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: 02/04/2014 Background:
Please outline the main beliefs of Providence. We believe in core tenets of Christianity. Describe how Providence was set up, including the date, location and background information of the founder/s. The church was formed in 1982 in Seoul, South Korea The group is known by several names, including Providence, JMS and Christian Gospel Ministry. Please explain the significance of each name. The only meaning of JMS is Jesus Morning Star. Some people mistakenly say that it stands for Joung Myoung Seok, however this is not the case. We refer to Joung Myoung Seok by his title, ‘teacher’ as is respectful in Korean culture. Our official name is CGM or Christian Gospel Mission, and we would appreciate you referring to us by this name. Does the church operate under any other names not listed above? The principal name of the church is Christian Gospel Mission. How does somebody become a member of Providence? A person becomes a member of CGM by choosing to attend our church. How many followers, or members, does the church have worldwide? In what locations does the church operate? We do not choose to provide this information. How is the church funded? How much money are members required to give each week? CGM is funded by voluntary contributions. There is no requirement whatsoever to give money or anything else. Could you describe how Providence was first established in Australia, including the date, location and current leaders of each local church. CGM in Australia was founded in Sydney in 1997. How many members does the group have in Australia and in what locations are the churches based? We do not choose to answer this question. What is the official title and legal status of the church in Australia? We are an incorporated association, Does the church do charitable works in Australia and if so, what are they? To the extent that our resources allow, we attempt to help people in multifarious ways. Does the church have charitable status for tax purposes in Australia? If not, could you indicate why? Yes.
Describe what role Jeong Myeong-seok played in setting up Providence? Jeong Myeong-Seok is the head pastor of CGM.
Does the church consider him to be a “messiah” figure and if so, how did that happen? Jeong Myeong-Seok is not the messiah; he is a human being and has never claimed otherwise. We believe in Jesus as the messiah. We believe that all Jesus’ followers (and especially pastors) should strive to become the body of Jesus on earth by doing His work. Detail the reasons Jeong Myeong-seok is currently serving time in prison. We believe Jeong Myeong-Seok was wrongly convicted. His conviction is a matter of public record. In our view the case raised purely circumstantial evidence against him, which can be refuted. We can only assume that strong negative public opinion (created by biased media reporting) had some impact on the outcome of the case. We ask SBS and its viewers to investigate the details for themselves prior to making an informed decision about his guilt or innocence. The attached article provides some details. It was not written by anyone affiliated with our organisation. What specific details are members told about Jeong’s current situation when they join the group? All church members are told that Pastor Jeong is in prison, and are given all the details of the case to decide for themselves. How does a member come to be considered an “evergreen” and what differentiates those members from others? This question is unclear and we ask you to rephrase it in a way that we can answer.
PREFACE: All these questions are leading questions. We do not agree to comply with this ‘fishing’ for information. If there are specific allegations to answer, we request to be informed of the precise nature of those allegations, and the evidence behind them, at which time we will respond to them. Has the Australian entity of Providence ever been affiliated with modelling or soccer groups on university campuses? See preface. Describe all methods the group uses to find new members. In the process of “evangelising” people for the church, former members say they were asked to recruit young, beautiful women. Why are they preferred followers? Denied Former members say they were encouraged to send letters to Jeong in prison and in some cases, include a picture of themselves. One former member says she was asked to send an image of herself in a bikini. Please explain this process. Denied. Such pictures are not solicited or permitted by our church; neither are they permitted by the institution where Pastor Jeong currently is. Former members say they received replies to their letters from Jeong. Within the letters, they say, Jeong encouraged members not to tell their parents about the church. What is the reason for this? Please set out the particulars by which you make this claim. Detail the daily tasks for members who live full time at the church.
