World’s oldest Methodist church to finally allow same-sex marriage: ‘It’s the natural next step’

A Pride flag inside John Wesley's New Room

The world’s oldest Methodist buidling is now offering to officiate same-sex marriages after a unanimous vote.

The New Room chapel in Broadmead, Bristol, is able to accept wedding requests from LGBTQ+ couples as of Thursday (30 June) with reverend Mandy Briggs applauding the move as a “natural next step”.

Being the oldest remaining Methodist building in the world, New Room has a staunch history behind it. The church was initially built in 1739 by evangelist and founder of the Methodist movement John Wesley.

In a statement, Church reverend Briggs said: “The 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 next natural step.”

Rev. Mandy Briggs (left) and Rev. Josette Crane (right) with our application to the General Register Office

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

The Methodist movement allowed churches the option to accept same-sex marriages last year. It came after a motion at the United Methodist General Conference to celebrate LGBTQ+ couples, in 2019, was rejected by a vote of 438 to 384.

The same vote in 2021 eventually changed the definition of marriage for Methodist churches successfully after an overwhelming vote of 254 to 46 deemed that churches should have the autonomy to decide whether they accept same-sex couples.

The Methodist movement is the fourth-largest Christian denomination in Britain – having around 164,000 members across its 4,000 churches. The New Room’s decision to acknowledge the right of LGBTQ+ individuals to marry is a huge step toward acceptance in the movement.

This makes New Room one of the few churches in Bristol eligible to officiate same-sex marriages. Applications are now open for LGBTQ+ couples who wish to marry or to officiate blessings if they are already married.

Members of the church will celebrate the decision on 9 July as part of the Christians at Bristol Pride Rainbow Service, which aims to allow “LGBTQIA+ Christians to celebrate Pride through their faith”.