April 2007: Gary commences 'It Is Written Oceania' ministry in Australia on Channel 7.
Gary working for the Greater Sydney Conference at the church plant, ‘Fountain in the City’ and producing IIWO television programs. IIWO money held at the GSC.
2009: IIWO and Gary asked to move from GSC to the Adventist Media as IIWO is a television ministry. IIWO trademarked by SPD/AMN CEO.
IIWO moved to Adventist Media for all operations.
2013: AM CEO/SPD registers the NAD brands here in Australia, It Is Written and Voice of Prophecy. Tension develops in the workplace.
2014: Last IIWO Management Committee consisting of the church administrators and lay people held before being abandoned and decision making unilaterally, without consultations with IIW USA and NAD, transferred to AMN CEO.
2014/early 2015: A group of administrators go to Brazil to check out the Hope Channel strategy. This strategy unites all ministries under Hope Channel. Adventist Media votes to implement the strategy.
2015: Zora employed as IIWO Manager
*Early June AMN CEO, Neale Schofield says to go ahead with the Channel 7two contract in front of Gary, Robyn, Zora, John Kosmeier. AMN CEO said he would prefer that money be spent on Hope Channel but gave the go ahead.
*9 June: Neale Schofield, James Standish and Kalvin Dever remonstrate with Gary for two hours about the proposed on-location filming. A majority of the AMN employees heard their behaviour, and described it as "bullying."
*Gary leaves for on-location filming.
*Zora sends the programs to Channel 7two.
*Neale Scofield sends an email to Gary retracting his permission. He wants IIWO on 7two cancelled.
*Zora not informed of this decision in time since Gary could not check his emails regularly due to on-location filming.
*Neale Schofield, who worked in the same building as Zora, did not notify her of his decision. He has, on a number of occasions told Zora and Gary verbally and in writing that he did not want to communicate with her whatsoever.
*9 September 2015: Zora sacked from the position of IIWO manager, despite Gary's intervention, for putting the IIWO programs on Channel 7two. Reason for sacking: “Insubordination to AMN CEO”. Only 2 staff working for IIWO now.
*Kalvin Dever, new AM CEO, implements the new Integrated Media Strategy under Hope Channel. Takes all the IIWO funds, takes down the IIWO website, Facebook.
*Gives Gary a new job description and employment contract. Gary refuses to sign it, since it calls for IIWO to be integrated under Hope Channel, annulment of the Brand Licensing Agreement with It Is Written USA, IIWO management committee annulment and funds raised to be allocated as Hope Channel leadership deems appropriate. Gary threatened by Glenn Townend and Kalvin Dever to be sacked.
- Gary appeals to IIW USA. Trying to find a way to keep the ministry going.
- His fiduciary duty to the donors is to keep the brand and the ministry going.
- IIWO brand ownership taken to the legal counsel of the GC.
*Amazing Facts trademark application lodged by SPD. AF asked SPD to drop the registration. SPD did so only after the matter was addressed legally.
*May 2016: new temporary IIWO management committee self-appointed by AMN until brand ownership decision made by the GC. The committee consisted of 4 church administrators and Gary.
Looking for a place to base IIWO. Discussions of where to find a base between SPD, IIW USA and Gary.
- Email from Glenn Townend to NNSW Conference, IIW USA and other parties proposing IIWO moves under NNSW Conference or AUC. NNSW Conference preference expressed.
- Lionel Smith told Gary to seek help from NNSW Conference.
- February NNSW Leadership conference weekend, a video of Gary and Justin Lawman shown announcing partnership between the conference and IIWO.
- MOU was ready to be signed between the conference and IIWO and IIW.
- Zora’s work visa applied for as IIWO Manager by the NNSW conference and their immigration visa consultant. A 4-year work visa approved.
- A donor agrees to pay for the wages of IIWO manager.
- March: Zora returns to Australia and volunteers for IIWO.
- NNSW Conference provides car and accommodation for Zora for a period of time.
- Glenn Townend changes his mind and leaves IIWO under SPD. The structure of the ministry changes again without the appropriate approvals as required by the IIWO structure documents and pre-existing agreements. The donor with a full knowledge of the situation, decides to fund Zora’s wages and Zora’s job through NNSW Conference.
- Zora’s job description changed to Media Liaison Manager, reporting to NNSW conference president. Job offer signed by the secretary of the NNSW Conference and Zora. The donor with the full knowledge of the situation decides to pay the wage.
- Zora’s work visa was obtained by the NNSW Conference and is fully legal despite misinformation being spread that Gary obtained her work visa illegally.
- July: A donor pays Zora's wages straight into a NNSW Conference Media Evangelism account. Gary is not a signatory on the account nor he has any access to it. Zora is paid by NNSW. She continues to work for IIWO until another manager could be found.
