Financial accountability to members
Nepotism and the rewarding of sycophantic behaviour in the church
The New Apostolic Church is one of very few remaining organisations that cloud its financial affairs in secrecy. Not even members of the church are allowed access to financial statements. No provision is made in the constitution of the New Apostolic Church International or, as far as we know, in any of the constitutions of the various Apostle Districts for financial reporting to members. Members experience a great deal of pressure to contribute ten percent of their gross income to the church. Yet the leaders of the church do not report to members on how their contributions are spent. This is an ideal situation for mismanagement of funds. The argument that the church's financial statements are audited means very little: the auditors merely audit that which is given to them. For example, they do not pass judgement on salaries and perks of the church leaders.
An investigation of his tax papers revealed that Chief Apostle Richard Fehr earned 302 400 Swiss Francs (R1, 2 million) in 1995 alone. This places him in the top 1% salary earners in Switzerland.
According to District Evangelist Joseph Lee this level of remuneration is fair since it compares to that of "corporate directors in industry." This sentiment is echoed by former District Elder Stanford D'Oliviera. He recommends "a substantial increase in salary" for Fehr "based on competitive remuneration packages for the captains of industry." (D'Oliviera resigned recently as District Elder after being implicated in a financial scandal at his place of employment!) New Apostolic Church leaders such as Lee and D'Oliviera seem to have no problem equating the Chief Apostle with a "captain of industry" rather than a spiritual leader and seem to suggest that the New Apostolic Church organisation should be treated as a business company and not as a church.
Because there may be other religious leaders who earn the same or more than the Chief Apostle does not justify his high salary. The principles that should be applied are not comparisons with captains of industry or tele-evangelists but the example set by Jesus and His apostles.
The church's wealth in terms of real estate in Germany and Switzerland alone was estimated at R19, 5 billion (5 billion Swiss Francs) in 1997.
The New Apostolic Church Cape is registered as a company in terms of Section 21 of the Companies Act. (Registration Number: 1905/000517/08). The directors are District Apostle Noel Barnes, Apostle John Kriel and Apostle Cecil Van Der Merwe. In 1993, the New Apostolic Church Cape came under investigation by the State Receiver of Revenue and was found guilty of irregularities in terms of payments of fringe benefits to its Apostles and had to pay huge penalties as a result.In 1998, Erwin Meier-Widmer, a retired Priest of the New Apostolic Church, requested the Swiss Parliament to investigate the financial affairs of the church. This followed alleged misappropriation of funds earmarked for humanitarian aid for members in Third World countries. The accountant of the New Apostolic Church in Switzerland committed suicide soon afterwards, leaving only a farewell note to his District Apostle.
District Apostle Ernst H Graf appointed his son, Ernst K Graf, Administration Manager of the New Apostolic Church Cape. Within two years of his appointment Ernst K Graf moved into a house worth millions in Llandudno, an exclusive area in Cape Town. Under the leadership of District Apostle Graf and while his son was Financial Manager of the New Apostolic Church Cape about R2 million (about US$300 000) of the church's funds could not be accounted for. The lost funds were written off to a "bad investment"!
Ernst H Graf finally retired under a cloud of controversy. He relocated to Switzerland where he lives as a recluse. He never returned to attend a farewell function for which all ministers of the church were asked to make a donation. The estimated R90 000 (about US$15 000) that was raised has not been accounted for. This money was raised for the farewell function, return flights from Switzerland for him and his wife to attend this function and expensive farewell gifts.
Allegations of widespread financial abuses in Southern Joinery, a church furniture manufacturing company set up about forty years ago by the New Apostolic Church, followed. Southern Joinery is a division of Cape Organ & Furniture Company (Pty) Ltd (Registration Number: 91/03584/07) of which Ernst K Graf was a Director till 1 March 1998. He is now employed by Southern Joinery as a financial consultant. The Southern Joinery pension fund of which Graf was a trustee has now come under liquidation.
The New Apostolic Church Cape also runs its own burial fund. Members receive no financial statements.
On his appointment as District Apostle, Noel Barnes could move into the house in Zeekoevlei. Before he moved in though he had it refurbished at the cost of R150 000 (US$25 000) to the church. Within two years Barnes could afford to sell his own house in the modest suburb of Fairways to a custom built millionaire's mansion in Plattekloof.
