NZ priest quits diocese over gay blessings

An Evangelical Anglican vicar in the Diocese of Auckland has quit the Anglican Church of Aoteara, New Zealand and Polynesia in protest over last month’s vote by General Synod to begin the process towards regularizing gay blessings.

The Rev. Charlie Hughes, (left) vicar of St Michael’s Anglican Church in Herndon reports that he and half of his staff along with two thirds of the church wardens had quit the diocese in protest over synod’s vote to “formally recognize” same-sex couples who are in civil unions or state same-sex marriages.

A participant in the 2013 Gafcon conference in Nairobi, Mr. Hughes said he had “received several offers of support and episcopal oversight, all of which are kind and may well appeal to others in my situation. However, I have instead chosen to join an existing non-episcopal congregation. Those who choose to leave with me will amalgamate with that congregation and I will join the current pastor in the leadership of the new hybrid,” he told Anglican Ink.

 “There is a large body of Anglican clergy who are convinced this is the wrong way to go,” he told the New Zealand Herald in a 29 May 2014 interview, adding that a legal challenge would be brought to uphold the New Zealand Church’s constitutional provision that it is “not lawful to ordain anything contrary to God’s word written.” He added that this “isn’t an anti-gay issue. This is a pro-Bible issue.”

The Bishop of Auckland the Rt. Rev. Ross Bay (pictured above) told the congregation that he was aware that there was “confusion and even anger” over the synod vote, but he respected Mr. Hughes’ “decision and so have accepted the inevitable consequence that his license as vicar must lapse as a result.”

Mr. Hughes confirmed his license “was revoked due to my withdrawal of submission to General Synod (GS). That action was in turn due to my conviction that GS has acted in contravention of its own constitution. It does seem particularly poignant therefore that we now have Anglican clergy in this diocese performing same-sex blessings, in direct defiance of not only their ordination vows, the constitution, and even the self-same GS decision, without censure.” 

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