Layman's clerical garb upsets church
Invercargill's Anglican Church leaders have told an Iranian man who lives in the city to stop impersonating an ordained minister.
However, Moe Shadmanian, who also calls himself Martin, has denied doing so.
He has been accused of wearing a clerical shirt and collar by members of Invercargill's Anglican Church community.
Reverend Richard Aitken, from the Anglican parish of St John's in Invercargill, said he had seen Mr Shadmanian, who was not an ordained minister, wearing the clerical shirt and collar on numerous occasions. "There is no right to wear the clothing of a minister or act as a minister of the church except by ordination," Mr Aitken said. He believed Mr Shadmanian's appearance could leave his actions open to misinterpretation by the public.An ordained minister's role was one that required the trust of the congregation and the public, and often dealt with issues of a highly confidential nature, Mr Aitken said.
"There are ways and means to serving the church, but when a person goes outside the boundaries, the church needs to step in."
Mr Shadmanian said the situation was one of a cultural misunderstanding.
"What the church believe to be a clerical shirt is actually common cultural dress in Iran," he said.
"I never wanted to impersonate a minister and I think it's a little unfair of someone from the church to say that I am."
Mr Shadmanian initially told The Southland Times he had not worn a white collar but after being told Mr Aitken had seen him wearing a clerical shirt and collar on two or three occasions, Mr Shadmanian admitted that he had.
"I may have worn a dark shirt and a white collar a couple of times but I stopped when I was told not to by the church and during a personal visit from Bishop Kelvin Wright from Dunedin."
Mr Shadmanian's run-in with the Anglican Church began soon after he joined the congregation at St John's parish.
He decided he wanted to start his own ministry working with the youth of Invercargill, he said.
Invercargill All Saints Anglican vicar Richard Johnson said Mr Shadmanian stated his intention to start a ministry in the public library, outside the courts and in schools.
There was no problem with having a ministry but it meant being an ordained minister, Mr Johnson said. It took many years and required a lot of time in a local church before being accepted by the bishop and moving on to formal theological studies, he said.
"Unfortunately, Martin is not interested in this and has taken to wearing a clerical shirt and collar and when challenged, claims it is the national costume of Iran."
A spokesman from the Iranian embassy in Wellington said the clerical-like shirt was not traditional Iranian dress but could be a shirt of eastern Asian influence worn by some people in Iran.
Impersonating a minister, as with any other recognised office, could be an offence, he said.
Acting Senior Sergeant Wing-Wah Ng, of Invercargill, said if a person misrepresented who they were for their own advantage they could face criminal charges.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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