A fiery meeting as Mooloolaba UCA members support their sacked minister Hedley Fihaki

Hedley Fihaki

Members of the Mooloolaba Christian Church in on the Sunshine Coast Queensland have issued a statement backing their minister Hedley Fihaki who has been removed as a Uniting Church Minister by the Queensland Synod Standing Committee. “Mooloolaba Christian Church will still continue to recognise [Fihaki and Rev. Lulu Senituli] as “Ministers of the Word” because of their ‘adherence’ to the Basis of Union and Constitution of the Uniting Church in Australia, which commits them and us as Uniting Church members and Congregations to:

  1. sole loyalty to Jesus Christ the living head of the church
  2. obedience to the Holy Spirit
  3. the Word of God on whom salvation depends
  4. living and working within the faith and unity of the one holy catholic and apostolic church.”

The statement makes it clear the MCC members see themselves as standing against the “two integrities” decision of the Uniting church to adopt a same-gender marriage service alongside traditional man-woman marriage.

“The Synod Standing Committee like many of our Church leaders now, are spiritually abusing our sheep all over the country under the guise of ‘due process’ and using their big stick and new ‘ruling principle’ resolution 64 which says, ‘you will conform, you will embrace diversity, you will celebrate my sexuality or else’…

“We cannot and will not be forced, bullied or intimidated into accepting the heresy of ‘two integrities’, particularly when the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia wilfully and arrogantly rejected “to seek the concurrence of other councils” including “congregations of the Church, on matters of vital importance to the life of the Church”, despite that being “obligatory”(BoU para. 15e).

“We also reject any minister or Council of the Church that accepts this heresy that has divided and fractured the faith and unity of the Church.”

After the statement was read to a congragtional meeting, with loud applause, representatives from the UCA in Queensland were invited to respond. The meeting was livestreamed.

Dr Andrew Gunton, the Moderator of the Queensland Synod of the UCA said “The committee for discipline is an independent committee and tribunal of the Queensland Synod.

“It made a decision that Dr Fihaki’s ‘ recognition as a Minister of the Word would be withdrawn. The Synod Standing Committee was tasked with implementing that decision and determined that it should take effect from Friday the 14th of October 2022.

“The Committee for Discipline decision was made in response to 23 separate breaches of the Code of Ethics and Ministry practice, which is agreed to by every ministry agent in the life of the Uniting Church in Australia.”

“Part of the Committee for Discipline’s directions was to make sure that there was pastoral support for both Dr Fihaki and for the Mooloolaba Christian church. And on that front Rev Allan Morrison was prepared to be that support person for Dr Fihakiand his family.”

As far as The Other Cheek is aware, the list of these breaches has not been made public.

For the Mary Burnett Presbytery (regional committee) Presbytery Minister Graham Huth added, “Thank you can I first just say that it’s wonderful to be worshiping with you here today. And it’s just a shame that it’s this that has brought me along to this place. And it’s not that long ago, I was here worshiping with you and leading in worship, and you are such a vibrant community and in your worship. And I really appreciate and enjoy the time that I spent here. So it is it is really a lot of heartache to be here and working through this.

“And as the Moderator has pointed out, in all of this Presbytery has a responsibility.

My family has this saying and I don’t know you might have something very similar when things come along that we’ve got no control over. We say ‘it is what it is.’

“‘It is what it is.’

“In this we need to work at what is happening. And it’s not always all that helpful to spend time looking back, but to look forward and to find new vision. Otherwise you get clouded if you spend all your time looking backwards and trying to find a reason why you are. So yes, we have been charged in a sense by the Standing Committee and in relation to the Constitution, the Basis of Union and the regulations to ensure that proper pastoral care and leadership is given at times when a congregation no longer has a minister.

“And I know that you are hurting. I know that you have rejected the what has been done to Dr. Fihaki.

“But the fact is that that decision still stands and Dr. Fihaki does have the opportunity to appeal that decision. But in the meantime it still stands, and while you don’t have an ordained minister, it is the responsibility of presbytery in order to give pastoral and provide adequate pastoral care. And for that, we asked Reverend Ray Nutley be available.

“I don’t know whether you realize this and this is not meant to be a pawn, but supply ministers are in very short supply at the moment.

“And so we asked, Reverend Ray Nutley to be available. o come along. But it was always our intention to speak to the church council. and work out what is going to be most appropriate. So it was unfortunate that we were not able to meet with the church council in this past week to actually go through and look at all the options that we have organized for Reveraend Ray Nutley to be available to come in to provide the leadership only as we’ve been asked to and as per the regulations and our responsibilities as the presbytery.

