In 2010 Peter Youngren (Grace TV, World Impact Ministries, Celebration Church Toronto) told ChristianWeek, the breaking fiasco in Finland was ‘frivolous and laughable at best.”
It doesn’t appear Youngren is laughing now.
A Finnish court has found Youngren’s Finland organization AEM guilty of soliciting funds without a permit. Youngren’s wife Taina Youngren ( nee Kuusiluoma), who was chairman of AEM, received a 30 day jail sentence (suspended).
Taina Youngren is a Finnish national who became Youngren’s third wife in September 2011. The Youngrens operate Grace TV and World Impact Ministries out of Celebration Church in Toronto.
AEM has been ordered to pay the Finnish government 49 thousand euros in compensation. That fine works out to $65663.00 Cdn.
In 1993 Youngren and his World Impact Ministries teamed up with the Finnish evangelical group EKM, working together on various crusades. Youngren joined the EKM board. In 2010, the relationship went sour when the EKM board asked Youngren to step away for a year to work on his second marriage.
Youngren refused and took to the mailing list to accuse two EKM leaders and friends of hijacking EKM, holding secret meetings and misusing funds. The letter went out to about 5900 supporters. Youngren had previously applied for a permit for AEM and had been refused.
The EU has strict privacy laws, the list contained EKM bank account numbers. Youngren and his now wife Taina had EKM’s permission to use the list once for a Pakistani crusade update. When EKM asked for the list back, Youngren refused.
In February 2010, he was removed from the board of EKM. Youngren and Kuusiluoma retaliated by sending out another letter in March 2010 accusing the EKM board of stealing mission money.
The two Finnish former friends and EKM board members went to police. Another criminal case is proceeding in Finland.
Youngren told ChristianWeek in 2010 that the list belonged to him.
“I claim ownership because all names on the list have been added at my personal invitation through public meetings and TV,” Youngren wrote. “All the people on the database have received promises from me that they will receive reports and teaching articles. This is my database, which I have allowed EKM to use.”
The Finland courts disagree.
On January 11th 2013, Youngren posted an update on AEM at World Impact Ministries. It appears AEM has been dissolved, any supporters who are left are being directed to his Swedish branch or Canadian operation. This is a Google translation:
Three difficult years of the AEM Association’s activities, will be closed. Life is too short to waste battles that will spring from the human deficiency hit rock bottom. Move forward with the gospel is a busy and precious task, and I want to invest in it all my energy.
…You can follow any ministry events and be in touch with me through the pages of the presentation, or e-mail. Contact ETAL-organization in Sweden and WIM-organization in Canada can be found on the website, so communication is easy in the future.
When ChristianWeek covered this investigation in 2010 Youngren wrote a bellicose letter to the magazine saying he’d started EKM, he wasn’t aware Finnish police were investigating him, and the ChristianWeek identified source was just a disgrundled store front pastor. He ended with this:
Readers must be bored. What has all this got to do with a Canadian Christian newspaper? Is ChristianWeek publishing relevant news or engaging in journalistic sensationalism?
I’d hardly call Taina’s 30 days in jail (suspended) and the hefty fine sensationalism, anymore than I’d call it frivolous and laughable.
On a related note, Peter Youngren’s tv show is expanding into the US on CTN (Christian Television Network) in March. I hope potential US viewers do their homework before donating.