The Fred Scott Story -- Sydney, Australia

by Martin Hinves,
former member of the Sydney Church of Christ


Editor's Preface

by Catherine Hampton

This document discusses a period in the history of the Sydney Church of Christ, an affiliate of the International Church of Christ/Boston Movement, after its reconstruction in 1992. I have edited it mostly to add HTML navigation aids, fix some typos, and define a number of ICC terms which the author uses and often forgets to define. <grin> My comments are found either in square brackets [like this], or as links from terms to the definition in the Glossary of ICC Terms on this site.

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Mike Fontinot Leaves

Well here is what I and the anonymous sources manage to have found on the guy [Fred Scott], plus a bit of guesswork too, at the end. I have found the newsgroup [] and shall post there soon.

Mike Fontinot [then the evangelist at the Sydney Church of Christ] refused the first summons to Boston as an elder in 1994. This was widely known. He made quite a lot of the fact that he had a special relationship with the ICC leaders and was not under such a tight leash. However history was to prove him wrong.

Sydney went down in numbers [number of member/people attending].

They never cracked 600 again, staying static around the 550- 590 mark. The summons came and Mike had no alternative. He had to go. He was not performing. Numbers were down, contribution was down, and the Rebel resistance was growing and being effective. Morale was low and the movement was sluggish.

He also knew what an elder was -- it was a step into oblivion to him. They rigged his daughter's baptism (she was well under age) to allow him to qualify and packed his bags and sent him off.

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Fred and Emma Scott

A variety of 'guest speakers' took over for a while before Fred came over. Fred and Emma were also Doug's blue eyed proteges. (By them being in place here every Commonwealth Major Country [Member of the British Commonwealth] had a leader that was Doug-trained and Doug-oriented.) It was a consolidation of power, if you wish, and successfully so.

[Discipling movement churches have a hierarchy of power that depends on personal relationships with leaders. Doug in the paragraph above refers to Doug Arthur, one of the top ICC leaders.]

Fred turned Sydney around, in a way that Mike was unable to. The church came from out of debt to a profit, numbers were up, they have cracked the 600+ barrier here in Sydney for the first time in about 4 years.

Contributions are way up, and everyone is paying so much. Not only is there the 10% gross minimum tithe, but spec con [special contribution] is up, so is the PNG mission donation and the poor donations and other money affairs too.

Doug has come out and given his blessing to what Fred has done. Kip even visited, though Fred was notoriously absent for that one.

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The Sydney Church of Christ Now

He [Fred Scott] tightened the controls, and squeezed. This is the result.

The members are well and truly indoctrinated. They started holding classes in where all the other religions are wrong. All you have to do know is say what religion you are and they have a lesson on where it is wrong. To me they are now becoming as I met them in 1992.

For years they had no, or poor leadership. They recruited asians or non-christians, concentrating on the poor and unemployed. Now they target churchgoers. They know that these committed christians make the best leaders, if they survive [as members of the ICC -- the burnout rate among ICC leaders is high]. They actively target other religions, and have developed well.

Many of the restrictions and activities that were done in the UK are being done here. They seek legitimacy with charities, with open work and donations to them. They wave the banner of legitimacy. Where as before unistudents [university students] were a recruiting ground for numbers [heavily recruited to bring in lots of baptisms, but neglected afterwards], now they take care with them. They are not as badly abused as before. They see them as an investment.

Financial controls are strict and many. Brothers flats are decreasing in number but increasing in size. [In the ICC single, unmarried members are encouraged to live with other single, umarried members.] Centralization is occuring again. You are supposed to be insured, superannuated and covered for everything, all by a church member who works for an insurance company. I saw one guy pull in $60,000 in 3 months on commissions for insuring members. They even sold life insurance to a schizophrenic paranoid delusional mentally ill patient.

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Martin's Analysis

My thoughts.

I think we are on the brink of an expansionist period. I don't think they will ever exceed the 750 high membership they had in early 1992. They loose people still too fast. They are aware and active and committed. There is no real active oppostion here.

Us ex-members are support-oriented. We will help and educate but we are unable to take the fight to them. The general consensus is we have our own lives to fix up first, and we won't be part of a witch-hunt. We seem to have a problem differentiating between active opposition and a witch-hunt.

I may take over the newspaper [a newsletter put out by former members in Australia] as it does not seem to be going anywhere, since I am on permanent holidays due to being retrenched. [laid off, in American English] I may be it for a while.

Fred and Emma are afraid of what we know, and it does show. They won't talk about some things. They also avoid us like the plague. <VBG>

If I had documentary proof of wrongdoing in the UK, it would help immensely as they walk around saying we are lying when we talk about the financial abuses in the UK.

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©1995 by Martin Hinves. All rights reserved.

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