One of the features of his house is a revolving door worth R20 000 (about US$3 300), installed free of charge by Southern Joinery.Considering the value of the house, the land on which it is built, and the value of his car, we estimate his salary to be in the region of R500 000; about half that of the Chief Apostle.
Here is a picture of District Apostle Barnes's mansion at 9 Gousblom Close, Plattekloof. Plattekloof is an exclusive suburb outside Cape Town.
The house in Zeekoevlei was sold at a discount to Bishop Karl P Gut, the son of Karl R Gut, Graf's predecessor as leader of the New Apostolic Church Cape.
Noel Barnes drives an Audi A8 which is valued at R528 400. (Some of the insignia have been removed from the car to disguise it!) Only about 20 units of this car have been sold in South Africa. On his many overseas trips he only flies first class.
During the visit of Chief Apostle Fehr to South Africa in 1999/2000 he was flown to an event in a helicopter with Noel Barnes. To this same event, other Apostles and Bishops and their wives were driven in air-conditioned luxury buses while District Leaders and their wives were transported in ordinary commuter buses.
Barnes's brother, Craig, is an Apostle in the church and his only son, Lindsay, was until recently a sales manager of Southern Joinery.Apostle John Kriel recently moved from his modest house in Belthorn to a house worth millions in Rondebosch. Apostle Wallace Clingen worked as a postman till his elevation in the church hierarchy. He owns several properties and continues to buy and sell houses in exclusive areas at great profit to himself.
On 13 May 1999, District Apostle Barnes conducted a special Ascension Day service to which only people who owned their own businesses were invited. Prior to this service he wrote to those invited and asked them for a special financial contribution to the church, specifically for a children's service later in that year. To date, none of the business people have received information on how their contributions were spent. Meanwhile the New Apostolic Church Cape has compiled a directory of members who are owners of businesses.
Evidence suggests that the New Apostolic Church Cape under the leadership of District Apostle Barnes is more directly involved in profit-making ventures than what it wants to admit.
Almariba Enterprises CC is a company that was originally registered with the South African Registrar of Companies on 26 August 1999. (Registration number: CK 99/50069). It describes itself as "trading in all commodities and general services". In a more detailed description of its services it includes "hotels and restaurants".
The original shareholders were Priest Richard Julius and Bishop Allister Kriel. (It seems that AL-ma-RI-ba is derived from their first names.) Kriel ceased to be a member on 2 May 2000 but whether he still draws a second salary from this business is not known to us. His wife, Olwyn is employed by the company. These two men are key members of the New Apostolic Church Cape's Public Relations Committee.
Kriel is a close personal friend of District Apostle Noel Barnes. Barnes managed to get Kriel appointed to his position at a major oil company when he (Barnes) had to vacate that position upon his ordination as Bishop. Later Barnes had Kriel ordained Bishop and when Barnes became District Apostle, Kriel was appointed Chairperson of the New Apostolic Church Cape's Public Relations Committee.
Little is known about Almariba's actual enterprises. Some informants claim that the company has a contract to distribute NAC CDs and literature. Others claim that unemployed NAC members (of which there are thousands in Cape Town!) are sent to Almariba's offices with the promise of jobs. Upon arrival they pay a "registration fee" and are asked to wait at home while jobs are found. No jobs are created though!
Priest Richard Julius has registered several other companies to his name. These include
The One-Stop Services Group of Companies Pty Ltd organises visits of New Apostolic Church groups to China at great profits to the company. In addition Priest Julius can claim reimbursements from the South African government since he professes to be promoting business links with China.
The problems with these business dealings are that:
They were never public knowledge until they were exposed on this website. If money is involved it is usually a good idea to keep things above board in order to avoid accusations of corruption.
There is no evidence that the brothers in questions went through a fair selection process to get the contracts for the jobs that they are doing for the New Apostolic Church. Perhaps there is someone else who can do a better job at a better price. Perhaps there are other brothers (or sisters!) who are more experienced or more needy or perhaps there are even outsiders. However it seems that the only reason that Bishop Kriel's company receives the contracts is that he is a friend of District Apostle Barnes.
If Bishop Kriel receives a second income from this business, what stops other Bishops and Apostles from doing the same? And then how do we make sure that they do the work for which they were ordained and are already paid instead of concentrating on second or third jobs?
