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Wesley College students bid to save it from closure
Wesley College in Bristol
A Facebook campaign has been launched to save the college

Students at Bristol's renowned centre for Methodist training and education, Wesley College, have launched a campaign to keep it open.

The college, the only one directly under the control of the Methodist Conference, is threatened with closure because of undersubscription.

A campaign to keep it open, including a Facebook group, has been launched.

Charity Hamilton, one of those behind the campaign, says the college has not had a chance to "grow and thrive".

More than 330 people have joined the Facebook group ahead of a final decision on the college's future, which is due to be made in June.

"What's happened is in 2007 the Methodist Conference agreed that Wesley Bristol would not be one of the three colleges in the UK to train full-time ministerial students," Charity said.

"So Wesley began to diversify and to look at training the whole people of God - lay people in churches, people across the South West of the UK.

It was an exciting proposal and this was taken to a Methodist council earlier in the month and the proposals were rejected
Charity Hamilton, campaigner

"And really only in this year have we begun to see the fruits of that."

Charity said the college had become renowned for its other popular features.

"It's not just an educational establishment - people who live in Bristol will know it well for its restaurant.

"There's a huge conference side to Wesley where we hold a lot of day conferences for different local organisations.

"Our feeling is that we've very much begun to diversify following the decision that we wouldn't train for full-time Methodist ministerial students.

"In its wisdom the church decided that it would review the site of Wesley College to see whether the site was fit for purpose.

"And this review took quite a long period of time and was done in incredible depth and the proposals for that was that not only would the college continue on its current site but would include sharing with the Baptist college.

"It was an exciting proposal and this was taken to a Methodist council earlier in the month and the proposals were rejected.

"Instead the council proposed complete closure of the college."

'Heavy heart'

Reverend Mark Wakelin, from the British Methodist church, said that Methodist Conference did not come to its decision easily.

"It was with a very heavy heart that we looked at the various proposals and they were considered very carefully but I'm afraid that we took a different view from the resource group."

But Mr Wakelin added that they had made their decision based on education and it was conceivable that the building may be sold off.

"There is that possibility but the decision that council has taken - their decision is about the bit that does the education.

"They haven't made their mind up yet about the buildings and the beautiful site."

But the possibility of a link-up with the Baptist church was dismissed as unviable.

"Council took the view that the proposals put forward were interesting but they weren't viable and obviously there's a difference of opinion there and Conference will have to make up its mind.

"The rug won't be quickly and instantly pulled - we're properly looking at how we wind that down."

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