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16 July 2014

Bishops Philip Richardson and Helen-Ann Hartley

Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki
PO Box 21

Dear +Helen-Ann and +Philip
You have asked for my intention regarding submission to General Synod in writing, which I
obediently submit to you.

Six caveats
Firstly, I want to emphasise six things:
1. This is not a letter of resignation. I remain committed to my ordination vows and the
ministry to which I was inducted at West Hamilton.
2. This is a situation not of my own making, but one which the General Synod has
forced upon me. I have always done my best to honour my ordination vows and to
serve the mission of God in this parish, the Diocese and the wider Church. As well as
serving in this parish for 20 years, I have served on the Licensed Ministry Council,
Faculties Committee, Commission for the Future, Standing Committee and General
Synod. I attended all four of the Hermeneutics Hui, made a written and an oral
submission to the Ma Whea? Commission, and have contributed all I could to the
debate on human sexuality.
3. This is not an entirely new situation, inasmuch as you were warned of it as far back
as 27 March 2012 in an open letter which I wrote to the House of Bishops, co-signed
by the AFFIRM Council, the Executive of the Latimer Fellowship, and the Council of
the New Zealand Church Missionary Society. In that letter (attached) I laid out the
implications of the Church heading down the track of same-sex blessings and
ordinations. In relation to the Declaration of Adherence to General Synod I wrote:
We wish to signal to you now that inevitably many clergy and lay people
who uphold orthodox Christian doctrine will find themselves unable to
submit to such human authorities, given that they would be seen to be
usurping the divine authority of Holy Scripture. Many of our lay constituency
will likewise be unable to accept the authority of those who should be their
This, and the other warnings in that letter, have either gone unheeded or have been
deemed to be of insufficient consequence to warrant a change of course.
4. This letter is to be read in conjunction with the original letter from Vestry and
myself, dated 25 May and attached. I note that neither Vestry nor I have received
3 Johnson Street, Dinsdale, Hamilton 3204
Phone: 07 846 6910

Vicar: Michael Hewat
DD phone: 07 847 2623
West Hamilton Anglican Parish West Hamilton Anglican Parish West Hamilton Anglican Parish West Hamilton Anglican Parish
anything more than an acknowledgment of receipt of the letter, and that from
+Helen-Ann alone. She took up our offer to address the local AFFIRM parishes, but
on that occasion explicitly declined to address the letter directly. Of the five points
raised in the letter, only the last received any real attention. We listened to what
you said, Helen-Ann, but remain entirely unconvinced that nothing has changed. I
appreciated the opportunity to discuss the letter last Friday, Helen-Ann, but found it
frustrating that your repeated response was simply that you have a different
perspective on things. You presented no substantive arguments to support your
perspective. Following our meeting I re-listened to your presentation of 15 June,
seeking a clearer grounding of your perspective, but heard only general claims
around the priority of maintaining integrity and unity. Indicative of your response is
this statement - a part of your presentation, not an impromptu answer to a
General Synod has not decided anything or changed anything that should
make it impossible for anyone to remain within the Church at this time. But I
appreciate that this may seem like a whole heap of contradictions to you.
And I also see how you might come to the view that doctrine is
compromised. However I do not see it this way.
This is not the compelling reasoning we had hoped for. For these reasons, the five
objections to General Synod 2014 in general, and Motion 30 in particular, still stand.
5. What follows is not an impulsive or ill-considered response, but one carefully
prayed, thought and talked through, in the light of Holy Scripture and the
Constitution of this church. After nearly two months of careful prayer and discussion
it has the near unanimous support of this parish, which at a Special General Meeting
on Sun 6 July passed the following motion 106 (94.6%) in favour, 6 (5.4%) against:
As individuals and as West Hamilton Anglican Parish we affirm the Bible as
the source of Christian doctrine and are therefore against Motion 30. As a
parish we are committed to staying together as a worshiping
parish/fellowship and for the sake of the effectiveness of our mission in this
area we earnestly desire to stay in our buildings. We support Michael Hewat
and the Vestry in their decision of conscience not to sign the submission to
General Synod.
Since Sunday a further 23 postal votes have come in, all of them in favour, meaning
over 95% support. A number of respected church leaders around the country also
support our position. I am grateful to you for allowing us the time and freedom to
undertake this process; it has been appreciated by us all.
6. While this letter inevitably has a forensic flavour, no legal action is threatened or
intended to be implied. If my refusal to submit to the authority of General Synod
results in my licence being withdrawn, as you have already indicated Helen-Ann, so
be it. God is my judge, and yours. I will not be appealing to any other court.
I will surrender my licence, assuming that will be required, on Friday 25 July, my last
Sunday in the parish being Sunday 20 July. I am writing a separate letter regarding
vacation of church and vicarage premises.

