Arise Church's founding pastor has resigned from its board following allegations from interns on a ministry school course claiming they were "overworked, overwhelmed, and taken advantage of" by leadership.
A statement released by the Arise Board on Saturday said John Cameron had voluntarily stepped aside from his pastoral duties, and (pastor) Brent Cameron is currently on leave.
"They have also resigned from their positions on the Arise Board, effective Tuesday 12 April 2022. They have expressed support of the independent review that is taking place," it read.
In a clarifying statement provided to Stuff, the church said Cameron had not resigned from his employment and "remains an important part of the Arise family".
"In order to not influence the independent review, he has voluntarily agreed to step back from Pastoral duties. He has resigned from the Board of Arise to ensure its independence," the statement said.
Stuff reported two additional non-executive board members had been added, and the Arise Board had expanded the independent review to include its governance processes, structure and composition.
"Pending the results of this review there may be additional changes made to the Arise Board to provide even further robustness and input."
Churchgoers who interned as part of a ministry course and volunteered their services told One News they had been left used, underappreciated and burned out by the church.
They revealed the unpaid internship programme had demanded long hours and pushed people to breaking point.
In an earlier statement, John Cameron apologised for the "heartbreaking" stories of affected students saying it has left him "broken and devastated".
"I want to say I am deeply sorry for any hurt caused.
"Our heart as a church has always been to make a positive difference in the lives of people, and to hear experiences, where people have felt negatively impacted by Arise, is devastating."
He said leadership had been working to understand the stories and what had led to this hurt.
"These stories are real and authentic, and there are people hurting because of the actions and culture of performance that was a part of Arise.
"The truth is for a period of time as a church we allowed a culture of performance to be part of our Arise world, and this negatively affected Arise Ministry School students.
"Although this is not true for the majority of our Arise journey, there is enough of it in our journey that I am determined that it will end. It is not acceptable."