Pastors, police and concerned parents will meet to discuss the recruitment activities of a South Korean-linked group accused of teaching a "theology of deception".

Shincheonji, or the "New Heaven and New Earth" church has set up base in Auckland, and has allegedly been recruiting members from Christian churches and universities using "deceitful methods".

A Shincheonji leader said this was not true, and religion was a personal matter that neither media or society can judge to be right or wrong.

The meeting is being called by University of Auckland chaplain Rev Dr Carolyn Kelly, but the date and location is being kept a secret amid fears of it being hijacked.


The initial plan was to hold it at the university, but it had to be changed after Kelly was told that it went against university rules.

People who will be at the meeting include church leaders, pastors, university chaplains, concerned family and youth leaders.

"There has been evidence and news reports of Shincheonji elsewhere...with churches responding to heightened activity and concerns for young adults being lured in," said Kelly.

"These reports have exactly mirrored the anecdotal evidence I have heard in Auckland."

Members of the group, also known as Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, believe that its founder Lee Man-Hee is the appointed successor of Jesus Christ.

Steve Worsley, lead pastor of Mt Albert Baptist Church, said his church had lost members, including some leaders to the group.

Worsley said recruiters, called "harvest reapers", joined his church under the pretense of being regular attendees.

"But they are on the look out for people they can invite away to one of their Bible studies," said Worsley, who will be at the meeting.

"It would be fine if they were another open and trustworthy denomination, they're not - they teach that their founder is immortal and he teaches hatred towards outsiders."

Worsley said recruits were not told who the group really is until they were "well down the track".

"You have no idea that you're part of a group that believe that a 85-year-old Korean man is the Messiah," he said.

He is now actively warning other church members to avoid attending Bible study groups who would not disclose its statement of belief or belong to a recognised New Zealand church denomination.

"It is the tearing apart of family relationships that is the hardest to watch, but also the destroying of an individual's future," Worsley said.

"The process of thought reform is astonishing. People of good character end up deceiving people. Shincheonji teaches a theology of deception."

Scott Watson, a Shincheonji leader, said if this had happened, it was not from the church but by members' own personal decision.

"It is not right to relate one instance to the entire church," Watson said.

He said there were many issues that affect families, and it could also include religious belief.

"One cannot relate a specific church to problems within the family," Watson said.

"An individual's choice about which religion or belief to follow is a personal matter and not something that media and society can judge to be right or wrong."

A police officer, who has been involved with gathering intel about the group, has confirmed that he too will be attending the meeting.

A New Zealand-European man, who proclaims to be a "devout Christian", told the Herald that Shincheonji members had "brainwashed" his wife and other family members into joining them.

"For me the hardest part has been finding out just how much and how long they have been lying to me about where they were going...they have been taught to see the worst in my character and to leave me out," he said.

"This has broken my marriage and threatens to pull our whole family apart."

The group recruits mainly non-Koreans, and the Herald reported in April that one international student donated his entire university fees to the group after he was taught that earthly education was of no use to him.

Another, a law student at the university and a former Shincheonji church attendee, claimed members of the group helped his mate "escape his family" in Auckland and paid for his airfare to live with believers in South Korea.

"In recent months, I have had a number of inquiries... they have contacted me because the person they know is, or has been, a student and they are concerned for their general welfare, and their studies in particular," Kelly said.

Earlier this year, the Korean Church Association, representing Korean Protestant churches, issued a warning about the group, calling it a "dangerous cult".

This follows a formal alert issued last November by the Church of England to 500 parishes in London about the group's activities there and called for vigilance.