Church to stick with controversial billboards

The new vicar of an outspoken Auckland church says controversial billboards will continue with her appointment.

The Reverend Helen Jacobi will be inducted as the new vicar of St Matthew-in-the-City tonight in a service led by the Anglican bishops of Auckland.

St Matthew-in-the-City is perhaps best known for its controversial billboards.

It erected a billboard in support of a bill to legalise same-sex marriages. The billboard, outside the church, showed two model brides kissing atop a wedding cake, with the text: "We don't care who's on top."

Before that it put up a billboard at Christmas depicting Mary with a positive pregnancy test, and in 2009 a billboard before Christmas depicted Mary and Joseph in bed with the text: "Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow."

In April last year the church responded to Hell Pizza's "For a limited time. A bit like Jesus" Easter bun billboard with one saying: "Hell no, we're not giving up pizza for Lent."

Jacobi said the billboards would continue with her appointment.

"What kind of message we have on them we will have to look at. It is such an interesting church."

She was looking forward to the role, but would have to get to know her new parish before deciding on a course of action, she said.

Jacobi was ordained in the Diocese of Wellington in 1991. She was the dean of Waiapu Cathedral, Napier, for nine years until 2013, and before that, vicar of St Luke's in Wadestown, Wellington.

Jacobi has lived in Ottawa, Canada, where she was involved in Christian education and community ministry, and in France.

Jacobi's appointment is historically significant as the first woman to be appointed vicar of the parish.

"It's a parish with a strong tradition of service to the city and speaking out on issues of justice both within the city and nation. I look forward to continuing that prophetic voice."