Singapore Methodist sends strong anti-gay message to American counterpart but did not penalize Bishop from overpayment


From the Methodist Message Nov 2007:

"One of the outcomes of the FAMB and AMC meetings was the issuance of a statement on the issue of homosexuality. The Asian Bishops unanimously decided to send a letter to the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church (UMC) stating that:“Our Asian Methodist Churches and communities have held, and continue to hold to the teachings of Scripture and our historic Christian faith on the issues of marriage and sexuality.“Sexual relationships outside marriage are against the teachings of Scripture. The marital relationship is also between a man and a woman.“We have also held that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings. We expect our clergy and lay to abide by these teachings and standards.“We appreciate that the United Methodist Church has taken a position similar to that of the Asian Methodist churches and pray that the UMC will continue to make a clear stand. The unity of the global Methodist family will be seriously affected if any member of this family moves away from the biblical and historical position on the issues of marriage and sexuality. “We therefore pray that together, we will be committed to maintain the teaching of Scripture and the historical and unanimous tradition of our global Methodist, and wider Christian, family.” The letter was sent in the light of the UMC’s upcoming General Conference in April next year at which the homosexuality issue is expected to be raised again."




The Electric New Paper :
'We regret that serious mistakes were made'
Methodist Church issues statement on overpayment to Bishop Robert Solomon EMBARRASSING and painful. That was how leaders of the Methodist Church in Singapore described the overpayment to its highest office bearer, Bishop Robert Solomon, for five years.
By Kor Kian Beng and Celine Lim

12 September 2006
EMBARRASSING and painful. That was how leaders of the Methodist Church in Singapore described the overpayment to its highest office bearer, Bishop Robert Solomon, for five years. In a statement issued to all 43 Methodist churches here yesterday, members were told that the church had learned from the experience. It also said that the General Conference - the Methodist Church's highest authority - was taking steps to ensure that such mistakes were not repeated. The Commissioner of Charities (CoC) has said it has written to the church seeking clarification on the issue. Internal checks by the church in June this year revealed that from 2001 to last year, Bishop Solomon, 50, was given about $946,000 in pay and allowances. This was about $372,000 more than what he should have received. This is the first statement the Methodist Church has issued on the matter. The statement said: 'We regret to inform you that serious mistakes have been made in establishing the bishop's salary and allowances for the period 2001 to 2005. 'As leaders, we would like to tell you that the bishop took no part in the decision making. 'But the mistakes were serious because the church has failed to follow the proper decision-making process.' After the discovery, there was 'a painstaking and thorough review', the statement said. The General Conference decided that of the $372,000 that was overpaid, the bishop had to repay only $52,674.48.

He has since repaid it in full. The General Conference also decided to approve the bishop's pay and allowance from 1 Jan 2001 to 31 Oct 2005 as $892,873.31. Some church members, like Miss Dawn Liu, 31, were surprised that the bishop was not asked to repay the entire amount. The statement was read out during yesterday's service at the Paya Lebar Methodist Church, which she attends. Miss Liu said: 'Why did it take so long to discover the mistake? Still, I don't think those who made the mistake should be asked to quit. This is a church, not the corporate world. 'But we should find out how the mistake was made and implement sufficient audit controls to prevent something similar from happening.' Mr Eugene Chong, 23, a member of the Fairfield Methodist Church, said he was not satisfied with the way the matter had been handled. He said: 'I think the bishop should return the extra money. 'I do understand that he may face difficulties in coming up with such a big sum at one go, but he can consider an instalment repayment scheme.' The bishop was not available for comment.

The Methodist Church is made up of the Chinese Annual Conference, Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference and Trinity Annual Conference. The General Conference has 84 members from these conferences. The recovered sum consisted of 'double payments' for things such as the bishop's home utility bills and car expenses, reported The Straits Times on 30 Aug. For example, he had a $15,000 transport allowance, but could also claim an additional $8,000 for car expenses and servicing costs. Meanwhile, a church spokesman confirmed that the CoC had written to ask for details of the bishop's pay package and the steps taken in approving it. He also said the CoC had asked for the outcome of the review by the church after it discovered the overpayment. The church was also asked for the names of the different committees involved in the review and the committee members who made decisions. The spokesman said: 'The church will provide the CoC with full answers to these questions, including a full account of the mistakes that were made, ratification actions and the full review of its decision-making process.' The church's review found that the bishop, a qualified medical doctor, had been wrongly given a much higher pay package than he was entitled to. The Council of Episcopany, which is in charge of the bishop's welfare, adjusted his pay package when he first took office in 2001. But the General Conference was not asked to approve the pay adjustments, as should have been the case.

SOME MEMBERS UPSET The General Conference's decision not to ask the bishop to return the full amount upset some church members. They sent anonymous letters to church pastors and the press about the matter in July and last month. The letters asked why the people responsible for the overpayment were not made to resign. A church spokesman said it was satisfied the council members in question were not 'lining their own pockets' and should remain in their posts, The Straits Times report said. He also said that asking the bishop to make good a mistake that was not his and which had happened five years ago would cause him 'considerable financial hardship'.

The bishop had bought his own house during this period.



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