The Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI) has withdrawn a car it gifted a former bishop of the church, Kwame Yirenkyi Ampofo, during his service to the church.
Mr. Kwame Ampofo, an engineer by training, says the Auto Theft Unit of the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is currently investigating him for stealing the car in contention.
He said the Chevrolet Tahoe was given to him in 2016 after it had been used by the wife of the founder of the church, Mrs. Adelaide Heward-Mills, from 2013 to 2016. He said the Healing Jesus denomination of the church then gave it to him as a gift in 2022 after it dismissed him over a misunderstanding between him and the leadership of the church.
The church said while it was yet to transfer the ownership of the car to Bishop Ampofo, he had begun to attack the church, hence, the decision to revoke the gift.
“However, before we could actually effect the transfer of the ownership of the car to you legally, you began to attack and insult the church which has been so benevolent to you. This was both a surprise and a shock to the Lighthouse Chapel International in the light of the long history of kindness and honour shown to you,” the church said in a July 4, 2023, letter signed by the Convener of the Bishop’s Council, Bishop Dr. Kofi Hene Asare.
The church said even though it had early on communicated the gift to the bishop, it was at liberty to change its mind.
“… The church is entitled to change its mind on decisions about its intentions on any subject. The church no longer wishes to give you the car because we have had a change of mind and because we never actually transferred ownership to you. We WILL NOT transfer the ownership of this car to you,” it said.
The church dismissed Mr. Ampofo in December 2022, following what it says “are based on multiple church’s documents, meetings and the values of our organization.”
Until his dismissal, Kwame Ampofo, 52, was a bishop in charge of the Nsawam area of the church he had joined in 1995.
He said he was appointed a lay pastor in 1999 and resigned from his job to work full-time for the church in 2006. He was ordained a reverend minister in 1997 and consecrated a bishop in 2017.
Since his dismissal in December 2022, Mr. Kwame Ampofo has renounced the bishop title the church ordained him and has taken to social media to correct what he calls lies against him by some top bishops of the church.
As part of his protests against what he calls unbiblical practices of Lighthouse Chapel is the burning of books written by the founder of Lighthouse Chapel, Bishop Dag Heward-Mills, live on social media.
A lawyer for Lighthouse Chapel, Kweku Y. Pantsil, first wrote to Mr. Ampofo in January 2023 to revoke the car gift from the church. The grievance of the church was that Mr. Ampofo had said the vehicle was a compensation package instead of a gift.
Lawyer Paintsil’s letter said, “By your decision to take the car as compensation, instead of a gift, you have expressly repudiated the offer of gift to you, compelling our client to accept your repudiation and, thus, nullifying the offer of a gift.”
In another letter, also dated January 11, 2023, Mr. Paintsil mentioned Mr. Ampofo’s attacks on the church after what he called “badmouthing” of the church.
“However, notwithstanding the foregoing, it has come to our client’s notice that your initial euphoria about the generous gift of GH¢300,000.00 has dissipated and the same replaced with your good self going around and unburdening yourself of gratuitous insults to the church and its leadership.”
The church says it expected the bishop to reject the gifts and take any action he deems appropriate since he claimed he was wrongfully dismissed.
“However, since it appears that you intend to pocket the gift and also maintain a right to go about badmouthing our client, we are under our client’s instructions to request that you do forthwith refund the said “gift” to our client without prejudice to your unfettered right to maintain any cause of action you consider appropriate,” one of the letters signed by Kweku Paintsil stated.
The church said despite several attempts to get the car returned, Mr. Ampofo has refused to give it back to the church. This, it says, prompted it to report the case to the police to determine the rightful owner of the car.
“The decision to report the matter to the police is very simple: since you refuse to hand over our bonafide property we have referred the matter to the Police who we believe are better suited at determining the true ownership of the car at this time.”
The car is a gift, Bishop Ampofo insists
Mr. Ampofo said he had no intention to return the car since it was a gift, alongside a GH¢300,000.00 offered him following his dismissal.
This is not the first time the church has reported a former employee for theft to the police.
Bishop Emmanuel Oko Mensah, also a former Lighthouse employee, who served for 16 years was hauled before the police for “dishonestly” keeping the church’s old Hyundai Elantra.
The police discontinued the prosecution over lack of evidence to support the charge that he stole his official car.
“There is nothing in the docket to show that the suspect refused to surrender the vehicle to LCI when they requested the suspect to return the vehicle,” a legal opinion signed by Assistant State Attorney, Akosua Agyapoma Agyeman, stated.
“It is therefore our opinion that the charges of stealing cannot be sustained against the suspect. From the foregoing, we dis-recommend the prosecution of Emmanuel Oko Mensah,” the November 3, 2022, letter ended.
The letter from the Attorney-General was written in response to a petition filed by Oko Mensah’s lawyer, Kofi Bentil, who condemned the prosecution as malicious.
He said the church was only doing this because his client and five other former pastors had sued it for trauma and economic exploitation.