Why I cannot sign the Declaration of Acknowledgement of the Authority of the General
Synod/Te Hinota Whanui

I. Conflicts of Authority
The primary issue for me is a conflict of authority.

At my confirmation I placed myself under the teachings of the Anglican Church, as contained
in the Creed, Lords Prayer, Ten Commandments and short Catechism, and vowed to
believe and to do all those things which my Godfathers and Godmothers then <at my
baptism> undertook for me. Those things were:
1. A renunciation of the devil and all his works (noting the vain pomp and glory of the
world the carnal desires of the flesh).
2. A steadfast belief in the Apostles Creed (noting the virgin birth, bodily
resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus, and his return to judge the living and
the dead).
3. Obedience to Gods holy will and commandments, and to walking in them all the
days of my life.
The short Catechism specifically requires that those wanting to be confirmed keep their
body in temperance, soberness and chastity. I note such things not because I claim to have
lived them perfectly but because they are Christian doctrine which we are bound to teach
and uphold.

At my ordination to the Diaconate I declared my commitment to Christ in his Church,
affirming that:
1. The Bible contains all that is essential for our salvation, and reveals Gods living
word in Jesus Christ.
2. I hold to the doctrines of the faith as this Church understands them.
3. I accept the order and discipline of this Church and the guidance and leadership of
my bishop.
4. I will seek the lost and lonely, caring for Gods people whatever their need.

At my ordination to the Presbyterate, I committed further to:
1. Set forth the doctrines of the faith as this Church has received them.
2. Do all in my power to build up the body of Christ by proclaiming the word of God
and celebrating the sacraments of the new covenant.

It is my contention that I have done, and continue to do my best to honour these vows.
Christ is the head of the Church, and the Bible is the source of all doctrine. So long as the
Church is submitted to the authority of Christ - Gods living word, and the Bible - Gods
written word, there can be no conflict between the authorities of all three: God, Bible and

The issue that has arisen out of General Synod is nothing less than a conflict of authority
between the Church and the Bible (and therefore Christ too, as Christ and the Bible cannot
be in conflict).

This is clearly demonstrated by placing your statement at the public meeting of AFFIRM
parishes on Sunday 15 June, Helen-Ann, on the Bible and homosexual practice, alongside
Motion 30. You said, and I quote from the audio recording, Scripture is clear that same-
gender relationships are sinful. Earlier you said (in relation to the Doctrine Commission
report) While it is possible to argue for a rationale (for same-gender blessings) with
integrity, that rationale does not stand up to Scriptures witness when taken as a whole.
Scripture is consistent in its regard for same-gender relationships as sinful. Later a member
of the Forest Lake Parish made this statement:
I believe that the Church, the Anglican Church, should be open to everybody in the
world, but I dont know how with integrity I can look at my Anglican Church and
actually say, How can you be considering blessing sin?
To which you replied:
I guess my honest answer is I dont disagree with you; but I believe in the unity of
the Church, that Motion 30 offers a way forward to keep that integrity in Christ.

That homosexual acts are sinful and an object of Gods wrath has always been the teaching
of the Church. Under no circumstances are they deemed to be rightly ordered. As
ordination requires chastity, and chastity the right ordering of sexual relationships, those
ordained in the Church cannot be involved in same-gender sexual activity. Neither can same-
gender unions be taught, upheld or recognised in any way as rightly ordered or anything
other than sinful. Furthermore, loving pastoral care of those struggling with sexual
temptation outside of marriage can only be directed towards supporting them to live a
chaste lifestyle.

