American evangelist Franklin Graham has postponed his UK tour in light of ongoing legal battles with venues that cancelled his event bookings.
Tour organisers, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, had themselves already decided to postpone training events taking place across the UK ahead of Graham's tour, which had been due to commence in Glasgow on May 30.
However, Graham said that the decision to postpone the tour was motivated by his desire to see through the legal action being taken against the venues that cancelled his event bookings.
In a statement, he expressed his hope that the venue owners would reverse the cancellations.
"The Lord has placed a burden on my heart to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ across the UK, and that sense of purpose and evangelistic passion continues to grow," said Graham, who is president and CEO of BGEA.
"We are dedicated to pursuing a legal resolution with the venues that were scheduled to host the Tour. They broke their legally-binding contracts with us because we preach a message of God's love, stand uncompromisingly on traditional Biblical beliefs about human sexuality, and share with all people that Jesus Christ is the only way they can be forgiven of sin and have a right relationship with God.
"Since the legal process takes time, we have prayerfully decided to postpone the Tour until the issues are resolved and the venues become available again."
A total of seven venues, from Glasgow in the north to Birmingham in the south, pulled the plug on Graham's evangelistic events after coming under pressure from LGBT campaigners because of his views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The BGEA said that the associated training courses and prayer meetings would resume as soon as government health officials said it was safe to do so.
The organisation said that 6,500 people had already participated in the first wave of training programmes and that it was hoping to schedule additional courses in the upcoming months.
"In the meantime, as many of our neighbours are living in fear and experiencing an increasing sense of anxiety and hopelessness due to the coronavirus, let's remain focused on helping people in need and sharing the hope that is found in Jesus Christ," the BGEA said.
"Thank you for everything you are doing to support the Graham Tour."