Believers’ Church Constitution Contradicts K.P. Yohannan’s Claim that He Has No Legal Authority in Indian Church

In a May 14, 2015 staff meeting, K.P. Yohannan and David Carroll disclosed to the Gospel for Asia staff that in 2013 Believers’ Church in India gave $19.8 million toward the construction costs of the new Wills Point. TX headquarters. When the gift came in back in 2013, GFA leaders told staff that the money was given by an “anonymous donor.”

For those new to this story, Believers’ Church is the church started by Gospel for Asia founder K.P. Yohannan. Yohannan is CEO and International Director at Gospel for Asia and he is the supreme Metropolitan Bishop in India for the Believers’ Church. Although undisclosed in their 2013 audit, GFA sent just over $20 million to Believers’ Church in 2013. Believers’ Church in India received far more than Gospel for Asia India which was not disclosed in the audited financial statements.

Within the last year, questions arose among staff about the accuracy of the “anonymous donor” story and Carroll and Yohannan addressed those questions during the May 14 staff meeting. In that meeting, Yohannan asserted that he had nothing to do with the Believers’ Church’s decision to send nearly $20 million back to Texas. A major part of his defense was his claim that he does not sit on boards or trusts in India and has no legal authority in Believers’ Church. Yohannan claims he didn’t have authority to direct the donation and didn’t have anything to do with it.
Here is what Yohannan said about his membership on boards and trusts in India and his legal authority.

Transcript:

And by the way, just so you know, I am not legally on any boards, any trusts, anything in any of these countries. I have no powers to make decisions or sign money, or release money, or make decisions, I am completely legally…why? Because anybody who work in the United States or overseas countries have a board membership or have legal membership should not be part of their legal entities in India. It’s a conflict of interest and therefore we send the funds and it is immediately under the government watch care and the government of India is responsible and investigative agencies and tax divisions to make sure  that is carried out within the time frame or whatever they do, that is a public thing.

In previous posts, I have shown government and church documents which contradict his claim. Today, I provide portions of the Believers’ Church Constitution which describe the massive authority and power of the Metropolitan Bishop, His Grace the Most Reverend K.P. Yohannan. It is clear that Yohannan misled his staff. If Believers’ Church follows the church Constitution, there is no way Yohannan did not approve the gift to help complete headquarters construction.

Click the link for the first two chapters of the Constitution, and this link for chapter three. Images describing the power of the Metropolitan are below. See the boxes for especially relevant sections:
MetropolitanPowersBC ConsYohannan is President of all church trusts, he has discretionary power over governance of the church, he is the final authority of spiritual and administrative matters and he is the managing trustee of the church. It is inconceivable that Believers’ Church could spend $19.8 million dollars without his approval. Sections from chapter three make this even clearer. Buying and selling movable and immovable property and any management matter can be overruled by Yohannan. Committees can suggest actions but they must be cleared with Yohannan first.
GenSecretaryBelChurch
Yesterday, Gayle Erwin said this about the transfer of $19.8 million from India to GFA-US:

If you read the ECFA report, you discover what we (board members–USA) had begun to know–we were kept in the dark and limited to pedantic decisions. As I saw this, I began intense confrontations with KP which I thought were gaining traction. The surprise revelation of foreign deposits and monies returned from the field (and previously described as from an “anonymous donor) pushed some of us over the edge and made our board membership untenable.

 David Carroll and K.P. Yohannan told staff that the transfer of funds was completely legal and there was no conflict of interest since Yohannan had no control over the decision. He also said the $19.8 million was not a related party transaction.

DC [David Carroll] – It’s completely legal, thank you. There’s a board member, board documents as I understand it, I don’t live in Asia, but there’s board documents on the other side. The whole thing was done in complete legality.

