The Rise of Shincheonji Cult in Melbourne's Anglican Community

Shincheonji and other cult groups are increasingly active at Melbourne University and around Melbourne. In this video, Sam (St Jude's UniChurch minister) and Bryn (Melbourne Uni AFES) help us understand who these groups are, how to recognize and avoid them, and how to support friends who have become involved.

In the bustling streets of Melbourne, a subtle but concerning trend is emerging. Anglican leaders are sounding alarms over the presence of a cult, feared to be preying on young adults and drawing them away from the teachings of Christ. This unsettling development has prompted warnings and calls for vigilance within the community.

Known as the Shincheonji Church of Jesus (SCJ), this group has stealthily approached numerous Anglican churches, raising concerns among ministers and clergy. The insidious nature of their infiltration is exemplified by their seeming innocuousness at first glance. However, upon closer examination, their teachings deviate significantly from orthodox Christianity.

A Melbourne vicar, who requested anonymity for pastoral reasons, shed light on the gravity of the situation. He revealed that at least two individuals from his parish had departed to join SCJ in the past year. Their departure underscored the cult's ability to isolate individuals from their former communities, drawing them into a suffocating "Shincheonji bubble".

Identifying SCJ members poses a challenge due to their elusive nature. They often refrain from disclosing their origins or operate under alternative names like "New Heaven and New Earth." This underscores the importance for young Christians and church leaders to be equipped with the knowledge to recognize and resist their advances.

Brian Holden, a Diocese youth ministry consultant, emphasized the necessity of verifying the backgrounds of new groups before engaging with them. He recounted instances where SCJ had attempted to infiltrate joint youth events, highlighting the need for heightened awareness and caution.

SCJ's modus operandi involves isolating new recruits by severing ties with their existing communities. This deliberate strategy not only severs social connections but also fosters a disdain for former churches, branding them as "unbiblical."

The concern voiced by Anglican leaders reverberates across Melbourne. Reverend Graeme Peters of St James’ Dandenong recounted encounters with SCJ operatives attempting to solicit Anglican clergy for credibility. His experiences underscore the extent of SCJ's efforts to infiltrate and influence.

The prevalence of SCJ's activities is unsettling, with estimates suggesting that a significant portion of Anglican clergy have encountered their outreach. This deliberate infiltration strategy underscores the need for collective vigilance and proactive measures within the community.

The emergence of SCJ as a threat to young Christians in Melbourne serves as a stark reminder of the importance of discernment and vigilance. As the community rallies to combat this insidious influence, it is imperative to stand firm in the teachings of Christ and protect the spiritual well-being of the next generation.

This story was originally published in The Melbourne Anglican by Hannah Felsbourg.

Note: If this story has raised concerns for you or someone you know, support is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14 or please click here to access our support resources.

The Rise of Shincheonji Cult in Melbourne's Anglican Community The Rise of Shincheonji Cult in Melbourne's Anglican Community Reviewed by Shane St Reynolds on June 13, 2024 Rating: 5

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