The Charity Commission in the United Kingdom recently completed its review of the popular evangelical Christ Embassy church led by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, concluding that the organization has significantly improved its financial governance and oversight.
The UK Charity Commission has released its final report detailing the six-year inquiry into the financial management of Christ Embassy, a religious organization founded and led by the charismatic Nigerian Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. In its report, the Commission stated that the religious charity had made significant progress and applauded the church for its commitment to improving its management through the appointment of a new board of trustees.
UK Charity Commission inquiry
Christ Embassy is a Nigerian-based international evangelical Christian organization that currently operates 90 churches and provides religious services to an excess of five thousand congregants in the United Kingdom.
The church was flagged by the UK Charity Commission for review after a number of concerns were voiced regarding the use of charity funds. The investigation focused on Christ Embassy’s accounts during the period of 2009 to 2011. In question were a series of grants that Christ Embassy provided to its partner organisations and the decision-making processes of the charity’s board of trustees.
The Charity Commission launched a full inquiry into the church’s financial dealings with the goal of improving and strengthening Christ Embassy’s administration and management. Throughout the investigation, the Commission reported that Christ Embassy officials were forthcoming and cooperative with the members of the Commission.
Christ Embassy improves governance and administration
The Commission’s investigation instructed the charitable organization to improve its use of formal contracts, appropriate record-keeping and to better manage conflicts of interest within the organization.
To better assist Christ Embassy in resolving any financial issues that put the organization and its assets at risk, the Charity Commission appointed an interim manager to help the organization comply with its grant-making policy and institute adequate recording of decision making by the trustees. The interim manager completed a full governance and infrastructure review of the charity and its activities.
In response, Christ Embassy embarked on a serious of remedial actions to regularise its governance to ensure it was fit for purpose. These actions included establishing a central and accurate record of properties and assets, introducing and implementing financial controls, regularizing management, conducting health and safety audits and fire risk assessments, and recruiting and training a new board of trustees to oversee the charitable administration and financial management.
The Charity Commission determined that Christ Embassy has made significant progress with its internal reforms and approved the discharge of the interim manager from his duties on 12 April 2016.
Commission commends Christ Embassy’s significant progress
Christ Embassy’s appointment of a new board of trustees and its new commitment to compliance was commended by the Commission. “I am pleased that these issues have been resolved and that the new board of trustees has shown a clear commitment to move the charity forward responsibly,” said Amy, the Head of Investigations Team at the Charity Commission.
“Those running a charity should always be guided by their charitable purpose. Trustees have an important responsibility to ensure that they act in the best interests of their charity at all times, and take care to safeguard their charity’s assets. Our guidance around governance arrangements is there to help trustees ensure they do just that.”
According to the report, satisfied that the new board of trustees had assumed control of the charity’s property, the Commission discharged the freezing order of accounts that had been under review. The interim manager also settled penalties related to late tax return submissions to HM Revenue and Customs.
Christ Embassy has demonstrated a commitment to addressing its governance issues and improving the oversight and control of the charity. Christ Embassy and its lead pastor, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, have expressed gratitude to the Commission and their congregation for the satisfactory resolution of this inquiry and the issues that spurned it.
Spiller reiterated in her announcement, “Charities are trusted in a way that is unique, and people often put a lot of faith in religious charities. It is therefore vital that trustees, particularly those with a large following, do all that they can to inspire public trust, so that they can help to uphold wider public confidence in charities.”
Christ Embassy and Pastor Christ Oyakhilome have committed to act only in the best interest of its congregation and in compliance with the regulations set forth by the UK’s Charity Commission. The church is pleased to have resolved its issues in a satisfactory and positive manner.
With the inquiry complete, Christ Embassy is expected to continue its growth in the UK. Recently, Christ Embassy hosted a sold-out World Evangelism Conference in London which brought hundreds of thousands of church members from all over the world to the United Kingdom for the event.