By the way, one question, one part of that question was, is this a related party transaction? And the answer is no. It is not a related party transaction because the board members here, they’re not the same board members as there. In other words, the leadership here did not influence that decision there. Brother KP mentioned it but it was not his decision. He had to get permission, actually they told…

KP [K.P. Yohannan]– I think David, it is important for people to know the person I am. It’s like Paul said in one place he’s a doulos, he’s a servant, another place he’s an apostle, another place he’s a brother, and my role is being a spiritual father of right now about 2.7 million people scattered throughout all these nations and I do not have any legal say or decision about legal matters. My role is a spiritual leadership. You may not have asked that but there are hundreds of trusts and entities in all these countries. I don’t sit on any of those things. There are their own people. And my role is the spiritual leadership. And I hope to some extent that is here also.

It is hard for me to understand how David Carroll could make this statement:

It is not a related party transaction because the board members here, they’re not the same board members as there.

I publicly ask David Carroll: Have you ever read the Believers’ Church Constitution? You are ordained in that church. Is this like Mars Hill Church and the officers and clergy don’t have access to the Constitution? You told staff on May 14 that Yohannan wasn’t on a board under the Believers’ Church umbrella. Carroll told staff:

And so, what the people in Asia did, and it is a board that is under Believers’ Church umbrella, but Brother KP’s not on that board, it wasn’t his decision. 

K.P. Yohannan is CEO and leads the Gospel for Asia board here and he is by Constitution the managing trustee and President of Believers’ Church and all other Believers’ Church trusts.

I can’t see how these claims by Yohannan and Carroll and the Believers’ Church Constitution can be true at the same time.* David Carroll said there are “board documents on the other side.” Well, the board documents that I have seen don’t support what they told staff in May. Might be time for GFA leaders to produce those documents. It is already too late for three board members who quit over this matter.

*I suppose it is possible that Believers’ Church approved a new Constitution prior to the 2013 gift. However, my source denies that and tells me that this Constitution was binding at that time and is binding currently. I am certainly open to hearing from GFA and BC with new information.

Former Gospel for Asia Board Member Gayle Erwin Comments on Board Resignation

GFA HQ Front
Gospel for Asia HQ

Earlier today, I saw a private Facebook posting from former Gospel for Asia board member Gayle Erwin which contained some new information about GFA and the ECFA. Erwin was responding to my post about the resignations of Damian Kyle, Skip Heitzig and Erwin from GFA’s board. I wrote to Erwin with a request to cite the quote here. He agreed with the condition that I highlight his positive comments about GFA staff. About GFA and ECFA, Erwin said:

If you read the ECFA report, you discover what we (board members–USA) had begun to know–we were kept in the dark and limited to pedantic decisions. As I saw this, I began intense confrontations with KP which I thought were gaining traction. The surprise revelation of foreign deposits and monies returned from the field (and previously described as from an “anonymous donor) pushed some of us over the edge and made our board membership untenable. The staff of GFA in Texas, despite some inferences in the discussion on your page above, are some of the finest, most ethical and loving people I know. I marvel at how well commenters on your page have combined ignorance and hostility. I thought I was making progress in ways that would have solved and prevented this heartbreak and replaced it with victory, but I was wrong but not wrong in the ways your commenters infer. (emphasis from Mr. Erwin)

Erwin later added:

I was shocked when informed that GFA had failed all 7 of ECFA criteria for membership and had consequently been removed from membership.

In his first comment, Erwin referred to the transfer of $19.8 million from India’s Believers’ Church to GFA in Texas for the purpose of completing construction on their new Wills Point, TX headquarters.
This comment provides some insight into the perceptions of board members regarding the issues I have been raising for months. It seems they (at least Erwin) have of late felt they were kept in the dark. Erwin says he and the other board members were not aware of the source of the nearly $20 million.
I think it is important to consider Mr. Erwin’s wording regarding the donation from the field: “The surprise revelation of foreign deposits and monies returned from the field (and previously described as from an “anonymous donor) pushed some of us over the edge and made our board membership untenable.”
Those foreign deposits were funds given by donors for mission work which were sent to India and deposited into accounts of the K.P. Yohannan controlled Believers’ Church. Then nearly $20 million were authorized by Believers’ Church to be sent back to Texas to help finish construction of the palatial Wills Point, TX headquarters.
Like Mr. Erwin, I suspect donors will find that to be untenable.
 
