Evangelicals have been holding a series of regional events to consider their future in the Methodist Church after it signalled its intention to allow same-sex weddings in its chapels earlier this year.
The Methodist Conference, meeting over the summer, affirming cohabitation for unmarried couples, a significant break with traditional Christian teaching that has alarmed evangelicals in the Church.
The proposals are currently being considered by regional Methodist circuits ahead of a final vote at the next Conference in summer 2020.
The ‘Remain Faithful’ events have been hosted jointly by Methodist Evangelicals Together (MET) and the Voice of Methodism Association Trust to discuss ways of responding to the Conference position.
Both groups are opposed to the proposed changes and are asking the Methodist Church to reaffirm traditional biblical and Wesleyan teaching on marriage.
Meetings have so far been held in Doncaster, Bournemouth, Stockport, Plymouth and Penzance, with the next one taking place at London on Saturday.
The Rev David Hull, chairman of MET, said: “We launched the Remaining Faithful Network as a network of Methodists committed to remaining faithful to the original Wesleyan evangelical vision, and to the biblical and apostolic understanding of marriage as the life-long union of one man and one woman and the only appropriate context for sexual intimacy.”
The last in the series of meetings will be taking place at St Andrews Methodist Church in Horsham, West Sussex, on January 18 with special guest who was once in a relationship with a woman before committing her life to God.
Mr Hull said: “Our hope is that in these challenging times the regional gatherings will enable local Methodists to find fellowship, support and encouragement amongst like-minded people who share our commitment to the teaching of the Bible.”
Plans are already underway for a major conference bringing together evangelical Methodists in Liverpool. The conference, called Liverpool 200: Renewing the Wesleyan Vision, will be taking place at Liverpool Hope University from May 28 to 29. It will coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Liverpool Conference of 1820 when Methodists launched a turnaround plan for the denomination and changed the course of Methodism for the next generation.
Mr Hull said: “This inspirational two-day conference for church leaders and members is aimed at igniting a renewal of the Wesleyan vision and to develop a fresh strategy as we explore opportunities for a new turnaround plan for Methodism, needed now more than ever before.”