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Free To Be Church is a nationwide effort by a group of New Zealand pastors, church leaders, and Christians to secure and protect the lawful, God-given freedoms to practice our faith in accordance with God’s Word, and as recognised within both the New Zealand Bill of Rights, and the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi.


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What We Are Doing

Above all, it is our desire to bring the love, justice, truth, freedom and hope of Jesus Christ to the heart of society through both the proclamation of the gospel, and the witness of the local church (Matt 28:18-20, Rom 1:16). However, with the recent introduction of laws that encroach on our religious freedoms (Conversion Therapy Bill, Hate Speech Bill, Covid-19 Public Health Response Act etc.) it is getting a lot harder to be a Christian in New Zealand.

Whilst we accept that Christianity will always attract opposition and conflict (1 Jn 3:13), we also want to do all we can to flourish as the body of Christ. Therefore, Free To Be Church desires to be a voice and resource for all believers across New Zealand by seeking to preserve the freedoms of the church (1 Tim 2:1-2), helping believers to think through the issues biblically (2 Tim 3:16-17), and taking peaceful, legal action when appropriate (Acts 25:10-12).

Our Current Focus:
Protecting the Church’s Right of Self-Governance


Our current focus involves using all legal means available to us to both defend our right to religious freedom, and urge the government to act consistently with existing constitutional documents as it specifically pertains to churches operating during lockdowns.

We have been greatly inspired and encouraged by the work of Christian Concern in the UK, who have recently challenged the government on forbidding worship activity through lockdowns. Their efforts have paid off, and even when a case went to court they won this for the church.


The Church has the right of self-governance. The government mandates regulating the ability of the Church to gather have breached this right. Therefore, we believe the government must cease to give mandates to the Church but instead provide information and recommendations so that the Church can rightly make decisions for the Church.

This initially took the form of a letter petitioning the government, which was then followed legal action in the form of a judicial review. 

Following the court case, the Court ruled that “the Order [against the Church] was not an unjustifiable limitation on the applicant’s rights [to worship God as an assembly].

In light of this ruling, following advice from a QC, we have decided to appeal this decision. This is a process that may take up to 9-10 months (see progress update below), but we feel this is a good step to take as similar cases have been won at the appeal stage.

Our lawyers who we are putting together the case for us are Lucila van Dam and Alex Summerlee from Parry Field Lawyers, along with Paul Risworth, QC 

Click this link to read the full 74-page ruling – Free To Be Church v Minister for COVID-19 Response [2022] NZHC 2026


Free To Be Church have written a new open letter to our government, and have also compiled an expert witness statement, detailing the biblical case for the church’s right to be self-governing.

We believe that it is important to articulate the clear biblical basis which drives our actions, rather than taking a pragmatically-driven approach. 


If you are a Christian living in New Zealand this is a cause that benefits you, your family, and future generations.

Our window of opportunity is running out, so now is the time to make a stand to ensure our Christian liberties can continue.

We welcome your support and prayers as we seek together to be Christ’s church under Christ’s authority in this world.

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Matthew Johnston – Pastor, Riverbend Bible Church, Hastings

Kris Baines – Pastor/Elder, Community Bible Church, Wellsford

Andre Bay – Pastor, Shore Baptist Church, Northshore

Logan Hagoort – Minister, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Auckland



Press Releases

Our Progress
So Far…


A date has been set for our appeal – it will be held on 3 August 2023.

The Court has also allocated us 3 Appeal Judges (as opposed to a Divisional Court which has 1 Appeal Judge and Two High Court Judges).

13 September 2022

An appeal has been filed with the Court of Appeal.

Following advice from both our lawyers, and a QC, we have decided to appeal our case. 

16 AUGUST 2022

The Court announced their verdict on our case.

Sadly, the Court ruled in our case that the right to worship was justifiably denied by our Government.

16 & 17 JUNE 2022

Our Court Case (Judicial Review) took place at the High Court in Wellington, New Zealand

The Judicial Review was completed in 2 days, and we now await a verdict.

1 APRIL 2022

Dates set for our court case

10 March 2022

Statement of Claim officially filed with High Court of New Zealand

In light of multiple judicial reviews being filed against the government, our lawyers felt it prudent to continue with a judicial review after all, in the hope that the government would respond to mounting pressure to end the mandates.

23 DECEMBER 2021

Legal Action Moves From Judicial Review to High Court Proceeding

Following consultation from our lawyers based on their research, we have decided a High Court Proceeding is the best approach for our cause.
[see update video here]

22 October 2021

Official Website Launched

Free To Be Church website is launched along with press release and social media promotion.

13 October 2021

Legal Research Commenced

NZ lawyers appointed to begin research to form an official legal opinion.

11 October 2021

Theological Statement

NZ pastors and theologians compile the theological case for the church’s authority for self-governance.

20 September 2021

Free To Be Church Established

A group of NZ pastors and church leaders decide to establish Free To Be Church, to defend religious freedoms.

06 September 2021

Legal Advice from Christian Concern

UK lawyers from Christian Concern explain to NZ pastors how lockdown laws for churches were overturned in Scotland and the UK.

Our Statement of Faith

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,

the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,

God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,

begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy universal and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.

The Creed of Chalcedon

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.