Rev. Eric Ling, the priest in-charge of Good Samaritan Church, tendered his resignation on Monday. The shocking news came as Bishop Albert Vun wanted to install him, along with several priests, as rectors of their respective parishes. It is a shock because Rev. Eric Ling, from Labuan, is a protege of Bishop John Yeo and a blue-eyed boy of BAV. At the height of the crisis, Rev. Ling once publicly said that if the Bishop were wrong he would be the first to resign.
Ling’s wife, Phoebe, an accountant from Perth, was being lined up by Bishop John Yeo as the auditor to replaced Chu Vun Henn at St. Patrick’s Church when Chu refused to bend accounting rules to suit BJY. That arrangement fell through when Phoebe, sensibly turned down BJY. It is unclear if this incident has anything to do with Ling’s resignation.
BAV summoned the PCC members of Good Samaritan Church to the Bishop’s residence on Tuesday night and told them Ling ceased to be the priest in-charge of the church the moment he accepted the resignation. Rev. Sim Ka Seng takes over from Rev. Ling on Wednesday. Some members reported Ling went away to Singapore and would return to a farewell party on Dec 18. Rev. Ling will not be preaching this Sunday. It is unclear where Ling’s future plans lay, but many believe the young couple will move to Perth where Phoebe, an Australian permanent resident, used to work at.
From Pastor Margaret Chong, Archdeacon Moses Chin and Rev. Eric Ling, we see BAV acts with impunity and little regard for the dignity of the men and woman serving the Lord. Whether it is a transfer, a termination or resignation, the clergy involved were treated with little compassion, respect or professionalism.
The hundreds of smiling pictures posted on the Diocesan Facebook page cannot cover up the the rot and stench rising within the Diocese. BAV has not been to the Diocesan office at all, dictating instructions to his personal assistant who makes daily trips to the Bishop’s residence. Clearly, he is in no condition to lead the Diocese yet he wraps his arms onto the seat of power instead of handing over the Diocese to more able bodies and sounder minds.
Many of us are tempted to think “the crisis is over now God has taken charge”. It is understandable given the latest development and the fatigue this prolonged crisis brought us. There is no harm to take a breather, but is it wise to assume the house of God is properly restored now?
Far from it. The church continues to suffer as Bishop Albert Vun acts with impunity even in his final days. The demotion of qualified senior clergy, the promotion of inexperienced and untested young priests into lofty positions, the continuos denial of truth, the election of a godly leader to be the next Bishop of Sabah, the upcoming court case all requires our prayers. Yes, we have seen glimpse of light but night is not over and we must be careful not to allow darkness to snuff out the flickering flame.
On that note, I’m please to announce the prayer meeting this month will again be held at the STS Chapel at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday 11th December.
After a year of great tribulation in our church which has been so distressing, it will be good to end the year on a lighter note, even though our Anglican Sabah Diocese continues to face immense challenges. Accordingly, as this prayer meeting will be the last such meeting this year and many will be heading off for Christmas elsewhere with their loved ones, it is planned to have a period of fellowship following the meeting during which light refreshments will be served.
Thank you and God bless.
The following is a letter from the Standing Committee published in St. Patrick’s Church bulletin last Sunday.
Dear Dean, Rector, Priest-in-charge, Priest/PCCs & church members,
The Standing Committee wishes to express its profound gratitude to all of you for your love and concern expressed in so many ways to Bishop Datuk Albert Vun and his family. Together, we share Bishop Albert’s trust in the Lord and urge everyone to continue to uphold Bishop Albert and his family in prayer as (in Bishop Albert own words) he is “completely dependent on Him for a miraculous healing” from pancreatic cancer.
In response to many queries received from our church member, the Standing Committee wishes to clarify that some years ago the Diocese took a deliberate decision not to take up medical insurance for our clergy and pastors after having done an in-depth study on the matter. The existing policy of the Diocese on medical claims by any of our ministry staff is for the Diocese to pay 50% of the medical claims while the remaining 50% shall be borne by the local parish where he/she is at the material time posted.
In the case of Bishop Albert, the Standing Committee has decided that Bishop Albert medical expenses, including related incidental expenses in seeking medical treatment, will be the responsibility of the Diocese. The Standing Committee has also decided to bear the traveling expenses in seeking medical treatment, will be the responsibility of the Diocese. The Standing Committee has also decided to bear the traveling expenses of Datin Mary Vun (or her alternate) in accompanying Bishop Albert for medical treatment overseas, where and when necessary.