 

CSN International Radio Removes Gospel for Asia CEO K.P. Yohannan's Road to Reality Show from Program Schedule

CSNI LogoA reader noticed on Saturday that K.P. Yohannan’s show Road to Reality did not air on CSN International radio. Sure enough the program had been removed from the broadcast schedule.
Today, I spoke briefly with Mike Stocklin, General Manager of CSN International who told me that CSNI had no problem with the Road to Reality show but decided CSN would not carry the K.P. Yohannan’s show until “the controversial matters are resolved” and questions are answered about Gospel for Asia.
This move eliminates 47 stations from the Road to Reality station list.

Canadian Radio Station Carries News of Gospel for Asia's Loss of ECFA Membership

In this weekly digest of church news (click the link to find the embedded broadcast — it is the first story), the host summarizes Christianity Today’s article on the ECFA’s termination of Gospel for Asia’s membership.
According to a reader who alerted me to the radio broadcast. at least one key Mennonite church in Canada has dropped support for GFA.
churchnews GFA
 
There are more stories like this to come. I am tracking down a couple of them for posting this week.
 

Robert Morris' Gateway Church Agrees to Buy Hillcrest Dallas Campus from Jack Graham's Prestonwood Baptist Church

Yesterday, Gateway Church Senior Pastor Robert Morris announced a mega-deal between two megachurches in Dallas, TX.  Robert Morris’ Gateway Church has agreed to acquire Prestonwood Baptist’s Hillcrest campus near I-635 and Hillcrest Road in Dallas. Prestonwood Baptist’s lead pastor is Jack Graham. Officially listed as 6827 Willow Lane, the Hillcrest campus is valued at $20.7 million according to Dallas Central Appraisal District. Morris did not disclose the purchase price.
The video announcement from October 17, 2015 is at the new Dallas.gatewaypeople.com website. You can watch the video at that site. The transcript is below:

Hey everyone.  I have some extremely exciting news for you.  You know we’re always praying about where to open our next campus.  Well I’m going to tell you today.  We are going to open our next campus this spring in Dallas.  In Dallas.  We have been praying about it.  And I wanna tell you how this came about.  Years ago, there was a church, it was called Hillcrest Church and Prestonwood bought that facility in 2011.  And they’ve had a campus there.  But they have felt led to go in a different direction.  And Dr. Graham called me and said, ‘we would like to sell this campus to Gateway Church.’  And Dr. Graham and I are great friends.  We’ve done things here in the city for the Kingdom.  We’ve done things in our nation for the Kingdom.  But I wanna commend Dr. Jack Graham and Prestonwood.  They are so Kingdom minded that when they felt led to go to a different direction, they said, ‘we want Gateway Church to have this campus.’   So we’re in the process right now of buying that campus, 635 and Hillcrest and will open some time this spring.  I’ll let you know when.  But we’re gonna have a campus now in Dallas, Texas.   Thank you Lord.

Earlier this year, Morris, in the 2014 annual report, signaled a move toward North Fort Worth and/or Frisco. With the Hillcrest purchase, Gateway may, like Prestonwood, be moving in a different direction.
GatewayFriscoInitiative
 
The Hillcrest property was first built in 1990, and has over 150,000 square feet with a combined seating capacity of 2,900. Prestonwood paid $18 million for Hillcrest in 2011. At the time, Jack Graham assured his congregation and Dallas’ WFAA Channel 8 news audience that attendance would grow from under 1,000 to over 6,000, and would require 2-3 services per weekend. Apparently, Graham’s attempts to grow the Hillcrest location did not work out.
Gateway’s Lead Executive Senior Pastor Tom Lane has been assigned as the campus pastor for Gateway Dallas.
The Hillcrest Dallas purchase transaction is expected to close December 4, 2015. Gateway will remodel the children’s area, and add a bookstore and café, and plans to launch regular weekend services in March 2016.

ECFA Seal Remains on Gospel for Asia Correspondence

On the reply card provided in the October mailing of the Gospel for Asia newsletter Harvest, the ECFA seal is clearly displayed.
So GFA has removed many references to ECFA on their web pages (although not all of them), but doesn’t seem inclined to spend money to send out accurate print materials.
ECFA GFA Cards
GFA is getting the benefit of membership without paying the dues at this point.
 

