Five new Board members were elected at the Annual General Meeting for City Harvest Church last weekend.
Contributed By Theresa Tan
At CHC’s Annual General Meeting last Sunday, 503 executive members of the church voted on key matters, the most significant of which was the election of five new Board members.
Kong Hee, senior pastor of the church, who chaired the meeting, explained, “The Code of Governance from the Ministry of Community, Youth and Society requires that we should ensure steady renewal of the Board. All of our Board members have performed their duties and carried out their responsibilities so effectively, and worked so seamlessly as a team, that we have not seen the need to change the Board members very much over the years. But we have always endeavored to comply with the Code as much as possible.”
The outgoing Board members are Suraj, who held the post of Secretary and has served on the board for 18 years; Aries Zulkarnain, Lee Tat Haur, Chiang Pak Shane and Choong Tsih Ming, all of whom have brought valuable contributions to the CHC management Board. Collectively, they steered the church through some of its most challenging periods.
“I want to say a big thank-you to the five Board members who have served so many years,” said trainer and entrepreneur Nanz Chong-Komo, a member of the church for 11 years. “Their different strengths and perspectives have brought such value to CHC.”
Voted in to join the remaining Board members Kong, Tan Ye Peng, John Lam, Nicholas Goh, and Martin Ong are five new individuals: CHC missions director Bobby Chaw, school teacher Lee Kiam Hong, co-managing director of an accounting firm John Lim, surgeon Francis Seow and university associate professor Francis Tay (see sidebar for profiles).
Traditionally, the office bearers would be named during the AGM, but not this time. Kong explained the need to “allow the old and new Board members to gel and work together, at least for a few weeks, to get to know each other better and familiarize themselves with each other’s strengths and expertise before deciding on the individual office bearers.” Hence the office bearers will be announced within a month from the AGM.
“The new Board brings confidence and reassurance as they are already respected leaders in their fields,” said Victor Lim-Fei, a PhD research scholar at NUS and a member of the church since 1998. “They certainly possess the right credentials, aptitude and experience to steer CHC forward.”
Dwayne Lum, a third-year law undergraduate at NUS, agrees. “I feel the new Board has strength in its diversity, and brings with it a variety of skill sets and disciplines. These five new Board members will help strengthen CHC’s corporate governance further.”
The four-hour meeting also covered the CHC Progress Report, which yielded interesting information, such as the median age of CHC’s congregation, which was 29 in 2010 (compared to 26 five years before). “It looks like we’re growing up,” quipped the senior pastor.
There were a number of changes to the Constitution, some of which were proposed in view of the updated Code of Governance for charities and institution of a public character (as of January 19, 2011) from the Ministry of Community, Youth and Society.
The relevant portion of the Code reads, “All Board members of the charity should exercise independent judgment and act in the best interests of the charity. To ensure objectivity in decision-making, it is desirable for the Board to be totally independent from staff working for the charity. In addition, staff of the charity: May only become Board members if this is expressly permitted by the charity’s governing instrument; should not comprise more than one-third of the Board; and should not chair of the Board.” MCYS’ updated definition of “staff” is “paid or unpaid individuals (including volunteers) who hold staff appointments and are involved in the day-to-day operations of the charity.”
In this regard, Kong announced that in order “to comply with the redefined Code, from this year onward, I will no longer be the Chairman of the Board.”
The MCYS guidelines also state that staff “should not comprise more than one-third of the Board.” As such, in compliance, only three staff members—Kong, Tan and Chaw—have been elected onto the new Board, which comprises 10 individuals.
“This AGM really showed how, as a church, we have grown,” commented Calvin Ho, a business development manager for an IT company and a CHC member for 17 years. “This time we openly discussed how things can be improved. The changes to the Constitution not only help CHC to adhere to the Code of Goverance, they also help to protect us.
“We are taking ownership to strengthen our church.”
CHC’s New Board Members
Bobby Chaw Ngin is the missions director of CHC and the dean of students at the School Of Theology. Chaw holds a Bachelor of Science from the National University of Singapore, and a diploma in Theological Studies from Oral Roberts University via the former City Harvest Bible Training Center. He will graduate with a Masters in Divinity in May.
Lee Kiam Hong is a former businessman who has been a teacher since 1998. He is currently a subject head. Lee holds a Bachelor of Accountancy with Honours from Singapore University (now NUS), as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Education and a Diploma in Departmental Management. Lee and his wife, Sin Lee lead two cell groups.
John Lim Geok Peng is the co-managing director at H.T. Khoo & Associates, PAC. Among his previous posts, he was deputy director of the Practice Monitoring Division of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore. Lim is a Fellow Certified Public Accountant and an Accredited Tax Professional. He was a zone supervisor for six years, and is a cell group leader in CHC.
Francis Seow Choen is a colorectal surgeon practicing at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre. He was formerly the head and senior consultant in the Department of Colorectal Surgery at Singapore General Hospital. Seow holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from NUS, a Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. Seow holds a Certificate of Theology from Tung Ling Bible School. He serves on the CHC Missions Committee, and was part of the first relief team to enter into Bandar Aceh after the 2005 Asian Tsunami.
Francis Tay Eng Hock is an associate professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, NUS. He was awarded first class honors from NUS in 1986, and holds a Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tay graduated from SOT in 2009 and has served as a cell group leader in CHC since March 2010.