Thursday, December 4, 2008


If The Tennesean reports that:

Mercy officials in Nashville say that until recently, the group had no control over programs in other countries. Each country's program has an independent board, hires its own staff, raises its own funds and designs its own program.


In late 2007, Mercy started an international board to oversee its worldwide operations. All homes now have to sign a ministry collaboration agreement. Under that agreement, each international home is treated as a franchise of Mercy. They are required to meet Mercy's U.S. standards. The agreement also allows the board to sanction or dismiss affiliates that violate the agreement.
(emphasis mine)

and the Nashville Scene reports that:

Alcorn's response was swift. She claimed Australia was a rogue operation, underfunded and running independent of her control. The home was shuttered and an oversight board formed to prevent future incidents. This was not how Mercy did things in America, she said.
(emphasis mine)

Then what was the former executive director of Mercy Ministries Australia doing on the Mercy Ministries International board before 2007 (when, according to the Mercy officials the Tennessean interviewed, it did not yet exist)?

From the October 2004 issue of Charisma:

Mercy Ministries opened its first overseas home in Sydney, Australia, in 2001. A second Australian home opened in 2003 in Queensland. Both homes are overseen by noted Australian worshiper Darlene Zschech and her husband, Mark.

Alcorn recently took her 22nd trip to Australia in a five-year period--this time to discuss details for a third home. In addition, Mercy is looking for property in New Zealand, with the goal of opening a home there in 2005.

(emphasis mine)

From Darlene Zschech's interview with

Mercy Hope: Talk about Mercy Ministries Australia.

Darlene Zschech: Mercy Australia is fantastic. Mark and I, (and please don’t make us out to be heroes, because we’re really not), before we were married had been involved in youth ministry and we always said that one day we’d like to open a place for young women, because, I mean, I struggled with eating disorders, and Bulimia in particular, when I was young, and that overwhelming sense of inferiority. You just know that the enemy comes to seek and destroy and to steal from people their future and we thought that maybe one day we would open a place like that.

It was actually while we were at GMA that we heard about Mercy and we asked whether we could go and visit. So we went, and Mark and I met Nancy Alcorn in the foyer and it was as if we had known each other all our lives. Within 12 months Mercy was born in Australia, and we have two homes there now. Actually, Mark is now heading up Mercy International. And we have a home opening in the U.K., and one in New Zealand, and other homes in Australia. It’s very, very exciting.
(emphasis mine)

From the "who is involved" page on the Hope Rwanda website which, according to Mark's ZoomInfo page, was uploaded May, 25, 2006 (an imageless version is cached here in case he tries to get rid of it):
In 2000 Mark and Darlene launched Mercy Ministries in Australia, a residential program for young women which was founded in America by Nancy Alcorn. Mark is the Chairman of the Mercy Ministries International Board which is overseeing the expansion and development of Mercy into the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Asia.

(screencap'd it just to be safe)

It also turns out Mercy Oz used to keep material on their website as far back as March 2008 saying that Mark Zschech became head of Mercy Ministries International in December 2004.

And you know the Mercy International promotional video that played just before Nancy gave her speech at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento CA on February 10th, 2008? Well, the first Mercy grad giving her personal testimony in that video is Carly Richards, who graduated from Mercy Australia's Sydney home in 2004. I know this because I have been in contact via email with one of Ms. Richards' former roommates from the Sydney home: Naomi Johnson (yes, that Naomi Johnson).

Here is the text of an email she sent me:
yeah carly was in with me... she went through the program in just 5-6months i was there april 04-jan 05 carly came in later in the year (04) and graduated just before christmas of 04. She was one of my roomie at the time she graduated and really is a lovely, sweet girl. But she was basically already the hillsong "praise the lord" jump up and down hyped christian before she came into mercy... she was already the perfect mercy girl before she entered the house and she was loved and petted by all the staff because of this. But she wasn't snooty or anything, she was maybe one of the loveliest most gentel people i've ever know and she was a close friend who i deffinetly loved quite dearly.

(and here's the screencap)

Which begs the question: If Mercy Oz was just Mercy Ministries in-name-only --an independent organization that used a different program than that of Nancy Alcorn's Mercy Ministries-- then how can Mercy Ministries International claim responsibility for Carly Richards' "transformed life" and "restored hope" while claiming that what happened to Naomi Johnson occurred without their oversight (which is even more odd considering how Nancy Alcorn herself had to apologize to the Aussie Mercy Survivors to avoid a serious lawsuit)?

