Last week was amazing. Historic; the end of an era; inspirational; exciting; moving!
It was the last of the conferences that Newfrontiers as we know it will hold in Brighton. Newfrontiers seems to proceed though the decades with fresh developments. The first decade of our existence was the “Downs” era. This was when the churches we worked with at the time camped together at Plumpton racecourse at the foot of the Sussex Downs. At the beginning, there were about 2,000 of us, and we thought it was huge! But one year, I remember walking on the hills with my son Joel who was 9 years old at the time, and feeling a bit deflated as we peered down the slopes trying to locate the camp. When we did at last identify it, it seemed disappointingly small!
I think 1988 was the last Downs Bible week as we called it and about 8,000 were then attending over 2 consecutive weeks. In 1991 we started again at the agricultural showground near Coventry next to a village called Stoneleigh. It was always known as Stoneleigh Bible week. By 1995 we had to hold 2 events back to back to accommodate the numbers pressing in, and when we closed in 2001, 28,000 came over the 2 weeks.
I loved the Stoneleigh decade, the 90’s. I loved the excitement as we arrived, the buzz of people putting up their tents, the sound of the band coming from the main auditorium, the smell of grass(and sheep and cows), and people arriving from all over the UK and increasingly from other nations as well. Incidentally the smell in the great cattle shed which was the main venue for many of the years was incredibly pungent, but it was interesting how quickly one became acclimatised to it! It didn’t seem to interfere with the fervour of the worship or the power of the preaching!
I was gutted when we decided to end Stoneleigh… even though I delivered one of the prophecies which was a factor in making the decision. God was telling us to move on; it seems in his economy success is not necessarily a reason for staying with a thing. In fact success can become an enemy of progress: it can lead to complacency, stagnation, and then decline. A major factor in the decision making process was another prophecy (from Guy Miller) in which he saw a field of golden dandelions. People were gathering to admire this field and exclaim over its colour and beauty. Then the field turned to grey as the flower heads became seed balls. A strong wind blew and scattered the seeds far and wide around the`world.
So the first decade of the new millennium saw us launching into a number of new initiatives. Different regions set up Bible weekends; Newday took off, the hugely exciting youth event which takes place in August; and of course our leaders’ conference in Brighton.
Some years ago, Keith Hazel who is known for his prophetic gifting prophesied exponential increase. Growth has certainly been spectacular as many church plants have been established in UK and many other countries. Then in 2008 Mark Driscoll came and publicly spoke of our need prepare for a successor to Terry.
Over the next three years, Terry and his team met regularly, and systematically discussed, thought and prayed about the next step. A strategy gradually took shape. No one leader would take Terry’s place, but emerging men with recognisable apostolic ministries would be released to develop their own spheres. Everyone is very happy about this; we feel that the Lord has led us in this to bring about further growth and possibilities, built upon the values of our love and adherence to the Bible, our love and dependence upon the Holy Spirit, and loving relationships between each other.
And so we have come to the end of another era. Yes, we were a bit emotional last week as we looked around at the huge auditorium full of praising people from all around the world. This would be the last time we would meet here in this way. But nostalgic? Not really. We are people of the future.
As an old hymn says:
“It’s Jesus the first and the last, Whose Spirit will guide us safe home; We’ll praise him for all that has passed, And trust him for all that’s to come.”
7 responses to “The end of an era”
Dear Wendy (and Terry!), I found your blog becasue Terry’s been tweeting about it. I loved this entry. In the 70’s my mum and dad were sent from a small ‘free’ church in Kent as missionaries in Africa where I was born. When they returned the church had joined newfrontiers. I went to Downs as a 9 year old boy camping with a friend, the worship was amazing! I went to Solid Rock at Stoneliegh where Terry spoke to us about his vision of church and I GOT IT! I did an FP in Cape Town with Simon. I’ve been to most of the TOAMs and am now an elder in Cambridge. I am so grateful to God for all you have both done. You may not know me but I’ve grown up under your influence and it has been wonderful. Thank you so much. With
love, Daniel Goodman
It really was a momentous week – and it’s great to read your perspective on it too! Looking forward to reading more on this site! 😉
I never attended any of the camping events as it was pre being saved. And then I didn’t go to any Brighton Conference as it was always billed for leaders, and I wasn’t in that position. I have done Newday though, this year being my 2nd and I’m really looking forward to what will come in the next 10 years or so. And yes indeed, we are people fo the future.
Just read your blog ‘The End of an era’. Wonderful. Simply wonderful. Remember babysitting for you several times at the Dales Bible Week and meeting up with you all as families (Jones and the Stevens family) in Spain one year. Lovely memories. Lots of love, Cerys
Bittersweet, since we just started going to Jubilee (Wentzville-St.Louis,MO.)
about a month or two ago. Ed, and I love what you and Terry have imparted to us in the few times we watched or listen to his teachings (online). We were being refresh and rooted in knowledge, we received from you both. I truly know and believe that the next season will be just as fruitful and loving as the previous, knowing His faithfulness towards you.
Again, I want to thank you and we truly hope to meet both of you soon!!!
I have lived in Tenerife for 25 years, my husband pastors Silencio church here, but in the late 80’s and 90’s when I went back to U.K. I always attended CCk in Brighton, we went to Stoneleigh 2 years running and then 2 years at the Brighton conference. I would like to thank you all so very much for your input into our lives. They were truly Holy Spirit inspired meetings and drew us so much closer to the Lord. I still follow what’s happening, listen to preaches and am overjoyed to find The Wendy House. God bless you both xx
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