1) January 1 2011 – Rev. Alfred Kong Joined VCBC as the Senior Pastor.
Rev. Kong hired by VCBC as the Senior Pastor of VCBC.
January to December: Throughout the first year, Rev. Kong was evaluated every quarter by the Evaluation Team. The evaluation was based on the Senior Pastor’s job description (Appendix 1) and utilized the evaluation form designed by Personnel Committee (PC).
Sunday Worship services attendance increased steadily. Church started planning for an addition Worship Service in Sunday afternoon.
2) January 1 2012 – Rev. Alfred Kong completed one year probation with good review and his employment became a full time permanent position.
Rev. Kong passed the first year adjustment period with very positive feedback. Rev. Kong made a smooth transition to the permanent full-time position.
Rev. Kong committed himself to preach more frequently at Sunday worships, to teach Sunday school and to conduct topical workshops to help members’ spiritual growth.
3) March 2012 – Increase in number of participants in Sunday worship and Wednesday prayer meetings.
Sunday worship services attendance increased steadily. Church started planning for an additional worship service on Sunday afternoon.
Members were happy to see more pastors attending church meetings including worship services and prayer meetings. Wednesday night prayer increased from four to six persons to 50 to 70 persons.
4) March 2012 – Rev. Kong Introduced work disciplines and accountabilities for the pastoral staff.
Rev. Kong worked with the Personnel Committee to implement new work disciplines and accountabilities for the pastoral team: putting up a schedule board in church office; limiting pastors in preaching at other churches and to spend more time at own church.
5) November 25 2012 – At the November Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting, a member asked whether the three pastors were working in harmony.
During a regular Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting (MBM), a member asked if there was a problem of cooperation with the three pastors in the Chinese congregation.
December 16: A Joint Group consisting of the Personnel Committee, the Church Council and Deacons Group was formed and a four-member team was sent by the Joint Group to investigate the situation by interviewing the three pastors individually.
December 30: This team reported to the Joint Group that they found no big concern about the three pastors. But the Joint Group decided to continue to review the situation by introducing a “monitoring process” and to hold a series of reconciliation meetings with all members of the Joint Group participating as observers.
6) January 12 2013 – The three pastors were called to attend an “Open Dialogue Meeting” to clear the air.
An open dialogue meeting was held among the three pastors and chaired by Personnel Committee Chair Ken Ip, and observed by all Personnel Committee members and all the four church moderators. Observation report delivered to the January Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting by Personnel Committee Chair confirmed that there was no big concern with the three pastors.
7) January 22 2013 – Church leadership received a complaint of unethical conduct of an EC Moderator. A Combined Board was formed to investigate this matter.
January 21: Church leadership received a letter from a long-time member making a formal complaint against the VCBC English Congregation Moderator for having unethically managed a church member’s investment resulting in lost of a large amount of money. In response, a Combined Board was formed to investigate the dispute but in vain. The Combined Board decided to leave the matter in the hands of the Court of Law. This case developed into a civil lawsuit between these two brothers shortly after (Notice of Civil Claim – Appendix 2).
8) March 28 2013 – The Church Council received a formal complaint from Pastor Alfred Kong against Personnel Committee Chair and members.
March 28: The Church Council received a formal complaint from Pastor Alfred Kong against Personnel Committee Chair and members demanding Chair and members of the Personnel Committee:
- Cease and desist false accusations
- Cease and desist bullying
- Personnel Committee fulfill its main function which is to assist and support the Senior Pastor to enable smooth running of the church
No action was taken by the Church Council.
9) April 11 2013 – The Combined Board reported it was unable to reach a conclusion on the dispute.
The Combined Board finished its investigation and prepared a summary report regarding the complaint and allegation of the church leader. The conclusion was to not make any decision because of not getting enough information. As a lawsuit is still ongoing; the Board agreed to leave the dispute in the hands of the Court of Law.
10) April 16 2013 – Rev. Alfred Kong made a decision on the complaint based on precedent.
Rev. Kong called the English Congregation Moderator to meet but in vain. Rev. Kong sent email to this English Congregation Moderator conveying his final decision on the complaint. At the same time, he informed all church leaders about his decision to remove this English Congregation Moderator from all church positions and duties. An Announcement was made to the church members on this matter at the following Sunday Worship accordingly.
11) May 3 2013 – Rev. Alfred Kong upheld his decision despite protest by a group of 18 Church leaders and members.
April 29 2013: Rev. Kong received a response from 18 leaders/members (including the English Congregation Moderator and his wife) requesting him to withdraw his decision, challenging his authority to exercising disciplinary action against a Church leader.
