ARISE interns allegedly told to work on pastors' garden

Source: 1News

Former interns of ARISE mega church say they have felt forced to work on the church pastors' properties on their days off.

It's just the latest in allegations against the mega church, which revealed earlier this week it was launching an independent external review after stories emerged online.

That review would start after Easter, ARISE said.

Late on Saturday night, only hours before one of the biggest church services of the year, Easter Sunday, the church board said head pastor John Cameron would step aside from his pastoral duties and would resign from the board.

But more allegations continue to emerge from those enrolled in the church's "internship" programme.

One former member said intern would be required to work on pastors' properties on their days off.

"I worked on John Cameron's Garden on several occasions, trimming his hedges, digging holes, seeding his grass and mowing his lawns, all while he was inside the house working on his Sunday message," they said.

Another former intern, who left burnt out, said they worked 50 hours unpaid a week as part of their internship - which they paid money to the church to do.

They then had to find a paying job on top of that to make ends meet.

"I worked three to four afternoons a week nannying," she said.

"This gave me just enough money to pay my rent, petrol, electricity and left very little for food or anything else I needed."

She said she felt angry with the church's response this week but felt encouraged hearing stories like hers.

"I thought I was the only one in this position of being used, but then I was in shock when I realised there were other people that felt the same as me, that felt hurt by that church," she said.

1News approached ARISE again for an interview with Cameron and put these allegations to him.

Instead, a written statement was sent once again from board chairperson Graeme Kirkwood.

"The ARISE board continues to acknowledge the hurt and pain that has been expressed," he said.

"We reaffirm our earlier statements made in regard to changes to the board and the independent review that is currently underway. We await its findings. Due to sensitivity and privacy reasons we are unable to comment on specific allegations or individual employment circumstances.

"We want to strongly encourage anyone who has a complaint or negative experience to engage with the independent reviewer. It is important we hear and understand these stories in order to help bring relief and healing to those who are in pain, and put into place any corrective action that may be needed."