Steve Chalke, the founder of Oasis Church in Waterloo, London, has applied for a license to offer same-sex marriages in his church. If his application is successful, his church will become the most high-profile church to offer this in the UK.
Mr Chalke revealed the news while launching a charter for churches of any denomination to sign up, promising they will be inclusive of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
The Open Church Charter, which is supported by lobby group Stonewall, includes a commitment to provide ‘same-sex marriages’, ‘within the scope of current British law’.
According to an interview with Christian radio station Premier Radio, Mr Chalke said the ‘overwhelming majority’ of churches will agree to the charter.
Mr Chalke is also hosting an ‘Open Church’ conference next month, featuring speakers such as General Synod member Canon Andrew Cain, who defied the Church of England (CofE) and married his same-sex partner in 2014.
Mr Chalke told Premier Radio, ‘We want to move away from an over simplistic, over-literalistic, immature understanding over biblical texts that dumps many, but keeps the ones we want’.
The church founder is no stranger to controversy, having rejected the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (that Christ, in his death, was punished by God for our sins) in 2004. His organisation the Oasis Trust was expelled from the Evangelical Alliance in 2014 for its position on same-sex marriage.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said, ‘Far from being simplistic or immature, God’s pattern beautifully reflects the love of Christ for his bride, the church. The complementary nature of marriage between man and woman echoes the unity and the mystery of the triune God.
‘Yet we are seeing increasing capitulation to demands to be “inclusive”, at the expense of truth. The gospel is for all, but we cannot continue to water it down to satisfy those who are uncomfortable with its message’.