goodness.
How do we make sense of All Saints Cathedral’s AGM? Candidates that are most vocal about reforms were not elected into the PCC. We are tempted to view it as a landslide win for BAV and his charges and resounding defeat for people who cries for reform. Is this view accurate?
The was a tight race in the election. The former Treasurer lost by 9 votes, and the incumbent Secretary won only by razor thin margins. The other PCC positions saw close contests too. While we can expect BAV to write to HOB to denounce his critics as minorities who cannot even win the parish election, we are certain that righteousness is not defeated. Objectively, BAV and his charges obtained slightly more than 50% of the total votes. Can you call that a landslide? Can they get this result without some heavy duty smear campaigning in the certain congregations?
Do you know who & what was defeated?
Sound reasoning was defeated by rumour mongering. Reformers were demonized as troublemakers by priests and pastors. There was heavy campaigning in the certain congregations by church staff and clergy. Instead of engaging the real issues the RM400,000 drop in offering in 2012, the rising deficit, the lack of check and balance, the church had retorted to demonizing reformers as “troublemakers”, “jahat”, and “evil”. There is no engagement of reason and tackling of issues, it was just smear campaign and character assassination. When it comes from church staff and clergy, it can only be true right? In the middle of the AGM, this SMS came through:
The new AGM format did not help members to focus on church affairs and issues. Votes were cast before the incumbent PCC made their final reports and members debate on pertinent issues. How do we choose future leaders when we are clueless of current affairs? Nearly 30% of voters left immediately after casting the ballots and skipped the reports and debates. If we want to inculcate care, understanding and participation in the church, we should re-evaluate the new AGM format.
Unity was defeated by sectarianism. What BAV and his charges failed to accomplish in 2011 & 2012 AGM, they ‘succeeded’ in 2013. Pitting one congregation against another didn’t stop Rosalind from being elected the treasurer, it finally worked in 2013. BAV and his charges have honed their skills for three years and they got the results they wanted. Why didn’t the reformers campaign and rally for support from the other congregations? Do you want to elect candidates who would stoop to politicizing and dividing the church to get elected into PCC? Which of the two women truly loves the baby? The one who wanted the child halved by a sword? Or the one who gave up her claim to the child to preserve his life?
Today we must make a choice, one that brings either life or death to our church. BAV pits one congregation against another. He prefers we distrust one another, hate one another, wage war against one another. Why? So he could divide and rule! So we are busy fighting one another and forget about the issues and abuses that is tearing the church apart. No, we will not forget the unanswered questions in the Management Letter nor the 38 allegations found true in the PAC report. Truth temporarily defeated is still stronger than evil triumphant.
Today, I choose to praise and worship the Lord. He rules and reigns supreme.
Rejoice for He is in charge and his ways are righteousness and good.
Rejoice for He loves you and me and everyone that we disagrees with. His love is wider and deeper than what we can imagine.
Rejoice for the church is His bride. He will wash her and cleanse her.
Rejoice for nothing can separate us from His love.
Rejoice for His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.
Rejoice for today is another day we can behold the beauty of our Lord and hear His still small voice.
Rejoice for He is our Lord and we are his children.
It’s confirmed that BAV is back in KK though he was supposed to be on a 6-month sabbatical. It is believed he has been back for at least 2 weeks, a very conspicuous timing as he got back when Christ Church & ASC hold their AGMs. These two churches have been BAV’s strongest critics. Christ Church’s AGM last Sunday saw key opponents to BAV voted out from the PCC, including George Lim the auditor who issued the management letter. A list of suggested candidates was distributed to the members; one just have to follow the instruction and pencil in the right names in the ballot. ASC members, you should watch out tomorrow to ensure such despicable acts are not repeated at ASC.
Does BAV has a hand in this? What about his right hand woman Stella Lo who is also back in KK? Now BAV and Stella Lo are reunited, it cannot be ruled out they are masterminding schemes at the background. Politicking and campaigning by the clergy reaches an unprecedented level at ASC. Can it be possible these priests and pastors acted in the own accord? Dean Chak had been away in Israel. So who directs them to politicize and campaign? Who is the real leader behind these schemes? Is it a coincidence that these schemes reach a crescendo when BAV and Stella Lo are both in town?
