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OTAGO, NZ: Anglican Parish to leave National Church

OTAGO, NZ: Anglican Parish to leave National Church

The St Matthew's congregation has voted to leave the Anglican Church over its stance on same-sex marriages. Photo: Gerard O'Brien

By David Loughrey
https://www.odt.co.nz/
November 17, 2018

A Dunedin parish opposed to the blessing of same-sex civil marriages has withdrawn from the Anglican Church, its minister saying homosexuality is an "abomination".

St Matthew's in Stafford St this week voted to disaffiliate from the church.

The decision means those in the parish who supported the move -- it is understood 79% voted for disaffiliation -- will have to find a new place to worship.

Bishop of Dunedin the Rt Rev Steven Benford confirmed the move yesterday. He said St Matthew's voted to disaffiliate at a special meeting on Monday, in what was "a result of the General Synod resolution on the blessing of same-sex civil marriages passed in May 2018".

"It is with a heavy heart that we have heard the decision of a portion of St Matthew's parish to disaffiliate from the Anglican Church.

"Although we are saddened that part of the congregation is no longer going to be within the diocese of Dunedin, we are committed to the future of the parish both pastorally and for its future mission in Dunedin."

St Matthew's vicar, the Rev Stu Crosson, declined to discuss the matter yesterday.

But earlier this year Mr Crosson wrote the move to allow the blessing of same-sex marriages "appears to me to be a step into false teaching, contrary to the unified witness of scripture, a denial of what it means to be faithful, human, image bearers, in our maleness and femaleness and as such an idolatrous step away from our God".

Mr Crosson said to bless something God called an abomination and the apostle Paul described as "inviting the wrath of God" seemed destined to invite the judgement of God upon the church.

In a May document the parish suggested aligning itself with the Global Anglican Church, a movement that describes itself as "a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican communion".

The parish could also "plant a new church in Dunedin, not under the Anglican banner".

In May, Dr Benford sent an email to his congregation in response to the move to allow priests to bless same-sex marriages and civil unions.

He called on clergy and lay members not to leave the church.

Anglican diocesan registrar Andrew Metcalfe said yesterday the church and its buildings were owned by the Anglican Church.

There were congregations in other parts of New Zealand taking similar action, including four in Canterbury.

"This is the only instance of this in our diocese."

A process would begin to deal with matters such as how to deal with paid staff at the church, he said.

The church would look for advice from Canterbury and discuss how it dealt with the churches there that disaffiliated.

"It is, for them and for us, unknown territory in many ways.

"We just need to work through it."

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