‘And not having had a chance to talk to the church council, I guess this is the place where we’re going to need to talk about whether that is the the suitable way forward. But that’s perhaps where we stand as far as working with you. I hope in that message that we saw that statement that read out that you don’t feel that the presbytery is disingenuous. I hope that was not the meaning in there. That it was , perhaps, but certainly the Presbytery is very genuine, and it’s wanting to reach out and walk with you and find the right way forward. And to be in thatconversation. So it was never in our intention just to force Reverend Nutley into here but we just never had the chance to talk to the church council about what might be the better way forward.


The Moderator spoke again. “Members of the Mooloolaba Christian Church, the decision that was made to withdraw the recognition of Dr. Fihaki is not a decision against this congregation.

“we recognise, and I heard it today and I heard it today that you feel very angry about this. I have heard that. that you are upset and of course your deep love for dr Fihaki is very real.

“We remain committed, however, to each of you as part of this church, through the presbytery to continue to work beside you through this very difficult time.

“We would encourage you not only to pray on where it is that you feel the Spirit is leading. But pray for us all as God’s people. We know the processes of the church don’t always seem fair. But they are the processes that we, particularly the ordained people this church adhere to. This is where we come to at this point.”

“Folks, thank you for your patient and respectful listening to this point. I really appreciate that. And thank you Mark for the way that you are leading us at this time. But without any further ado, because we’ve been here for a long time. I’d love to open it up for questions and comments.”

In the question time the main focus was the appointment of anew minister to run MCC. The MCC statement read at the start of the church meeting included: “The call to presbytery to now come in and offer pastoral care for the congregation and our minister is disingenuous; a mask to hide their abusive behaviour.” The response of the meeting was summed up in one comment “You have offered us the service of a replacement minister. thanks but no thanks. We have a minister [Fihaki] sitting down the front.”

Presbytery Minister Luth responded “Just simply to say our intention was never to work without working with you. It was up to us to try and have something in place… ” and pointed to the UCA regulations saying that “the responsibilities of the pastoral Relations Committee, shall include determining the manner of appointment of persons to preside at worship and preach to the congregation during times when there is no minister and placement. So technically, you don’t have a minister in placement. And so that we are called through the regulations to determine the meaning of appointment of somebody. So we want to talk to you about what is appropriate.”

if it is, is that, that you would think that you have people within the life of your congregation. That can actually provide that pastoral care and that leadership can tell us who they are so that we can ensure that (interrupted) “That’s a conversation we will need to have and so put it in writing.”

Asked to respond the the congregations statement the Moderator responded that it was too long for him to respond to straight away. “I can’t in good conscience respond to that statement at this stage without seeing it and without reading it fully and thoroughly. So I really can’t do that today. In some ways, I apologise, but that was way too long for me to have it in my head.”

In response to further comments and questions about whether what was to happen regarding Fikaki, the moderator held firm. “The determination as we have already explained is the withdrawal of recognition.

“The determination as we have already explained is the withdraw of recognition.”The next part of the determination is to make sure there is ongoing pastoral care for the support of the community here.

“And that is why that we have worked with the presbytery and the presbytery has found Reverend Ray Nutley who has agreed to take on that responsibility on the ongoing pastoral care. What Pastor Luth have said to you today is if that is not acceptable to then the presbytery wants to hear that voice and was prepared to work with you. So that’s where that’s where the dialogue and the discussion can go from this point. So if that’s if that’s the mind of your, of this community, then you inform the presbytery of that and then they will be in dialogue with you how to go forward, supporting you in this particular time.”

The moderator added “nothing has been predetermined”.

From the perspective of the synod a genuine offer of dialogue has been made. but for many in the congregation, it has been predetermined that they have lost their Pastor, Hedley Fihaki.


  1. We have not lost our pastor as the MCC congregation will stick with The Reverend Doctor Hedley Fihaki as our minister no matter what the UCA wants to do. We have unanimously resolved that. The actions giving rise to the 23 complaints found are all in the public domain and all to do with advocating the conservative Christian view and advocating against resolution 64 which was passed against the Basis of Union. The UCA wants to make clear that if you voice dissent against the woke ideology it has embraced you will be tossed out of the UCA. Fine by me.

    • I stand in solidarity with the Mooloolaba Church ,(MCC) and with other congregations around Australia who make a stand in their refusal to kneel before the idol of “Diversity at any cost”,choosing to be faithful to the Word which will not change one “jot or tittle” through to the obsolescence of TIME.
      I believe it is time for ALL who believe in the life changing ,redemptive power and responsibility of “THE GREAT Commission “to draw upon all their reserves of”Intestinal fortitude” to stand firm, CLEARLY, holding up this light of the eternal gospel to a world in which the darkness in continuously becoming more intense!

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