19 May 2021

Gloriavale documents give insight into community life

12:02 pm on 19 May 2021

Recently released court documents provide a candid insight into life and religious beliefs at Gloriavale.

The Gloriavale religious commune

Gloriavale community buildings on the West Coast. Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

John Ready and other unnamed plaintiffs are taking a civil suit against The Christian Church Community Trust, commonly known as Gloriavale, as well as trustees and shareholders associated with the community.

The High Court has recently allowed publication of certain documents relating to the case for the first time.

In a five-page position statement on behalf of The Christian Church Community Trust, its trustees and the other defendants, the public gets a rare glimpse into religious expectations and life at Gloriavale.

"Those that choose to live in the community agree to abide by certain aspects of religious doctrine including that they should obey the word of the Lord. This includes: not using contraception and gladly receiving all the children that God gives them; marriage being for life, with Christ having commanded that they must never be divorced; that family relationships should be fostered, that families should be able to live and work together and that parents have responsibility to bring up their children; the belief that all things should be held in common and those that have more should give to those that have less and that as Christians, they should share what they have with those around them. Practically this is reflected in the sharing community they operate, as well as the support they provide to many needy people outside the community; that men in the community are the religious leaders," the document stated.

It also detailed how finances were managed in Gloriavale.

"Individuals who are full or associate partners of the partnership known as Christian Partners receive an equal share of the profits from that partnership, pay personal income tax and ACC on those profits and donate the remainder to the community to enable the provision of the functions above. There are 168 women and men who are full or associate partners and share in the profits.

"Funding is also received from the provision of midwifery services to the community and more broadly, and Working For Families payments," the statement said.

The statement also said those who disagreed with the community were free to leave.

"As with any religious community, those who live at Gloriavale who do not wish to adhere to the core tenets of belief of that community are free to leave," it said.

"Support is given to those who leave. For those that have family members who choose to remain, those family members will continue to be welcomed and supported as valued members of the community.

"The leaders do not believe that adherents to their church are the only form of Christians or that those leaving the community are damned. Nor do they believe that just because a husband or wife leaves the community that their spouse and children should be forced to leave as well.

"The community provides a home for all those who follow their faith. Visits from former members to the community happen regularly if they are welcomed by those who remain and if those who wish to visit are respectful to the community's beliefs."

The case is ongoing in the High Court.

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