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New Wine 2017: The Irony of Experience

Painful experiences and raw emotion won the day that General Synod and a new ‘something’ has featured ever since. I believe New Wine and other groups who are passionate about prayer, transformation and the power of the Holy Spirit are taking note. A good thing if it promotes care and humility but lamentable if an inhibitor to prayer and spontaneity. Our ‘experience’ as Christians, because now so powerful and emotive when it comes to sexuality, means that as Charismatics, those who know God in our everyday experience, also need to take care. Our experience of God must continue to be anchored in the scriptures and be weighed against the community’s understanding of God across the centuries.[4]

Bishop Richard Jackson explained at New Wine in his seminar on Synod, that it was “a theological train crash … of conflicting pain narratives.” The advocate[5] for a denouncement of conversion therapy had also reported to the Royal College of Psychiatrists that the church was addressing spiritual abuse. Good.

Are some of us called to run into the debate rather than away?

The advocate had also referred to the ‘charismatic tribe model’ claiming as examples – New Wine, Holy Trinity Brompton (known particularly for the Alpha Course) and Spring Harvest, mentioned above. Her report to these psychiatrists gave some context to the motion presented at General Synod, as she described this model in operation, supposing ‘Charismatic gifts seen as a “normal” part of Christian experience, based on events at Pentecost’ (Acts 2:1-13). Agreed. But also that ‘those showing “greater gifts” are seen to have “greater favour”’. What? I have never come across teaching at New Wine which advocates a God who has favourites. Deliverance ministry, healing ministry and prayer ministry, she scrutinised with these same psychiatrists for possible abuse and then advised that people be pointed towards ‘evangelical groups and books that affirm LGBT love.’

Anglicans flocking to summer gatherings contain many, then, who believe that the Holy Spirit is leading us into greater freedoms regarding our sexuality and it is within such a context that Prayer Ministry leaders must put parameters around prayer. Prayer ministry is now happening at New Wine against a backdrop where even greater care is needed. In many ways, the approach of waiting and simply repeating ‘Come Holy Spirit’ is surely then the one in which ministry can best take place. Safest. Let God be God, don’t get in the way too much. The Anglo-Catholics might sing Veni Sancte Spiritus, the Charismatics will continue to make bodily contact, a hand on a shoulder but less words, less risk and this, I am saddened to say to some extent, is the culture in which New Wine must now operate. I thought it important to note with you this addition to the atmosphere of a baby elephant in the room.

My personal testimony now follows. Readers who are interested in the Anglican back-drop might be less interested now. After all, I am not so naïve, that I fail to discern, that much of what follows is located in my experience. Oh, the irony!

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Category: In Depth, 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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