Sunday, October 30, 2011

I find New Wine hard to swallow

This morning I was asked to visit the morning service at St Paul’s Hammersmith , The church is in the middle of a roundabout one way system, a real Victorian barn of a place. I was there to hear the testimony of the only man to escape alive from a North Korean prison camp. I am to do a report for next month's Evangelicals Now. But first I had a second taste of New Wine. In early 2000 when 180 people came from Holy Trinity Brompton with Revd. Simon Downham to join an existing small congregation in rebuilding the life and mission of the church. Over the last 10 years physically and spiritually the church and its building have been comprehensively restored inside and out.

I arrived early and was warmly welcomed by the assistant vicar. The service started some minutes late. The worship group was three men on guitars, one on keyboard, one drums and a female singer. They were very professional and LOUD. All the songs were modern with one exception, 'Be thou my vision'. I confess I found it all too repetitive and the words subjective. All so touchy feely. If you have removed the table and put in a stage with a group it looks to me like you are entertaining people to feel good. The liturgical baby has been thrown out and the contemporary bathwater retained. Ironically our Presbyterian congregation has more liturgy Sunday morning than this C of E.

Touchy feely I would have thought extended to the peace but no-one greeted me. I was pointed to excellent coffee afterwards though. Booklets handed out about the next months of the church's ministry were very impressive. No so helpful I found was letting young children run free at the front of the building, But their action songs for the children were excellent.

This was my second swig of New Wine. I have several times been to St Mary's Bredin in Canterbury. Both have many young families in growing churches. But I confess I prefer my singing to be Classic FM rather than Radio 2. This is C o E but not so we would really know it.

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