May 3 2013: Rev. Kong replied to the 18 leaders/members to reaffirm his decision stating that his decision was based on this leader’s own testimony and a precedent set by the Founding Pastor of VCBC.
12) May 16 2013 – Pastors Peter Teh and Pastor Sam Wong submitted resignations on the same day.
May 16: Both Pastor Peter Teh and Pastor Sam Wong resigned on the same day shocking church leaders, members of the congregation and their supporters.
Though both pastors in their resignations stated that they had prayed and sought God’s guidance in their actions, they expressed their dissatisfaction with the management style of the Senior Pastor and certain church leaders as the reason for their resignations. Pastor Sam Wong openly criticized the management style of the Senior Pastor and the Church Moderator with whom he could not continue to work, while Pastor Peter Teh blamed certain church leaders (mainly referring to Church Moderator) abusing their authority causing him to resign.
May 24: Church leadership team tried to talk these two pastors into reversing their decision but in vain.
Several representatives of the Deacons met with Pastor Peter Teh and Pastor Sam Wong individually, trying to care and comfort them. While these resignations seemed irreversible, the Cantonese Congregation Deacons met to discuss how to best announce their resignations at the May 26 MBM.
At the Deacons prayer meeting on May 25 in which both Pastor Teh and Pastor Wong were present, some Deacons put blame on the Church Moderator and tried to ask him not to chair the Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting. But the Moderator refused and insisted on carrying out his duty no matter how hard it would be for him to do so.
13) May 26 2013 – At the Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting, Personnel Committee Chair reported the progress of their “monitoring process” stating that Rev. Kong was the only one not cooperating with Personnel Committee.
14) Discussion of the resignations of the two pastors turned into a commotion causing the chair to call for a recess.
May 26 2013: At Members Bi-monthly Meeting, the Personnel Committee Chair who was the subject of Rev Kong’s complaint to the Church Council, submitted a progress report on the monitoring process suggesting Rev. Kong was the only one not cooperating with PC. Out of ordinary course, the Personnel Committee Chair called the two pastors to deliver speeches of their resignations. (Normal procedure was for Personnel Committee to motion and affirmtheir resignations while the resigned pastors would abstain from the meeting). This triggered great emotion from the congregation members, in particular the supporters of these two pastors, causing a commotion in the meeting prompting the Moderator chairing the meeting to call for a recess. After a short while when order was restored, the meeting continued.
15) Personnel Committee member Elaine Chan requested floor motions from the congregation to distribute confidential personnel related documents to the members and to call for a special members meeting on June 9 to discuss these documents.
Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting approved the following controversial motions:
- Adopted the two motions of resignations of Pastor Peter Teh and Pastor Sam Wong.
- Adopted a floor motion to distribute Personnel Committee minutes, personnel records and confidential documents to members. (A Personnel Committee member Elaine Chan openly asked members to put forward a motion to request Personnel Committee to do so if they wanted to know more details about how the Personnel Committee handled the conflicts between the three pastors. She maintained she had consulted a lawyer who confirmed there would be no problem for the church to release confidential personnel related documents to members upon request.). After this motion was passed, she told member to sign up for an e-copy or get a hard copy. (Accordingly, these documents were distributed at the church on following Sunday.)
- Adopted a floor motion to discuss Personnel Committee records and confidential documents in a Special Members’ Meeting to be held on June 9.
16) English Congregation Vice Moderator Philip Mah tendered his resignation after the meeting.
May 27 2013: A Personnel Committee member questioned Elaine Chan’s decision to distribute Personnel related records and confidential documents without prior discussion nor prior discussion with the Personnel Committee chair and other members.
May 28: Cantonese Congregation Moderator also asked Elaine for the name of her lawyer and the related opinion letter. Elaine refused to provide the information as requested, urging him to seek legal advice separately.
May 30: Personnel Committee and the Church leadership received letters from members complaining about the behavior of certain Personnel Committee members at the meeting.
17) May 31 2013 – The Church Moderator attempted to remedy the possible damage from a violation of the Privacy Act by urgently seeking a legal opinion.
Facing enquiry/complaint from members, the Church Moderator Kelly Chan sought a legal opinion and found out Personnel Committee could not distribute confidential personnel documents to church members at large.
May 31: Morning, Cantonese Congregation Moderator, Kelly Chan and Ken Ho (Council member) sought legal opinion from Mr. Gregg Rafter at Boughton Law Corporation on legal liabilities with distribution of personnel records and confidential documents and the risks of holding a Special Members’ Meeting to openly discuss these Personnel records and confidential documents.
