The church’s perceived obsession with homosexuality has seen an Anglican pastor break camp and lead his flock into the religious wilderness and find a new home in the city.
Reverend Michael Hewat, the vicar of West Hamilton Anglican Parish on Rifle Range Rd, was the second high profile Anglican leader to leave the Anglican Church in opposition to Motion 30 – a national declaration by the governing body to bless same sex relationships.
He said homosexuality had dominated the church’s agenda for two decades and “it amounts to an obsession”, he said in a letter to Waikato Times.
His refusal to submit to General Synod on the motion passed in May that aimed to recognise same-sex relationships meant a forfeiture his licence to practice as an Anglican pastor.
In May, former Auckland pastor Charlie Hughes walked away with his congregation and Hewat said more would come.
A special general meeting was held earlier in the month where he received 94 per cent support from parishioners and a further postal vote brought that figure to greater than 95 per cent.
“It’s a family breakup and even though its only 5 per cent it still hurts,” he said.
There were about 250 members on the parish roll but children were too young to vote and some older members were unable to make it to the meeting.
A handful of churchgoers were expected to show up at the church next Sunday but the rest – more than 100 who voted and their families – were looking for new place to call home in Hamilton’s western suburbs. “We’re not pushing it too far and we’re not going to some promised land but we believe that our ministries will continue and that’s what is important.”
Motion 30 was an “unmitigated disaster” and illegal as it contravened the Church of England Empowering Act, he said.