Same-sex marriage in England and Wales was legalized by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in July 2013 and took effect on 13 March 2014; with the first same-sex marriages taking place on 29 March 2014. However same sex marriages are not permitted in many churches across the UK and the rest of the world.
The Church of England does not carry out same-sex marriages, despite many petitions for the rule to be changed. However, many Methodist churches across the UK follow different rules.
The Methodist Church is Britain’s fourth largest Christian denomination with about 164,000 members across more than 4,000 churches. And, in 2021 a vote to change the definition of marriage at the Methodist Conference overwhelmingly passed by 254 in favour with 46 against.
The changes mean the Methodist Church now holds two parallel definitions of marriage – one position says “marriage can only be between a man and a woman” and the other that “marriage can be between any two people”. And a well known Bristol Church, has announced that it will be making a change to its rules.
Marking the last day of Pride Month, John Wesley’s New Room in Broadmead has announced that it is now able to welcome same-sex couples to arrange their marriage ceremonies in its historic chapel. John Wesley’s New Room becomes the oldest Methodist site both in the UK and the rest of the world to be available to conduct same-sex weddings.
It is also one of the only few religious places in central Bristol available to officiate same-sex marriages. The church’s vote happened following the decision by the Methodist Conference last year to give local churches the option to conduct same sex marriage ceremonies in Methodist buildings.
The Trustees from John Wesley’s New Room said that they ‘unanimously voted in favour of taking this step, showing their commitment to marriage equality and support of the LGBTQIA+ community.’ Rev. Mandy Briggs, John Wesley’s New Room’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 ally ship 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.”
John Wesley’s New Room’s application to the General Register Office for permission to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies has now been approved and it would like to encourage prospective couples to get in touch. It is also available for services of blessing for same-sex couples who are already married to take place in the church.
John Wesley’s New Room will be celebrating this decision as part of the Christians at Bristol Pride Service that will take place in the chapel on Saturday, July 9.