In order to obtain a formal opinion, the Church Moderator Kelly Chan called an Emergency council meeting at 7:30pm in the evening to consider the following:
- To retain Legal counsel to provide opinion on distribution of Personnel records and confidential documents. To approve to pay the retainer fee of the amount $2,500.
- To discuss the risks of holding a Special Members’ Meeting on June 9 to discuss Personnel records and confidential documents.
- To discuss Rev. Kong’s complaint letter to Personnel Committee.
Only four people attended the meeting. The above motions other than three above were approved with resolutions recorded in the minutes of meeting.
June 1 2013: Kelly Chan called a Second Emergency council meeting to accommodate those who could not come to the first meeting. Notice and Agenda were sent out to all by email. But again, only four people attended.
18) June 1 2013 – 115 church members signed two petition letters and objected to these two floor motions adopted in the Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting.
June 1: Church leadership & the Church Moderator Kelly Chan received two petition letters signed by 115 members expressing their deep concerns about these two motions adopted in the Members Bi-monthly Meeting on May 26, (1) to disclose Personnel Committee confidential documents (2) to hold a Special Members’ Meeting to discuss these documents on June 9 (Appendix 3 and Appendix 4).
June 2: Bulletin inserts of resolutions for Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting of May 26 with a special announcement: June 9 Special Members’ Meeting was postponed until further notice due to potential legal risk according to the church lawyer’s opinion.
19) June 3 2013 – Cantonese Congregation Moderator Kelly Chan made a decision to retain legal council on behalf of the church to provide legal opinion.
June 3: Following a discussion with a few Deacons, Cantonese Congregation Moderator Kelly Chan on behalf of VCBC retained Boughton Law Corporation to get a formal legal opinion on the release of the confidential personnel records and documents to congregation members.
June 4: Kelly Chan called for an emergency Council meeting again to address the legal opinions from the church lawyer. Three Council members (Philip Mah, Betty Yuen and Henry Cheung) did not agree to have an emergency Council meeting before June 9, 2013, for they worried that this emergency council meeting would stop their plan to hold the Special Members’ Meeting on June 9th.
June 5: VCBC received formal legal opinion letter from Boughton Law Corp. regarding risk in releasing confidential PC documents, and liabilities of holding a Special Members Meeting on June 9 to discuss these documents.
20) June 5 2013 – Cantonese Congregation Vice Moderator Jimmy Ko applied for sick leave until February 2014.
Vice Moderator Jimmy Ko of the Cantonese Congregation became sick for the next several months. He was not able to come back to church until February 2014.
21) June 7 2013 – Attempt to recommend a review of Rev. Kong’s suitability as the Senior Pastor defeated in a Personnel Committee meeting.
June 7: At a Personnel Committee meeting, Ken Ip (chairperson) distributed a new set of agenda items including one to approve the already released Personnel Committee confidential documents. Also someone requested to vote on whether the leaders will continue to support Rev. Kong to be the Senior Pastor. Some members did not agree to discuss this without a proper evaluation process. Ken Ip’s suggestion was defeated.
22) June 8 2013 – Illegal mid-term election of Deacon’s representative in Personnel Committee and Church Council.
June 8: During the Deacons prayer meeting, Pastor Sam Wong (already resigned) suggested a mid-term re-election of two deacon representatives to the Board of Directors and Church Council (supposed to be a one-year term). Despite objection by some as this was out of line with normal procedure, the re-election still proceeded. Edward Li and Raymond Wong were elected to replace Mrs. Li and Ken Ho. Both resigned several months later in protest of unfair treatment.
23) June 9 2013 – The Church Moderator made special announcement regarding the Special Members’ Meeting in the afternoon.
June 9: During the two morning services, the Church Moderator announced that members can decide themselves whether to attend the Special Members Meeting in the afternoon. However, it is important to observe the legal advices provided by the lawyer retained by the church. Many members decided not to attend the meeting because of possible legal risks of openly discussing the personnel confidential minutes.
24) June 9 2013 – Despite announcement in the morning, the already resigned English Congregation Vice Moderator Philip Mah continued to chair the Special Members Meeting without any agenda item.
At the Special Members’ Meeting, Philip Mah, the already resigned Vice Moderator, chaired the meeting, No explanation on why Philip Mah, a professional accountant, chose to rely on an unidentified opinion from Elaine, ignoring legal opinion provided by the lawyer engaged by the Moderator on behalf of the church, and chaired the illegal meeting on June 9. He tabled a revised list of resolutions for Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting of May 26. It has revised the two resolutions regarding resignations of Pastor Peter Teh and Pastor Sam Wong, stating that the 2 motions were not accepted at the last Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting on May 26 and discussion of these motions were postponed to June 9. Reasons for revisions were because the secretary of the meeting insisted that the resolutions on the resignation motions were not complete without a record of number of votes for and/or against the motions, although the Church Moderator maintained that, under VCBC policy resignation, motions do not require a voting. It only requires affirmation in order to honor the pastor’s decision to resign.
