BISHOP Paul Verryn's application to the Johannesburg high court for the appointment of a curator at the Central Methodist Church is invalid.
This was said by the presiding bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa Ivan Abrahams yesterday.
Abrahams said Verryn had "no mandate to represent the church" in making the application.
"I'm deeply distressed that the bishop could have brought the application in the name of the church," Abrahams said.
He said as the presiding bishop he was the only one entitled to make such an application.
The high court ruled last Tuesday that children living at the church would spend their Christmas there, after the Legal Resources Centre, representing Bishop Paul Verryn, agreed with the government not to move the children.
Verryn brought an urgent application to the court to appoint a curator who will decide whether or not the children should be moved.
The proposed curator, Dr Ann Skelton, is a director at the Centre for Child Law and an advocate at the Johannesburg high court.
An affidavit in court shows that more than 50 children live at the centre and that most of them are boys.
Advocate Steven Budlender said: "Both parties have agreed that there be no attempt to move the minor children from the Methodist Church pending the outcome of the application."
The respondents were the minister of Social Development, Gauteng's MEC for health and social development and the City of Johannesburg.
This follows a tug-of-war between social development officials and the bishop regarding the wellbeing of the children.
Department of health and social development spokesperson Simon Zwane said the department did not know why they were respondents in the matter.
"I think you should ask Paul Verryn that. We were called and we went to court," he said.
In reply Verryn said he had been advised to list the departments as respondents in the matter.
Previous attempts by the government to move the children backfired after the children refused to leave the shelter.
The children said the social workers were rude and threatened to remove them by force if they refused. They said they had also heard that staff at the shelters were xenophobic.