Oh, and with regards to the Kelly Hughes quote, you can read about it here in the comments section. Long story short, Sean the Blogonaut quoted the post of a woman trying to enroll in Mercy from the Mercy Supporters and Friend's wall. When that woman asked him not to use her personal story, he politely respected her request and removed the quote.

Then Kelly Hughes of Harding, Texas (a different woman) who posted this:
Kelly Hughes: the australia homes fell out of line with mercy protocol without nancy's knowledge, and she has since undertaken a huge revision and close observation of their program. everything said about mercy australia, whether it was once true or not, which nancy deems as irrelevant, is now completely taken care of. have no worries. this is a place of safety and healing!

(if you click to enlarge, Kelly Hughes will sue you)

...tried to get that quote taken down from Sean's blog by siccing her lawyer on him (which is totally not what what a cult would do).

(i am trying to figure out how to click to enlarge)
Kelly Hughes: i am trying to figure out how to involve a legal process in order to get my name removed as well. if anyone else has some knowledge about privacy issues related to taking private conversations out of context and using them for one's own purposes, please message me! this is infuriating, but Satan won't bring us down this easily.

Apparently Miss Hughes definition of "private conversation" includes "things posted on a publicly-visible facebook-wall". I am also very interested in finding out what her definition of "out of context" is and how exactly did Sean do so?

Lindsey "Dont'-listen-or-even-talk-to-critics-of-Mercy Ministries-because-they-all-have-penises" Clewell then responds to that post with this:
Lindsey Clewell: could it be something with like...defamation...or something like that?....I dunno.
Lindsey Clewell: ....or maybe I made that up....ha! or gave it new meaning!

I take it this must be the kind of keen legal expertise that led to Mercy Ministries DMCA'ing videos making fair-use of their materials for the purpose of commentary and criticism.


Anonymous said...

Aint that the truth!

Z said...

Perhaps not directly related to what you put here, but I see a figure being used in the Tennesean to the effect that "93%" of those who went through the MM program felt improved by it.

Here is a limited analysis of the survey from which that figure is derived

Anonymous said...

That figure doesn't make sense, I think only 3 or 4 out of about 10 girls I knew there graduated. The rest left or were dismissed. I still know 2 of the grads and they hate Mercy, it messed them up and they wish they had got out sooner like the rest of us :(

The Cynic Sage said...

Anon #2, you talkin' about Mercy Oz or one of the American homes?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Nancy seems to be passing the buck and blaming it on the Zschechs, Peter Irvine and the Ausralian Mercy staff who were meant to be overseeing everything.

The Australian Mercy Ministries management and Hillsong are passing the buck to Nancy Alcorn. Saying they were only following instructions and that Nancy was the person responsible for how Mercy is run.


Anonymous said...

when the flippin heck are you going to leave mercy alone and find something else to spread yer crap about?!?! the whole mercy things is OLD and OVER. move on man

how about real child abuse... rape.... HIV... child prostitution... child slavery... something that actually matters and leave places alone like mercy that actually help ppl effect by these terrible things.

Anonymous said...

AND... how about listening to a girl that has been changed forever because of mercy... in that mercy saved their life. dang... i wouldnt be here if it wasnt for places like mercy and teen challenge.. heard of that place? its pretty much exactly the same as mercy, but for guys!

Liz said...

"Anonymous" he is speaking out because Mercy Ministries abuses young people and speaking out against such places is something that Christians should do.

Yes, there have been reports of forced exorcisms and abuse at Teen Challenge too. Unfortunately it's all too common in these sorts of places.

Teen Challenge Escapee said...

I was at Teen Challenge. One of the staff broke my hand in a rage after I said that I didn't think there was anything wrong with homosexuality, and I'm not even gay!

Ben said...

This Mercy Ministries place sounds about as far away from Christianity as you can get!

Anonymous said...

Mercy Ministries UK # 1111377

Board of Directors & Trustees year end 2006:

Heini Beretta
Andrew Coghlan
Mark Zschech

Didn't do a search in New Zealand or Canada government data bases.

Bene D

kisekileia said...

Hi--you might recognize me from Against Biblical Counseling. I just wanted to say that your blogs are made of win and awesome, especially Every Cynic's Battle. I'm curious about your beliefs: it sounds from some of what you've said like you're still a Christian, which makes me happy because I'm a liberal, skeptical Anglican myself. What sort of faith/lack thereof are you into these days?

Anonymous said...

Sage did you see the latest?

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