This season of Arise & Build, themed “My Church, My Life”, sees City Harvest Church members ready to arise together again and give to God’s house.
Contributed By Theresa Tan
This weekend of Sep. 24 and 25, City Harvest Church will enter into the sixth year of its building fund campaign.
The Arise & Build Pledge weekend will happen on Nov. 5 and 6, and the four-month Building Fund period is from November 2011 to February 2012.
This announcement, made by Kong Hee, senior pastor of the church to members at a meeting on Tuesday, Sep. 20, was met with warm applause and loud cheers.
Themed “My Church, My Life”, Arise & Build this year focuses on City Harvesters and how many of the turning points and key moments in their lives are closely tied to God and church.
Arise & Build is one of the defining elements of City Harvest Church, an act of faith exercised in one heart and spirit by the church. Since 1994/1995 when it started the first building fund to pay for the rental and set-up of Hollywood Theatre along Tanjong Katong Road, the church and its members have seen their faith and giving rewarded by God, in physical and spiritual ways.
For Cheo Meng Chin and Josephine Lim, long-time members who have given since the first building fund, this is an exciting time. “We have been anticipating this Arise & Build campaign as we are excited that we can once again step out in faith, expect the unexpected and for miracles to happen and doors to open,” says Lim. “We saw how our firstborn, now 12, gave generously two years ago, and she was happy with her participation in the last campaign. So, this is really an expression of the Bible verse, ‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.'”
Members young and old give to the building fund collectively to fulfill the vision for this place for worship. Like the people of Israel in 1 Chronicles 29, who gave to the building of the temple of the Lord —“with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the LORD”— we bring our gifts, living out the saying, “Unequal amounts but equal sacrifice.”
A PERFECT PLACE FOR WORSHIP
In April this year, City Harvest Church fulfilled a six-year dream for a new place for worship when it moved into Suntec Singapore. While it already owns a building at 1, Jurong Street 91, that space has a seating capacity of only 2,300. Suntec Singapore is the perfect location for CHC as it easily fits the size of its 22,049-strong congregation, is centrally-located and accessible by public transport, and it has existing facilities and retail amenities to cater to the needs of members and attendees.
In March 2010, CHC became a co-owner of Suntec Singapore via an investment in the consortium which owns Suntec Singapore. Through the co-ownership and lease agreement signed, the church has non-exclusive use of Halls 601 to 603 on the sixth floor, the Theatre plus 10 meeting rooms for 47 weeks of each year for the next four years; CHC has the option to renew for another six years thereafter. The church’s use of the space complies with URA’s updated 2010 guidelines for religious use of commercial venues.
“The reality in Singapore is such that without a co-ownership [or] joint venture, it is very difficult and costly for a church to own and use a property for the long term beyond the plots allotted by HDB, which are offered on 30-year leases only,” explained Kong at the meeting. “In view of the above ownership structure of Suntec, the ‘co-ownership and lease’ model has been the most realistic and cost-efficient way for CHC to use the premises for worship. At the same time, our strategy allows us to use the returns from our shareholdings to substantially defray the rental cost incurred from the usage of the halls.”
The sum CHC projected for the use of Suntec Singapore is S$310 million over the next 10 years. This amount is not what the church paid for its stake in the consortium; it is for the total investment in the consortium, purchase of fixed assets or capital expenditures (seating tiers, graphics wall, LED screens, etc), the estimated future rental expenses, and other operating costs related to the usage of the licensed area in Suntec.
“Based on the amount raised from previous Arise & Build campaigns, we will conservatively need another eight to nine years, from 2011 to 2020, to raise the amount … CHC hopes to achieve the goal of self-sustainability in a shorter period,” said Kong.
Currently, the amount that CHC needs to raise is S$229 million over the next eight to nine Arise & Build campaigns, he said.
The church accounts for the funds raised and its expenditure at the end of each financial year. These accounts are revealed to executive members at the Annual General Meeting, and thereafter, made available online at the church website.
For Dee Teo, 35, this will be her first Arise & Build experience. “I’m excited to give to the Lord, to build our place of worship. I’ll challenge myself to give!”
For Lau Quan Han, 25, “this Arise & Build brings new excitement. I have given through junior college, national service and university and I’m keen to give especially since God has blessed me with my current job. My giving this time not only expresses my love for the church, but my gratefulness for God’s faithfulness too.”
A number of members City News spoke to felt that the decision to use Suntec Singapore has been carefully considered and was the right one. “I feel it is the most wise and prudent decision at this point of time. Suntec is suitable not only in terms of location, but also to the numbers and growing needs of the members of our church. And we have a stake in it. I am confident that this is the best possible move Pastor Kong and the leadership of City Harvest can make,” says Gideon Yeo, 25.
Kong closed with a call for all members to knit their hearts together and to honor God and love people through this Arise & Build season. “Thank you for choosing to stay committed and united together … Our church will keep on learning, improving and we remain committed to each and every member. Let’s continue to build a church without walls, reaching out to the unchurched, loving people fervently and most importantly, loving and glorifying Jesus in our lives.”