Thinking Out Loud

June 10, 2009

100 Huntley Street: Canadian Christian Television Hosts Off Air

It’s time to go public with a story that many of us have known for several days but has been almost completely invisible online.

For several weeks, Ron Mainse, president of Crossroads Christian Communications, Inc., and his brother Reynold Mainse, director of missions for Crossroads, have been absent from their daily, flagship program, 100 Huntley Street. The opening credits of the program have been re-edited and longtime on-air staff member Moira Brown and Canadian radio/television broadcaster and author Jim Cantelon have been fronting the daily telecast.

The best explanation seems to be found in this lone media report, which appeared May 21st in the Hamilton Spectator.    (Although The Spectator is owned by The Toronto Star, it appears the story was considered too local to Hamilton to be picked up by the larger daily.)

Driver Mainse StoryClick link above or image for full story

The story identifies the Mainse brothers, sons of Crossroads founder David Mainse, as investing in a project sold by Axcess Automation which the story identifies as a Ponzi scheme, illegal both in Canada and the U.S.

The seller is identified as Gordon Driver.    Gord, as he was known when he lived in Southern Ontario, was the founder of Sounds of Triumph, a non-profit organization that produced Christian concerts and radio programs, one of which was produced for Toronto Teen Challenge.    Offices and studios were located in the now demolished Evangelistic Centre at Yonge and York Mills in Toronto; the same Pentecostal Holiness Church which for several years rented space on Monday nights to a young evangelist named Benny Hinn.

Gord frequently traveled between Toronto and Orange County, California where he was well known to the thriving Christian music community on the west coast.   Bringing back that same enthusiasm to Southern Ontario proved challenging.    A fundraising dinner for a Christian nightclub, The Captain’s Table, ended up losing money, but Gord took his losses with his successes and was never phased by projects that didn’t succeed.

At least not until the summer of 1980.    Freeway Festival ’80, as it was called, was Gord’s most ambitious project ever, involving the massive Niagara Falls (NY) Convention Center, and some of the top names in Christian music.    But by the time the weekend was over, the festival consisted of a few concerts in the parking lot of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Orchard Park, NY.    With staggering financial losses, Gord packed up his wife and moved permanently to Costa Mesa, CA.

For nearly 30 years, Gord Driver wasn’t seen or heard from.   An attempt by this writer a few years ago to contact his sister, a Vice President of EMI Christian Music Group in Nashville, TN, occurred while she was visiting family in British Columbia.   No calls were returned.  Then, a few months ago, a mutual acquaintance informed me that Gord had moved back to Ontario and was living outside Hamilton.

Thereafter, there was nothing until the Hamilton Spectator story ran a few weeks ago.

The story mentions that Gord had a previous contact with Crossroads, working as a sound engineer there as a teenager.    That’s true.   I know that because I was hired as the original sound technician for the 100 Huntley Street telecast, but several days in, Gord turned up around the studio as a volunteer.   Then suddenly, after only nine broadcasts, I was called into an office and told that after waiting three months for the program to go to air, I was being bumped to assistant sound engineer.   (It was alleged at the time that this followed a large donation to Crossroads by Gord’s mother, but thirty years later, the how or why is not important.)   While that alone would have been enough to ruin a friendship — although I did dissolve a business partnership I had with Gord in a record company — we did travel together to California in the late fall of 1979; proving that I was either very forgiving or extremely naive.

That Gord should so handsomely charm the senior management at Crossroads nearly thirty years later is, at the very least, rather ironic.

While I did not hear the only statement to be issued on the broadcast, I understand its intent was to convey that while there was some issue that the Mainse brothers were sorting out, it did not directly involve the use of Crossroads funds.    I hope that is indeed the case.    However, if they only implicated personal funds, the damage their absence could be doing to the income at Crossroads may be creating unnecessary financial stress for that ministry.    See this article in this blog a few days ago for a rather cryptic assessment of the situation, written prior to this more overt publication of these events.

I say that because of a very brief conversation I had at MissionFest with the people at Living Truth, the broadcast ministry of The Peoples Church, Toronto.   They told me that viewer support is greatly impacted by Sundays that Pastor Charles Price doesn’t appear on the telecast, with the result that they now simply air repeat broadcasts if Price is away preaching in other places, or even if they simply have guest speakers.

While the Mainse brothers certainly have to take personal responsibility for their actions, it would be regrettable if a ministry organization such as Crossroads was impacted by Gord Driver’s high profile transaction with these two men, in a way that even the economic slowdown couldn’t cripple it.

I should also repeat here, since the language of financial stories in the media may be somewhat foreign to some of you, that the Mainse brothers were victims here.   There is no evidence in the Spectator story itself  — beyond Driver’s own claim — that they propagated the investment scheme or sold investments to third parties.

June 12  UPDATE:  The sentiments expressed in the final paragraph above are increasingly being challenged.    I was simply acting in the spirit of I Cor. 13; that Christian charity means “believing the best;” but the comments I’ve received, both on and off the blog, would suggest that there is more taking place here.   The ministry organization is expected to make more information public on Monday, June 15th.

June 12  UPDATE:  After wrestling with whether to print this or not, I discovered that someone had committed information to the online world the day following our “Once Upon A Time” version.  You can read that story here, and another post by the same writer responding to my own, but on a different blog,  here.




Disclaimer:  This is a blog.  The opinions expressed here are are those of the author and are still waiting be confirmed in other media and/or with the story sources.

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