There can be no doubt that District Apostle Barnes and members of the New Apostolic Church Cape Administration are aware of all of the above. Clearly they see nothing wrong with a Bishop enriching himself and his family and friends at the expense of members. This is after all what Barnes himself and his predecessors have been doing till now.
The above facts require careful investigation and accounting to members who faithfully contribute to the church's coffers. We know that only Apostles and some Bishops are ordinarily employed on a full-time basis. We believe that the New Apostolic Church should publish the salaries of its top officials. While these full-time ministers in the church receive no theological or pastoral training their luxurious lifestyles suggest that they are compensated at levels that far exceed those of people with similar qualifications. Their lifestyles are not consistent with the examples set by Jesus and the biblical apostles.
Most businesses, churches and NGOs release regular financial statements to its shareholders, members or supporters. The New Apostolic Church should do the same.
Meanwhile other ministers from District Elders down to Subdeacons perform their duties on a voluntary basis. They are expected to hold down their day jobs while doing a large amount of administrative and spiritual work for the New Apostolic Church with no compensation. The church does not generally reimburse them for time spent away from their families and for the use of their own time, cars and other resources on official church business. (We are pleased to note that since our campaign started the church has now allowed District Leaders to claim a small amount for travelling and telephone calls.) As one member reports,
"Many [of these ministers] use the stationery and equipment of their companies they are employed at. This forces them to steal from their companies."
Gabriele Jakob-Stoffel writes about "The Role of Women in the New Apostolic Church" (March 30, 1998):
"It is difficult for an outsider to understand how seriously our family life was shaped through the activity of my husband as an administration brother in the New Apostolic Church. From my present perspective, I have to say, that for long stretches of time, I was actually a "single parent" for my children. Every evening, and even on Sundays between the two church services, my husband was on the road for the "Lord's work" and as a result, he had no time for us. Holidays were foremostly planned as time for congregational activities, such as extra youth or senior gatherings, in which my husband, who was a Priest, was obliged to take part, so that even these days were often lost for our family. Our children experienced their father as either agitated, because he was at that time still working on establishing his career, or totally absent."
The previous District Apostle of the New Apostolic Church Cape, Ernst H Graf, appointed his son, Ernst K Graf to the position of Financial Manager of the New Apostolic Church Cape and later as Administration Manager.
Another example of nepotism is that of the De Vries family. The late Apostle Neville De Vries was the father of Bishop Neville De Vries who is the father of Brian De Vries who became an Apostle in April 1990. (Interestingly, between Neville and Brian the racial classification of the De Vries family changed from "coloured" to "white" in terms of the old Apartheid laws in South Africa.)
District Apostle Barnes has also ordained his son-in-law, Baron Gaskin (the son of a Bishop), as District Evangelist. This was soon after he returned as Rector of the St Helena Island congregation where he received a salary higher than that of his predecessor and was one of the few (if not only) Rectors to be paid by the church.
When District Apostle Freund of the USA was ordained recently, his brother was ordained Bishop, and the son of District Apostle Helper Kolb was ordained Apostle. Bishop Eckhardt is the Apostle's brother and married to Kraus's niece. The Apostle Mark Woll, is the son of the (retired) Apostle B Woll and the nephew of District Apostle Wagner. The son of the retired District Apostle Helper Fendt is also an Apostle, making him the third generation Apostle in his family.
Evidence of how nepotism and sycophantic behaviour collude can be found in the ascension of Noel Barnes to the position of District Apostle of the New Apostolic Church Cape.
When the then District Apostle Ernst Graf instructed Apostle Cecil van der Merwe to ordain his two sons (Ernst and Richard) into higher positions in the church, that Apostle refused. Graf then simply restructured the Apostle districts and appointed Barnes in place of the "disobedient" Apostle. He gave Barnes the same instruction and this time his wish was fulfilled and both Graf's sons were ordained as District Evangelists!
When Graf retired under a cloud of controversy he managed to convince Chief Apostle Richard Fehr to appoint Noel Barnes as the new District Apostle. Barnes faithfully covered up the wrongs committed by Graf.
Barnes and (Apostle) John and (Bishop) Allister Kriel have been friends since childhood. When Barnes was ordained Bishop his job at a major oil company was taken over by Allister Kriel. Under Barnes' direction, and with the support of Graf, Allister Kriel was ordained Bishop.
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