- IIWO moves to the Dora Creek offices.
- IIWO manager position advertised and some applicants interviewed. No one suitable found. Candidates interviewed by Gary Kent, an IIWO Management Committee Member, AMN CEO. Zora continues to assist at IIWO.
- Zora attends and represents IIWO at all camp meetings.
- Zora is at the Lake Macquarie partnership last October when Glenn Townend was there on the Friday evening.
- November: Gary speaks to Lionel Smith and Brad Kemp individually about employing Zora in an official capacity as the IIWO manager. Was not told to have Zora apply for the job, and Brad was assigned to explore the option. Zora refused to apply for the job.
- November: GC Legal Counsel, Jennifer Gray sends an email to NAD and SPD ruling that the IIW brand belongs to NAD and an MOU or brand licensing agreement should be arranged. SPD has not yet recognised this decision.
- December: Position of a video editor for IIWO advertised. Someone found in the USA, the IIWO Management Committee suggests to begin the process of applying for a 457 work visa for the video editor. Recommend IIWO use Peter Brendling, an Adventist who contracts as the SPD visa consultant. He is the external person mentioned in Kalvin Dever's emails to the donors. After four months of working on the visa for the editor, he finds Zora's name on the NNSW Conference list of valid 457 work visa recipients. He reports this to Lionel Smith, the SPD and AMN. They say that in getting a visa for Zora through the NNSW Conference, Gary was acting dishonestly. When questioned, the NNSW Conference, say they are totally confused and don't know who is employing Zora or who was paying her, thinking she was doing It Is Written.
- The SPD is saying that this puts their 457 visas and their status as an employer of 457 visas at risk. Note: the visa was arranged by the NNSW Conference and her wages paid by a donor into a NNSW account to pay Zora. Zora’s work visa is legal.
*The SPD/AM say they gave Gary full procedural fairness when terminating him.
Sunday 7 May: Gary arrived back in Sydney after working on location for 4 weeks on a direct flight from Washington DC to Sydney.
Monday 8 May: Gary ambushed in regular IIWO Management committee meeting by 4 administrators in an extra agenda item regarding the employment of Zora and serious allegations regarding his employment. Gary jet-lagged from the flight. No minutes from the meeting ever received.
Tuesday 9 May: Gary initiated contact with Brad Kemp regarding the meaning of the discussions about Zora’s employment at the IIWO Management Committee meeting.
Thursday 11 May: During an Adventist Media board meeting, Brad Kemp, a member of the IIWO Management Committee as well, phoned Gary three times asking him to resign immediately as the only option to save his ordination. He put pressure on Gary to do it without giving him the time to consult with his wife. Not procedural fairness.
Sunday 14 May (Mother’s Day)
At 1:45pm, a short email from Kalvin Dever telling Gary to be at a follow-up meeting, on Monday 15 May, at 11am. Gary asked for an agenda and they said there was no agenda, it was a follow-up meeting from the previous week. No offer of a support person given.
Monday 15 May 11am at the SPD: Lionel Smith and Kalvin Dever
Summary Dismissal meeting. Gary asked to bring a support person to the meeting. He took his brother-in-law with him.
The employer did not provide Gary with any evidence or documentation they had gathered. The representative of the employer did not provide any evidence they had collected in their full and objective investigation into these serious allegations. Gary was not asked for an explanation or given an opportunity to explain his actions. The employer has shown bias and prejudice in their process.
No official minutes of meeting were kept or given to the employee. However, the support person kept some general notes of what happened in the meeting.
Gary given a summary dismissal with no right of appeal. All preaching appointments and evangelism campaigns cancelled.
Kalvin Dever said he would show Gary first a letter to the donors notifying them of Gary’s dismissal. Gary was not shown the email sent to all names (emails) on the IIWO database, both Adventists and non-Adventists. Kalvin also said no public statement will be made to the church at large.
That email and articles in the Record and Adventist Today created a social media storm and very strong reaction by the donors, supporters and non-Adventists as well.
2 weeks after Gary was dismissed, Zora was fired by NNSW Conference.
Takeover of IIWO by SPD/AMN is accomplished. Gary is stopped from doing his job – preaching the Gospel of Christ to the lost and perishing world. A diabolical campaign was started to discredit him and take his credential away.
The ONLY reason for Gary’s dismissal is Zora’s employment with NNSW Conference.
IIWO Partner Representatives - update 1 July 2017
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 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 his ministry that he founded in 2007 and was sole Speaker/Director for since that time. 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 registered the IIWO Brand unbeknown and without consultation with IIWO, IIW USA, Pr Gary or donors or Partners under the rationale 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.
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 then 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 by SPD as requested by the GC and the dispute is ongoing.
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 SPD leadership to set aside differences and conclude mediation in one to two weeks.