NEW WINE 2018 - ULTIMATE FAMILY HOLIDAY?
New Wine is an organisation committed to the support and growth of the local church, and the highlight of its many activities throughout the year is the annual "United" gathering, when thousands of members of many different churches come together to worship, to learn and to experience the Holy Spirit.
St Mary's and Sale West had about forty people, aged from seven to seventy, camping in a "village" (a euphemism for "field"). Most of us are not Bear Grylls types and we compete to bring as many home comforts (beds, fridges, coffee makers) with us as we can.
The general pattern for each day is the same. There are three main worship venues to choose from, each hosting a main meeting at 9.15am and again at 7pm. There is a wide range of seminars and meetings in various venues during the day. Meanwhile there are children's groups for all ages running in parallel.
We all picked our own ways though the packed programme. I chose to start each day with the 7.15am worship session, known as Rise, including a challenging teaching series on "Revival". I skipped the main morning meeting (without any guilt!) and enjoyed a relaxed breakfast. In the evenings I tended to go to Hungry, a smaller, more intimate worship venue whose style suits me better. Other people from St Mary’s went to the huge Arena (seating 7,000) instead, or Impact, or just mixed them up.
We all experienced God's Spirit in different ways during the week. Several people (including some of the children) received words guiding them into new areas of ministry, or developed new spiritual gifts, or were encouraged to seek prayer for health issues or other problems. They have their own stories to tell. One simple message that I kept hearing in different contexts was "Pray more" - "Pray for revival", "Pray for more of the Holy Spirit", "Pray for others".
Above all else we were family. Some people came with their spouse and their children, others left their children at home, or came as single parents; none of this mattered because we were all one family on that site. We fed each other, we listened to one another's concerns, we looked after each other's children and we shared everything from tents to hot water, from plasters to gin. This was church, and we were so blessed by it.
Next year the annual New Wine Summer Conference moves location to Peterborough, and St Mary’s and Sale West will be pitching our tents in week 1 (27th July to 2nd August). Early Bird bookings are now open with some fantastic savings at the website www.new-wine.org
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