At Special Members’ Meeting, the chairperson Philip Mah, did prevent the discussion of the distributed Personnel Committee confidential documents. But, the legal opinions provided by the church lawyer were not disclosed in the meeting.
25) June 9 2013 – Floor motions to remove Cantonese Congregation Moderator Kelly Chan from all leadership positions of the church, and to conduct a review on the suitability of Rev. Kong continuing to be the Senior Pastor of the church were passed in an illegal meeting without sufficient notice to members nor a proper agenda.
Instead of adjourning the Special Members’ Meeting due to the lack of agenda item, the meeting lasted for another five hours. Two floor motions were entertained and adopted, which were:
(1) to remove Kelly Chan from Moderator position and all other related leadership positions, i.e. the Church Moderator, Director, Personnel Committee member. Many members raised legitimate concerns of this Special Members’ Meeting but in vain. Some of the concerns were:
- Jack: wrong procedure? Something not right! The person (meaning Cantonese Congregation Moderator or the Senior Pastor) has no way to respond. We are talking behind his back. Is this a right thing to do?
- Parvin: Will these two floor motions be too rushed? They were just motioned today!
- CK: We need to observe order. When we point our fingers and accuse others, we need to be orderly.
- Alfred: I am against this motion. I think this should be a written motion (meaning a motion included in the agenda), not a floor motion since this is a serious motion and should be a written motion. If this is a written motion, then Kelly can provide explanation and evidence. (Rosanna also agreed with Alfred, It should be a written motion instead a floor motion so he can provide explanations)
- Elizabeth: He doesn’t have a chance to defend himself. I believe if this is a church body……, we should give him a chance (to defend himself).
(2) to set up a new Joint Committee to evaluate the suitability of Rev. Kong as the Senior Pastor. Both Rev. Kong and Kelly Chan were not present in the meeting. The Joint Committee consists of the Personnel Committee, Church Council and Deacons, and the Joint Committee was to be chaired by Personnel Committee.
26) June 11 2013 – The Joint Committee hastily concluded that Rev. Kong was not suitable to continue his position as Senior Pastor of the church after only a two-hour meeting.
June 11: The new Joint Committee held an emergency meeting and discussed the suitability of Rev. Kong as the Senior Pastor. There were only 12 out of 20 members attending this meeting. Many general comments and personal observations were discussed in the meeting. The conclusion was to recommend to the congregation that Rev. Kong is not suitable to continue to be the Senior Pastor. Also agreed to send four representatives (James Ng, Ken Ip, Edward Li and Betty Yuen) to meet Rev. Kong and ask Rev. Kong to resign by July 1; given three days for Rev. Kong to consider and respond.
27) June 12 2013 – Four representatives of the Joint Committee approached Rev. Kong requesting his resignation without prior approval of the Board of directors and members at large.
June 12: In the afternoon, these four representatives went to the church office and delivered the demand of the Joint Committee. Rev Kong was shocked and distressed and subsequently become sick.
28) June 14 2013 – Rev. Alfred Kong became sick and applied for sick leave.
June 14: VCBC received a three weeks’ medical leave notice from Rev. Kong.
June 21: The Joint Committee asked Rev. Kong to attend a Special Members’ Meeting on July 14, in which the members will decide by vote whether he is suitable to continue to hold the office of Senior Pastor with VCBC.
June 23: At Special Members’ Meeting, the motion was defeated to accept the resignation of Rev. Peter Teh, effective August 16, 2013. But, the motion was still CARRIED in order to honor Rev. Peter Teh’s own desire to resign. Another motion was also defeated to accept the resignation of Pastor Sam Wong, effective July 1, 2013. But, the motion was also CARRIED in order to honor Pastor Sam Wong’s own desire to resign.
While the meeting had gone over three hours and into overtime, the Chair Philip Mah announced the meeting would be adjourned after the acceptance of the resignations of Pastor Teh and Pastor Wong. Accordingly, many members left the meeting after these two agenda items were dealt with. However, after 45 minutes overtime, the Chair suddenly allowed two well staged floor motions to be put forward. These two floor motions again were irregular for lack of proper notice to all members and were passed hastily without much discussion. The first floor motion was to engage litigation law firm Gudmundseth Mickelson LLP to advise the church on the dismissal of Pastor Kong. The second floor motion was to approve a budget of $10,000 to pay for the legal fee.
