NZ congregation quits church over gay marriage vote

A second New Zealand congregation and its clergy have quit the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia over the May vote by that church’s general synod to begin the process towards permitting gay marriage. In a letter published in the Waikato Times, the Rev. Michael Hewat, the vicar of West Hamilton Anglican Parish in Dinsdale, said he was surrendering his license to officiate on 25 July 2014.  In a letter to the Bishop of Waikato, the Rt. Rev. Helen-Ann Hartley, and the Primate, the Most Rev. Phillip Richardson, Bishop of Taranaki, Mr. Hewat said synod’s Motion 30 would “prove to be a disaster” to church unity. Motion 30 was unlawful he argued, noting “it makes a commitment to changing the constitution of the church which means it probably needs an act of parliament and Motion 30 says that.” The motion set in place a two year process to develop new doctrines as well as formal rules around the blessing same-sex relationships. “To change doctrine, in effect, means you have to change sources of doctrine so, in other words, the Bible is no longer the source of doctrine,” Mr. Hewat said. The members of the evangelical parish met earlier this month to discuss their response to Motion 30, and 95 per cent of the congregation backed the vicar’s decision to leave. In a letter sent to the other congregations in the diocese Bishops Hartley and Richardson denied Motion 30 contravened church doctrine and violated church law. The motion sought to find ways of including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people into the life of the church and was an “indication of the church’s willingness to engage in a further process to explore ways in which different views can exist together, in the same house.”

Michael Hewat Letter of Resignation

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