1 Feb 2011

Church apologises over unlawful wedding

10:27 pm on 1 February 2011

The Anglican Church is apologising to the victims of an undertaker and a minister convicted of illegally marrying a couple.

Funeral director Geoffrey Hall has been ordered to pay $7750 in reparation, almost half of which is an emotional harm payment.

Maurice Gray, a former minister at St Stephens Anglican Church in Christchurch, has been discharged without conviction and ordered to pay $4250 in reparation and costs.

In 2006, Gray was supposed to be overseeing the wedding of Phillip Ellis and Jeanette Hardey, that Hall, who was not a registered marriage celebrant, was conducting at Kaiapoi.

However, Gray was not present during the ceremony. He has since resigned as a minister.

The Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, the Right Reverend Victoria Matthews, has apologised to the victims and invited those concerned about their marriage celebrant to call her office directly.

The Deputy Registrar General of births, deaths and marriages, Ross McPherson, says he is aware of similar cases in the past, but they are uncommon.