Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Criminal past an asset, says new Dean

Lloyd Wilkinson did not think he had a shot at the role.
Lloyd Wilkinson did not think he had a shot at the role.

Wellington's new Anglican Dean was surprised the church would want to hire him, as he was a "dodgy Baptist" pastor with criminal convictions.

But Sunday's announcement of Lloyd (Digby) Wilkinson as the church's new dean has been widely welcomed by the parish. He will take up the position next January.

Rev Wilkinson, who is now a senior pastor at Palmerston North's Central Baptist Church, has a chequered past with convictions including for fraud and burglary of a parishioner's house - all while he was a pastor in Bay of Plenty.

Wilkinson did not think he had a shot at the role when he put forward his CV, but he hoped there might have been another role that was appropriate.

"After all why would you appoint a dodgy Baptist to the role in the Cathedral?"

The interviewing process had centred mainly on his previous convictions, so Wilkinson said he was "blindsided" when he heard the nomination board had unanimously decided to take him on for the role.

Ten years ago Wilkinson was sentenced to 175 hours of community service following guilty pleas to a charge of theft, two of fraud and one of burglary.

The offences occurred when Wilkinson was a pastor at Tauranga's Otumoetai Baptist Church.

Two involved false insurance claims on personal property, one the theft of an office laptop computer - which he later sold back to the church for $3456 less than the insurance company had paid out - and the fourth charge concerned a break-in at a parishioner's home.

Wilkinson said while he would never want to repeat his history, it still offered him "something that I wouldn't have now if I hadn't been through it".

"It offers a strange gift if it's handled well and I suppose that's the redemptive side of the story really."

Wellington parishes were positive about Wilkinson's appointment.

Reverend David Newton from St Michael's and All Angels church said Wilkinson would bring a "breath of fresh air" to the diocese.


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