Damien Goodsir, the evangelical pastor who proudly stated in a sermon that he had “infiltrated” Fenwick school, has been voted off the school’s Board of Trustees. In addition, he stated that a member of his congregation was also elected to the Board and was also “shining her light”.
After years of complaints from parents about Christian religious instruction and evangelism in the school, the pressure finally came to a head in December 2016, when local facebook page Oamaru Today, brought the issue to the attention of the national media.
Damien Goodsir had been elected as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and was also acting as the school Chaplain. It seems only common sense that there was a significant conflict of interest given his position as Pastor of an evangelical church and declared mission to bring his faith into the secular state school he was supposed to be representing.
Despite attempts by supporters of Mr Goodsir to shut down criticism and debate on the issue, the school decided to bring in a professional education consultant to provide an independent report on the matter. Unfortunately, the report was very weak in its criticism and even recommended the school consult with the NZSTA, which has avoided any criticism of religious instruction and gone as far as recommending it be reinforced in legislation. The conflict of interest wasn’t fully addressed. Damien Goodsir agreed to step down as school Chaplain. It was only due to further complaints that he resigned his position as Chairman but retained his position on the BOT.
Apparently able to ignore all the hostility and criticism of religious interference of the past year, Damien Goodsir stood for re-election. Fellow core church member Catherine Davison also stood for election. As you can see from the votes, neither Damien nor Catherine were elected to Fenwick School’s Board of Trustees.
The school now has a new Principal and parents are hopeful that the education of their children is at the forefront of everyone’s efforts and that they can be free of religious pressure within their school.