Motion 30 upholds the traditional doctrine of marriage as an understanding of intimate
relationships. The problem is that it does not uphold it either exclusively or immutably. On
the contrary, in almost the next breath General Synod recognises a diversity of voices about
what constitutes a right ordered intimate relationship between two persons regardless of
gender. It argues that this is something the Spirit is saying to the Church, that there is a
broad recognition of the dynamic nature of doctrine, and that the General Synod is
responding to the call of the prophetic word to be attentive to the movement of the Spirit.

These are nothing other than weasel words, used to defy the clear teaching of the Bible and
the Fundamental Provisions of both the Constitution of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa-
New Zealand and Polynesia, and the Church of England Empowering Act (1928). According to
those Provisions doctrine is not dynamic in the sense employed by Motion 30. In fact the
Fundamental Provisions specifically list the sources of doctrine (Clause 1 of Part B of the
Constitution), which are fixed, and declares that the General Synod (also known as te
Hinota Whanui) shall also hold and maintain the said Doctrine (Clause 1 of Part A, Clause
1 of Part B, Clause 2 of Part B). Clause 6 of Part A further states:
The above provisions shall be deemed fundamental, and it shall not be within the
power of the General Synod, or of any Diocesan Synod, to alter, revoke, add to, or
diminish any of the same.
In other words, General Synod cannot change doctrine, and even if the General Synod has
not yet altered, revoked or amended any of the doctrine which the Fundamental Provisions
require it to hold and maintain, if it diminishes it in any way then it is in breach of the
Fundamental Provisions of the Constitution. This includes adopting any canon, resolution or
other position on a matter of doctrine which is inconsistent with the doctrine of the Church.

This is certainly the case with Motion 30: the biblical doctrine of marriage and chastity is
diminished by:
a) The recognition of a diversity of voices about what constitutes a right ordered
intimate relationship.
b) Allowing that the blessing of same-gender relationships can be understood, with
integrity, to be consonant with Scripture and doctrine (Clause 1b). What sort of
integrity could this be? Both Scripture and the Churchs doctrine clearly proscribe
same-gender unions.
c) The commitment to drafting a new liturgy to bless right ordered same-gender
relationships. What does this tell us that there are same-gender relationships
which are already considered, de facto, to be rightly ordered? The decision to
proceed with drafting a liturgical rite for the blessing of same-gender relationships
is a significant development in itself, especially in the light of your witness
statement to the Human Rights Review Tribunal last year, Philip. In it you argued
that such rites were the last stage in a process of approving same-gender
relationships as rightly ordered. In paragraph 38 you write (italicised emphasis
yours, underlining mine):
There is no approved form of recognition and blessing of people in same sex
relationships At the very least you would expect that such a service would
have been duly prepared by our Liturgical Commission and have been duly
authorised by the General Synod process if this Church had already
determined its understanding and teaching on the nature of same sex,
committed, monogamous, life-long relationships. There is no such General
Synod determination.
If that was true in April 2013, is it not true now? Or has more changed than is being
admitted to? In paragraph 43 of your statement, in which you set out the process
for change, you write (emphasis mine):
What is required on any matter of such significance is a careful process of
prayer, study of scripture, theological debate and discussion. We often work
through a formal commission established by the General Synod to consider
all issues pertaining to the matters being considered, this leads to an
informed debate at the general Synod, which is the three house and three
Tikanga body that is the only body authorised to determine the belief and
practice of this Church. From such a resolution of the General Synod would
flow any liturgical consequences, including possibly a revision of the
marriage services and the formularies that govern them or the development
of services specifically setting out in liturgical form this Churchs theological
understanding of the nature of committed, life-long, monogamous same-sex
This being the case, the fact that General Synod has authorised the drafting of a
liturgy for blessing same gender relationships presupposes that the Churchs
theological understanding has changed, and that such relationships are now rightly
ordered. That being the case, on what basis could ordination (and marriage) now
be denied?
d) Permitting clergy to recognise in public worship a same-gender civil union or state
marriage of members of their own faith community. What recognition means is not
defined, except that it is not a blessing; but in paragraph 9 of your witness
statement to the Human Rights Review Tribunal last year, Philip, you write: The
recognition (blessing) of such relationships is an essential pre-requisite for the
consideration of someone for ordination. The normal way to read this is that the
terms are inter-changeable. At the most, the distinction between recognition and
blessing is paper thin, and will be thinner still in the minds and hands of those clergy
performing such recognitions.

