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Renew Conference 2017 blog

Why haven't any of us seen Rob this week?

On Sunday evening I went to Leeds for the Renew Conference, a gathering of over 400 Anglican Evangelical ministers from the length and breadth of England. The commitment of Renew is to work together to Pioneer, Establish and Secure healthy local Anglican churches - by which is meant those whose belief and practice remains true and faithful to the authority of Scripture in all matters of belief and life. It was great to hear stories of people pioneering new churches in unevangelised areas of cities and new housing developments; people revitalising dying churches by sending a graft of people from a stronger church; people establishing new life in churches whose ministry had drifted into tradition or liberalism; and people securing the succession of ministry in a church when the minister leaves. In all of these there were examples of patience in struggles allied with new disciples of Jesus and transformed lives. The repeated theme was Preach the Bible, Pray for God to do his work, Love the people, Stay and persevere - Preach, Pray, Love and Stay.

We received some excellent biblical teaching about the atonement and how Jesus' death deals with the righteous and just wrath of our loving Father against our sinfulness. Also some really helpful sessions on Proclaiming Christ - in a sexualised world; a broken and hurting world; and a multi-faith world. I hope to find a way of sharing these with you all as they are the big issues that often intimidate us into silence, even as we long to be able to commend Jesus to our friends and neighbours.

I left Leeds at lunchtime on Tuesday for the biennial Leicester Diocesan Conference at Swanwick in Derbyshire. This was the first one overseen by our new bishop, Martyn Snow. The theme here was Presence and Proclamation, with teaching from the often overlooked letters near the end of the New Testament, 1 John, 2 John and 3 John given by the Principal of Trinity College Bristol. In all of these there is an indivisible link between love and truth, and the impossibility of setting them against each other - which has big implications for our belief and practice as a church. The mood of Leicester Diocese feels much more positive towards the necessity for churches to be evangelistic, grounded on the authority of scripture. Two particular challenges to mention:

  • To make the most of 'calendar events', such as Christmas, Easter, Harvest, Remembrance to connect with our communities and talk about Jesus.
  • To affirm and encourage all the laity to be confident disciples of Jesus wherever they are based in their daily lives. 

There is much more I could say, do please ask, but thanks for reading so far and for giving me the space to be away for most of this week. 

I'm looking forwards to catching up with you on Sunday at 9.00am for breakfast in the Old School Rooms, followed by our All-Together Service in church at ten.

by Rob Gladstone, 21st September 2017

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