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John & Brent Cameron Descend Into Oblivion
The founder of Arise Church & his brother have resigned.
John Cameron and his brother Brent Cameron have both resigned from Arise Church following months of reporting about emotional and physical abuse that took place under their leadership.
The church is expected to make a public statement about their departures shortly.
Webworm published its first story about Arise in early April, and followed that with several more reports about serious allegations of misconduct inside the church.
Some of those allegations were directed at the Camerons themselves. John Cameron was accused of yelling at, berating, and in some cases, grabbing church members in anger over their perceived mistakes.
Brent Cameron was accused of giving people dead legs, cupping farts and ‘throwing’ them at people’s faces, and exposing his genitals without consent.
One particularly serious accusation involved him allegedly chasing a staff member through the corridors of a Dunedin hotel.
When the staff member barricaded himself inside a room, Brent stood outside saying he was naked and asking the staff member to be his ‘little spoon’, while singing ‘I was made for loving you’ by KISS.
In response to these reports, and deep dives from other media, the Arise church board launched a series of reviews into its culture.
One of those, run by Christchurch organisation Pathfinding, received over 600 complaints, including several which it forwarded to the police.
It’s understood that some of the complaints were serious enough to cast doubt on whether the Camerons could remain in leadership.
Their decision to step down comes ahead of Pathfinding delivering its final report to the board.
In response to the news that John and Brent were stepping down, Webworm writer David Farrier issued the following statement, which he described as his “honest opinion”.
- Additional reporting by Hayden Donnell
You can share this newsletter using this link: www.webworm.co/p/resigned
UPDATE: 5.15pm, NZ time, Friday 27. This full email went out to Arise Church members just after 5pm.
-It’s signed off from “Kylie Fletcher on behalf of the Arise Board”. At this time, Graeme Kirkwood seems to be MIA.
-It was sent out at 5pm on a Friday. In media land, you do this when you want the least amount of news attention possible. Arise has consistently released new information at times when media pickup will be lowest.
-This is why I hit send on this newsletter as soon as I had it all confirmed from a number of sources. There was no way I’d wait for Arise’s official word. Arise’s priority is not communication. Webworm’s is.
-You’ll see there are comments from John and Brent below — which most certainly do not get into specifics. There is a reason for this.
-Just a fun fact: John Cameron’s social media accounts dropped offline today:
“Something went wrong”.
Yes. Yes it did.
Okay — onto the official Arise messaging. I’ve copied and pasted what was sent to church members. As usual, this had to be leaked to me. Let’s just say… Arise Church is not good at communicating with Webworm.
Friday 27 May 2022
For the past six weeks the Arise Board and Leadership has sought to remain silent to allow those who have experienced hurt to feel safe to come forward and share their experiences. On behalf of the Arise Board, I want to apologise unreservedly to past and present members of Arise Church. It is deeply regrettable that a place intended for refuge, safety and security, became a place of deep hurt for some.
We want to acknowledge all individuals who have come forward during this time and bravely shared their stories and experiences. We thank you for your courage. We are committed to the review and change process.
While the reviews are ongoing, continued changes must be made. To allow this to happen, the Board is announcing today the resignation of John and Gillian Cameron and Brent Cameron. Brent Cameron’s resignation will be effective immediately, and John and Gillian Cameron will have an involvement of at least three months, to allow for a complete and thorough handover.
At this time the Board recognises that significant change is needed to rebuild trust, transparency and accountability to those that call Arise home, and those who have experienced hurt while at our house. Our hope is that continued changes will lead to Arise Church being a trusted, safe place to worship and a culture where all people are welcomed, loved, and accepted.
Over the coming weeks the Board will be providing a roadmap and timeline of next steps on the Arise website, including the timings of when the review will be made public.
While this work is underway and until the review processes are complete and have been received, the Arise Board’s focus will be on supporting you, our congregation, and staff through this significant change.
We recognise this news will be processed differently for everyone, the Board has agreed to share the following statements from John & Gillian Cameron and Brent Cameron to the congregation of Arise Church.
Naaku iti nei, naa
Kylie Fletcher on behalf of the Arise Board
“It is with a great sadness that we formally resign from Arise Church. We founded Arise to help people. That it has also hurt people has been devastating to hear. We are saddened and truly sorry.
This last period of time has been a season of lament as we have sat in the stories of those who have experienced pain in our church. We have listened and are repentant.
We wish to apologise to all those who have been hurt, either by our actions or the actions of others, both past and present. You are precious. You are loved by God. You deserve to be treated well, especially by the household of faith. There have been wrong cultures and wrong actions and people have been hurt. We are truly and deeply sorry.
We are resigning to allow for real change to take place. We believe that our resignation ensures the best future for both the staff and the congregation of Arise. Arise needs change both structurally and culturally and by stepping aside we are seeking to enable that change to quickly take place. We are confident in the board to ensure that change will happen.
Arise is an amazing church because the people of Arise are truly wonderful people. Their collective love for God and for others has led to thousands of people who have had positive experiences and whose lives have been changed for the better. We continue to believe in the church, the body of Christ. We believe God has a new day for Arise and our prayer is that the good work and community of the church will flourish even more in the days ahead.”
— John & Gillian Cameron
“It is with a heavy heart that I formally tender my resignation from the staff of Arise Church. It has been the greatest privilege to serve at Arise, however over the last period of time the attention I have attracted in the public domain has been detrimental for the church and my family. Therefore, I believe it is in the best interests of all involved for me to step away from employment at Arise.
I continue to be committed to my Christian faith and the Church. I am deeply sorry to God, and all members, both past and present, of Arise where my behaviour has not met the values of a Christian minister, or honoured the name of Jesus. I continue to reflect on who I am, and how I can become the man God has made me to be.
I want to express my deep love for the church and I am praying that Arise will be known as a place of reconciliation and life change in the days ahead. I am praying that the review process will help the board and leadership of Arise create a pathway forward for all who have shared in this journey. I support the Church’s handling of the allegations and will take part in those processes. I will not make any public comment on the allegations that have been made against me.
I have known the support and friendship of the people of Arise Church in many seasons. I want to acknowledge and thank our church community for their continued love and kindness.“
— Brent Cameron
David here again.
If you missed them, these are the key Webworm reports on Arise. None of this would have been possible without Webworm’s subscribers: For those that read and shared — thank you. For those that paid for memberships in order to keep this reporting free and available for all — thank you.
Hillsong Isn’t the Only Abhorrent Megachurch
Meet Arise church. They’re rich, they’re powerful — and you’ve never heard of them
The Downward Spiral of Arise Church: Part I
How New Zealand’s largest megachurch lost its way
The Downward Spiral of Arise Church: Part 2
Assault and Abuse at Arise Church
The Downward Spiral of Arise Church: Part 3
Alleged sexual harassment and NDAs at Arise megachurch
Back From the Dead: Arise’s John Cameron Intends to “Return to Lead the Church”
An internal Arise Church communication shows John Cameron intends to pick up where he left off