Bishop Victoria Matthews speaks out for first time since resignation

From Checkpoint, 5:55 pm on 22 March 2018

Christchurch's Anglican Bishop, Victoria Matthews, has spoken out for the first time since announcing she was stepping down as bishop.

The bishop announced this week she would be stepping down in May, after leading the Christchurch diocese for ten years.

Speaking to RNZ this afternoon at the blessing of a new youth hub in central Christchurch, Ms Matthews said the earthquake proved to be a big challenge for her, as well as the following dispute over the quake-damaged cathedral's future.

Synod voted to restore the building last year, something Ms Matthews initially opposed.

Ms Matthews said she regretted not reaching out earlier to the heritage groups threatening law suits if the church decided to demolish the building.

"I think early on I probably should have gone to the people who were screaming the loudest and saying we can't do it this way...I wish I had gotten in before one of those lawsuits," she said.

When asked who those "people" were, Ms Mattthews said she would not name names as it was not personal. But she said they generally were heritage groups and other people who wanted to see the cathedral reinstated.

In terms of her retirement, Ms Matthews said she felt it was time to go.

"I'll be quite honest, in the middle of the worse of the cathedral I would have been happy to walk at that point, but I did not feel that God was calling me to do that," she said.

"This isn't giving up, this is being called to something new."

She said one of the challenges the church faced going forward was getting young people involved with the church.

"There are significant numbers...don't get me wrong, they're wonderful Anglicans, but they are in their senior years," she said.

"We are working very hard at raising up young leaders."

When asked what her plans were after stepping down in May, Ms Matthews had a simple answer.

"I have no idea, this is a step of faith," she said.

"That's what I did over ten years ago when I left my former diocese of Edmonton in Canada, I stepped out in faith, and to my total surprise, I got a call from Christchurch."

Archbishop Philip Richardson will become acting Bishop after Ms Matthews steps down on May 1 2018. A vote will be held to determine who her replacement will be.