It is with great sadness that Congleton Pride has had to make this statement regarding the removal of our banner from the billboard outside of New Life Church. It has caused considerable upset to all those involved. Please see our statement attached. We thank you for your continued support.
Congleton Pride ‘disgusted and disappointed’ at banner removal
27 July 2021
The Congleton Pride charity this week expressed its ‘disgust and disappointment’ that a banner advertising Congleton Pride 2021 was removed from a billboard at New Life Church.
The banner was one of several placed around the town on the ‘community boards’ which are organised by Congleton Community Projects. The Pride group has paid to have the banners displayed to promote the Congleton Pride event on 21st August 2021.
Ronan Clayton, chair of Congleton Pride, said “When we heard the banner had come down after just 24 hours, we assumed it was the wind or maybe an act of vandalism. However, on visiting the site, the banner was neatly folded on the ground, and we were then informed that New Life Church had removed it.
“Congleton Pride is a fun event for all the family and invites everyone to join in whatever their religion. Taking this banner down sends a clear message to members of New Life Church congregation that if they are LGBTQI+ then they are not welcome. How devastating this must be for them.”
Cllr Kay Wesley, Chair of the Community & Environment Committee of Congleton Town Council added “The town boards can be used by any community organisation to advertise their event. In the past the boards have advertised church events, like carol services for example, even though not everyone in the town is a Christian”.
“Pride is an inclusive organisation, and the Council supports the Pride event both financially and practically. It is entirely inappropriate for one organisation to censor which community events are advertised, and which are not, regardless of the location of the billboard.
“I have never heard of a banner being taken down at New Life Church before; this is the first time. I can only assume the motivation for this was discrimination against people who are LGBTQI+. I am shocked that respected local church leaders would behave in this way”.
Sam Worthington, a gay student at Congleton High School, is a former member of New Life Church. He commented “In my view this was a nefarious act and exemplifies exactly why we need a Pride movement in Congleton”.
Pride Trustee Richard Walton reflected “We have worked hard recently with local churches to ensure that Christians who are LGBTQI+ feel safe and welcome to worship in Congleton.”
“A number of church leaders have come to the table willingly and shown leadership in breaking down barriers. I’m delighted to report that, as a result, seven Congleton churches are sharing a stall at Congleton Pride. I encourage any members of the New Life congregation who are disappointed at this act of intolerance to come to the Churches at Pride stall and chat with those who lead Christian worship in a more inclusive manner.”
If other church leaders or LGBTQI+ people would like to contact Congleton Pride, please find the group on Facebook or call/text 07855 798014.