May 21, 2017, updated May 25: The May 15 dismissal of then-It Is Written Oceania Speaker/Director, Gary Kent, has been criticized by a group of his supporters.
In the story that Adventist Today published earlier (which there is a link to in the lead sentence of the paragraph above) a statement by Kalvin Dever, the CEO of the Australian Adventist Media Network said the reason for Kent’s dismissal was due to “less than appropriate” behavior “misleading and a breach of his fiduciary duties; to the IIWO management team and as an employee of Adventist Media.”
The group which calls itself “Donors of It Is Written Oceania” has accused the South Pacific Division (region) of the Adventist Church of a smear campaign against Kent.
There are as yet no authors, or any names of any of the organizers of this group, associated with the statement. No one has come forward to vouch for its authenticity.
In an initial email announcing Kent’s dismissal, Kalvin Dever, the CEO of Wahroonga, Australia-based Adventist Media Network had used vague language to address the reasons for the termination.
Dever described Kent’s conduct as “less than appropriate for a person in his position.”
He also called Kent’s actions “misleading and a breach of his fiduciary duties; to the IIWO management team and as an employee of Adventist Media.”
This language which, though vague, implied moral or financial irregularities behind Kent’s actions, was interpreted by his supporters as an attempt by the South Pacific Division (the parent organization of Adventist Media Network) to publicly discredit Kent.
“Donors of It Is Written Oceania” has published a media release opposing the decision to fire the evangelist.
“To suggest any breach of trust or integrity on the part of Pr Gary Kent and his wife is unfounded and requires the immediate withdrawal of the complaint,” said the statement.
The anonymous group lists several of Kent’s achievements at IIWO including a major financial contribution to the organization from the former speaker and his wife.
The release goes on to say that there have been “many examples of teachers, ministers, church treasurers and conference presidents who have been found criminally responsible by the courts in Australia for fraud, embezzlement, sexual abuse and adultery. But never has the church openly attempted to discredit any individual, like it has done with Pr Kent.”
The group frames Kent’s dismissal as “the result of 22 months of the South Pacific Division, via Adventist Media, attempting to blunt the sword of It Is Written Oceania. For 22 months, many supporters and donors have seen first-hand the repeated attacks on Pr Gary Kent.”
The statement also sheds light on the specifics of the case that led to Kent’s dismissal.
In his initial email announcing the Adventist Media Center’s decision to fire Kent, Dever stated that it was when a new staff member was hired from overseas that Kent’s alleged inappropriate conduct was detected.
Dever said in his email that despite “opportunities for Gary to transparently communicate with the IIWO management team, he continued to act in an inappropriate manner.”
Kent’s supporters responded by saying that he was dismissed “because he engaged an It Is Written Oceania manager without signoff by the South Pacific Division, despite receiving sign-off and approval from the North New South Wales Conference.”
They state that the employment of the staff member was paid for by “a leading businessman in the Australian community.”
The group has set up a GoFundMe campaign aimed at reinstating Kent as Speaker/Director of IIWO, though as of right now we urge caution, since there are no names associated with it.
If he is not reinstated, the funds will be used for his defense and to fund a new ministry to support the Adventist Church in the South Pacific Division.
Comments about this news on the website of the division’s Adventist Record appear to be mostly critical of the way the dismissal was handled.
Image: Screenshot of Gary Kent’s bio on the IIWO website. The bio has been removed.