29) June 23 2013 – A long time member voiced concerns on the legality of the meeting due to lack of sufficient notice and non-compliance to church bylaws at this Special Members Meeting.
A long time member, voiced out his deep concerns about (1) Improper meeting procedures and decision making process, and (2) Improper procedures for the dismissal of the Cantonese Congregation Moderator. He presented his own lawyer’s opinions on these issues. His concerns were ignored.
30) June 23 2013 – At a Special Members Meeting, a floor motion was passed to retain a lawyer to deal with termination of Rev. Alfred Kong.
31) July 1 2013 – The resignation of Pastor Sam Wong, took effect.
But he continued to lead Bible study at Joint Fellowship group every month. He was allowed not to vacate his office at the church. The fact was not reported to the members at large.
32) July 3 2013 – Rev. Kong’s doctor extended his sick leave by three months ending October 4 2013.
July 9: In the second meeting of the Joint Committee, someone suggested having audio recording of the meeting, but it was defeated by 10 to 5 votes. Someone suggested “to persuade Rev. Kong…….He’s already 65, why doesn’t he retire?”
An agenda item of the Joint Committee meeting was to prepare the recommendation of firing Rev. Kong and to present the same to members, but no discussion of this agenda item in the meeting. Yet, an agenda item to this effect was included in the Notice of a Special Members’ Meeting to be held on July 14 while Rev. Kong was still on sick leave.
33) July 10 2013 – Member Winston Wong and 114 others signed a petition protesting church leaders’ wrongdoing.
July 10: Protest letter from Winston Wong and signed by 114 members (letter dated July 9, 2013, Appendix 5). Members have great concern about church leaders’ wrongdoings and suggest to seek Canadian National Baptist Convention to be mediator to resolve dispute amongst members and leaders.
34) July 11 2013 – Member Dominic Li sent a legal letter via his lawyer to express his grave concerns on VCBC leaders violating the church bylaws and the B.C. Society Acts.
July 11: Protest letter from Dominic Li after consulting his lawyer Mr. De Jager was sent to the BOD to voice his huge concern about:
- The legality for all meetings held in June, stating resolutions passed were illegal.
- The validity for all floor motions raised in those meetings is questionable.
- A member at VCBC inappropriately distributed documents without directors’ consent, and based on reported legal advice.
- Urging the Board of Directors to act fairly to all members, including pastoral staff.
35) July 14 2013 – In a Special Members’ Meeting, a motion to terminate Rev. Kong’s service was passed by the members in the absence of Rev. Kong on sick leave.
July 14: A Special Members’ meeting adopted a motion to terminate Rev Kong as the Senior Pastor with a special note saying: Since Rev Kong is currently on three months sick leave, the effective date of the cessation of employment is still to be determined ………… by the Joint Committee……. .
Before the voting of this motion, some suggested delaying the decision until the next meeting, but it was turned down.
About 70 members protested against the unfair procedures and inaccurate counting result by giving up and walking out the meeting.
August 11: At Pastor Peter Teh’s farewell party, Personnel Committee chair, Ken Ip suggested that VCBC had lost a big fish (Peter) into the ocean. Members should join together and catch him back someday.
36) September 12 2013 – The Church Council declined a suggestion from Winston Wong to engage a mediator to help resolving the dispute in the church.
September 12: Council turned down Winston Wong‘s proposal to invite CNBC mediation team to help resolve dispute at VCBC. No reply was sent to him.
37) September 22 2013 – Over 100 members signed a petition calling for six of the church leaders to step down from leadership positions.
September 22: More than 100 members signed a petition letter asking six individuals to step down from leadership positions and take a two-year sabbatical leave (letter, Appendix 6).
38) September 29 2013 – At this Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting, a motion to pay legal fees to Boughton Law Corporation who was engaged by Kelly Chan was defeated. Members considered Kelly Chan should pay the lawyer he engaged.
September 15: Church Bulletin announcement: “In September 29 Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting to discuss whether VCBC should pay the legal fee of $4,590.81 charged by Boughton Law Corporation with a note: This lawyer was retained by Deacon Kelly Chan. The Board of Director was not consulted and did not approve retaining this lawyer”. This motion was defeated at the Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting on September 29, 2013.
39) October 13 2013 – Church bulletin announced termination of Rev. Alfred Kong’s employment was effective from October 4 2013.
October 13: Church Bulletin announcement: The Joint Committee has jointly determined that the effective date of the cessation of the employment for Rev. Kong was October 4.
