10 things about Destiny Church you may not know

By Marilynn McLachlan

Bishop Brian Tamaki speaking at a Destiny Church Conference at Rotorua Energy Events Centre. Photo / Tracey Robinson
Bishop Brian Tamaki speaking at a Destiny Church Conference at Rotorua Energy Events Centre. Photo / Tracey Robinson

Destiny Church is set to open its 'City of God' headquarters in Manukau this weekend after many years of planning and fundraising.

X-Factor judge and Australian Idol winner Stan Walker will perform at the free event held on the 3.1ha site. The Destiny Church website has a clock counting down the days, hours and minutes until the event, which runs as part of a three-day conference.

Today we look at 10 things about the church and its leader that you may not know.

1. Brian Tamaki's first child was born out of wedlock

After dropping out of school at the age of 15, Tamaki met Hannah Lee and the pair had their first child, Jasmine, in December 1978. They married two years later.

Tamaki is open about the difficulties he faced during his early years when he dabbled in drugs and alcohol. The Destiny Church is now well-known for its stance on conservative family values.

2. Destiny Church membership rose and then fell

Destiny Church began as a group of 20 people in 1998 from Lake City Church in Rotorua. It quickly grew in popularity and peaked in 2003 when there were over 10,000 supporters - although Tamaki maintains that there were never more than around 5000 members - and 19 churches around the country. In less than a decade, eight churches closed and membership was down to around 3000.

3. Brian Tamaki was ordained as 'bishop' in 2005


Pastor Manuel Renata anoints Brian Tamaki as 'Bishop of the Destiny Church' at the ordination in 2005. Photo / Chris Skelton

It cost $70 to attend the ordination of Brian Tamaki at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in June 2005. The first pentecostal bishop in New Zealand, Tamaki was anointed with oil by Manuel Renata - a kaumatua of his own church.

4. Members sign an oath of loyalty and obedience to Brian Tamaki

The covenant first gained public awareness in 2005 when 700 male members of the church took an oath to abide by it. The Protocols & Requirements Between Spiritual Father & His Spiritual Sons states that proof of their covenant was how they "submit to God's chosen man... Spiritual fathers are extremely rare... For us it is about discerning the special anointing and function God has put on Bishop's life".

5. There is a protocol for interacting with Brian Tamaki


Bishop Brian Tamaki. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

As a part of the protocols and requirements document, there is a section called "Conduct Towards Bishop". It includes details about how to properly interact with Tamaki, such as always being respectful and never being "in his face." Other instructions include stopping talking when Tamaki speaks, never disagreeing with him in front of others and standing when he and his wife enter a room and seating only after they have seated.

6. Brian Tamaki once thought Destiny Church would rule New Zealand

In a 2003 Destiny Church conference, Tamaki prophesied, "in the next five years by the time we hit our tenth anniversary, and I don't say this lightly, but we will be ruling the nation...this will be the first nation historically in the world to be under the governance of God."

Watch: Brian Tamaki's prophesy to rule New Zealand

7. Destiny Church is strongly patriarchal

With a strong focus on the patriarchal status of men, Tamaki links femininity with weakness. Much of the church's work has gone into establishing males as leaders. From their website: "Just because you are born a male doesn't necessarily mean you are a 'man' according to Christ's standard of manhood. I am calling the man out of the male, the 'husband' out of the man and the 'father' out of the husband."

Their women's group, on the other hand, supports charities and raises money for people in need.

In a video on their website, Tamaki states, "There is a kingdom advance that has shifted in its spiritual intensity. What was before that was weak, lame, effeminate, soft, he says has now changed."

Watch: Brian Tamaki's vision

8. Destiny Church has a strong belief in prosperity theology

Advocates of prosperity theology believe that faith, positive speech and donations to churches will increase one's own wealth. This view has encouraged a 10 percent tithing within the church, and the creation of an annual "First Fruits" offering in October to provide Tamaki with members gifting between $350,000 and $500,000.

There has been dissent both within and outside the church about Tamaki's opulent lifestyle and how members of the church have been left struggling financially.

Read Brian Edward's blog post: 'Bishop' Brian Tamaki - Mad, Bad, Neither or Both?

9. Destiny Church has received hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars


The auditorium of the new 'City Of God' Destiny Church. Photo / Chris Gorman

The Church has applied for, and received $860,000 for their youth programmes. The Ministry of Social Development provided the money for four Community Max programmes in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty for 79 youth.

Despite their public stance on homosexuality, women, and money, both Minister for Social Development Paula Bennett and Whanau Ora minister Tariana Turia did not see that there was an issue with funding youth programmes from Destiny.

Tariana commented to the Herald in 2011 - "I would never, ever discriminate against Destiny Church. My firm belief is that they do a really great job. We contracted them for Community Max, they did a great job, they do a great job with families, they run an excellent kura."

10. Destiny Church raises members to be ready for war

The church has repeatedly stated that it wants power since the Enough is Enough march on Parliament in 2004 against civil unions and a DVD claiming the government was "evil" with a "radical homosexual agenda".

Their website says, "It's time for true men of God to take their place as the leaders in our families and our communities."

Their Men's Ministry, Momentum, states it is "a covenant community of Destiny's men committed to Christ and the vision of Destiny Churches."

The last of five of the covenants is: "To raise men, fit for war."

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