The Standing Committee is overwhelmed with so much generosity, kindness and love from both near and far expressed to Bishop Albert and his family. Notwithstanding the Diocese’s undertaking to bear Bishop Albert’s medical expenses, churches and individuals who still feel the need to offer financial assistance for Bishop Albert’s medical expenses may do so through your local churches, and this we will let the local priest in charge to take the initiative.
Proceeds collected may be sent to the Diocesan office by cheque issued in the name of “Diocese of Sabah” with the wordings “Diocesan Medical Fund” written at the back of the cheque and it is from this fund that Bishop Albert’s medical expenses will be drawn from.
Thank you. Let us continue to serve and trust the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Diocesan Standing Committee
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.
Read this in BM.
Bishop Albert Vun abrupt transfer of Pastor Margaret Chong from Ranau to Sandakan prompted protests from St. Paul’s Church, with the PCC resigning en bloc and demanding the Bishop to apologise for scolding and humiliating them at a meeting last Friday.
Pastor Margaret Chong’s transfer to Sandakan with Canon Lidis heading the opposite direction was first mentioned during the clergy conference on 2-3 September. BAV instructed Margaret not to inform the PCC because it was not finalised. On 12 September when Philip Lo visited St Paul’s, he instructed the PCC to rent a house for Canon Lidis.
“This was how St. Paul’s PCC found out Pastor Margaret would be transferred. Pastor Margaret never said a word about this. We were stunned to learn about it through Philip Lo,” said Low Gee Huat who had been serving in the PCC for over 20 years.
The PCC was shellshocked because St. Paul’s had been planning to build a multipurpose hall in Kundasang and a new staff quarters. “We have been raising money for almost six years since Pastor Margaret first arrived here. We’ve got RM400,000. almost enough to complete everything and we are about to start construction, and the Bishop transfers away Pastor Margaret,” said Low.
St. Paul’s has a small but thriving Chinese congregation. Louis Yap, who served for 17 years in the PCC, said it was in no small part thanks to Pastor Margaret’s hard work and ability to speak three languages. “With Pastor Margaret gone and Canon Lidis unable to minister in Chinese, I am not sure what will happen to the Chinese congregation,” said Yap. He also added 70% of the giving come from the Chinese congregation, and it is unwise and irresponsible to neglect the Chinese work.
Last Friday, at a meeting with Bishop Albert Vun in KK, the PCC petitioned for Pastor Margaret to stay in Ranau based on the facts given above. However, BAV told the six-person PCC since they had resigned, they had no say in the administration of the church. BAV also told the six men he would appoint a new PCC to replace them and would not stop them from serving or moving on to another church.
“What kind of a bishop is this? Instead of encouraging and strengthening us, he rubs salt to wounds and insinuates we should leave the Anglican church,” said Low. Louis Yap who was at the meeting said it was the first time in 17 years serving in the PCC he was scolded by a bishop. Both men testified BAV was so loud and furious that “his face changed shape”.
Bishop Albert Vun then accused St. Paul’s Church for “backstabbing him and twisting the knife on him”. He challenged them if they understood the 24-page dossier they signed and submitted by the 10 delegates to the House of Bishops last year. The six PCC members were puzzled. First, they did not sign the petition to the House of Bishops, only a petition against Philip Lo’s ordination. Secondly, what does the Diocesan crisis has to do with the local ministry in St. Paul’s Church?
“He was raging and getting very personal. Why is he scolding us for things we did not do?” Yap argued. While BAV raged, Low said he realised revenge was the real motive behind the transfer of Pastor Margaret Chong, not the wellbeing of St. Paul’s Church.
“After six months [sabbatical], Bishop Albert Vun has not changed one bit. He has become more bitter and vengeful,” said Low.
When the PCC returned to Ranau, Pastor Margaret coaxed them to withdraw their resignation to no avail. “If Bishop Albert Vun writes to us officially to ask us to stay on, personally delivers the letter to us and then apologise for humiliating and wrongly accusing us, then perhaps we would reconsider. Otherwise there is nothing to talk about,” said Low.