40) October 26 2013 – Acting Chair of Board of Directors Henry Cheung dismissed the petition letter from over 100 members.
October 26: Henry Cheung representing the Council and the Board of Directors replied the members’ petition letter (reply letter, Appendix 7). He also put his reply letter along with the members’ petition letter including more than 100 signatures on the church bulletin board. The petitioners were shocked and felt humiliated by church leaders’ actions and made another complaint.
The group’s respond to Henry Cheung’s reply to the petition (Appendix 7a). No further communication received from Henry Cheung and any other church leaders thereafter.
41) October 27 2013 – At this Special Members Meeting, members approved a severance package for Rev. Kong.
October 27: Special members’ meeting approved a package of six months’ severance pay for Rev. Kong, followed by a special announcement.
42) November 13 2013 – Rev. Kong sued VCBC for wrongful dismissal and filed a complaint to the B. C. Human Rights Tribunal.
November 13: Rev. Kong submitted a formal complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court for wrongful dismissal (Notice of Civil Claim – Appendix 8).
43) November 23 2013 – Questionable nominees remained eligible candidates for 2014 leadership positions despite objection by some Deacons.
November 20: The Deacons received a formal letter from a long time member regarding the 2014 church nominees questioning the suitability of two Nominees Elaine Chan and Ken Ip.
November 23: At Deacons prayer meeting, all agreed that some questionable 2014 nominees be temporary removed from the nomination list pending clarification. But, later on that evening, Council held an emergency meeting and overturned this agreement. (Some Deacons are also members in the Church Council.)
44) November – December 2013 – Over 100 members left VCBC and joined other churches. Five of the former VCBC members formed a new church.
November-December: A new church, Mission Baptist Church, was formed by five former VCBC members. VCBC leaders also sent a clear message to its members, stating that VCBC and Mission Baptist Church do not have any relationship.
45) January 1 2014 – Rev. Don Garner was hired as the Lead Pastor for English Congregation.
46) January 19 2014 – At this Members Bi-monthly Meeting, a motion to suspend Deacon Kelly Chan, former Church Moderator, from his position was adopted. Kelly was removed from his Deacon position in March 30 2013 Members Bi-monthly Meeting.
January 19: At Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting in January: Motion presented by a Joint Cantonese Congregation and English Congregation Deacons Group to suspend Deacon Kelly Chan from all deacon duties in the Cantonese Congregation was adopted. Kelly Chan responded to it with a prepared statement (statement, Appendix 9).
Motions were adopted to accept the resignation of Deacons Ken Ho and Mrs. Margaret Ho.
47) March 30 2014 – An agenda to consider proposal from Rev. Hamish Buntain of CNBC to act as a mediator was removed without discussion.
March 30: Members Bi-monthly Meeting Announcement: The church leadership cancelled one agenda item which was to consider the proposal from Rev. Hamish Buntain to invite Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC) to set up a tribunal to hear and resolve the disputes, on the condition that prior to the hearing, Rev. Alfred Kong must withdraw his legal case against VCBC and his complaint to B. C. Human Rights Tribunal. The decision of the tribunal set up by CNBC is final and binding on both parties.
Motion adopted from Joint Cantonese Congregation and English Congregation Deacons Group to remove Kelly Chan from the position as a Cantonese Congregation Deacon effective March 31, 2014. The Joint Deacons group said that they have received seven complaint letters from seven members in November 2013. Kelly Chan responded to it with a prepared statement (statement, Appendix 10).
Motions were adopted to accept the resignation of Deacons Andrew Wong and Mrs. Ji Wah Li.
A motion was adopted to increase the budget by $15,000 to pay for escalating Legal Expenses.
Motions were adopted to send two representatives from Board of Directors to attend an early settlement meeting scheduled by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal on April 8, 2014 and to grant authority to the BOD to settle, including the resolution for all or part of the complaint.
48) March – April 2014 – Pastor Sam Wong invited to preach at VCBC Sunday worship.
March-April: Pastor Sam Wong was invited by church leaders to lead Wednesday Prayer/ Bible study meeting for the month of April. He was engaged to preach at both English and Cantonese Congregations Sunday worship.
49) May 11 2014 – Church leaders recommended re-hiring Pastor Sam Wong.
In the Notice of Members’ Bi-monthly Meeting to be held on May 25, an agenda item is to re-hire Pastor Sam Wong with effect from May 26 2014. Pastor Sam Wong however did emphasize at the time of his resignation that he would not return to serve at VCBC whatsoever in the future. The fact was also confirmed at that time by at least two Deacons who now supported the re-hire of Pastor Sam Wong.