Motion 30s claim that doctrine is dynamic in the sense of changeable flies in the face of
the Fundamental Provisions and all they intend to protect. So too does the commitment to
A process and legislation (whether church or parliamentary) by which a new liturgy to bless
right ordered same-gender relationships may be adopted. General Synods responsibility is
to hold and maintain doctrine, not to commit to changing it.

The only conclusion I can draw from the above is that the General Synod has exceeded its
own authority and acted in contravention of its own Constitution and the Church of England
Empowering Act (1928). It is seeking to change doctrine in a way that no longer accords with
the entrenched sources of the Churchs doctrine. More than that, it has sanctioned church
practices and processes which both diminish and contradict established biblical doctrine.

It has, in short, acted illegally. Hence the dilemma I am in: do I submit myself to its authority,
or to the authority of the Bible (which is upheld by the Constitution)? I do not believe it
possible to be truly submitted to both, and have been given no plausible rationale from
yourselves or anyone else for doing so.

At this point it is pertinent to note that in their response to the Open Letter to the House of
Bishops of 27 March 2012, referred to above, the three Archbishops wrote:
The General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui is referred to quite a lot in this letter, because
as Bishops we vow to uphold its authority and its due process, as the question and
answer section of the Ordination of Bishops Liturgy in the Prayer Book/He Karakia
Mihinare of Aotearoa indicates.
Presiding Bishop: Will you uphold the authority of the General Synod and the
Constitution of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia?
Bishop-elect: Yes, I will. I am under that authority, and will exercise it in partnership
with my sisters and brothers in Christ.

Philip, you yourself employed this line of argument in your witness statement to the Human
Rights Review Tribunal supporting the Bishop of Aucklands decision not to ordain a man in a
same-gender relationship.

The lines of authority in our Church are clearly laid down:
1. The Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as the Lord has commanded in Holy Scripture
and as explained in the Book of Common Prayer (1662), Te Rawhiri, The Ordinal, The
Thirty-Nine Articles and A New Zealand Prayer Book He Harakia Mihinare o
Aotearoa are paramount.
2. The Constitution/Doctrine of the Church comes next.
3. Then the General Synod.
4. Finally, beneath the others, bishops in Synod.
Therefore, although my ordination vows include submission to the authority of my bishop,
when my bishop is perceived to have been complicit in the General Synods usurping of the
authority of the Constitution and Doctrine of the Church, and in contradiction of the clear
teaching of Scripture, I am bound to give primary allegiance to the latter, even at the
expense of the former.

It has been put to me by a number of well-meaning souls that I might continue to declare
adherence to General Synod while rejecting Motion 30 and all contained therein. However,
like you Philip, I do not consider one can pick and choose what one adheres to. Again, I
quote your statement to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, in this case paragraph 26:
I had to make clear to a priest who was challenging the validity of the election of a
woman as bishop, and doing so in the local media, that to do so was in breach of his
declaration of submission to the Constitution and Canons of this Church and to the
General Synod of this Church. He could not say I submit but only to the bits I
agree to.
Motion 30 has so undermined my confidence in the integrity and leadership of General
Synod that I cannot sign the statutory Declaration.

II. A false notion of unity
You spoke at some length on 15 June, Helen-Ann, about the priority of unity. In a response
quoted above, you said I guess my honest answer is I dont disagree with you; but I believe
in the unity of the Church, that Motion 30 offers a way forward to keep that integrity in
Christ. In doing so, you placed a supposedly biblical imperative for unity above the keeping
of commandments proscribing homosexual acts.

