Every Nation and Student Politics in Auckland

A reader brings to my attention an article from Craccum, the student magazine of the University of Auckland. The piece is a year old, but it concerns a subject which this blog has been following for some time: the activities of Every Nation (formerly Morning Star International), a neo-Pentecostal grouping which has been accused of authoritarian behaviour in a number of contexts that have made the news (see my entries here). Every Nation has various “ministries”, one of which was formerly known as Victory Campus Ministries. VCM, now going by the name of Every Nation Campus Ministries, is the subject of some suspicion, due to the fact that Every Nation’s leadership includes individuals previously associated with Maranatha, a student ministry that became notorious in the 1980s for alleged abusive practices. Craccum co-editor Alec Hutchinson explains the New Zealand link:

In 1989, a VCM (then Maranatha) mission began at Auckland University under the tutelage of an American pastor named Bob Muni. A number of American missionaries were flown in to help with the efforts to convert, gain numbers and spread the love of Jesus into student government.

Craccum goes on to cite artices from Maranatha’s old newsletter, the Forerunner, which is now online; one of these pieces can be seen here. The Forerunner, written in the USA, creates a picture of Christian activists battling homosexuals for positions of authority:

…Last year there were no Christians in student government. In fact, 12 of the 13 positions were held by homosexual activists. The exciting turnaround included the election of another Christian, Moses F., and a corresponding decrease in the positions held by militant homosexuals.

Someone who was there at the time has told me that this account is highly inaccurate and sensationalised. However, the 1989 campaign is of interest to Craccum for reasons to do with contemporary student politics. Hutchinson explains:

A few weeks before the AUSA [Auckland University Student Association] elections in 2000, they began arriving. A trickle at first, then a flood: 50 VCM missionaries flown in from the US. They were here to support a candidate named Sherid Thackwray in her bid to become AUSA president. Their official name for this operation: Operation Campus Harvest.

Some strange antics allegedly followed:

The missionaries even brought a religious strongman over with them – 120kg and bearing a startling resemblance to then-WWF superstar Big Show… Accounts taken from news articles at the time suggest that around 70 VCM supporters had gathered in the park to dance, sing and swoon for Sherid’s campaign. Paul Schischka, AUSA’s Environmental Affairs Officer in 1999, took part in this rally under the guise of a VCM supporter. He stood up on stage and professed his love for Jesus; as a result he received a free “Vote Sherid” screen-printed T-shirt. Once he had donned the shirt, however, he broke into drunken blasphemy and leapt clear of the crowd. Immediately, VCM demanded their shirt back. A chase ensued, with a large proportion of the VCM supports tailing Schischka out of the park, across the Quad and up into the Craccum Offices. Schischka barricaded himself behind the Craccum door while VCM’s strongman tried to channel the strength of Jesus and knock it down. From inside the offices, security was called, and the Christians were asked to leave.

This is of contemporary relevance in 2005 because

One of [VCM’s] members is running for the position of AUSA student president in the upcoming elections.

The name of the candidate, however, is not given.

6 Responses

  1. An update for you: Two VCM members were elected to Student Association executive portfolios in 2005. One of them, Lesieli Moala, was elected as President of the Association yesterday. I expect VCM will put up candidates for the executive portfolio elections, which will be held in two weeks. Watch this space

  2. […] student Maranatha in the 1980s, which I blogged on a number of times a few years ago (e.g. see here). The document also mentions links to Trevor Newport, whom I blogged […]

  3. […] a few years ago, in particular in relation to a neo-Pentecostal grouping called Every Nation (e.g. here, here, and here). Also involved with Maranatha in the 1980s – and based in Gainesville – was […]

  4. […] Churches and Campus Ministries (I previously blogged on this controversial organisation here, here, here, and here). Nuttle has apparently been an advisor to Jim Inhofe, and, among other roles, […]

  5. […] associated with it have since re-emerged as a group of churches called Every Nation (blogged by me here, here, and here; Pastor Terry Jones was also previously associated with Maranatha). Louis P. […]

  6. […] associated with it have since re-emerged as a group of churches called Every Nation (blogged by me here, here, and here) Louis P. Sheldon heads the Traditional Values Coalition, which is known for […]

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