50) In the past 12 months, four Deacons resigned; both Cantonese Congregation and English Congregation Vice Moderator resigned; two pastors resigned; the Senior Pastor was fired; the Cantonese Congregation Moderator removed; some 200 members left the church.
51) May 26 2014 – Pastor Sam Wong who resigned a year ago was rehired by VCBC without going through the normal recruitment procedures.
May 26 2014: In the May 25th Members Bimonthly Meeting, a motion to rehire Pastor Sam Wong was tabled and passed despite objection from some members. His employment was effective the next day on May 26. When he resigned a year ago, he claimed in front of over 300 members in May 2013 that “VCBC church is in big problem”, yet without providing any facts supporting his claim. He told the members that he prayed and followed God’s call to leave and he would never come back and serve at VCBC in the future. Many members were alarmed by his comment and some started leaving the church. He remained unemployed for almost a year until he was rehired.
Sam Wong said he decided to turn down an offer from another church and agreed to return to VCBC as he sees great needs of him at VCBC. In fact, he never vacates his office at VCBC and continues to serve as a volunteer to help delivering Sunday School Training after he resigned.
Circumstances around his resignation and rehire raise doubts in people’s mind as to what is the leadership team’s plan on this young pastor.
52) June 4 2014 – A junior pastor of English Congregation resigned for personal reasons.
A graceful and well respected junior pastor who served VCBC for more than 7 years mentoring the youth ministry of the English Congregation resigned from VCBC just days after the church made announcement of rehiring of Pastor Sam Wong.
At his resignation, this junior pastor said he was called to serve in other ministry although he does not have a specific plan for now. His resignation letter is full of grace and thankfulness, unlike Sam Wong and Peter Teh’s resignation letters which are full of accusations and sadness.
53) July 29 2014 – B.C. Supreme Court rules that church can’t avoid labour laws by claiming ministers are not employees.
The Honourable Mr. Justice Grauer of the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that the relationship between Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church and Rev. Kong was one of employment and is therefore subject to Canada’s labour laws (Reasons for Judgment, Appendix 11).
A formal hearing of the case is scheduled to take place in the week commencing November 17 2015.
54) August 29 2014 – A claim has been submitted to BC Supreme Court claiming the current church leadership has violated church bylaws and the BC Societies Act.
A petition has been submitted to BC Supreme Court to declare the actions of the current VCBC leadership illegal, void and of no consequence (BC Supreme Court Petition, Appendix 12).
Despite being named as respondents in the BCSC Petition, a motion was presented by the VCBC leadership team at the September 28th MBM to authorize nine leaders named to continue serving in their current role pending ruling of BCSC on the petition. The motion was adopted by majority vote for it.
55) September 9 2014 – A Special Members Meeting (SMM) was held to determine “Whether VCBC will settle Rev. Alfred Yiu Chuen Kong’s actions against VCBC both at the BCSC for wrongful dismissal and the Human Rights Tribunal on the following terms:
a. That VCBC will pay Rev. Kong an amount equivalent to 6 months’ salary (in 2013 staff salary scale) plus benefits; and
b. That VCBC will provide Rev. Kong with a written apology on VCBC letterhead.”
Rev. Don Gardner was given time to express his views on the subject. He said “The point is the consequences are not what control our decision today.” and urged all members to vote by their hearts irrespective of the likely consequences.
Discussions on the subject led by the Church Moderator brother Hiron Poon were directed to whether the apology letter (as proposed by Rev. Kong’s lawyer) is acceptable rather than whether members agreed to settle with Rev. Kong to save a continuing legal battle and legal costs. However, he did mention, in answer to members enquiries, that once a settlement is reached, all claims including the claim by Rev. Kong against VCBC at the Human Right Tribunal will be discharged (copy of the minutes of this SMM is attached as Appendix 13).
While announcing the motion to settle with Rev. Kong had been defeated, brother Hiron Poon confirmed he would instruct the church lawyer to act accordingly.
56) September 28th 2014 – A Members Bi-monthly Meeting was held. The following motions under the agenda were included:
Item 9) To authorize the Board of Directors to retain Gudmundseth Mickelson LLP to defend VCBC with respect to the petition filed to the BC Supreme Court (BCSC) by Dominic Li against Elaine Chan, Henry Cheung, Kenneth Ip, Edward Li, Jimmy Ko, Philip Mah, James Ng, Tina Tsang, Betty Yuen and VCBC.
Item 10) To authorize the Board of Directors to retain Gudmundseth Mickelson LLP to defend Elaine Chan, Henry Cheung, Kenneth Ip, Edward Li, Jimmy Ko, Philip Mah, James Ng, Tina Tsang, Betty Yuen with respect to the petition as mentioned in motion #9 above.
