Exclusive interview with ARISE Church board as leaders resign

Logan Church
Source: 1News

Embattled founders and lead pastors of ARISE church, John and Gillian Cameron, have resigned.

Gillian and John Cameron.

John's brother Brent Cameron has also resigned.

Former interns have alleged serious mistreatment, particularly within the church’s internship programme.

"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," one former member said.

Other allegations around harassment, including of a sexual nature, have also been alleged and shared publicly.

READ MORE: ARISE head pastor steps down after claims of mistreating interns

1News has heard stories from dozens of former interns, volunteers, members, and workers, some complaints are recent, however, some come from years ago, in the early days of the church.

Two independent reviews are underway – the church said it would share the results publicly when complete.

On Friday, board member and church member, Kylie Fletcher, fronted for an exclusive on-camera interview with 1News about the allegations.

"I am, and on behalf of the board, deeply sorry for those that have experienced hurt.

“As soon as the board were made aware of the allegations made in the public forum, we looked at finding and setting up robust processes, independent reviews."

She would not say when the ARISE board were first made aware of the allegations but said the reviews had been in place in the past six weeks.

“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,” she said.

“At this time 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 these changes will lead to ARISE Church being a trusted, safe place to worship and a culture where all people are welcomed, loved and accepted.”

Leaders speak out

John and Gillian Cameron also provided a statement to 1News through the ARISE board.

“We founded ARISE to help people," they said.

"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. There have been wrong cultures and wrong actions and people have been hurt. We are truly and deeply sorry."

They said they were resigning to allow “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.”

Several former interns, volunteers, and workers said they believe the resignations were the right moves, but there was still a lot of work to do to create the “real change” the Cameron’s were hoping for.

“The dysfunction of this culture remains embedded in the fabric of the day to day running of these churches,” said a former member.

Another described the resignation as “justice” for years of hurt and hoped many would now be able to move forward.