A CONFESSION by a tax-evading city pastor has turned into an unholy spat at a once peaceful Port Elizabeth church – with congregants trying to have the church head removed.
Details have also emerged in the Port Elizabeth High Court of sermons filled with hate speech and attempts to disrupt church services.
The court has heard how Peter Robert Twynham, the inaugural pastor of Sanctor's Endtime Light Christian Association's Port Elizabeth Tabernacle, confessed to senior congregation members a few months ago that he was habitually defrauding the taxman by under-declaring his income "in order to avoid paying extra tax".
The confession was done in the course of a discussion on a proposed salary Twynham wanted – about R42000 before deductions. His reflected salary was for R12500.
Twynham made it clear that he believed that he also controlled "all tithes" that totalled about R80000 a month.
Twynham has been the pastor at the church for the past three decades and has always been in charge of the finances which, according to papers before court, are in vast disarray.
He asked the congregants to keep his confession a secret, but church board of trustees chairman Quintin Peter Isaacs – troubled and battling with sleepless nights – did not keep the secret.
Instead, he decided to take action as this was "dishonesty in the highest degree" and Twynham had confessed to committing "falsification that stems from the greed of money".
As the board of trustees, he and his fellow senior congregation members tried to suspend Twynham and sent the Sheriff of the High Court to collect the keys of the church from him.
Twynham refused to hand over the keys. In response he had Isaacs and his fellow trustees barred from the church and hired armed guards to remove them from the premises.
Isaacs said that Twynham's sermons became filled with "hate speech".
Twynham complained in papers before court that his sermons were suddenly being interrupted by unexpected power failures.
Isaacs, meanwhile, has also laid a complaint with the police's Commercial Crimes Unit after he discovered that Twynham, with the assistance of three other members of the congregation, had the accounts of the church's Ubuntu Funeral Fund frozen.
He said the church's doors at both branches would remain locked until a peaceful resolution could be found.
Isaacs has said he has also instructed auditors not to hand financial records over to Twynham.