QUESTION OF STATUS
Exemption from Territorial training on the ground that he was a minister of the Gospel was claimed before the Wellington Manpower Committee today by a member of the Christian Assemblies of Australia and New Zealand, who described himself in his application as an evangelist. Decision was reserved.
A letter signed by Mr. W. McClung,. overseer of the organisation, and certifying that the appellant was an ordained minister of the Gospel "labouring in fellowship with the body of Christians assuming this name only," was produced in evidence.
The depty-chairman (Mr. E. P. Hay) said that if the appellant were a clergyman in some recognised religious organisation, he would automatically be entitled to an adjournment sine die, but the committee had no knowledge of the Christian Assemblies of Australia and New Zealand and would like to know exactly what the standing of the organisation was. One of the tests the committee applied to determine whether a particular appellant was a clergyman or not was whether he was an officiating minister under the Marriage Act. "You don't appear to be one," said Mr. Hay to the appellant "Have you applied for that?" The appellant said that he had not made such application. Mr. Hay: Does not your denomination aim at solemnising marriages? "It is purely a civil matter, I believe, and is performed by the civil authorities," replied the appellant. He said he understood that Christian ministers did not perform marriages until the sixteenth century. FULL-TIME WORK. In reply to further questions, the appellant said that he devoted the whole of his time to the activities of the organisation. He had been a preacher for two years. The organisation had no buildings of its own. No salaries, were paid and the workers relied on donations from people who were interested in what they preached. Halls were engaged for Gospel meetings. Asked where Mr. McClung derived his authority, the appellant said: "The only authority I can say is that he is one of the oldest members and one of the most capable in the country." There were about 40 preachers in the organisation in New Zealand, said the appellant. Mr. Hay: Who appointed you to this office? . The appellant: I wanted to go preaching; and I asked Mr. McClung, and ac appointed me. . . You have no organised body of people at all?. Have you any roll of members, or anything of that sort?— No, . In reply to: Mr. E. E. Canham, a member of the committee, the appellant said that anyone could preach the Gospel. Mr. Ganham: In other words, any one of the appellants before this committee could go to Mr: McClung and ask to be appointed a preacher. You can see what that would do. They could all claim to be ministers of religion. It would be like a Portuguese army—all generals and no privates. The appellant said that the organisation had been in existence as long as he could remember. It had missionaries in other countries who were supported in the same way as the preachers he had mentioned. Mr. Hay: Strictly speaking, there is no real organisation. Would you put yourself forward in the ordinary way as a minister of religion?. The appellant: Yes. My full time is devoted to it. NO LITERATURE. Have you a statement of creed drawn up and published?—We publish no literature at all. There are no tenets laid down for the organisation?— The Bible is our only creed and Christ is our only foundation. Mr. Hay said the committee's difficulty was that it had a general direction from the authorities that a minis- 1 ter of religion, in the usual sense of the term, was entitled to exemption from military service. From what the appellant had said it must be apparent that the committee could not at present be satisfied that he was a minister of religion. "It is not for us to define what a minister is, except to be guided by what is generally accepted as the meaning of the term," Mr. Hay added. The appellant: But is a minister not a minister unless he performs the marriage ceremony? Mr. Hay: I would not say that, but are you in a different position from any individual who, because of his beliefs, likes to give up his ordinary calling and go around preaching the Gospel? The appellant: I take it that I am a minister in the ordinary way preaching the Gospel. We are recognised as ministers of the Gospel in England and are exempt from military service. We also have exemption as ministers of the Gospel from paying the levy here. A copy of a letter advising of the exemption given in England was in the possession of a brother worker in Masterton, the appellant added. Decision was reserved and the appellant was asked to send a copy of the letter to the secretary of the committee. ____—»■-————-
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