A “HAPPY-CLAPPY” church movement which has denounced homosexuality as a “sinful impulse” has opened a branch in Sevenoaks.
The Redeemed Christian Church of God, founded in Nigeria in 1952, held its first service at the town council’s offices in Bradbourne Vale Road on Sunday.
Its pastor, mother-of-three Tinuola Adeyemi from Thamesmead, said she fell in love with the area the first time she visited, and was convinced God wanted her to “plant” a new branch here.
“It is not like the traditional melancholic churches and is certainly very different to what Sevenoaks must be used to,” she explained.
“It is very much a happy-clappy church, full of music, drumming and dancing and a very lively atmosphere.”
However, while handing out promotional leaflets in the town centre and at the train station, she was surprised by the lack of interest.
“People were generally polite but were hostile to the gospel,” said the 47-year-old former chartered accountant trainee, who has lived in Britain for 24 years.
“People in Sevenoaks are at the high end of living and they might think they don’t need the gospel but we all need the gospel in our lives.
“Those who are very rich and intelligent in the world still commit suicide because they have no sense of purpose which God will give them.”
The Redeemed Christian Church of God has come under fire from some quarters – notably human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell – for its stance on homosexuality.
On one of its official American websites a page labelled “position on homosexuality” states: “We believe there is hope for the person with a homosexual orientation and that Jesus Christ offers a healing alternative in which the power of sin is broken and the person is freed to know and experience his or her true identity in Christ and in the fellowship of his Church.
“We believe that this freedom is attained through a process which includes recognizing (sic) homosexual behavior (sic) as sin, renouncing the practice of homosexual behavior (sic), rediscovering healthy, non-erotic friendships with people of the same sex, embracing a moral sexual lifestyle, and in the age to come, rising from the dead with a new body free from every sinful impulse.”
Mrs Adeyemi, who told the Chronicle she has gay friends, defended the church’s stance, saying: “I do believe homosexuality is a choice.
“With certain choices we create problems for ourselves and for others. Intelligent people listen to new information and can change their minds and beliefs – they can be persuaded.
“It’s entirely between the homosexual person and God – the Lord may want you to change certain things.”
The Sevenoaks branch, officially named The Redeemed Christian Church of God Royal City, held its first “strategic prayer service” on Sunday afternoon but nobody turned up.
Leaflets advertising the church’s services, which take place each Sunday at 2pm in the town council offices, have been distributed to homes across the town.
Despite the initial lack of interest Mrs Adeyemi is convinced the church will be a success.
She said: “It could take a little time before the word spreads but we are here to stay. We want to reach out to the people of Sevenoaks and draw them in.”