The Anglican Church is facing a landmark case from a parishioner arguing it should be responsible for abusive priests - one of whom allegedly harassed her in counselling sessions after her baby's death.

It will be the first time a New Zealand church has been tested as an employer under human rights law, and if successful could prompt wholesale changes in the hiring and training of ministers.

Until now churches accused of abuse have argued clergy are not employees providing a service, but agents of God responding to a "calling", and therefore church hierarchy cannot be held accountable.

However, in