Methodist leaders in Manchester have spoken out in support of a lesbian couple targeted for abuse at Christmas by a person purporting to speak for the Methodist Church.
Claire and Sarah (not their real names) who live in Salford, were sent an anonymous Christmas card with the pre-printed message 'Blessings of the Season'.
However, it also contained the lines: 'Lesbian is disgusting and filth unnatural abnormal'. It was signed 'Methodist Church'.
According to the Manchester Evening News, the card was delivered to the home of Sarah's parents and her mother kept it until after Christmas knowing it would upset them.
Claire told the paper: 'What's worse is that someone has tried to blame it on the church. Obviously someone wanted to target us.
'I was really angry and got upset. We live in the 21st century – why do people still have a problem with two girls in a relationship? It's absolutely brutal.'
In a joint statement, Manchester & Stockport Methodist District Chair Andrew Lunn and Clare Stainsby, superintendent minister of the Salford circuit, said they were 'very disturbed' by the incident. They said: 'Our first thoughts are for the couple concerned, to whom we express our sympathy and support. Any such homophobic incident causes hurt and offense, and we are very sorry that this has happened. We hope the couple are receiving good support from friends, family and community.'
They said the person who sent the card 'does not represent the Methodist Church' and would be liable to church discipline if they were found to be a member.