May 14, 2014
The church known for its colourful billboards now has a woman at its helm.
Rev Dr Helen Jacobi was inducted as the Vicar of St Matthew-in-the-City on May 1. Before moving to Auckland last year she was also the first female dean of a cathedral.
Her appointment at Napier Cathedral in 2004 saw her receive a lot of publicity and she still gets a reaction from female worshippers.
Last year she spent several months as the reverend at St Philip's Anglican Church in St Heliers.
There she led a combined service with the Roman Catholic Church for Ash Wednesday and afterwards several women came up to her in tears.
"I'd forgotten the impact you have on Catholic women just by being there in your robes dressed like a priest."
Moving to St Matthews-in-the-City appealed because of its great location, the 51-year-old says.
"Being in the heart of the city really attracted me. You have the whole spectrum of life here. It's very much working with everyone from homeless people to business people.
"It also has a great reputation as a parish with a strong voice in the city as well as having fine music and services."
St Matthew's has always been at the forefront of the gay marriage debate and the Auckland Community Rainbow Church has held services at the church for the past 40 years, she says.
While the Anglican Church does not yet allow gay marriage, Jacobi is hoping that will change soon. She is also keen to continue the use of billboards to challenge ideas relating to Christianity.
"I think they're a great tool for getting people to debate things such as the real meaning of Christmas and what we think about some of the biblical stories."
St Matthew's has never shied away from getting involved in political issues either and Jacobi intends for it to stay that way.
"A changing society and making it a better place is what God's all about.
"You do that by helping the person who walks through the door but you also need to be part of changing the issues affecting them."
Anyone is welcome to attend the 10am Sunday service or visit the reverend during the week at St Matthew's on the corner of Wellesley and Hobson streets.
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