The Senior Pastor of UK's largest church, Matthew Ashimolowo and the leaders of the church have threatened to walk out assets worth over £25 million unless the Charity Commission calls time on its lengthy and costly interim management imposition.
In a press release from the leaders of the church made available on thursday, the Church claimed the imposition of KPMG-as Receivers and Managers-by the regulatory authority, Charity Commission has cost the church almost £4 million-about £10,000 per day-in the past 14 months. It also accused the Commission of racial stereotype and not being comfortable with the idea of an African being in charge of a thriving Ministry. In the statement, KICC said: "Unless the Charity Commission is prepared to remove KPMG without delay and take account of our church culture, we feel that we will have no other course of action than to walk away from the charity so that we can run our church without compromising our Christian beliefs."
The Charity Commission, the statement continued:"Placed the costly city firm KPMG as Receivers and Managers at the Hackney-based Pentecostal church in November 2002. They were investigating management decision-making processes and biblical practices that they believe contravened charity law." KICC, according to the release:"Has maintained throughout that this is a case of church culture clashing with charity law, and has co-operated fully with the Charity Commission and KPMG through consultation and negotiation to try and resolve the issues.
"Yet 14 months later, the Charity Commission and KPMG are still ensconced at KICC - not giving a clear indication of why they are still around and when they intend to leave." Since that time:" KICC has been footing the bill for the interim managers, whose daily rates could be as high as £10,000 per day, or £4 million to date."
Although KICC has continued to survive this action, the release claimed this action:" Would have wiped out many a smaller charity," but:" Because of the secure and successful financial position," the Church was in:"Before the interim managers were put in place."With assets worth over £25 million, including savings, land and property," the statement claimed that the Ministry is still thriving, with an income of around £7.5 million over the last 14 months.
Recounting that 11 years ago, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo started KICC with just 300 congregants-who shared his vision and a passion to impact people's lives positively by sharing their faith-in a rented venue, the Church now boasts of a congregation of over 10,000 members, who give tithes and freewill offerings to support the work of the Ministry. "They continue to stand firm with the church which has helped so many of them to experience change in their lives, provide support and assistance to the wider community, and take the gospel of Jesus Christ to millions across the globe."
The statement went further to indict the accounting firm and accused it of not wanting to wind up its activities. "We feel that KPMG have found themselves in a lucrative position and therefore have no incentive to conclude their work in the effective and efficient manner that you would expect of a world-class firm."
Furthermore," We feel that the Charity Commission can't see past their racial stereotypes - they are acting as if the church's money is at risk because it's headed by an African. They also have failed to try and understand the black church culture and modify their regulations accordingly. Even the Prime Minister, " Tony Blair has said that the Charity law is outdated." Tony Blair had in a foreword to a report on:"Private Action, Public Benefit. A Review of Charities and the Wider Not-For-Profit Sector," published by the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit in September 2002, said: "The current law is unclear, has not evolved in a way which best meets the needs of contemporary communities, and does not reflect the diversity of organisations which operate for public benefit."
"Not everyone may share our Christian faith, but we are operating in a society that cares about Equal Opportunities and Race Relations, that stands firm against any form of injustice, and that protects human rights. Unless there is a law against black churches prospering, we deserve to be treated with respect and equity and to have our human rights upheld," KICC stated. The statement concludes that:"This is a matter of principle - our beliefs, core values and human rights are worth much more than money to us."
Although the release states that:"The majority of independent churches in the UK operate on similar biblical principles to KICC," and that by failing to engage sympathetically with the Ministry, "the Charity Commission and KPMG have squandered an opportunity to appropriately regulate the UK's independent churches." It added that:" If KICC walks away from its charity status, this could lead to other churches de-registering as charities."
KICC claimed that there is a continuos negative impact of its activities since the imposition of KPMG as interim managers. Among others, Winning Ways Africa, an annual outreach in Lagos, had been cancelled last November. So also was the Ghana version, due to what the church called:" Bureaucratic bottlenecks and delays." Ashimolowo's church also claimed it has lost credibility among suppliers due to delays in payment.Besides,"Damage to our reputation among the Christian community in the UK and internationally." KPMG was also indicted for non - payment of salary to the Senior Pastor, Matthew Ashimolowo," for over a year.
When the Charity Commission was contacted to hear its side of the story, Anthony Robbinf-head of information - said either David Rich, head of investigation or Simon Gillespie will respond early next week. Meanwhile, the interim managers, KPMG were also contacted and as at press time, a release is still being awaited from them
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