Former Anglican bishop gives up priesthood
Sat, 25 Aug 2012 1:28p.m.
The former head of the Anglican Church in Wellington has surrendered his licence as a priest in a move that has shocked church members.
Bishop Tom Brown told Fairfax Media yesterday he voluntarily gave up his right to officiate this month "to be loyal to the church and maintain the church's integrity".
The announcement comes amid speculation surrounding the 69-year-old's split with wife Dwyllis Brown.
Members of the church community are said to be "deeply shocked and feel a bit let down" at Dr Brown's decision, which comes only six months after he retired as Bishop of Wellington, a position he held since he was elected in 1998.
His replacement, Bishop Justin Duckworth, was ordained in June.
Dr Brown said the decision to surrender his licence was not difficult to make.
"I've stepped back from an involvement in the church for personal reasons. I volunteered to give back my licence, it was not taken from me."
He said he had a private life and was trying to deal with the difficulty of separating from his wife.
Mrs Brown said it was up to her husband to reveal why he had stepped away from his role with the church.
"He has been an amazing leader. He has been caring for so many people and been extraordinary in what he has done for the church over all his life."
Retired priest Sir Des Britten said church members were struggling to come to terms with Dr Brown's decision.
"It's deeply shocked a lot of people and we feel a bit let down," Sir Des said.
Anglican Church spokesman Lloyd Ashton said Dr Brown surrendered his licence on August 7. The decision means he cannot function as a priest.
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