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30 elders from Yoido Full Gospel Church, the world’s largest megachurch, held a press conference at the Korea Ecumenical Building in Seoul’s Jongno district on Nov. 14 to allege that senior pastor David Yonggi Cho and his family funneled off hundreds of billions of won from church donations.
Update (Feb. 26): Several pastors spoke up after David Yonggi Cho's sentencing to defend his character and values.First, Cho apologized to his church congregation when elders accused him of embezzling, and refused to blame the crime on his son in court, Taiwanese pastor Mao-Song Chang told The Gospel Herald, which describes itself as "the world's largest pan-denominational Chinese Christian news provider."Cho also has a simple lifestyle and spends much of his resources on social welfare, Bob Rodgers Sr., pastor of Louisville's Evangel World Prayer Center and a personal friend of Cho, explained to Charisma. He attributes the scandal to Cho's "prodigal" son.On Sunday, Cho told his Yoido congregation that his conviction was the hardest day of his 50 years of ministry, and said, "God forbid, if God calls me back today, I will still be able to go to the Kingdom of God," reports The Gospel Herald, which notes other details of the 78-year-old's Sunday sermon.-----The founding pastor of the world's largest Pentecostal congregation has been sentenced to three years in prison for embezzling 13 billion won (US$12 million) in church funds.David Yonggi Cho, 78, founded Yoido Full Gospel Church, an Assemblies of God-affiliated denomination that has grown to more than 1 million members. Last year, CT noted how the pastor emeritus faced indictment for an alleged stock scheme with his son.Last Thursday, the Seoul pastor was convicted of embezzlement as part of a scheme in which he arranged for the church to buy stock from his son Cho Hee-jun at more than three times the market price.Hee-jun was sentenced to three years in prison for colluding with his father. Hee-jun, 49, previously served as chairman of the Yeongsan Christian Cultural Center.Church administrators warned David Cho against purchasing the stock at an inflated price, but the pastor said he had to help his son out of a tight spot, according to Cho Hee-jun's arraignment document. Cho was also convicted of evading 3.5 billion won (US$3.2 million) in taxes, according to Yonhap News Agency.Church elders have also accused the pastor of embezzling additional funds.The Seoul Central District Court, which handed down its sentence Thursday, ordered Cho to pay a 5 billion won (US$4.7 million) fine. Cho's prison sentence was suspended five years; Hee-jun was jailed immediately.Cho first came under investigation in 2011, when church elders accused him of embezzling $20 million. Cho also has been criticized for privatizing church assets. CT previously reported on the investigation of Cho, and noted in 2006 that Yoido Full Gospel had selected Lee Young-hoon to replace Cho as head pastor.
As night falls in many South Korean cities, the sky glows a reddish orange from crosses sitting atop churches large and small. This country of 50 million has more than 58,000 churches — one for about every 860 people — and nearly a third of the population identifies as Christian.On Dec. 10, the documentary "Quo Vadis" will begin casting a critical eye on some of the largest of these congregations — "mega-churches" with thousands of members, multimillion-dollar budgets and senior pastors who are feted like rock stars. The film, directed by Kim Jae-hwan, paints a picture of financial malfeasance and sexual abuse by those in control.Given the film's portrait of powerful institutions with little outside oversight, Kim said, none of the major multiplex chains here have agreed to screen it, possibly fearful of church protests, and instead producers have been working with independent theaters. The film, in Korean with subtitles, will open in Los Angeles and New York in January.Kim, a Christian, said South Korea's media have gone soft on the churches because of their significant political influence and financial clout. His goal: to spark what he calls an overdue debate on whether churches have lost their moral authority in a quest to accumulate more congregants and money."We need to seriously ask where our society is going and what these churches are really doing," said Kim, a well-known former television journalist who is best known for his 2011 documentary, "The True Taste Show," an expose of how major South Korean broadcast outlets took money from restaurateurs in exchange for flattering coverage. ...... Please read more at the above link.
“Our prayers will open the sky and the homosexuals will fall, we will be blessed with victory,” said Lee Young-hoon, head of the leading organization in the anti-LGBT coalition.Lee, who is pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel megachurch in Seoul, heads the Christian Council of Korea, which claims to represent 60,000 churches with 12 million members.