Gloriavale founder Hopeful Christian dies

Gloriavale founder Hopeful Christian. Photo: NZ Herald
Gloriavale founder Hopeful Christian. Photo: NZ Herald
Gloriavale founder Hopeful Christian has died at the secluded religious community after a battle with cancer.

Christian, who was formerly known as Neville Cooper, died this afternoon. He was in his 90s.

It is understood Christian had been suffering from prostate cancer and that he nearly died in February after being admitted to Grey Base Hospital following a heart attack.

A source told the New Zealand Herald Christian surprised people by hanging on for several months.

A family member, who is estranged from Gloriavale and has not had contact with the community for over 20 years, said he had heard about the death but was yet to process how he felt about it.

The Herald contacted Gloriavale Christian Community but they refused to comment.

Christian, who founded the isolated community in 1969, was its leader for more than 40 years.

He served 11 months in prison in 1995 on sexual abuse charges.

Christian retired from the board of trustees in 2010 but was still the "overseeing shepherd". This gave him the power to appoint himself back onto the board and to appoint new members.

The head of the Gloriavale trust is currently Fervent Stedfast.

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