It is Written Oceania Partners Update July 1 - 10

Posted Jul 12, 2017 by Adrian Ebens in Adventist Issues Hits: 169

I received this in an email this morning and present it unedited as presented by IIWO partners


After the Partnership weekend, 5 Partner Reps were elected for a new Management Committee of IIWO after a spill motion was moved. SPD / AMN refused to recognize the new committee and said this was only a recommendation. There has been no communication to accept the Partner Reps in the governance of IIWO since.

However, when offered mediation by the Partner Reps, the SPD did through Pr Steve Currow, SPD Communications Director, engage with three long standing IIWO Partners Reps on behalf of donors. The first 2 weeks showed progress and a joint statement was published in The Record of mediating in good faith, and a number of options for Pr Gary and the ministry to go forward were discussed in good faith. Meetings were held and apologies exchanged both ways along with discussions about how to do things differently in future so that the IIWO ministry could continue under Pr Gary in the Church.

However, the last couple of weeks this process seems to have stalled with mixed signals coming from AMN / SPD. The Partner Reps are unsure if there remains good faith and any real willingness to conclude mediation on the part of AMN/ SPD if this has not been achieved over the last four weeks.

A  separate  process  of  Conciliation  in  the  Fair  Work  Commission  regarding  unfair  dismissal  has also been unsuccessful in coming to an agreed position between the parties.

At the Partnership weekend, at the end of May 2017, it became evident that Pr Gary was not terminated for infidelity, financial mismanagement, fraud or for heresy. What was becoming evident was a breakdown in trust and communication between IIWO and AMN over a difference in priorities between IIWO and AMN around Hope Channel and Free to Air Programming.

Rather it seems that Pr Gary was summarily dismissed (terminated without notice) for not being transparent, or in the eyes of some for misleading or hiding from the AMN Board and Interim IIWO Management Committee about the IIWO Manager Zora coming back to IIWO after being sacked. She was employed by NNW Conference. Her wages were processed through the regular conference channels and were sponsored by a donor. This is what the breach of fiduciary duty was about in the media release by the AMN CEO as best it can be determined by Pr Gary. Pr Gary has still not been allowed to see any evidence against him despite numerous requests.

Zora had been dismissed for insubordination in late 2015 by Mr. Kalvin Dever, the new CEO of AMN (2 or 3 days into his role), for not following directions by the previous CEO of AMN (Neale Schofield) to pull the IIWO programming that God had miraculously opened up on the prime religious TV free-to-air slot in Australia on Channel 7Two. AMN wanted the IIWO donations to be used to fund Hope Channel instead of IIWO programs on Channel 7two.

It is questionable if AMN had authority to dismiss Pr Gary as this was a ministry that he foundedin 2007 and was sole Speaker/Director for since that time, and the ministry is guided by a Brand

Licensing Agreement with It Is Written USA give them the right to veto the Speaker/Director and Manager of the ministry, which is not being recognised by SPD. What started as a partnership between Neale Scofield and Pr Gary seemed to change into a difference in vision and battle for control over IIWO donor funds between Hope Channel and IIWO. In 2015, the battle culminated with the sacking of Zora and the threat, at that time, to dismiss Pr Gary if he did not sign the

2015 integrated media strategy handing over complete control of the IIWO ministry, funds and TV programming to AMN/Hope Channel.

SPD through John Stilinovic registered the IIWO Brand unbeknown and without consultation with IIWO, IIW USA, Pr Gary or donors or Partners under the intention of protecting its trademark.

If it had not been for the General Conference, Pr Gary would have been dismissed and the IIWO ministry taken over by AMN in 2015, and then they again tried this via the IIWO brand being taken over in 2016.

The IIWO Management Committee that had Partner Representation operated until the end of 2014 in line with the approved strategy document and a Brand Licensing Agreement with IIW International in North America. In 2015, this management committee was disbanded by AMN / SPD and a new Interim IIWO Management Committee formed in May 2016 consisting of all church administrators, chaired by an AMN Board member and with many AMN Board Reps on it.

It is this Interim IIWO Management Committee which signed off on the sacking of Pr Gary and recommended it to the AMN Board. It seems no consultation was undertaken or reasonable process afforded to Pr Gary to see any allegations or to consider and prepare a response in advance to explain Zora’s involvement in the IIWO Ministry. Rather he was told, under threat of his ordination annulment, to retire or be sacked effective immediately.

Had anyone asked the right way, in a spirit of listening and openness, the simple answer to this huge dispute could have been put by Pr Gary and any lessons learned for better practice, communication etc.

The answer which was never put was simple as the ministry had stalled with Zora's absence after being sacked. Pr Gary was faced with no staff and not being able to film or evangelize effectively. Zora on return to Australia volunteered for months and when SPD said move the IIWO ministry to NNSW Conference, she was employed by the NNSW Conference reporting to the President of the conference directly. SPD changed their mind and reversed the NNSWC decision and left IIWO under the control of the Interim Management Committee and the hostile AMN environment. Zora continued to volunteer for IIWO but refused a request to apply for the IIWO manager’s position as long as the temporary IIWO Management Committee was in place and AMN CEO had control of the IIWO finances and HR.

The IIWO Brand has not been handed back to IIW USA by SPD as requested by the GC and the dispute is ongoing. SPD claims that because they registered IIW in 1962 (as SPD says long before IIW was registered in North America), they own the IIW and IIWO brand.

We really pray for a miracle of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation so that more money and time is not wasted arguing in God's church while the work is not going forward through Media evangelism. After all IIWO remains the top rating religious program in Australia and soul winning evangelism tool. Obviously, the devil is not happy with the constant requests for material and baptisms, and the longer this dispute goes, it only works to his glory not for the salvation of souls. We appeal for the leadership to set aside differences and conclude mediation in one to two weeks.

Breaking News:

10 July 2017 

Mediation efforts between Gary Kent and SPD/AMN through It Is Written Oceania (IIWO) partners (donors) are stalled and SPD no longer actively engaging with Partner Reps in good faith.

Conciliation stage of Gary Kent's Unfair Dismissal case in the Fair Work Commission has failed to reach a mutual satisfactory agreement and his unfair dismissal is now formally listed for arbitration hearing. Gary Kent's unfair dismissal Arbitration is set for hearing 1

September 2017.

After arbitration is finalised, Gary Kent vs. SPD/AMN unfair dismissal dispute will be a matter of public record.

10 July Zora’s unfair dismissal case against her dismissal by the North NSW Conference on 2

July went to Conciliation in the Fair Work Commission (called a redundancy due to the major restructuring of It Is Written in her termination letter from North NSW Conference).

No offer made by leadership to achieve a mutually satisfactory agreement. Zora has only a few weeks left until her work Visa runs out if not reinstated or offered another similar position in the Church.