Arise Church is Not Run by God or Pastors or the Board: it’s Run by Lawyers
There will be no report anytime soon
Edit: The original headline of this piece when I sent it out earlier today was “Tomorrow is D-Day for Arise Megachurch”.
I was wrong.
Arise church is not run by God or the pastors or the board — it’s run by lawyers.
The Arise board put out a statement Wednesday evening, New Zealand time. It rambles on and on in flowery, meaningless language — but these are the important three paragraphs:
Over 545 people engaged with this process, with many sharing their stories for the first time with counsellors and psychologists.
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.
“Urgent non-publication order” made me think injunction. I got in touch with the High Court in Wellington and Auckland — and there was no injunction to be found.
I emailed the Arise board for clarity — and got this:
The urgent non-publication order was issued by the Employment Relations Authority.
- Arise Board.
Sounds like John wants his old job back.
Webworm understands that tomorrow we’ll see the results of the independent review into Arise Church. We’ll see the whole report — not just some watered down bullshit.
This comes after John Cameron lawyered up — no doubt hoping to shut the whole thing down. I don’t think he’s gonna win that battle.
One can imagine he’ll be terrified of what this review has to say (as with us, it will be the first time he’s seen it) — and what it will do for his future career prospects.
He may have resigned from the church he founded, but he knows speaker fees are pretty good in the megachurch scene, and no doubt he can always just go and plant another church somewhere else. He’ll have plans brewing.
I don’t imagine his brother Brent will be happy about it either.
For me, I feel a sense of relief coming on. That the hundreds of victims who spoke to the Pathfinding review will have their stories told. Publicly.
Throughout all of this, it still amazes me the constant feedback I get from church members like this:
“Tell some positive news about Arise?” It’s had 20 years of positive press. Wake up.
“What about the people who want to go to church and have good experiences? Where are their voices in this?”
This one always gets me. As if some people having a good time somehow outweighs those left utterly fucked up. These people seem incapable of walking in someone else’s shoes, even for a second.
Journalism is not about seeking out a bunch of happy stories when you’re reporting on hideous stuff going on. You report the hideous stuff — because no-one else is. Hell, look at Arise church’s Instagram the last few months and you’d think nothing was wrong:
Arise has needed to keep this happy image up, because they need to keep recruiting new members. Because they need to make more money.
Last year was good for them — over $15,936,137 in revenue coming in. A few million more than the previous year.
It was a good year for consultant Graeme Kirkwood of the Arise board — he made $30,539.24 (up $6421 from 2020) for doing…. I’m not sure what. He certainly wasn’t answering many of my emails.
I’ve uploaded the whole report for you here.
Webworm’s reporting even gets a mention — a “media event”, apparently?
“Media Event: At the time of signing the Financial Audited Statements, Arise Church has been subject to significant media reports and allegations. The Board have established two (2) independent reviews to identify any shortfalls and improvements required in systems, processes or governance standards. No financial impact (if any) can be reliably measured as these reviews are currently at the early stages.”
Arise certainly won’t want revenue to drop off this year — so of course they’re publicly maintaining a “nothing is wrong here!” image.
Let’s be clear: Things are deeply wrong at Arise.
It’s my hope tomorrow’s release will further show the huge harm caused by this institution — and why. Harm caused by the churches very DNA.
On the off-chance John Cameron gets an injunction or something — then tomorrow I’ll update this particular newsletter with the latest. This is the link.
In the meantime, these are the key Webworm stories on Arise:
April 3: Hillsong Isn’t the Only Abhorrent Megachurch
Back in April, I published my first piece on Arise — looking at the huge pressure to donate big to the church, and the breakdowns regularly faced by Arise interns.
April 10: Arise Church Hires a PR Agency
After ignoring Webworm for about a week, damage control at the megachurch kicks in — and they hire Kingdom PR.
April 13: Full e-mail from Arise’s John Cameron
The PR company wasn’t very good — as it resulted in this mess of an email sent to me by John Cameron. This would be the last time I’d ever hear from John Cameron.
April 13: The Downward Spiral of Arise Church: Part I
Hayden Donnell joined me to write this, as things were getting bigger. Stories were getting overwhelming. This piece documents John and Brent’s penchant for physically grabbing interns and staff.
April 14: The Downward Spiral of Arise Church: Part 2
This piece looked at how processes like “uplining” were used to brush sexual assault and rape allegations under the carpet at Arise.
April 20: Understanding Megachurch Culture
This is an essay from someone who dedicated 18 years of their life to Arise. They report about this place from the inside out.
April 26: The Downward Spiral of Arise Church: Part 3
This looked into sexual harassment at Arise Church, from John’s brother Brent.
May 26: John & Brent Cameron Descend Into Oblivion
The founder of Arise Church and his brother resign. They’re goneburgers.
I wrote a lot more on Arise, too — it’s all listed on this page.
Talk tomorrow, fingers firmly crossed. If you’re not subbed to Webworm — now might be a good time.
Arise church is not run by God or the pastors or the board — it’s now run by lawyers.
No report tomorrow.
Will report more when I can.
I know you know this, but we're right here with you David. It's your excellent work that has got this whole awfulness to this point. I can only hope these people do the right thing.