Three Gospel for Asia Board Members Resign

I have confirmation from someone in a position to know that Skip Heitzig, Gayle Erwin, and Damian Kyle have resigned from the Gospel for Asia board. None of the men responded to my requests for information but multiple sources within GFA have confirmed that an announcement was made during a staff meeting time on Friday.
Very little explanation was given and the announcement was delivered by Danny Yohannan Punnoose (K.P. Yohannan’s son). While GFA will not confirm, it appears that K.P. Yohannan’s son and wife, Francis Chan, Chuck Zink and perhaps one other person are now on the GFA board.
It is astonishing that the second largest mission organization in the nation keeps so many secrets regarding governance and finances.

One Year Ago Yesterday: Mars Hill Church Announced Mark Driscoll's Resignation

It was a headline very few people thought they would ever see.
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill Church
I am a day late for the exact anniversary of the church announcement, the date on that headline is October 15, 2014. Driscoll submitted his resignation letter the day before.
Resignation wasn’t plan A according to Driscoll. He was supposed to enter a plan of restoration being crafted by his elders. He later told Brian Houston that God warned him about a trap and then told the Driscolls they were released from Mars Hill.
Mars Hill Church may still be a legal entity; no one is talking much about it. I have contacted several legacy churches without answer.
Driscoll toils away in Phoenix; rumors abound about a church plant but if much is happening, it is a well kept secret.
The common folks left behind still don’t know how much money actually went to African and Indian missionaries from the stealthily named Global Fund. They don’t know how much went to pay severances for the executive elders. There is a lot we don’t know. Sutton Turner has spoken out some but even there Mars Hill employed lawyers got in the way of transparency.
I still refer to Mars Hill matters in my teaching, particularly in social psychology and probably will for years. My hope is that Mars Hill will continue to teach for years to come.
 
 
 

Gospel for Asia's Christmas Catalog Displays ECFA Seal and 100% Pledge

I am aware that the Christmas catalogs were probably printed before the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability voted to terminate Gospel for Asia’s membership. I know it would been costly to reprint the catalogs. I also know that because GFA leaders decided to mail the catalogs with the ECFA seal, they have misrepresented the situation. Take a look:
gfa-catalog-ecfa
and the 100% pledge lives on…
gfa-gift-catalog-kp-ecfa
Guaranteed. I wonder if that is a money back guarantee.
We now know that administrative expenses are taken out in India. And we know that $19.8 million came back from “the field” to fund nearly half of the costs of construction of the new Wills Point, TX campus.
Based on my investigations last year, I am highly skeptical that GFA uses one person’s donation for a goat or chicken to buy an individual goat or chicken. It doesn’t work that way for World Vision, and I doubt it works that way for GFA (see my series on holiday animal buys – link, link).
What should GFA do now?
Clearly, the ECFA seal of membership gives the wrong impression and hides the fact that ECFA believes GFA has not honored donor intent in giving. A tax court in India has ruled in the same manner. If GFA doesn’t let catalog recipients know, chances are good that most won’t find out. GFA could send a letter to all on the mailing list alerting them to ECFA’s action to terminate membership. GFA leaders could defend the organization but at least donors would be informed. Will they do it?
How GFA leaders handle this problem will tell us something about GFA going forward.
 
 
 

Pastors Endorsement Page Missing at Gospel for Asia's Website; K.P. Yohannan Seems to be Missing Too

On October 7, there were numerous endorsements from pastors on the Gospel for Asia website (see Google cache). For instance:
GFA pastors endorsements
 
 
Now, the address for that page (http://www.gfa.org/mygfastory/pastors/) leads to another page which does not have endorsements. Instead it redirects to this page http://www.gfa.org/mygfastory/:
GFA redirect pastor endorsement
 
Skip Heitzig’s missing endorsement could be significant. Heitzig has been of GFA’s board for many years. If he is backing away from Gospel for Asia, that would be a dramatic about face.
About Yohannan, he is not missing from the webpage but his loud silence continues. It is hard to understand why Yohannan remains quiet in the face of declining confidence in GFA and ECFA’s termination of GFA membership.