Arise Church Just Keeps Getting Messier
Arise church is not run by God, or the pastors, or the board — it’s now run by lawyers
Earlier this week I said the Arise board was about to finally publish the independent review — the result of over 500 current and former members sharing their stories.
I was wrong.
Well, sort of. They were about to publish it. Then they changed their minds.
It’s fair to say that Arise church is not run by God or the pastors or the board — it’s now run by lawyers.
The Arise board put out a statement Wednesday evening, New Zealand time. It rambled on and on in flowery, meaningless language — but these are the important two paragraphs:
It was the Arise Board’s intention to release publicly the full report from Pathfinding on Thursday 7th July 2022. It is deeply regrettable this delay continues because there is now an urgent non-publication order over the report. This prevents the Arise Board from releasing it as scheduled.
The Board is unable to give a timeframe on the release of the Pathfinding report, and is committed to upholding its privacy obligations and so cannot comment further on the matter for now.
Misinformation goes viral in a vacuum — which is why there’s so much gossip flying around about defamation lawsuits and other scary sounding things. Those things don’t currently exist.
This misinformation happens in part because the Arise board is very good at leaving key information out. Many who read their latest statement assumed John Cameron had got some kind of injunction.
Certainly “Urgent non-publication order” made me think High Court injunction. Maybe that’s what the board wanted us to all think. I got in touch with the High Court in Auckland to see if such a thing existed:
Nothing in Auckland. I tried Wellington:
They both came up with nothing, nada, zilch.
I sighed and emailed the Arise board for clarity that they are so, so bad at providing. Eventually they replied with new information — a rare thing for them to do:
The urgent non-publication order was issued by the Employment Relations Authority.
- Arise Board.
The Employment Relations Authority. I got in touch with the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and they confirmed it:
There is a temporary non-publication order over the Pathfinding Report document about the Arise Church. This order will be reviewed later this month. As matters are currently before the Authority, no other comment will be made at this time.
It sounds like John might want his old job back — and he’s using the ERA to stop the report.
Why didn’t the board just say this in the first place.
The only time John Cameron ever emailed me was back on April 10. In that email he mentioned his “commitment to transparency.”
At this point it’s reasonable to imagine that wasn’t entirely true.
The more he interferes — scaring the board with his lawyers and vague threats — the longer the independent report remains unreleased, and the worse it gets for the church.
The report was originally meant to come out June 29. The board then said it would be delayed by “two weeks”. Then it was then rescheduled for July 7. But on July 6, it was delayed again — this time with no deadline.
The pressure is showing. Board chair Graeme Kirkwood — a man based in Australia - has now stepped down:
Graeme Kirkwood has given notice of his resignation as both Chairperson and Trustee. The Board recognises Graeme’s tireless work with the rest of the Board to put the Arise Review Roadmap in place, and his support for the need for significant changes to be made in regards to the governance and leadership of Arise. The Board appreciates Graeme’s commitment to bringing greater transparency and accountability.
Transparency and accountability at Arise is about as prevalent as God: it’s absent.
Victims had come forward to participate in a process run by a church that had hurt them, in the hope they would finally be heard. They were specifically told they would get their say, in explicit terms agreed to by John Cameron himself.
Instead they were betrayed again.
To make matters worse, multiple people have told me John wants his old job back. You know, the one he resigned from. The job where he — whilst still employed — initiated the independent review into the mess at his church. The mess he created. The mess he’s trying to sweep under the carpet. Again. As usual.
But I guess walking away from the cult of personality he’d created was too much for him. How would he function without an environment of constant love, praise, and unquestioning adoration? How would he function without all that money? I guess we’re seeing the answer to that question right now.
Not well at all.
A total left turn, but I wanted to end on someting positive. I spend so much time writing about absolute morons, I wanted to talk about someone who’s actually achieved something, and is capable of caring about other people.
I ended up in San Fransisco last week, recording an episode of Flightless Bird about that all-American sport, baseball.
This probably doesn’t surprise you, but I’m not a big sports guy. But I make exceptions.
Case in point: Liam Hendriks, a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. He’s Australian — and I met up with him before the game that night. You can tell he’s Australian, because I heard comical cries of “f—k!” and “c—t!” coming from the field as he practiced.
He’s a big deal — last year he signed a $54 million deal with the Chicago team. The thing that makes that cool? He wouldn’t sign that deal until he made sure the team had a Pride night. He wanted to make sure that the team he was about to sign to for $54 million was down with the LGBTQI+ crowd first.
Another fact: Liam is about as straight as they come. This wasn’t about him — it was taking a stand to make sure everyone is treated in the same way.
Imagine that! The same way! John Cameron’s head just exploded. Bethlehem College erupted into a ball of flames.
This is what Liam told me:
“I don’t understand how everything has to be, “Oh, well, that’s not normal!”
Who’s to say what normal is? Why don’t we just change that tone and it makes it a lot easier, instead of kind of going through and being like, “Oh, well, that’s abnormal.”
This goes back to high school and all that sort of stuff — I have always wanted to make sure that I was never that guy. I was never that guy that was like, “Oh no, I’m going to put you down because you’re different.”
I’ve never been perfect, but in saying that, I’ve always wanted to make sure that everyone is included in things. It’s inclusive, it’s a lifestyle that we make sure everything is taken care of.
And I think in especially in baseball, there’s been other sports players have come out — and no-one in baseball!
And baseball is a — I don’t mean this any way negatively — but it is a very white Christian sport!”
It’s huge to me that someone like Liam speaks out about this stuff. He doesn’t have to. There is nothing in it for him. And most giant sports stars stay quiet on this topic: Anything to do with sexuality or politics.
After dealing with so many idiots (Arise, City Impact, Hillsong, Bethlehem College) — talking to someone who is actually successful and skilled (and not a raging homophobe) was kind of refreshing:
Oh, and that ball we’re holding up in the photo earlier? He made me sign it for him. He and his wife like Dark Tourist, apparently. For all I know he was probably making that up — but it was such a lovely gesture.
In a word filled with a constant stream of unskilled, dull idiots — it was nice to spend some time with the opposite.