Destiny Church passes around the collection baskets as it opens multi-purpose headquarters in Manukau.
Singing star Stan Walker weighed into a revved-up blessing of the Destiny Church's new headquarters in Auckland yesterday, blending showbiz with religion.
"It's so good to be here this morning in the house of God," the former Australian Idol winner - who became a committed Christian after a troubled upbringing - told about 850 worshippers on a stage set against a giant LED screen with enough firepower to rival a Pink Floyd light-show.
"It's encouraging for me because when I'm on the road I don't get to church on a Sunday much," said Walker, who is a family friend of Destiny co-founder Bishop Brian Tamaki, but not a member of the organisation.
"And it's cool that we are all in the same mindset - we are all here to be in the presence of God to be moulded and shaped and healed. Everyone in this building has got your back."
• 10 things about Destiny Church you may not know
It was a reprise performance for Walker and his aunt Ria Hall on harmony vocals, after a concert during an open day on Saturday, when the church says it handed out 18,000 plates of free food.
That followed an official opening of Destiny's new "City of God" on Friday night attended by six or seven MPs including Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira.
But church spokeswoman Anne Williamson assured the Herald that Destiny had no intention of inserting itself into this year's election contest, despite its "Enough is Enough" march on Parliament in 2004 in protest against civil unions.
The auditorium of the new 'City Of God' Destiny Church. Photo / Chris Gorman
The new headquarters has been developed on a 3.1ha site of an old pillow factory in Druces Rd, Wiri, valued for rating purposes in 2011 for $7.65 million. Destiny is not disclosing how much it cost to deck out facilities such as a school, early childhood centre, gym, recording studio and function rooms as well as an 864-seat auditorium called The Sanctuary, for which it asked each church family to donate $1000 to supplement the sale of its previous base in Mt Wellington, valued at $4.9 million.
Bishop Tamaki yesterday acknowledged speculation that the 24m LED screen alone may have cost up to $150,000, but was derisive about any who might quibble at such spending.
Earlier, as church members carried several baskets aloft with the offerings of church members, he prayed that God should return their generosity by looking after them in sickness and giving their children and grandchildren "wealth beyond belief".
In his main sermon, he warned his congregation to watch out for false prophets and to maintain regular church attendance so Destiny elders could help them to detect wolves in their midst in sheep's clothing.
They needed to stay together, and not make rash decisions to leave the church or withdraw their children from its school, to stop the wolves undermining parental authority and "savaging our younger generation".
His advice follows reports of falling church membership to around 3000 worshippers, from at least 5000 a decade ago and possibly 10,000.