New Life pastor says ‘false’ conversion therapy claims causing ‘division’

Claims that the New Life Church uses conversion therapy are “false” and are causing “division, discord and baseless fear” locally, its pastor has said.

John Rollo has responded to repeated allegations from campaigners Peter Hamilton and Kerrie Meyer that his church are counselling people out of homosexuality, and influencing children to develop homophobic views.

The New Life pastor said his church “do not and have never engaged in any form of conversion therapy”.

And he said they also do not currently run a counselling service from the church.

“As New Life Shetland, our heart is to serve and love the Shetland community and to share the good news of Jesus Christ,” he said.

“We believe in the inherent dignity and value of every person. We also believe God gives us all freedom of choice.

“Forcing anyone to do, say or believe in something – or be someone – against their own will goes against our beliefs and practices.”

The allegations were made following New Life Church’s application to operate from the former science block of the old Anderson High School.

Mr Hamilton said the church pastor had previously tried to “distance” New Life Church from the worldwide Assemblies of God position – of which New Life is a congregation within its British iteration.

But Mr Rollo responded this week to say that each church within the Assemblies of God in the UK was “responsible for its own doctrine and teaching”.

“There is no such thing as a ‘worldwide’ Assemblies of God position on sexuality or gender identity.

“We do not subscribe to the Assemblies of God USA’s stated position on these matters, as repeatedly referenced by Peter Hamilton in his letter and previous articles.”

Responding to Mr Hamilton’s allegations from recent weeks, Mr Rollo said they would respectfully ask that no further claims about them practicing conversion therapy or counselling be shared.

“These claims are false and the means of causing division, discord and baseless fear in our community,” he said.

The church pastor said they had aspired to offer some counselling, if they acquired the former science block of the old Anderson High School, and that some of their congregation had carried out accredited training.

“To avoid doubt, any such service to the community will be directed only at increasing the wellbeing of those receiving the counselling, and not any form of “conversion”.

“We hope this addresses Mr Hamilton’s concerns as he considers the facts presented.

“We do not need to suspend counselling because we are not practising counselling. We do not need to end our involvement with Shetland’s schools because we are not promoting homophobic or transphobic views.”

Mr Rollo added, however, that everyone needed to “work together for the peace and prosperity of all on this island”.

“All are welcome in our congregation irrespective of race, sex or sexual orientation.”


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