A few days before our first weekend of worship in our new Worship Center, I attended the second New Room Conference in Franklin, Tennessee. Perhaps the Holy Spirit orchestrated the timing of that? As I write this, Cindi and I have recently returned from attending the 2021 New Room Conference. What is the “New Room” you ask? Well…
In the middle of Bristol, England, there is a building of great significance to Methodists. John Wesley built the chapel in 1739 and named it the “New Room.” The simple structure consisted of a preaching hall on the ground floor and several rooms on the second floor where Wesley’s preachers would stay when in the area. The New Room served as the first headquarters and home base for the growing Methodist movement. The very first Class Meeting of Methodism met here. About ten years ago, a group of devoted Wesleyans began asking the question, “How can we create a place for a similar, but world-wide, gathering of Wesleyan Christians?” The “New Room Conference” is the answer. I remember attending for the first time. It was an intense, joyful, rich, amazing, awesome experience. It was the kind of gathering which Wesley intended every annual conference to be. And, to be honest, it was one of the most spiritually powerful events I have attended in decades. A former pastor of Bethany, Bishop Mike Lowry, describes it this way: “The New Room Conference is about a global Wesleyan movement. It is an effort about connecting Wesleyan Christians from all over. In their own words, “it’s a decisively, unapologetically, creatively, Wesleyan gathering.” …. If there is a theme, it is about the recovery of a full Wesleyan understanding of sanctification with a large (very large) dose of movement (work) of the Holy Spirit. These folks are deeply serious about genuine discipleship and deep allegiance to Jesus Christ as Lord. The focus is worldwide and not just a North American-centric vision.” I will say “amen” to his description.
We have been teaching and preaching Wesleyan theology at Bethany for a long time. The genius of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, was in his understanding of how orthodox theology is lived out in our hearts, minds and lives. Those of you in the Emmaus community experienced much of this on your “Walk.” But, other than that venue, we found few readily available resources. So, it was with great excitement that we discovered Seedbed, a publishing house of all things Wesleyan. From Seedbed – the rough English equivalent of “seminario” – I have been blessed by the Daily Text written by J.D. Walt. And I was blessed, again, when Seedbed organized the New Room Conference.
This movement is creating a global network of Wesleyans. The potential here is exciting. Just imagine a network of Holy Spirit powered Wesleyans spanning the globe to spread “scriptural holiness.” If you want to know more, I suggest you Google “New Room Conference” or “Seedbed.” (You can also find Apps for your smartphones.) If nothing else, have the Seedbed Daily Text emailed to you or read it on the Seedbed App.
I am constantly seeing God’s hand at work in our midst. The sheer physical reality of the new Worship Center is a concrete reminder of that. The faithful creativity of our Bethany family during the heights of the pandemic was another amazing example. But I am also seeing significant outbreaks of God’s power and love across a broader plain. The first year, about 150 gathered for the New Room Conference. In 2019, over 3,000 gathered. This year – in spite of COVID – some 2,500 gathered. Truly, God is doing something powerful here – just as He is in our corner of the world. I am praying the Holy Spirit to move boldly in our midst and build Bethany just as powerfully as He has built the New Room network. Because I have a feeling that God has something greater in mind for us than we have ever imagined.
Grace and Peace,
PS – Cindi and I and several others are already registered for New Room Conference 2022. If you are interested, registration can be found HERE