Richard Lewis yesterday thanked his new congregation and family before delivering his first sermon since splitting from the controversial Destiny Church, where he spent 13 years as Bishop Brian Tamaki's right-hand man.

Mr Lewis addressed around 80 people at the Dream Centre in Manukau.

He told them he was there because he was "compelled to be here" and to spread the word of God.

His Grace Global Church will operate from the centre until the end of next year - less than 2km from the Destiny Church, school and gym that Mr Lewis helped to build.


Dressed in a casual checked shirt and jeans, the former police detective and political candidate thanked the people in attendance and his wife, Mandy, before beginning his hour-long sermon.

His preaching, about the power of belief, was punctuated with whoops and cheers from the crowd.

Some of the congregation were reduced to tears throughout.

He told the audience how God would forgive their sins if they believed in Him, and relieve their stress by helping them "fight their battles".

"And I have fought a lot of battles in the last 12 years," he said.

The appearance was his first since he left Destiny Church in September, the latest in a string of senior church members to depart.

Long-serving media spokeswoman Janine Cardno and Paul and Michelle Hubble, who had been with Bishop Tamaki since 1990, left the church last year.

When approached by the Herald Mr Lewis declined to comment.

On his website, Mr Lewis wrote about his move: "It is a response to a heartfelt call and burden, very recently revealed, yet clearly fashioned through time and seasons towards this juncture. The opportunity to be counted amongst the church of our nation ... is a massive privilege."

Destiny departures
Long-time Tamaki supporters Michelle and Paul Hubble and media spokeswoman Janine Cardno leave the church. It is understood the Hubbles were disillusioned with Bishop Brian Tamaki's vision for his City of God in which Destiny followers were asked to contribute $1000.

Richard Lewis, Bishop Tamaki's right-hand man for several years, leaves the church. He has his own ministry at the Dream Centre in Manukau.