Online articles are available. There is an examination of the ties between the 3 organisations by Ruth Pollard. Pollard also details the Australian Medical Association's concerns about Mercy Ministries' practice of requiring their members' medical visits to be monitored by a Ministries member. Corporations formerly listed as sponsors on the Mercy Ministries homepage - Rebel Sports, Bunnings Warehouse and LG - are denying any connection and their logos have apparently now been quietly removed from that section of the Mercy Ministries website. Other women have been contacting the Herald in the wake of the coverage. And finally, a former member of Hillsong has written an editorial about the issue.
That last one is hair-raising. Consider this:
The teaching when I was at Hillsong included the lesson that women are attached to their offspring eternally. All the miscarriages, terminations and stillbirths a woman has during her life time grow up in heaven, waiting for their mother to join them.
Probably the most serious allegation so far is the claim that women on Centrelink benefits in the program are "encouraged" to sign them over to Mercy Ministries for a period of one year. There's also the claim that women are "encouraged" to go on a disability support pension so that the organisation could claim carer's payments from the government.
Some brief fun with Google: the Darlene Zschech mentioned in the first article has a vanity site: darlenezschech.com. True to Pentecostal form, she's a singer-songwriter who uses her music to praise the Lord and evangelise for Hillsong. The SMH says she and her husband Mark are no longer affiliated with Mercy Ministries. They were both involved in another project called Hope Rwanda in 2006. The who's involved page for that site lists Mark Zschech as, among other things...Chairman of the Mercy Ministries International Board.
Hmmm....the Hope Rwanda page hasn't changes since mid-2007 from what I can see. It might just be out of date.
I'll be interested to see what comes out tomorrow.
Update: how the hell did I miss this right from Mercy Ministries' own site?:
In 2000, Mark and Darlene Zschech launched Mercy Ministries in Australia, a residential program for young women that was founded in America by Nancy Alcorn.
Today as the CEO of Mercy Ministries, Mark leads a team of 27 national staff and through his appointment to Mercy Ministries International Board in December 2004, Mark oversees the expansion and development of Mercy Ministries into the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Asia.
"No longer affiliated", huh?