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NEW STIRRINGS OF THE SPIRIT IN THE CHURCH?



Kristina Cooper, the co-ordinator of the Charismatic Diocesan Service of Communion in the Southwark diocese, sees the current resurgence of the Life in the Spirit seminars as one of the signs of the new stirrings of the Holy Spirit in the UK.

 Apparently this Easter, so many people wanted to attend the services at Westminster cathedral that there wasn’t room for them all. At our parish in South London, people with no church background or those lapsed for many years recently have been turning up, spiritually hungry for no apparent reason. The same things have been reported by those on the ground in other parishes in our diocese too, and I am sure are happening elsewhere. The Holy Spirit seems to be on the move, which is why I can see how important the Life in the Spirit seminars are going to be once again.

 

Here in the Southwark diocese, with the encouragement of  Archbishop John Wilson, the archbishop of Southwark we have been organising various charismatic events, over the last couple of years. These have included an annual Easter tide  Life in the Spirit Seminars, in conjunction with the Southwark diocesan Agency for Evangelisation. These begin in the COVID era which meant of necessity they were on line. Last year, however,  we were asked by the new dean of St George’s cathedral if we would run the seminars live for his cathedral parish. He had never done them before but was keen to do so and saw them as a useful tool to help bring renewal to his new parish.

 

This led to us creating a three tier way of delivering the seminars. We had live speakers, music and small group sessions at the cathedral. But the talks and music were then streamed  to hubs round the diocese and to those following entirely on line. About 100 people came to the cathedral, while another 100 participants followed entirely on line and about 250 people participated in the various hubs. The highlight was the Pentecost retreat day at the cathedral led by Michelle Moran.  Those who had been following the seminars  in the hubs then came altogether for a Baptism in the Spirit retreat day. This included a talk on repentance and preparation for the Baptism in the Spirit as well as an opportunity to for participants to go to confession. The fruits of these seminars  were wonderful, although we encountered a lot of difficulties along the way.

 

A key fruit was that afterwards, Canon Michael Branch, the dean asked the team if some of us would be prepared to help set up a charismatic discipleship prayer group at the cathedral. This has been meeting weekly since September 2023, although we have factored in much needed breaks at Christmas and the summer for the team. It is this fledgling group, supported by the diocesan team, which this year is running the cathedral seminars. Once again the talks and music is being streamed to hubs – not all of which are in Southwark. These begin on Tuesday 23rd April – 28th May, with a retreat day at St George’s on Saturday 18th May 2024.

 

Stuart Edwards, one of our parishioners at St Vincent’s has even taken the plunge and is running a life in the spirit hub in his own home. He has been delighted with the response so far, which he couldn’t have been contemplated a couple of years ago.  This response  is once again a sign  of the Holy Spirit at work, stirring hearts. As he comments, however: “The key in making it feasible for someone like me, is that it is so easy. The fact that the organising of the speakers and music has already been done means all  I just have to do is plug in and facilitate the small group..”

 

If anyone else fancies doing the same, and inviting a few friends to your home to plug into the Southwark seminars, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will send you the information and a link.  For further details of existing hubs and speakers and dates see bit.ly/LISS2024 and if you would like to run a hub contact southwarkrenewal@gmail.com by Friday 19th April.

 

 

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