It is not only the country that is caught in election fever, several churches in ADOS are re-electing their PCC. Churchi elections are usually a dull event. Getting candidates to come forward to serve in the PCC is harder than pulling teeth. Not this time. All eyes are on the AGM of All Saints Cathedral this Sunday. There are 22 candidates contesting for 15 PCC positions.
Like it or not, the church is divided to the reformers and the pro-clergy. The former wants more active participation in church affairs to prevent lopsided representation and blind “yes” to every “faith” projects. The latter sees clergy as men of God and should be given unwavering support. Questioning the men in robes is rude and it impedes the work of God.
There is a clash of world views, east vs west, English educated vs Chinese educated vs BM educated. While I welcome a PCC with a diverse representation I worry about the unhealthy and unbiblical politicking in ASC’s election of PCC members.
Priests and pastors are rallying their favored candidates to stand in the election and instructing the members to vote for certain candidates. Is this what priests and pastors called to do? Priests and pastors use their access to cell groups, prayer meetings to campaign, use their office, phone lines, connection, network and whatever church infrastructure at their disposal to “defeat” those they disagree with. They are coaxing people to get rid candidates that are “jahat” (troublemakers). They are using their spiritual standing to spread lies on candidates they disagree with. They are pitting the Chinese and BM congregations against the English. Aren’t we all part of the body of Christ? How can the eye says I don’t need the hands? Aren’t priests and pastors called to feed the lamb, serve the needy, free the oppressed? How far have we fallen. We are politicking like an NGO, or political parties. How then is the church different from NGOs & political parties then? A church without Christ is just another organization. An election without Christ is just another election.
ASC AGM is turned into a referendum for Bishop Albert Vun’s popularity. Priests and pastors are using the election to shore up support for their boss. Nothing short of an annihilation of all dissenting voices is good enough. There is concerted effort to bus in members from certain congregations to out vote the reformers. It is a repeat of the playbook of 2011 election. BAV and his charges may well win the day as they have the platform, connection and all the time in the world to influence the congregations in their care. Then they can tell HOB, “See, the dissidents are only a minority. They can’t even win the election.”
Is truth determined by a popular vote? Truth is truth. Even if all the people denies Jesus is Lord, does that decide who Jesus really is? Does the outcome of the election determine the veracity of the Management Letter and the PAC report?
Truth temporarily defeated is still better than evil triumphant.
It does not matter where your convictions lie, for the reformers or pro-clergy, we must uphold the biblical standards in choosing our leaders. We are electing leaders to take care of our family/church. Yet if we are choosing leaders so we can CONTROL the church, then we would have departed from the Bible.
1 Timothy 3:8-13 offers the clearest and most direct teaching on choosing leaders.
verse 8 They are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in too much wine, not pursuing dishonest gain.
verse 9 Keep hold of the deep truth of the faith.
verse 10 They must be tested. Only to be elected if there nothing is found against them in the testing.
verse 12 They must be faithful in their marriage. Manages their family and children well.
This passage alludes to several leadership qualities required in church:
- A leader must be mature. Respect is earned over time. So is growing deep in the faith. It takes time to grow deep roots. Thus, a leader cannot be new convert, or someone without a strong standing in the community.
- A leader must be tested. They must be proven at a lower level of leadership before they can be considered for bigger responsibilities.
- A leader must be a great example, by his/her faithfulness to the spouse and family.
Focus on the issues. Debate them vigorously, eloquently, passionately but please stop the character assassination!
What is the strategy to get ASC out of the huge deficit? What led to the deficit and what can we do to ensure we don’t get ourselves in the same trouble again? What is the best way forward? Debate the amendment to the constitution. Participate in that with all our hearts and minds as it will shape the future of many generations to come. How can we arrest the decline in Sunday worship in urban churches? How can we reach out to working adults? How can we influence our community? Aren’t these issues closer to the heart of Jesus than who we like or dislike? Now pray and discern who are the candidates that possess the abilities, maturity and integrity required to serve the church in such challenging times.
