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John Wesley's original chapel hosts service celebrating Gay Pride

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A witness from Pastor Dia Moodley of Spirit of Life Church, Bristol, and a rally for truth will be held at 9.30am tomorrow, Sat 14th July, outside John Wesley's chapel at The New Room, 36 The Horsefair, Bristol, BS1 3JE.

A group calling itself ‘Christians at Bristol Pride’ has secured the use of The New Room in John Wesley’s original chapel, the oldest Methodist building in the world, for their Service of Celebration, despite Wesley’s own views and the stated position of the Methodist Church.

The Service of Celebration, which takes place on Saturday 14th July at 10am inside The New Room, invites people to join for “an affirming service with songs, prayers and symbolic actions”, while calling on people to join the Bristol Pride march after the service. The precise nature of the ‘symbolic actions’ remains a mystery.

The decision to allow the chapel to be used for an event affirming Pride has dismayed many Methodists who have expressed their opposition to their most famous of buildings being used to celebrate lifestyles that are not supported by their church.

John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, said that when reading scripture, it was necessary “to give the direct, literal meaning” to the words. Explaining the teaching of Romans 1, Wesley described homosexuality as an “idolatry being punished with that unnatural lust, which was as horrible a dishonour to the body, as their idolatry was to God”. No doubt Wesley’s view informed the Methodist Church’s position on human sexuality when at their annual conference in 1993 they passed their ‘Six Resolutions’ on the subject.

Resolution 3 quite rightly recognised that “A person shall not be debarred from the church on grounds of sexual orientation in itself”. Resolution 4, however, clearly framed how that resolution was to be interpreted, saying “The Conference reaffirms the traditional teaching of the Church on human sexuality; namely chastity for all outside marriage and fidelity within it”.

Whatever the proposed symbolic actions are, they can only serve to move the church still further from its Wesleyan roots. It is worth remembering that when these resolutions were passed, same-sex marriage had not been legalised. Nevertheless, later working groups, set up to revise the resolutions, returned unanimous recommendations that they should remain unaltered.

Christian Concern chief executive Andrea Williams commented:

"The heritage of sound biblical teaching on human sexuality that was faithfully proclaimed by Christian men like John Wesley should be upheld by the church, not torn down. Methodism is dear to my heart, and I find it very sad to see buildings intended for the proclamation of the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ being used to celebrate a sexual lifestyle that He condemned."

A witness from Pastor Dia Moodley of Spirit of Life Church, Bristol, and a rally for truth will be held at 9.30am tomorrow, Sat 14th July, outside John Wesley's chapel at The New Room, 36 The Horsefair, Bristol, BS1 3JE.

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