Item 11) To increase the budget for Church Council under legal expenses by $10,000 (fom $28,000 to $38,000) to make payments to Gudmundseth Michkelson LLP regarding the petition as mentioned in motion #9 & #10 above.
The Church Moderator brother Hiron Poon pointed out there is a total of 92 allegations on the petition. While the matter will be handled by the church lawyer, Hiron Poon emphasized “Again, please be reminded that we are here not to discuss the reasons or the merits of the petition that will be for the Court to decide. We are here to vote on the motions as mentioned.” He wanted the congregation to decide and approve spending their donations to defend the church and the nine leaders, as the leadership cannot make their decision on this subject.
At the end, all three motions mentioned above were voted and carried by majority votes.
57) In the same MBM, a motion (Item 15) To approve the proposed VCBC staff salary scale effective January 1 2015.
Brother Stephen Cheng, Chair of Personnel Committee (PC), presented the proposal by PC to revise the scale upward by approximately 8%, costing the church $12,660 more each year in salary expense based on the current three-member pastoral team. The proposed revision would cost more as we continue to hire more pastors.
Stephen Cheng reiterated that the PC proposal is based on reference of the following sources:
a) B.C. school teachers pay scale 2012;
b) Canada Revenue Agency’s salary scale for Chinese pastors in Vancouver;
“These figures have not taken the inflation into consideration, we’ll look at that next year” Stephen said. He also confirmed the annual increments will be added on top of the revised scale and inflation factor.
There were lengthy discussions on this subject and finally 128 members out of 243 attendants voted for and 22 voted against, the motion carried.
58) January 25 2015 – A Members Bi-Monthly Meeting was held in which a report was presented by brother Edward Li, on behalf of Deacons’ Board that three letters (signed by over 110 members) expressing objection to Pastor Sam Wong’s ordination were received.
The Deacons have discussed the objection letters and found the allegations to be inaccurate in terms of biblical evaluation and their understanding of Pastor Sam’s character. Grounds for these objections were not disclosed to the members.
Brother Edward Li reminded members that mass emails (electronic communication without the approval of recipients) are deemed to be inappropriate due to potential legal liabilities and encouraged members to contact any Deacons or Pastor Don directly if they have any questions or concerns.
59) February 22 2015 – Pastor Sam Wong’s Ordination ceremony held at VCBC.
Ignoring objections from more than 110 members, the church leaders consisting primarily the Acting Senior Pastor Don Gardner and all the Deacons, decided to inaugurate the ordination of Pastor Sam Wong. Pastor Don Gardner maintained that over 95% of members of the Cantonese Congregation supported the ordination of Pastor Sam even though no formal voting took place in the meeting supporting his opinion.
Copies of the two objection letters are attached as Appendix 14.
60) March 29 2015 – A Members Bi-Monthly Meeting was held in which a motion to hire Pastor Gilbert Nigh to serve the VCBC English Congregation effective May 16 2015 was adopted.
In light of Pastor Nigh’s experience, his salary is set at grade C19 with monthly salary of $5,000. A housing allowance of $800 per month will be provided to Pastor Nigh for a period of 12 months.
61) July 29 2015 – The Supreme Court of British Columbia has awarded Rev. Kong $54,520 for lost earnings and $30,000 in aggravated damages in a wrongful dismissal case.
A Supreme Court of British Columbia judge has awarded Reverend Alfred Kong $54,520 for lost earnings and $30,000 in aggravated damages in a wrongful dismissal case. Reverend Alfred Kong spent nearly two years as senior pastor of the church before being fired while on sick leave October 4, 2013.
The court determined Rev. Kong was the subject of an investigation conducted by church leadership that the minister was not party to and confidential information involving unsubstantiated allegations was released to the general congregation. The Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church will also have to pay court costs.
In his judgment, BC Supreme Court Justice Gordon Funt awarded aggravated damages to Rev. Kong ‘for the duress caused as a result of the unduly insensitive manner by which VCBC conducted itself in relation to the termination of the plaintiff’s employment’.
In court filed documents, Rev. Kong claimed he suffered embarrassment and humiliation when he was wrongfully dismissed from his job. He also claimed his privacy was breached by the release of a confidential letter he sent to the church personnel committee complaining of unfair treatment.
More than 100 members of the Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church, one of the Lower Mainland’s largest Christian congregations, left the church following the firing of the senior pastor which resulted in legal action and a complaint to the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
A copy of the BC Supreme Court judgement is attached as Appendix 15.