Fairfax New Zealand Limited is reporting a rift concerning the invitation of former Bishop John Shelby Spong to Christchurch, New Zealand.
A rift has developed in Christchurch's Anglican community, with a third of the church's city vicars rebelling against the visit of radical American Bishop John Spong.
The speaking engagement by the outspoken proponent of liberal views on sexuality and theology issues, in the Christchurch Cathedral tomorrow, has outraged 29 local vicars, who have signed a protest statement claiming Bishop Spong's views are destroying the Anglican faith.
Bishop Spong has alienated church people who claim he has questioned belief in God, denied traditional Christian teachings on the divinity and resurrection of Christ, and espoused liberal sexual ethics.
He publicly supported the recent ordination of New Hampshire's gay bishop, Gene Robinson. The international backlash from this has divided the church and prompted many to leave.
The invitation to Bishop Spong, from the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Reverend Peter Beck, prompted 16 local ministers to write in protest to the dean last week. They subsequently met the dean to oppose the invitation but failed to have it overturned.
The group's spokesman, Sumner-Redcliffs vicar Ron Hay, said a quick ringaround in the Christchurch Diocese attracted an extra 13 ministers to the protest by yesterday.
The 29 ministers were about a third of the region's clergy. They included the vicars of three of the four largest parishes.