By Ian Ogilvie
If "New Forms of Worship" conjures up visions of long haired curates strumming guitars in a new tune for "At the Name of Jesus", then "That's the Spirit" may well come as a shock. Six years ago Donald Swann was inspired with the idea of a festival around Whitsuntide when all the ferment of new ideas in ,,sorship front this country and abroad could explode and grasp people to show the present activity of the Holy Spirit in worship.
With Brian Frost, Director of the Notting Hill Ecumenical Centre, he convened a group from all denominations, Roman Catholics to Evangelicals with every shade of churchmanship in between. Through prayer and not a little toil, sweat and tears. a Festival of the Spirit has been born.
The Festival beginning on Monday uses ten central London churches, from All Souls, Langham Place to Notre Dame de France, Leicester Place, via Hinde Street Methodist, the Salvation Army Hall, Oxford Street, The Friends Meeting House, St. Martin's Lane. The exciting facts of the festival are its truly ecumenical nature and its culmination in an open-air Eucharist conducted by Bishop Colin Winter of Damaraland in Trafalgar Square on Whit Sunday at 10.30 am. Anglican and Free Church ministers are involved in the service. with Prayers led by the Lee Abbey International Club, and the Offertory danced to "All good gifts around us" from Godspell. The addresses will be given by Bishop Winter and Pauline Webb, the Methodist Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee of World Council of Churches. Bread will be distributed to the crowd in baskets and we hope in spirit to capture something of that first feeding of the multitude by Our Lord with perhaps 5,000 people in the Square on Whit Sunday.
But why new forms of worship? Isn't it a massive gimmick to attract attention, after which everyone will go away to carry on as before? No: if, as we believe, the Spirit is speaking to the Churches today through the Worship experiments of all denominations, then the Festival will give a vision of renewal which could happen in each local church. Drama, Poetry, Dance, Folk Music, Jazz, Audio Visual Aids, Prayers of every conceivable kind, Choral and Orchestral Music, Discussions, Bible Readings and Folk Masses danced and sung, all occur in the programme. But if the motive for holding a service using anything other than well tried forms is simply to drag in a few unwary souls, then that is a gimmick.
But how many church drama groups do more than perhaps an annual play or nativity tableau'? The Festival will include presentations of new drama and dance within the liturgy. More informally, there will be chances to meet and talk with those deeply engaged in worship renewal. All seen as a challenge to be grasped, and resources to be tapped.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will answer questions put by Pauline Webb in "Nothing fixed or Final?" on Monday, June 4th in Bloomsbury Baptist Church. Tony Britton and David Kossoff will share in the opening service called 'Salute the Spirit' at St. Paul's, Covent Garden followed by David Kossoff presenting his inimitable bible readings.
On 'Tuesday. June 5th at Christ the King, Gordon Square the internationally renowned Abbe Michel Quoist will speak on Prayer, Sydney Carter, Judy Mackenzie and Parchment will present their different styles of Folk Music. There will be a variety of overseas and experimen• tal settings of the Mass in which Frs. Michael Hollings, Kevin Donovan and John Coventry will take part. There is to be an all day event in St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Saturday, June 9th with every form of worship, included going on non-stop. All that night St. James's, Piccadilly will be the setting for a Vigil opened by Bishop Trevor Iluddleston including contributions by Dom Edward Jones of Cockfosters and the climax comes on Whit Sunday morning in Tratalgar Square with the Festival Eucharist.
"That's the Spirit" is a response to what some believe to be the voice of the Holy Spirit trying to speak through new forms and new approaches to worship in the 70s. It is a venture of Faith, which has been tested often during these preparations. Its success can only be measured in how far in years to come, it has made Christians more aware of the possibilities for experiment in their worship and how far new forms of worship do indeed bring new life to the churches.
Further details and reservations can be obtained from, Notting Hill Ecumenical Centre, 5/7 Denbigh Road, London, WI 1 2SJ. (Tel. 01727 0843).
tan Ogilvie is Chaplain of Sevenoaks School, Kent and a member of the Committee of "That's the Spirit".