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Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010
A Sheffield Tai Chi class is told, "not in my church hall"
Tai Chi class in Beijing
Tai Chi class in Beijing

A Tai Chi class in Totley has been evicted from its current location of All Saints church hall.

The church wants to focus its attention on a Christian perspective but through doing this has had to tell the exercise group to find a new home for their class.

Tai chi is popular in Sheffield - but what is it? It can be taught as a martial art but mainly it is used to practise slow motion routines, strengthening the mind and body.

Betty and Pat regularly attend the weekly Tai Chi class and are distressed at the decision to move them out: "We went to a class and we were told that the vicar had said it wasn't just a ladies exercise group and was therefore going to refuse permission for use of the hall. I can't understand. We are living in the 21st century.

"This really does put us going off going to the church, it really does alienate people. This isn't a Christian attitude. It really is a shame. We are not causing anyone any harm."

Reverend David Rhodes from All Saints Church in Totley told BBC Radio Sheffield why he had taken the decision to ban the class:

"We feel very upset about the upset that this has caused. We are not critical of the people at all. We come from a wider perspective within the church and we see Tai Chi as being an aspect of the Chinese Taoism religion. We want to uphold a whole life spirituality that centres on Jesus. And we feel that the two things clash. We are concerned that we stay consistent with that."

Frances Homewood is Director of Sheffield Yoga Centre. "I'm saddened more than surprised at this decision," she said. "We have experienced this before where yoga teachers have been refused permission to use church halls to hold yoga classes. We feel there really is a lack of understanding behind these decisions.

"Tai chi and yoga have similar routes, they are not religions. It's a form of exercise and movement. I can understand why he wants to focus the church and the activities that take place but the lack of understanding is about what they are. The quiet and peacefulness helps people focus in their prayer, meditation or stillness. There really is no conflict between what the Reverend is trying to promote and Yoga or Tai Chi."

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Tai Chi class told not in my church hall

From 12th April 2010 , the Totley Tai Chi Session will be held at Dore & Totley United Reformed Church on Totley Brook Road, Sheffield.




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