Acquitted Leeds minister hopes his criminal damage court case gives the church its voice back

Acquitted Methodist minister Rev Dan Woodhouse: “I speak truth to power.”

By Lizzy McEllan

A MINISTER who was acquitted of criminal damage last month has spoken out after returning to work, saying he would take action again and believes he is a prophet for the Methodist church.

Now back in Leeds after his trial, Rev Daniel Woodhouse also revealed that his controversial sermons caused one church-goer to walk out.

He said: “I speak truth to power and a prophet is someone who does that. Someone walked out once during one of my sermons. I didn’t think it at first, but now I would say I am a prophet for the Methodist church.

“I’m not planning on taking criminal action again, but I am part of an activist group. I wouldn’t rule it out if I felt a situation was bad enough.”

Rev Woodhouse was cleared at Burnley Magistrates’ Court in October for criminal damage at a BAE Systems plant.

He missed a Sunday service in January to break into the plant with Quaker Samuel Walton. The pair were trying damage Tornado jets, which are sold to Saudi Arabia and used to bomb Yemen.

Rev Woodhouse, who is a minister to three churches in Leeds – Hyde Park Methodist, Lower Wortley and Whingate Methodist in Armley – returned to mixed responses from his congregations after the case. He missed his first service back due to ill health, but has now delivered services at two out of three of his churches.

People have been largely supportive, but Rev Woodhouse said he understands why some might not agree with his actions and is happy to talk about what happened.

He said: “All the preachers announced I was acquitted to all the churches and I was told there were people punching the air with excitement – people you wouldn’t think would do that.”

Rev Woodhouse spoke about praying from his prison cell when his January service was due to start and his reaction to being acquitted.

Rev Woodhouse hopes his actions will have a lasting legacy in the Methodist church – encouraging it to take a bigger part in activism and giving the institution its voice back.

He said: “The Quakers came out 100 per cent on our side, whereas Methodism kind of picked its words very carefully – and I understand why they did that.

“I would hope this action gives Methodism some confidence to have a voice again. I think it has lost it a little bit over the years.”

When asked about the wider political situation, Rev Woodhouse added: “If I could say one thing to Theresa May right now, it would be ‘call a general election.’”

 

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