The leader of the church at the centre of the Andrew Thorburn saga has insisted that Christian views are not homophobic or hateful.
Pastor Guy Mason said that while City on a Hill church believed homosexual sex was a sin, they loved and welcomed everyone regardless of their sexual orientation.
“We stand against homophobia,” he said. “We stand against hate in any and all forms. Like Jesus, we welcome you whatever your sexuality, politics, culture, religious beliefs … or even football club.”
The church’s defence of the Christian faith comes in the wake of its chairman Andrew Thorburn resigning from his role as CEO of the Essendon Football Club amid criticism of what critics described as extreme religious views.
But Pastor Mason said there was nothing extreme about the church’s views on sexuality or abortion.
“We seek to live out Jesus’ teaching on love and life in our own lives,” he said. “Listen in on our recent sermons on current issues and you’ll find very common Christian perspectives on marriage and pro-life issues.”
On abortion he said: “Nobody should feel pressured into having an abortion. Our calling is to support a choice for life whenever possible, not to judge. We support, love and welcome all women, no matter what choices they make.”
On homosexuality he said: “To mistreat or demean anyone based on their sexuality is wrong”.
City on a Hill was founded in 2007 and grew from a small Bible study group in a Melbourne apartment.
The Anglican church launched their first public service in a Docklands pub and now have eight sites in five cities across Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
In a statement published on the church’s website, Mr Mason said it had been a “difficult couple of days”.
“Despite media grabs and comments from our Premier, City on a Hill has always been about Jesus,” he said. “He invites all people to experience his love and walk in his life.”
Mr Mason said the church was diverse and inclusive.
“Our community is made up of all kinds of people, of different nationalities, of different backgrounds and different sexual orientations.”