The first ex-Uniting Church joins the Diocese of the Southern Cross

Hedley Fihaki

At least a couple of ex-Uniting Churches have been pondering whether to join the new Diocese of the Southern Cross, an Anglican lifeboat set up to look after conservative churches in progressive dioceses (church regions).

Now the first ex-Uniting Church has crossed the denominational boundary and become conservative Anglican. Others will follow.

Mooloolaba Christian Church was dissolved on March 18 this year by the local Presbytery – the Uniting Church name for a regional committee. This clears the way for Hedley Fihaki once again to be the pastor of his congregation as the church is reborn as Faith Church (Sunshine Coast). His ministerial credentials were removed last year by the Queensland Synod (state body) of the Uniting Church.

The Other Cheek carried the Uniting Church’s state moderator Andrew Gunton’s description of why they defrocked Fihaki.

And Hedley Fihaki’s views of why it happened.

Faith Church will be the largest church in the new diocese by The Other Cheek’s calculations. Other defections could boost the ex-Uniting numbers of attendees to a considerable proportion of the new diocese. It may even be over half.

The Other Cheek would summarise that Fihaki, and the movement he headed, the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, were loud, persistent and strident in their criticisms of the Uniting Church’s acceptance of same-gender marriage and LGBT ministers for comfort. Both sides would agree with this description – the conservatives believing strong protest was needed because of doctrinal error, and the progressives saying that the ACC went too far. The ACC has voted to cease operations this month, leaving a number of churches pondering their future.

For the Mooloolaba Church and Fihaki, going too far has now meant hopping the denominational fence to the Anglican lifeboat. At least one other ACC church, the former Sunnybank Uniting Church (or the majority of the congregation) which also was dissolved by the Uniting Church, is likely to be one of the next churches to join the Southern Cross Diocese. They are waiting to see how the process works for their friends on the Sunshine Coast. It requires examining the doctrinal basis of the new diocese and forming a company limited by guarantee to fit the legal structure.

Here’s how the new church created the change in its denominational status. It carries the unmistakable tone of Fihaki.  “Welcome to Faith Church Sunshine Coast @Mooloolaba!  (Formally known as ‘Mooloolaba Christian Church’. Check out the Congregation website.

“Mooloolaba Christian Church was dissolved by the Uniting Church Presbytery of Mary Burnett on Saturday, 18th March 2023, because of our rejection of the 15th Assembly’ decision on the 13th of July 2018 to adopt Resolution 64 on ‘religious and ethical diversity’ (making the UCA a multifaith denomination) as well as adopting same-gender marriage (going against the clear witness of Scripture and UCA’s Basis of Union).  

“We were well prepared for this situation and had incorporated ‘Faith Church (Sunshine Coast) Limited’ to allow us to continue as a ‘congregation’ and begin worship immediately on Sunday, 19th March 2023. 

“We have become an affiliate member of the new Diocese of the Southern Cross and part of the ‘Global Anglican Future Conference.’ We will formally launch our Church in June 2023.

“We continue to stand firm on the Truth of God’s Word and trust in Him alone to provide for all our needs as we seek to proclaim the Truth of the Gospel into a Western Secular Culture that has increasingly become hostile to the gospel as ‘the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes’ (Romans 1: 16).”

Image: Hedley Fihaki