When questioned about the apostle Pauls hard line on sexual sin, which you admitted was
uncompromising, you redirected the questioner to reflect on Pauls theology of the Body of
Christ: What mattered to Paul was a sense of being united in Christ, that ultimately
everything for Paul was reframed through the transforming lens of Jesus Christ, and that to
all people we should show compassion and mercy; indeed God shows compassion and
mercy to us in our sinfulness, our brokenness. I do not think Motion 30 compromises that
reality at all.

The implication is that to withhold blessing of a sinful relationship is to display a lack of
compassion or mercy. I disagree. In both Testaments we read of discipline (vs approval) as a
demonstration of genuine parental love (Deut 8.5; Prov 3.12; Heb 12.6-7).

The reality, for Paul, was that sexual sin always spoiled a persons relationship with Christ;
he ranked it alongside idolatry (1 Cor 6.9; Col 3.5). In 1 Cor 6.13ff Paul writes:
The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the
body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not
know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of
Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!
The suggestion that sin can be covered under a cloak of unity, as Motion 30 presupposes,
would have been an anathema to Paul. His reaction to sexual immorality is that it should be
mortified (Col 3.5-8), fled (1 Cor 5.9-11; 6.18; 1 Thess 4.3), or expelled (1 Cor 5.2, 13).

His logic is easily comprehended: the Church is not simply a body but the body of Christ. As
such, its members need to be one with Christ, united with him - and one another in him - by
the Holy Spirit. Hence his command to the Corinthians to test themselves, to ask whether
they are truly in Christ (2 Cor 13.5-8). If we offend against Christ in our bodies, as when we
sin sexually, then we separate ourselves from him. Thus to speak of integrity, and unity in
Christ, in the same breath as sanctioning sexual sin is nonsense.

There is no evidence whatsoever that Paul overlooked sin out of a fear of discipline dividing
the body. On the contrary, two of the primary causes of division in the early church were
false teaching/doctrine, and sexual immorality within the church, and everywhere these sins
raise their head Paul prescribes a discipline which either leads to repentance or purges the
church of them.

Motion 30 effectively combines both these elements of division and will prove to be a
disaster for the unity of the Anglican Church. Charlie Hughes and my departure is not the
beginning. Many fine Anglicans, mostly lay people, have already departed to more biblically
orthodox denominations over the past 30 years or so. I can think of five ordained colleagues
who have done likewise in more recent times. Assuming the General Synod proceeds on the
path it has committed itself to, the flood gates will open in 2016.

III. Pastoral issues
As I have now repeated a number of times, the only truly loving response to the LGBT
community is that laid out in Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998). LGBT folk, like everyone else,
need sound biblical teaching combined with informed, compassionate, supportive pastoral
care. The two are entirely compatible.

At West Hamilton we do our best to minister in this way to members of the LGBT community
who seek out our help. Currently that involves three men struggling with homosexual desire,
and more than a dozen struggling with other sexual addictions. Motion 30 completely
undermines such ministries, contradicting the theology which underpins them. This is
another significant stumbling block for me submitting to the authority of General Synod.

Closing remarks
As I stated at the beginning, this is not written as a legal defence. My concerns are
theological: biblical, doctrinal, ecclesiological and pastoral.

I cant help reflecting that Jesus parable of the two sons (Matthew 21.28-32) may be applied
to our current context. Charlie Hughes and I are like the first son: we have refused to sign
the Declaration but would continue (if allowed) to work in Gods local vineyard in full
accordance with the Constitution and our ordination vows. A number of other clergy have
behaved like the second son: they have happily signed the Declaration but have openly
flouted various doctrines of the Church and regulations regarding same-gender blessings. As
you admitted here last Saturday Helen-Ann, the fact that they have not been disciplined,
while Charlie Hughes has and I will be, is hypocritical.

Furthermore, I am surprised and disappointed that what seems to be an all-surpassing
desire to maintain the unity of the Church does not extend to keeping conscientious
objectors such as Charlie Hughes and myself within the Church. I had begun to think that the
Churchs ability to compromise and accommodate is boundless. Apparently not. There is no
room in this Church for those who are not prepared to compromise the authority of
Scripture, or their own integrity when it comes to submitting to those who have
compromised the authority of Scripture.