Each of us are responsible for the future of the church. I challenge all to vote with a clear conscience before God. Obey God, not man. Fear Him, not man. We will be held accountable for our actions.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Bishop Albert Vun’s apology for Traitorgate on Sunday is a welcome step. The tone of the letter is markedly humble and so different from all his previous communication to the church. One apology however does not resolve this crisis nor address the whole gamut of problems plaguing the Anglican Diocese of Sabah. Let’s revisit the timeline of the events:
27 May BAV issued a pastoral letter to the whole Diocese about the upcoming investigation by PAC
30 May – 1 June Diocesan BM Revival Congress was held at Telupid. In one afternoon, BAV called a special meeting with ALL clergy, pastors and evangelists of ADOS, including those based in KL, Bangkok, Indonesia. There were about 100 people in this meeting. The main agenda of this meeting was about the upcoming PAC investigation and the complaints lodged against BAV. Here BAV spoke and Bishop John Yeo interpreted for him. Eyewitnesses testified when BAV wanted to name the five, BJY cautioned him if he indeed wanted to do so. BAV pressed ahead & BJY interpreted “traitors” as “pengkhianat”.
31 August By this date, PAC submitted their report to the House of Bishops.
18 September After deliberating over the PAC’s report, Archbishop Bolly Lapok delivered his recommendations to ADOS.
8 October In the Diocesan Bulletin BAV denounced all allegations on the blogs are “untrue and destructive”
15 October BAV during the Dialogue at All Saints Cathedral, DENIED he named the five complainants and calling them traitors in Telupid.
17 October Pastor Margaret Chong confronted the 3 Bishops for lying during the dialogue at ASC & testified she heard clearly BAV named the five and BJY interpreted “traitors” as “pengkhianat”.
17 October BAV in an email to the five complainants said he COULDN’T REMEMBER naming them but apologised anyway.
18 October At the dialogue in Tawau, Bishop John Yeo continued to argued he could not remember if the word “traitors” were used in Telupid and he was confused by the chains of events.
28 October BAV apologised to the five complainants for naming them and calling them traitors in Telupid.
Naming the five and calling them traitors is only one of many sins Bishop Albert Vun committed. What are the others?
1. Bishop Albert Vun LIED
First, he denied naming the five and calling them traitors during the dialogue in All Saints Cathedral. See this video:
Two days later, when confronted by Pastor Margaret, BAV changed his story. Now he claimed he couldn’t remember what he said.
Who called for a meeting with ALL the clergy? BAV.
What was the main agenda for the meeting? The complaints and PAC investigation.
Who led the meeting? BAV.
Who spoke at the meeting? BAV.
Is it Pastor Margaret’s responsibility then to remember what the Bishop said at the meeting? Shouldn’t a leader take responsibility for his/her actions and words?
Traitorgate is so much more than about the five complainants. It is proven to us the bishops lied in the house of God and before His people to cover their tracts. The excuse of the Bishops not remembering what they said does not hold water. By calling a clergy meeting to talk about the PAC investigation, by summoning all the clergy from every corner of ADOS, by setting aside time for a close door meeting during the Congress, by naming the five despite cautioning of BJY, showed BAV’s actions were premeditated. As such BAV’s excuse of not remembering his actions is not acceptable. I must conclude BAV LIED during the Dialogue at All Saints Cathedral, on 15 October. Bishop John Yeo who was surprisingly silent at the Dialogue at All Saints Cathedral. Is he innocent in the Traitorgate debacle?
2. Bishop John Yeo LIED
While he did not say a word in KK, when Bishop Melter Tais testified against Rev. Clarence Fu in KK, BJY shook his head and mumbled “No”. This is clearly seen on video. In Tawau, BJY claimed he got confuse over chain of events. There was the Revival Congress proper, and a closed door clergy meeting. Can you believe BJY who interpreted “traitors” for BAV, and wanted to stop BAV from naming the five, now got confused and forgot what transpired in Telupid?
Watch this video recorded in Tawau on 18 October. Note how Chung Thau Yong, the moderator, handled the questioning.
