Jul 042022
Entrance foyer with glazed timber doors each side of a bronze statue of Charles Wesley

Photo: Betty Woolerton

Bristol church The New Room, the world’s oldest Methodist building, has voted unanimously to permit same-sex marriage ceremonies.

The New Room was founded in 1739 as a space for Methodists to meet by evangelist and founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley. For nearly 300 years, John Wesley’s New Room has served as a multi-purpose building for the local community – including housing a museum.

Now, the chapel in Broadmead has announced it will begin officiating same-sex weddings to coincide with the 2022 Bristol Pride.

In 2021, the Methodist church became the second largest religious denomination in the UK to allow same-sex marriages after voting in its favour. The motion required a change to the definition of marriage to be “a lifelong union in body, mind and spirit of two people who freely enter it”. Now ministers will be able to conduct weddings for LGBTQ+ couples living in Bristol in the New Room’s buildings. The move was voted for unanimously.

Same-sex marriages are not currently allowed by the Church of England.

Two smiling women outside the New Room

Rev. Mandy Briggs (left) and Rev. Josette Crane (right) with the application to the General Register Office (Image: John Wesley’s New Room)

Reverend Mandy Briggs, the chapel’s education officer and responsible authorised person said:

“This decision to register John Wesley’s New Room as a venue for same-sex marriages is the latest step in our journey of allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community.”

“The chapel has been a venue for services organised by Christians at Bristol Pride since 2018 and so this registration feels like the natural next step.”

Marking 2022’s celebrations, the church is also holding a rainbow service for LGBTQ+ Christians to allow them to “celebrate Pride through their faith”. Following the service on July 9, attendees are invited to wear purple, bring placards and join the Pride march from Castle Park.

This article was written by Betty Woolerton and first published by Bristol 24/7, 30 June 2022.