Most members of St. Paul’s PCC have served the church for more than 20 years. They gave their money, time and resources sacrificially to raise enough funds for the building projects. To be discarded just before these projects begin was heartbreaking.
“Since the Diocese wants to call all the shots, then let them handle the building projects. They made it clear they don’t need us anymore,” said Low. When asked if the PCC would continue to support the projects under the leadership Canon Lidis, Low said the PCC had nothing against Canon Lidis or his leadership. Yet when it comes to giving and contribution, he believes the church members will be “very cautious” after this rude awakening.
As for Pastor Margaret Chong who confronted the 3 bishops for lying, her transfer to Sandakan had been moved forward from 5 December to 15 October.
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.”
After the 10 delegates met with the HOB, presented over 1200 signatures to the HOB and made their case, Bishop Albert Vun met with the HOB a few weeks later. Since BAV had always maintained all allegations were false and malicious, debunking falsehood would be the easiest thing to do. Instead of defending himself with evidences, BAV asked for letters of endorsements from the two assistant Bishops and people. At the moment of life and death, he could only show letters of support–not a shred of defence or evidence. Why? When Bishop Albert Vun couldn’t defend the indefensible, he played the only card in his hand. Support. Or more correctly, faux & blind support.
The following are emails exchanges between BAV, John Yeo and Melter Tais, and a letter of support prepared by Melter to the House of Bishops. Melter’s email and letter were sent in June 2012 while the PAC was in town to investigate allegations against BAV.
We can speculate BAV presented letters of support from the Interior churches & priests (via Melter Tais), Urban churches & priests (via John Yeo) and the 2nd motion of the Synod which affirmed that BAV is God’s anointed leader for ADOS. Consider this:
1. The Conspiracy of the 2nd Motion
BAV started the Synod by crying, hugging and begging for forgiveness of James Chhoa. Then he concealed the Management Letter from the Synod which came to light a week after the Synod. What he truly wanted out of the Synod was the 2nd motion. It didn’t matter he had to put on an Oscar-worthy performance and David Copperfield act to hide the Management Letter from the Synod. It had to be done so BAV could secure proof of support to the House of Bishops albeit with deceit and concealment. In the same way, the feet washing charade was never about reconciliation but securing enough pledge cards to shore up political support.
The vote count for the 2nd motion was 95 yes, 53 nay or abstention. Imagine the vote count if the Management Letter had been presented during the Synod?
2. Melter Lied Again?
Melter told the HOB he was not instructed by BAV to write the letter. Really? Subsequently BAV forwarded Melter’s email and letter to John Yeo and instructed Yeo to write a letter of support. So John Yeo was instructed but Melter wasn’t? Again, the integrity of the leaders of ADOS is called to question. Could Meter Tais have lied to the House of Bishop?
By the way, how does weekly church attendance have anything to do with the allegations that BAV abused his power? After 3 months of investigation, the PAC reported BAV is answerable 38 of 40 allegations against him. For Melter Tais to assert the allegations against BAV are half-truths while the investigation had barely started is mind boggling. On top of that, Melter even rallied a signature campaign amongst the interior clergies before the investigators had completed their work. At the end of the PAC’s findings prove Melter wrong. Either Melter has misled the people or he is misinformed. Either way, can we still trust the integrity and discernment of this assistant Bishop?
3. HOB fooled?
For reasons known only to the HOB, BAV’s letters of support seemed to have swayed HOB from what BAV fears most, convening the Ecclesiastical Court. To Archbishop Bolly, Bishop Moon Hing and Bishop Rennis, is the truth determined by vote count? Can we determine the deity of Jesus Christ by a global referendum? Yet the leadership of these three bishops buckled under the appearance of popular support, or more accurately faux support. Since the HOB cannot be relied upon for sound judgement, perhaps the Malaysian civil court will nudge them to do the right, honourable and godly thing.
In the next post, you will see evidence of Bishop Albert Vun pocketing church funds in the most unethical manner. Let’s us all pray for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sins upon our whole Diocese and open our eyes to see the rapid decay of morality amongst our leaders.
Arrangements are now in hand for a monthly prayer meeting to enable Anglicans in KK to come together for fellowship with God and with each other and to intercede for the Diocese unconstrained by church agendas. Please note the details as follows:
Venue: Sabah Theological Seminary Chapel
Date: First Wednesday of each month – 7th August, 4th September, etc
Time: 8:00 p.m.
