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Source : 22/11/1986 Northampton Mercury and Herald

The controversial Bugbrooke-based Jesus Fellowship has denied rumours that it will be forced to quit its chapel.

Rumours sprang up in the village following the 'Jesus People's expulsion from the Baptist Union.

The decision means that the sect - the target of numerous press investigations - has lost an important vestige of respectability.

But the church, founded by unordained preacher Noel Stanton, will carry on regardless, a spokeswoman told the Mercury.

And there is absolutely no truth in stories that the Bugbrooke High Street chapel would be vacated.

The chapel was owned by the Jesus Fellowship through a trust, said Liz Donovan.

And she added: 'There was sadness at the decision of the Baptist Union. Any decision which divides the church is sad.'

'But we shall continue as an independent Baptist church. The decision will have no effect on our work.'

The spokeswoman said the Jesus Fellowship might reapply to join the Baptist Union 'if invited'.

The sect has very strict rules over behaviour of its members, many of whom live in communes in Northamptonshire and the East Midlands.

Former members, more orthodox religious leaders and Bugbrooke's MP Michael Morris, have often hit out at the Fellowship.

The latest blow to the sect, which owns and runs numerous businesses including several Northampton shops, came from 129 of the 137 council members of the Baptist Union.

The Jesus Fellowship was expelled from the organisation because of a lack of involvement in denominational life and unilateral programme of recruitment.

A statement from the union also said the Fellowship was becoming a national rather than local organisation, and spoke of 'embarrassment' over bad publicity.