See the 4 reasons why BJY refused to admit to traitorgate or apologise for it:
1. He cannot remember what happened.
2. He was confused by the chains of events.
3. Just like the 5 complainants, BAV was humiliated too.
4. BAV had not resorted to excommunication of the five (though he has the authority to).
BJY’s point 1 & 2 are invalid as Pastor Margaret Chong had already testified against the 3 Bishops. For example, not killing someone and not remembering killing someone are two separate issues. The fact BJY admitted some people heard BAV naming the five and calling them traitors, yet still insist he could not remember or remain confused was most puzzling.
On point 3, the 5 complainants were humiliated because they were wrongly accused by BAV, yet BAV was humiliated by his narcissism, wrongdoings, & contempt for rule and order. He was found answerable to 38 of 40 allegations by the PAC, thus the complainants were spot on in their charges. It is shocking BJY thought BAV could excommunicate the five complainant.
After considering the evidence, I must conclude that Bishop John Yeo LIED too.
3. Did Bishop Melter lie?
Bishop Melter Tais defended BAV vehemently during the dialogue at ASC. He sounded confident and challenged Rev. Clarence Fu 7 times, “I was there.” Two days later, Bishop Melter called and apologized to Rev. Clarence Fu and wrote personally to every one of the five complainants to apologise. He claimed he did not remember what was said in Telupid and remembered after checking with his staff. Consider the facts:
- There are those in the meeting that did not hear BAV naming the five or naming them traitors
- BMT called and apologised immediately when he learned he had erred.
- BMT was the first to admit mistake and apologise to the five.
- BMT was neither the speaker nor interpreter.
Thus it is possible he did not hear or remember what happened. Yet if he wasn’t certain, why did he testified so convincingly at ASC? This remains puzzling.
BAV’s apology to the five complainants is not enough because the damage of his actions and words were not limited only to the five complainants. The repercussions reverberated across the whole Diocese. BAV thus far, has not grasped the full magnitude of his sins.
1. Lying in the Cathedral
For BAV to lie at All Saints Cathedral, and for BJY to support it, both men committed a sacrilege in the House of God. To do so in the presence of God, in the Cathedral, before over 400 Christians, with live video recording, this has to be the lowest point of Anglican Diocese of Sabah’s history. If BAV & BJY have an ounce of self respect and fear of God, they should do the honorable thing.
2. Lying to the Clergy
Five months ago, Bishop Albert Vun called the five”traitors”. Many clergy believed him. Today, BAV admitted he was wrong. Meanwhile the PAC has found BAV culpable in 38 of 40 allegations made against him. He should apologise to the clergy for misleading them.
3. Spiritual Abuse
By openly attacking the five complainants, BAV incited hatred and ill feelings towards them or anyone who shares their concerns. While those terrible words were spoken at a close door meeting, the seeds were planted in the hearts and minds of the clergy, and their vileness trickled down to the church. “Things flow downwards from the top,” as BAV often say. As a result, intercessors turned prayer meetings into judgement sessions against the five and BAV’s critics. The church is divided into pro and anti-BAV camps. Clergy uses the pulpit, church communication channels and resources to quell and harass criticisms.
If the five complainants were traitors, then anyone who shared their views and concerns were troublemakers. Instead of answering specific issues, BAV and many clergy spiritualised issues or criticisms as “attacks against the Lord’s anointed”.
4. Canonical Disobedience
The House of Bishop (HOB) issued a gag order on the identity of the complainants to ensure the investigation of the PAC was conducted without speculation and prejudice. BAV knew this but willfully disobeyed the HOB by naming them at a clergy meeting which includes almost all the priests, pastors and evangelists. BAV violated canonical obedience. It is plain insubordination.
Traitorgate had shattered our trust in the Bishops. Never had we thought a Bishop would lie inside the Cathedral, let alone 3 Bishops. By keeping quiet, the clergy is also losing respect and moral authority to lead. Where are the priests when they are looked upon to stand up for righteousness? Equally alarming is the inaction of the House of Bishop when BAV broke the gag order. Many opined the HOB put the “face” of BAV ahead of the spiritual well being of the ADOS. Others believed HOB were misled by BAV. Still there is time to right the massive wrong.