Catholic and Charismatic - The New Fire Mass

Introducing “The New Fire Mass”

 

 

 

The Wigston Magna PCC has decided to make some changes to our main morning service on the

third Sunday of each Month.

The service will still be a celebration of the Eucharist (‘The Lord’s own service on the Lord’s own day’) and it will still be celebrated in a way that affirms our Catholic tradition.  It will, however, have a less formal feel than our usual Sunday morning Sung Mass.

The music will be much more contemporary; we will use a more modern and ‘upbeat’ Mass setting and a mixture of modern worship songs and traditional hymns, and these will be led by a small worship band and the organ.  Our aim is to be more relaxed and open to the presence and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The service will usually include prayer ministry during Communion for those who want it.

From about 9.50 a.m. onwards, the music group will sing worship songs to create an atmosphere of praise and worship. They may at this point sing some of the lesser-known songs that will be used later in the service so that they’re not so unfamiliar later on.  

The service itself will start at10.00am.

 

Below you can read an article which explains some of the reasons for this change. A number of people in our congregation had requested another less formal service, and the PCC was unanimous in agreeing to this proposal.   We’re sure that people will soon get to know the new Mass setting and enjoy the new worship songs and that we will all soon adapt to what will hopefully prove to be a very positive change. 

 

 

 

The Tribes of the Lord?

“Could we please borrow your thurible on Sunday afternoon? We’d like to use incense at our service on Sunday evening.”

The request came in a phone call from the minister of a neighbouring church in my last parish. Interestingly, this church wasn’t Anglican; it was a Baptist church with a very strong evangelical ethos! The congregation there had started to explore a more ‘liturgical’ form of worship; they wanted to experience and express the ‘otherness’ of God, to combine the customary joy of their services with a sense of mystery, and to engage all five of their senses in praising God.

I have read in a number of publications about a growing trend amongst younger Evangelical Christians towards more traditional styles of worship. Change is most certainly in the air, but the traffic isn’t all one way. For some time now, congregations with a strong sacramental and liturgical tradition have been incorporating more contemporary music and adopting a degree of spontaneity in their worship. We see this in the life of many Roman Catholic churches, and it reminds us that being “Catholic” doesn’t mean being old-fashioned and only singing Plainchant or Victorian hymns.

The Church of England has always been a ‘broad’ church, encompassing a range of theologies and worship-styles. The word ‘churchmanship’ has traditionally been used to describe individuals and churches as ‘Evangelical’, ‘Charismatic’, ‘Liberal’ (middle-of-the-road) or ‘Catholic’. These groupings have sometimes felt rather ‘tribal’, each having its own special customs and being rather suspicious of - or even hostile to - members of other ‘tribes’.

There are signs that this is now changing.

Clergy friends in the London diocese in particular tell me that Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic churches are increasingly working together and often worshipping together, respecting their differences and also borrowing from each other’s tradition and learning from one another.  The new generation of clergy, whilst still having a ‘churchmanship’ identity seem to be less constrained by it, and the latest Ordination training course set up by the former Bishop of London, ‘The College of St Mellitus’ describes its ethos as ‘Charismatic Catholic’. 

In Wigston Magna, over the last year or two we have been developing an excellent working relationship with ‘WIGWAM’ (Wigston with a Mission) – a Fresh Expression of Church developed by Holy Trinity Leicester, a firmly Evangelical/Charismatic church. We have worked together on the monthly pop-up Café and other outreach ventures and we hope that they will join with us in our ‘Fan the Flame’ renewal week later this year.  As our friendship grows, a natural development would be to start praying together and worshipping together, at least from time to time.  But how is this possible, given our very different worshipping traditions? 

The ‘On Fire Mission’ is a network rooted in the Church of England, and open to all, which is dedicated to promoting charismatic (spirit-filled) renewal blended with the riches of Catholic spirituality and sacramental worship. Some time ago, WIGWAM’s co-ordinator Matthew and I attended a Midlands Renewal Day organised by The On Fire Mission in Warwick. Both of us were out of our comfort zone for different reasons. The worship in the afternoon was a Eucharist with full catholic ceremonial (vestments, bells and smells etc) but the music was very contemporary  - and I mean contemporarynot the tired, trite ‘ditties’ of the 1970s/80s! There was space for silence and reflection and there was a time of informal prayer ministry. God was praised with both genuflexions and waving arms, and it was a very powerful, ‘heady’ mix. Both Matthew and I left feeling renewed, excited and challenged.

Since then, Matthew and I have been in conversation with my counterpart at Holy Trinity, the Revd John McGinley, with members of the Mission and Ministry Division of the Diocese and members of the Bishop’s senior staff team. We have agreed that it would be good to explore our partnership with WIGWAM and Holy Trinity further, and as part of this, to look at how our worshipping traditions might be ‘fused’ together to bring a new element to our worship.

This doesn’t mean that we are ‘selling out’ on our liberal catholic tradition; far from it. Rather we are exploring new ways of expressing, expanding and renewing that tradition. At All Saints and St Wistan’s we already have informal all-age worship in ‘Saints Alive’, and we can add further to this ‘mixed economy’ of worship by having a rather different style of Mass at All Saints, on the third Sunday of the month. (There used to be a less formal ‘Family Communion’ then, so in a sense we will simply be resurrecting this in a rather more radical form.)

In addition to our friends from WIGWAM, our All Saints congregation has been joined recently by worshippers who come from a Charismatic tradition but who are now seeking a more Catholic spirituality. We also have the beginnings of a live worship band, and in Fr Clive, we have a Curate with a history of involvement with the On Fire Mission. I think, therefore, we can safely say that God is clearly at work here and giving us some fairly heavy hints of what he wants us to do!

The PCC has agreed to the gradual introduction of a ‘New Fire Mass’ on the third Sunday of each month and will be giving consideration to how we might further broaden the range of our services and explore what other traditions may have to teach us. In doing so, we won’t be abandoning our own tradition as a firmly open, inclusive and Catholic parish, but we will hopefully be joining others in moving away from an outdated and unhelpful tribalism and offering a wider range of services that may attract new worshippers.  We will certainly be attending to the promptings of God’s Holy Spirit, and allowing him to lead us into what should be an exciting new chapter in our life.

With my love and prayers,

Trevor