We don’t have a church building. Have any Australian members of Providence been flown to Seoul to meet with Jeong in prison? If so, what is the purpose of this visit? Members fund their own travel. Former members say they were encouraged by church leaders not to speak to their family; not to read books, use the Internet, or watch movies. Describe why these restrictions are put in place? Denied. Former members also say they were required to take cold showers, restrict their diet and pray in tears – “any suffering” that meant they could be closer to the leader. Why? Denied. Are members free to leave the group at any time? What are they told when they leave the group? Everyone is free to leave, as they clearly do. Not sure what the second part of the question is getting at. Some people have described Providence as a “cult” – what is your response to that? We follow the Christian religion
From: Joel Tozer To: Andrew Choi Date: 04/04/2014
Dear Andrew, Thank you for sending through Providence's responses. These will be included in full on our website when we do the story. In response to your requests regarding identification and more specific allegations: - Identification of persons or entities is an issue which we consider with every story and is a matter for our editorial independence. Therefore we can't undertake as to which persons or entities in relation to the church will or will not be identified. We would welcome further details about the name of the local church entity and its membership and personnel in Australia, which would assist us to report accurately. - You have indicated the church will not agree to an interview despite our repeated attempts for some weeks, during which time we offered to accommodate your preferred time and place and sent through topics for discussion. While we consider that we have put the substance of the allegations or queries that we would have wished to discuss to you, I would be happy to expand on the issue of "evergreens" and recruitment and request your response to the following allegations concerning the activities of your church in Canberra, in the period 2010-2012: 1. An ex member alleges that she was given a three pearl necklace which was said to symbolise a vagina and therefore her dedication to your leader JMS as his spiritual bride. 2. An ex member alleges that as an "evergreen" she was expected to devote herself to your leader, Jeong Myeong Seok (JMS) as a spiritual bride and never to marry. 3. An ex member alleges that she was encouraged to write to your leader JMS as if he were her "husband". 4. An ex member alleges that she was asked to pose for photographs in a bikini and makeup to send to JMS. 5. An ex member alleges that she wrote letters to JMS via a Canberra member and that letters were sent back from him, which said that he found her white skin arousing, and made other comments which suggested a sexual attraction to her. 6. An ex member says that she visited JMS in prison in Korean and that he recognised her from photos and knew her name, and blew kisses to her. 7. An ex member says that she was involved in recruiting attractive young women on campus while pretending to be recruiting for a modelling group. If asked whether she was recruiting for a religious group she denied this.
8. A person alleges that your group recruits members who are young attractive women to be spiritual brides for your leader JMS. 9. A person alleges that she was asked to pray to a double photo frame which had an image of Jesus and an image of your leader JMS. 10. An ex member alleges that she was encouraged to isolate herself from family and friends and that she should regard any exhortations to leave the group as Satan speaking through that person.
Please let us have your response to these allegations ASAP and by no later than 9am (Sydney time) Tuesday 8 April 2014. Kind regards, Joel Tozer
From: Joel Tozer To: Andrew Choi Date: 06/04/2014
Dear Andrew, In addition to my letter on Friday, I would like to note that the allegations concerning the activities of your church in Canberra took place between 2010 to 2013 (not 2012 as previously stated). I look forward to hearing from you before 9am (Sydney time) Tuesday 8 April 2014. Kind regards, Joel Tozer
From: Andrew Choi To: Joel Tozer Date: 08/04/2014
Dear Joel I received your last email. You are very diligent to work even on Sunday! Our organisation is very concerned about the allegations contained in your email. While we would strenuously deny the substance of all these allegations, it is necessary for our church council to come to a consensus in order to go forward together with SBS. In the meantime, I would like to attach this article from a well-known Korean Monthly magazine that details some of the interactions between the media and our organisation, and in particular, how certain persons attempted to use the media for their personal gain. I would very much appreciate your consideration of the circumstances described in this article, to assist with the preparation of your program. Sincerely, Andrew Choi
From: Joel Tozer To: Andrew Choi Date: 08/04/2014
Dear Andrew, Thank you. Your response is noted and will be taken into account in the program. Kind regards, Joel Tozer