St Matthew’s Dunedin quits diocese of Dunedin over gay marriage
A special general meeting of the members of St Matthew’s Church in the Diocese of Dunedin, has voted to withdraw from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia over the 2018 vote by the province’s general synod to permit the blessing of same-sex marriages.
Members of the congregation voted on 14 Nov 2018 to quit the diocese and seek episcopal oversight from overseas Anglican bishops. In a 16 Nov 2018 press release the Bishop of Dunedin the Rt. Rev Steven Benford said:“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. We have been continuing to talk and pray with the leadership at St Matthew’s over this decision. 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. We continue to hold them all in our prayers.”
Dr. Benford told the Otago Daily Times: “We have been continuing to talk and pray with the leadership at St Matthew’s over this decision.”
“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.”
One of the largest parishes on the South Island of New Zealand, St Matthew’s on its website sets forth its evangelical principles: that “Jesus is the only way that people can be restored back to God”; that the work of the Church is “continuing the task of proclaiming this gospel in word and deed to the ends of the earth”; that the “bible is the authoritative word of God”; and is a church were the sacraments are offered, the word of God preached, and the holy catholic church is at work.
The vicar of St Matthew’s, the Rev. Stu Crossan, who has also relinquished the post of archdeacon of Dunedin, has not commented publicly on the next steps the parish will take, and the status of its properties.