Andrew Thorburn during his brief tenure as Essendon CEO. Picture: Twitter / @essendonfc

NEW ESSENDON chief executive Andrew Thorburn has promised to lead an "inclusive" club despite his involvement in a church with divisive views on abortion and homosexuality.

The former NAB boss, who resigned from that job in 2019 after receiving direct criticism during the banking royal commission, was on Monday announced as the Bombers' successor to Xavier Campbell.

But within hours of his appointment, Thorburn's links to a controversial church organisation were thrust into the spotlight.

Thorburn is chairman of City on a Hill, a church that condemns homosexuality and is staunchly anti-abortion.

In his first interview after being appointed to lead Essendon, Thorburn said he understood some of the church's views "are offensive and upset people".

"My faith is a very personal thing, and my faith has helped me become a better leader," the 57-year-old told SEN on Tuesday.

"At the centre of my faith is the belief that you should create community, care for people, help people's faith and respect them as humans."

NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn addresses the crowd during the 2017 NAB AFL Rising Star awards on September 1, 2017. Picture: AFL Photos

Before leading NAB between 2014 and 2019, Thorburn was in charge of Bank of NZ for six years.

He pointed to those jobs where he led thousands of "diverse" people as evidence he was the right person to take Essendon forward.

"My role as a CEO is to ensure the organisations I lead, which I think my record stands for this, are inclusive, and welcoming, and caring," Thorburn said.

"That makes us a more human organisation and makes us a higher-performing organisation.

"I haven't been a perfect CEO, but my respect for people, my care, my love, my welcoming style – I welcome all those people.

"Look at my actions, and look at my words as a leader and the organisations I've created to enable safe, diverse workplaces."

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Thorburn joined City on a Hill in 2014, and he says some of the articles and readings on the church's website pre-date his involvement.

"I've never heard these things expressed in my time, I've been on the board two years," he said.

"I'm not a pastor, my job in a governance role is to make sure it's run well, I don't always agree with what's said.

"If we want a diverse society, it also means there's going to be people with different views."

Thorburn said the church does some "great things" for disadvantaged people and plays an important role in Australian society.