The priority of unity does not seem to extend to the majority of other Anglican Provinces or
other Christian denominations either. Contrary to your assurances on 15 June Helen-Ann,
my impression at the FCA (GAFCON) gathering in Nairobi last year was that a large majority
of Anglican Provinces will be appalled by Motion 30. Of the other Christian denominations in
NZ, I should think we are now out of step with all but the Methodists. Incidentally, we are
the two denominations in most rapid decline.

Helen-Ann, when we met last Friday the first thing you asked me was whether my refusal to
assent to General Synod is a response to Motion 30 alone, or whether it is the result of an
ongoing unhappiness with the Diocese and Province. My response was that there have been
a number of occasions when I might have resigned in frustration, or because of what I
perceived as serious breaches of trust regarding my employment in this Church.

The examples I gave of the latter were of XXXXXX opening a private email to +David and
then responding abusively to me, and of XXXXXX using the diocesan database to email a
malicious (and false) report about me.

Other issues which I have expressed serious concern about, but have not resigned over,
include +John Blucks heretical and dishonest booklet Credible Christianity, published by the
Church; Glyn Cardys offensive billboards and the failure of his bishop to restrain or
discipline him; and the uncritical reporting on the Taonga website of Cardys rejection of
Christ dying for our sins and the doctrine of the atonement. These have raised more serious
doctrinal issues than human sexuality. However they all differ from Motion 30 in that they
were the actions/views of rogue individuals who should have been disciplined but werent.
What sets Motion 30 apart is that it is the work of the whole General Synod and is a clear
sign that the Church will no longer be bound by its Constitution, doctrine or the Bible. The
Churchs authority has become paramount an ecclesiology with which I cannot go along.

Other evangelicals have questioned my timing. Why now?

Firstly, because I believe that with such a process now committed to, there will be no turning
back. There could be, theoretically, but given that the Church has been heading in this
direction for years, with hermeneutics being used to distort or change the plain meaning of
Scripture, as well as the make-up of General Synod and the outspoken commitment of a
number of bishops to reform, its highly unlikely.

Secondly, because I believe the talk of two integrities is a nonsense. The Church simply
cannot have two contradictory integrities in terms of doctrine. When it comes to the
question of same-gender marriage a question which the LGBT community and its
supporters will drive the Church to later, if not sooner the Marriage Act will not allow two
integrities within a denomination. The Church will have to opt for one or the other, and I
have no doubt it will be the liberal one.

Thirdly, I hold out no hope of a full, orderly dismemberment which will allow the orthodox
to separate and retain their property. There is enough scrapping at present over the
allocation of power and resources, especially between tikanga; there is no way that
agreement will be found within tikanga. It is very doubtful any parish will be totally united
on this issue, so how will a decision re dismemberment possibly be made? It will be no
easier to depart in two, four or six years than now.

The sexuality debate has been a millstone around my neck ever since I was ordained 20
years ago. It promises to continue to be for at least the next six. I have just 11 left, and more
important mission priorities.

It seems very strange, bizarre even, that I will be de-licensed for upholding the authority of
the scriptures and the doctrine of the Church. However I have taken great heart from the
love and support of many faithful believers, particularly within this parish. My greatest
strength though has come from the Scriptures themselves. On the morning of our
congregational meeting on 2 July one of my readings was Psalm 26. It is as if everything I
have read over these past weeks since General Synod has been an encouragement to stay
true to Gods word and to trust him for the future. That I will happily do.

My prayer for the Anglican Church is similar to the Apostle Pauls for the Corinthians, found
in the passage set down for 15 June and noted that evening by you Helen-Ann: restoration
to a true faith through repentance (2 Cor 13.1-14).

I have many reasons to be grateful to the Anglican Church for the way it has nurtured me in
my faith and enabled my ministry. I give thanks to God for all that is still good in it, and the
wonderful redeemed fellow-sinners with whom it has been a joy and privilege to journey.

I pray also for the Lords guidance and blessing on you both in your role as overseers in it,
recalling especially Pauls charge to Titus:
(The overseer) must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he
may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who
contradict it. (1.9)
Therein, surely, is also the key to unity in Christ Jesus.

Sadly, but sincerely, yours in Christ

Michael Hewat

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