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New Wine 2017: Elephants Explored

There is a tendency to elevate our own story above the shared story, to want to be heard and understood. But we must place scripture over experience.

In some ways, there has had to be a gentler approach. Testimonies were presented to the Church of England’s General Synod this year of woundings which have come through words given in the context of prayer. In days when the church is asking questions about human identity in terms of sexuality and gender, prayer ministry must give due sensitivity to these areas. I believe New Wine is taking note because its leaders are also the leaders of Anglican churches and understand the context into which God is calling them to minister. Our ‘experience’ because now so powerful and emotive when it comes to feelings about identity in the areas of gender and sexuality is having Charismatic Christians become more aware of the power of our testimony. We must not make an idol of our experiences, either. I went to New Wine this year conscious of this backdrop, impacted by a course of reading I have taken up about this tendency of our age to elevate our own story above the shared story; to want to be heard and understood. RT Kendall encouraged us to be Logos and then Rhema people – scripture over experience. He cautioned us to become wise and weigh words of knowledge against scripture. Aware of current debates within the church, what I admire about the New Wine Movement is its exploration of what might otherwise be an elephant in the room. We are equipped to form our own opinions through the teaching of Bishops and theologians who have scrutinised the scriptures and, interestingly, can speak from their own experience, into the issues.

Seminars at New Wine were not shy about exploring the culture the church now finds itself in. Bishop Richard Jackson described a prevalence of persuasive “pain narratives” from those feeling judged by the church because they do not conform to traditional teaching in the areas of gender and sexuality. He insisted that we need to begin our discernment on issues from theology rather than experience. Sean Doherty, a teacher at an Anglican theological college, led two seminars in which he testified to being same-sex attracted but called to anchor his identity in his biological sex rather than his orientation. Married to a woman and with children, he talked about how God had helped him, during his earlier years commit to a celibate life-style, in order to come to a mature and orthodox position on the issue.

New Wine also speaks into family life, mental health, addiction, raising teens, dementia and keeps up year on year with the most pressing issues. We are truly equipped and I respect the movement’s courage to explore a number of challenging issues openly.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2017

About the Author: Rachel Marszalek is Vicar of All Saints, Ealing, an Anglican Church in London. Revd Marszalek is involved in the New Wine Movement and particularly focussed on women in Anglican ordained ministries within the network. She is married with two girls and two puppy dogs who are all a joy to her. God first called her to the church during the prayer of Humble Access in an Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer service when she was 8 years old. She blogs at Revising Reform. Facebook. Twitter: @revisingreform

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