Rhema’s flashy R130m church

2010-05-30 10:56

Rhema plans to spend R130 million on

creating an “Oscars church”.

Members of the congregation have been asked to contribute towards

features such as a heated baptism pool, themed play areas for children and

cinema-style church seating.

The plans so upset a church member, who spoke to City Press on

condition of anonymity, when they were announced last Sunday that she left the


“Why do we need an Oscars church (American designers with purported

links to the Oscars are said to be involved)? It sends the wrong message. If you

want to reach God, help the poor,” she said.

But Rhema spokesperson ­Giet Khosa

defended the project yesterday. ‘‘Our facilities are 30 years old and we believe

it is time to renovate them for the ­future generation.”

Khosa said the five-year project would be coordinated by Joshua

McCauley, son of Pastor Ray McCauley.

McCauley Jr declined to comment as he was supporting his father,

who had undergone emergency heart surgery on Friday night. Khosa would not

discuss Ray McCauley’s condition.

Responding to the argument that the R130 million should rather be

used to help the poor, Khosa said Rhema was

already running welfare programmes.

Lance Neethling, who attends Rhema’s

services, supported this claim, mentioning the church’s work with orphans,

feeding schemes and projects to build houses.

“No one is forcing Rhema members to

contribute towards this project. In this day and age people are into that sort

of thing. The big churches are cinema-like. If you want comfort it comes at a

price,” he said.

The biggest chunk of the project budget (R50 million) will go

towards a children’s church, expected to accommodate 2 000 children.

Play areas will be biblically themed – imagine a Noah’s Ark jungle

gym, for example.

Other plans include a R30 million auditorium upgrade, building a

restaurant and new recording studios and facilities to establish a commercial

radio station and a 24-hour Christian television station.

Khosa would not confirm the involvement of American designers,

saying the church “has the right to engage anyone who we believe will give us

the best service, regardless of where they come from”.

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