How to get to the STS Chapel
To reach STS take Jalan Istana from the city centre beside the Padang and head up Signal Hill. Do not take the left on Jalan Bukit Bendera but keep trending right on Jalan Istana and follow this road to the crest of the ridge. At this point the entrance to the Istana is on the right but turn left into Jalan Pinggir just before reaching the Istana entrance. Follow Jalan Pinggir to the very end where STS will be found on the right.
Drive into STS and follow the road downhill past the main building. The new STS Education Centre with its two levels of car parking is then on the left. The road continues downhill to end at the chapel. There is some parking at the chapel but it is rather limited so it can be easier to park at the Education Centre and walk down to the chapel.
Read this in 中文 & Bahasa Malaysia.
This blog has long warned there is a cynical ploy behind last week’s feet washing ceremony to use it as a political ploy to shore up support for Bishop Albert Vun via the signed covenant cards. Many have questioned why we need to sign something with the church when a covenant is made between God and man? The true motif of the the signed covenant card is revealed in this email sent out yesterday by the Commissary, Herbert Tong.
Consider these questions:
1. Why does the Diocese want a record of our covenant with God? I can understand keeping baptism and confirmation records, but a renewal of our commitment to God? It is none of the Diocese’s business!
2. Why does the Diocese want a record of those of signed versus the size of the congregation? Why is this figure significant for the Diocese unless it is to be twisted into a show of support for Bishop Albert Vun? I think it is fine if the Diocese want to do a referendum on BAV’s leadership openly. Yet to do it under the pretence of renewal of commitment to God is taking the Lord’s Name in vain & abusing the holy office. “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes, and your ‘no’ be ‘no’.” No smokescreen please!
It is suspected BAV will used the number of signed covenant as a barometer of his support. “See I have so many people saying they are happy to move forward together with me, why should I resign?” BAV would tell the PHoB.
3. To priests and clergy who are unhappy with the Commissary’s latest directive. Remember he is only a journey man, passing through our Diocese. What can he do to you if you refuse to collaborate with this ungodly ploy? He is leaving office on 31 July. You want to obey him, a man who has no commitment to the Diocese and had left the Anglican church for over 18 years, and who does not have to take responsibility for the Diocese after 31 July? Or do you want to heed the warning from your church members who have been and will be with you for the long haul? Above all, obey God not man, especially a cynical ploy by a desperate man.
Be watchful my brothers and sisters when we go to church this weekend. The twisted feet washing saga is not over yet.
This is the million dollar question. During last week’s Standing Committee meeting, Archbishop Bolly Lapok announced Bishop Albert Vun will spend August in Singapore and return to the Diocese of Sabah on 1 September. The Commissary will end his term on 31 July. Who will head the Diocese in August? The Archbishop said the PHoB will “work out something”.
This is unexpected. BAV was widely anticipated to resume duties in Sabah on 1 August. Confirmation and several official duties were lined up for him around the Diocese. What is he doing in Singapore for a month? What will take a month to get done? This unexpected turn of events lead to many speculations, amongst them the possibility BAV will leave Sabah and be appointed the “Missionary Bishop” to Thailand or China. It is unclear if this will involve the Province sponsoring a new Diocese to accommodate BAV. Setting up a new diocese will be a lengthy process. This will allow BAV to keep the bishopship, move him out of Sabah and quell a rumoured upcoming legal case. A win-win-win solution? Well this is only one of many stories in the grapevine.
Jockeying for the Bishop’s chair has already started in Sabah, albeit quietly. Afterall if you are Brutus, you have to be certain about eliminating Caesar before you make any moves.
By the way, BAV is spotted at the Eagles Leadership Conference in Singapore recently. He is not listed as a speaker on the website.
Tonight’s feet washing will start with a declaration that “no money is lost and there is no misappropriation of funds”. Diocesan Treasurer Michael Tong has confirmed the disputed 2010-2011 accounts have NOT been re-audited. Henceforth, this declaration is a LIE made in the House of God. I pray everyone is reminded of the story of Ananias & Sapphira who also lied to the church. I pray for God to show mercy to those who are going to proclaim this lie and mislead the sheep.
Acts 4:32 – 5:10
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spiritand have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
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.