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General News of Wednesday, 25 August 2021


Lighthouse Chapel did no wrong - SSNIT concludes

SSNIT says Dag Heward-Mills' church did no wrong by not paying contributions for the 6 SSNIT says Dag Heward-Mills' church did no wrong by not paying contributions for the 6

• SSNIT has released its report on the investigations into the Lighthouse Chapel International case

• Six former pastors have taken the church to court over unpaid SSNIT contributions

• SSNIT says the church did no wrong because the six were not employees of the church

The Social Security and National Investment Trust (SSNIT) has said that the Lighthouse Chapel International did nothing wrong when it did not pay the contributions of some six former pastors of the church.

In a post by Manasseh Azure Awuni on his Facebook page, the investigations by SSNIT had concluded that the church was not bound to pay the contributions of the pastors because they were not employees of the Lighthouse Chapel.

Using the case of one of the pastors, the anti-corruption investigative journalist wrote that it had been established that within the period Rev. Seth Duncan, for instance, was with the church, he was not eligible to any such contributions and as such, cannot blame the church.

“Rev. Seth Duncan resigned his job as a seaman with Ghana’s navy in 2005, trained as a pastor at Anagkazo Bible College, which is owned by his church, Lighthouse Chapel International.

“After three years of training, the church sent him into full-time ministry in 2008. He was first posted to Paga in the Upper East Region and later to Tamale and Kasoa in the Northern and Central regions respectively. But he resigned after planting and administering churches for 10 years.

“Within the period, the church did not pay his pension contribution for the 120 months of work. When he petitioned Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to seek redress, SSNIT said in a letter dated August 20, 2021, that LCI had done no wrong in not paying his social security contributions,” his post read.

On April 19 this year, the six pastors dragged the church to the Labour Division of the Accra High Court seeking to order the church to pay their “unpaid SSNIT contributions.”

The six are Bishop Larry Odonkor, Bishop Oko Mensah, Rev. Edward Laryea, Pastor Seth Duncan, Pastor Edem Amankwah, and Pastor Faith Makafui Fiakojo.

In its defense, the church, now known as the United Denominations Originating from the Lighthouse Group of Churches (UD-OLGC), maintained that it operates an extensive lay system that allows individuals to serve as volunteers while maintaining their secular engagements.

Also, it has averred that there were thousands of pastors of the church who had operated for years in such capacities as volunteers.

It has also argued that the Ghana church is a legally, financially, administratively and governmentally independent organization from all the other LCI churches domiciled in other parts of the world.

However, the church has stated that the only similarity it has with all those other churches is their spiritual relationship, adding that any pastor sent outside this jurisdiction does not fall under the employment of the Ghana arm of the church, the report added.

Among the other claims, the former pastors are asking of the court are an order to compute and pay the balance of salaries due them, compensation for what they say are the investments they made in schools and churches, as well as refunds of monies they used in the rental of cars while serving in the church, among others.