The life and death of Gloriavale’s Hopeful Christian

hopeful christian

Gloriavale founder, Neville Cooper, know as Hopeful Christian, died on Tuesday at his community on the South Island’s West Coast.

He had been suffering from cancer.

Cooper’s funeral took place on Wednesday, but outsiders were not allowed to attend.

They were able to email condolence messages to the community.

Two cars blocked the entrance to the community on Wednesday morning.

It is understood community members wanted to keep the funeral an internal affair.

According to the 2015 TVNZ documentary “Gloriavale: Life and Death,” when someone dies at Gloriavale no one calls a funeral director.

“They can handle everything themselves. Noah Hopeful gets cracking on the coffin,” the narrator said.

Bodies are washed and dressed by family members and placed in a spare chiller. There is no embalming and the coffins are simple and made of MDF.

They are spray-painted white, with some poetry on top.

Hopeful Christian…born Neville Cooper, was the sect’s leader for more than 40 years before retiring in 2010.

He remained an influential figure, holding the position of “Overseeing Shepherd.”

Cooper came to New Zealand from Australia in 1967.

He set himself up as a Christian preacher and spoke around the country, but he quickly fell out of favour with mainstream religious groups because of his fundamentalist preachings.

He changed his name to Hopeful Christian sometime after setting up Gloriavale Christian Community – named after his first wife Gloria – in 1969 in North Canterbury.

The community, which has about 600 members, moved to the West Coast in the early 1990s. It now sits on the shores of Lake Haupiri, a remote part of the West Coast.

Christian was thought to have at least 19 children with three different wives.

The trust owns land worth about $10 million along with buildings, vehicles and equipment worth about $20 million.


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News category: New Zealand.

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