Monday, 5 October 2009

Back from Swanwick

Last week I was with about 400 other clergy at Swanwick Conference Centre in Derbyshire for the Diocesan Clergy Conference. Much could be said, but my main reflection was that for the first time that I can remember at a clergy conference - in any diocese - the main times of worship took Evangelical and Charismatic spirituality seriously. So often evangelicals have had to accommodate themselves to the formal liturgical worship beloved of anglo-catholics, as if it's the only form of worship that can be shared corporately; or fobbed off with an early morning alternative venue for the few crazy charismatics. (That may be an exaggeration, but it's certainly how it has felt.)

However, this year at Swanwick the worship was brilliant. With a natural and organic blending of liturgy and informality, old and new music, catholic and charismatic I felt that we were engaging with God in a very special way that included every shade of the spectrum. It wasn't just a case of putting in different style to please everyone, but rather, some bold decisions were made to break out of some of the old moulds.

I came away refreshed by the worship and encouraged that, in spite of some significant and deep differences, we can unite in our worship of the risen Christ.

And the icing on the cake, for me, was travelling by train together from St Pancras. A real sense of fun and pilgrimage.

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