Christian TV head resigns over affairFounder of Lethbridge's Miracle Channel admits to 'extramarital relationship'
Sean Myers, Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The founder of the first national Christian television network in Canada has resigned in disgrace after admitting to having an "extramarital relationship with another woman," according to a press release issued by the Miracle Channel on Tuesday.
Dick Dewert started the religious-themed broadcaster in Lethbridge in 1995 with his wife Joan, who has also resigned from the station to "stand with her husband," said the release.
"We do not condone his behaviour," said Ray Block, who has been named CEO to replace Dewert. "This behaviour does not represent our stand on morality issues. His resignation was the right thing for him to do."
Block said the couple has left Lethbridge in order to receive marriage counselling.
"We can only hope he will work towards restoration," said Block. "That's our hope for every person, no matter what walk of life they come from."
The Miracle Channel is available through cable and satellite providers across Canada and can be viewed in Calgary by Shaw Star Choice and Bell Expressvu subscribers.
Estimates on the total viewership the channel enjoys have ranged as high as four million, although Block couldn't confirm that number.
The network relies on private donations for funding.
Craigery Dennis, a pastor at Calgary's Southside Victory Church, said the news came as a shock.
"I'm very surprised and saddened," said Dennis. "They're a strong couple."
The church's senior pastor, Craig Buroker, hosts a long-running program called Times of Refreshing on the station and Dennis said Victory Church members across the city have petitioned Shaw Cable to add the network to its roster of channels.
"Any time something like this happens, it's devastating," said Dennis, "but we also put people like him on a pedestal and forget they are just human. They struggle like the rest of us, maybe even more so because of the pressure put on them.
"The message of Christianity is forgiveness and love. I don't think this will be the end of the ministry."
The Victory Churches International movement, based in Calgary, has no official tie to the network and Dewert left his position as senior pastor of the Victory Church in Lethbridge in 1997 to devote all of his time to the station.
Still, Dennis said many congregation members are regular viewers.
The channel airs Christian programming such as 100 Huntley Street and 700 Club along with The Jim Bakker Show -- hosted by an American televangelist whose own troubles in the 1980s led to divorce and a five-year jail term for financial irregularities at his ministry.
Last fall, provincial cabinet minister Ted Morton appeared on the channel during his unsuccessful bid for the Tory leadership.
Tony Abbott, MLA for Drayton Valley-Calmar and an ordained evangelical minister, said he frequently watches the channel and was saddened by the circumstances of Dewert's departure.
"It's a shock to the whole Christian community," said Abbott. "At the same time, those type of leaders are under a lot of stress and a lot times bad things can happen. I just hope he can go get the help he needs to get through this and get back on track."mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org