Protesters disrupt Pride service at iconic Methodist chapel

Protesters disrupted a service on Saturday at the oldest Methodist building in the world, John Wesley's New Room in Bristol.

Led by Pastor Dia Moodley of the city's Spirit of Life Church, a group demonstrated outside the chapel during the Bristol Pride parade.

Bristol PrideThousands of people joined the annual Bristol Pride march.

The service was an initiative of Christians at Bristol Pride, part of a network that provides a 'joyful, loving, inclusive Christian presence at Pride festivals in London and elsewhere in the UK'.

The preacher at the service was the chair of the Bristol Methodist District, Rev Dr Jonathan Pye. After his sermon two other protesters who had posed as members of the 70-strong congregation shouted Bible verses from the pulpit and the front row.

Rev Mandy Briggs, the New Room's education officer, who was present at the service, said: 'We were grateful for the loving response of everyone at the service.

'It didn't detract from the overall spirit of the day, which was to support Christians who wanted to share God's love.'

The protest was backed by conservative campaign group Christian Concern, which publicised it on its website. Chief executive Andrea Williams said: 'The heritage of sound biblical teaching on human sexuality that was faithfully proclaimed by Christian men like John Wesley should be upheld by the church, not torn down. Methodism is dear to my heart, and I find it very sad to see buildings intended for the proclamation of the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ being used to celebrate a sexual lifestyle that he condemned.'

Lifestyle