Donors to It Is Written Oceania gathered last weekend to meet with church officials in the aftermath of the program’s recent leadership change. Speaker/Director Gary Kent was removed from his position in May by the Adventist Media Center Board, according to a story in the South Pacific Division’s Adventist Record, regarding “conduct inconsistent with the responsibilities of the speaker/director.”
Members of the Adventist Media Board, including its chair, attended the Donors Meeting to listen to donors, address concerns, and explore ways in which ”IIWO can continue its significant role in reaching people for Jesus.”
According to a news release from the South Pacific Division, “In this forum, the President of the South Pacific Division and Chair of the Adventist Media Committee confirmed that the reasons for dismissal of the Speaker/Director was not the result of adultery or doctrinal differences. The SPD is trying to balance the transparency required by all church members, including the IIWO partners, and the dignity for the person concerned. Currently, the Church is restrained by what it can say while legal processes are in place. However, any perceived public humiliation of Gary or his family is deeply regretted.”
In previous releases about the leadership change the church acknowledged, “the contribution that Kent has made to the Adventist Church over many years as a public evangelist, local church pastor and IIWO speaker/presenter.”
The meeting with donors and news releases are in part a response to the social media storm that erupted when the leadership change was initially announced, including, most recently, a Facebook group supporting Kent who seems to be caught in the middle of larger disagreements. The Division’s news release acknowledges that church leaders said, “more discussion could have occurred between the Church and the IIWO partners on points of difference in the last two years. It is noted that both parties could have initiated such discussions during this time and it is pleasing to note that discussions are underway with representatives of both groups.”
Ten years ago the Greater Sydney Conference initiated the IIWO program as a way to reach people in the cities. Kent, who was then pastoring at Fountain in the City Church, was the first speaker. According to the Record article, IIWO operations were transferred in 2008 to Adventist Media, and in 2009 the program began filming local programming.
Apparently, there are differences over the licensing and registering of the program name, and use of donated funds. The Australasian Division (now South Pacific Division) maintains that, “consistent with responsible corporate practice across all business names used by the church, has registered the IIW Business Name as early as 1964. Since then the Church has continued to hold this name. More recently and along with other church brands the Church has upgraded its protection and registered such names as trademarks. Amicable discussions are continuing with IIW International and the SPD/AMN regarding the ongoing protection of the name.” It also declared that all donor funds have been used exclusively for the intention they have been given. Discussions continue between the Division and the program donors.
Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum.
Image Credit: Video still from YouTube video.
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