Dozens of members walked out in support of Pastor Andrew Stock, who resigned from Destiny over a recently introduced covenant that clashed with his beliefs.
In a statement released today, church spokesman Richard Lewis said the movement was committed to the ongoing success of the Brisbane church which had been reflected in the swift change of leadership there.
Former churchgoers contacted the Herald with new revelations of the inner workings of the church after news of the walk-out was published.
But Bishop Brian Tamaki last night struck back in a fiery sermon at his Mt Wellington church.
He dismissed reports of a split within Destiny as “grossly exaggerated” and accused the media of being “funny and weird”.
Followers were told to ignore people who told them they were too poor to give money to the church.
Bishop Tamaki said he would happily speak to the media about church troubles “if they would just print what I said, and the facts, but they don’t”.
The media were banned from last night’s service, and earlier attempts to speak with the bishop were not successful. The service was streamed live on the internet.
Destiny Church last night said Bishop Tamaki would have a weekly half-hour programme on TV3 at 6am on Wednesdays.
Destiny Television programme manager Janine Cardno said securing more mainstream television time was a goal for 2010, and would complement live internet streaming of church services.
The programme would be produced and paid for by the Destiny Church.
Editorial: A predator church not acceptable
OPINION: Yesterday the Destiny Church website was headed with the slogan “a carnal church cannot give birth to spiritual things.”
It’s a quote from Bishop Brian Tamaki. A viewer can also download messages and have them delivered via i-tunes.
This is indeed a church for our times.
But Bishop Tamaki has come unstuck. Many of his congregation in the outpost of Brisbane have found his methods pernicious, particularly the amount of money people are expected to give to the church. While Bishop Tamaki may find a carnal church not conducive to faith, others find greed doesn’t cut it either.
The minister has established a serious church in New Zealand. Destiny has been at the forefront of popular movements, especially those who want more conservative social mores.
It is a church that has attracted many urban Maori as well as conservative churchgoers from all sectors of society.
It is a church that expects a lot from members, and tithing has made considerable money for Destiny. The money has been used to fund a lavish lifestyle for the church leaders, not uncommon among religious leaders around the world.
But it seems they have been pushing it in Brisbane, where much of the congregation is ex-pats. Most people who leave New Zealand for Australia do well. They are both removed physically from the influence of the church hierarchy in New Zealand and better equipped to question the demands of Destiny.
Churches throughout history have tithed. Some have robbed their parishioners blind, while filling church coffers. A wealthy church in the past has been expected.
But this is now, and the immense affluence of Destiny Church’s leaders — or appearance of wealth — has struck a raw nerve.