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Report from New Wineskins 2022

October 6, 2022
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Editor’s note: As announced earlier, the Rev. Canon Keith Allen is the new Canon for Global Mission for the Gulf Atlantic Diocese. 

Keith Allen headshotThe Gulf Atlantic Diocese had more than 150 participants from churches across the diocese gather in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina as a part of New Wineskins One Mission 2022. This was the largest mission gathering in New Wineskins history with 2100 total participants from more than 60 nations. The call to “be the one, see the one, and share the ONE” guided the plenary sessions and more than 120 MAP talks. 

The call to “be the one” focused on hearing and answering God’s missional call on each of our lives. Whether we are called to reach our neighbors or the nations we are all called to be on mission. In order to be on mission we must be prayerful and proactive in our preparation. Our very own Archdeacon Jessica Jones gave one of the breakouts on the need for a Leadership Pipeline to identify and train the next generation of leaders for mission. There were sessions on prayer ministry and the release of the spiritual gifts, which are essential regardless of context. Mission can only be done in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the posture of prayer. The call was for us all to be prepared to answer God’s unique call on our own life..

The call to “see the one” focused on having eyes to see those who are lost, vulnerable, and in need of the gospel. We had Gwen Adams speak in two plenary sessions on the horror of sex trafficking. This happens both here in the United States and around the world. Young women and men sold into the sex trade need someone to rescue them, to be renewed by the grace of God, and reclaimed for God’s glory. In addition, our bishop’s wife, Jody Farmer, gave a talk on seeing those with unique challenges in our midst. The church needs to recognize the gifts of those who have physical and neurological differences, and to engage their gifts for mission.There are many other opportunities for the local church to “see the one” as we reach out to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, and love the orphan and widow. 

In addition to the opportunities in our neighborhood there are nations who to this day are unreached by the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are nations with no churches and no missionaries in 2022. There are other nations where naming the name of Jesus Christ could cost you your life. I had the privilege of sharing one such story, as I shared how God is using the Church in Myanmar following the military overthrow of the government to meet needs and share the good news in the midst of food shortages, fighting, and fear. The result has been many Christians have been killed, imprisoned or displaced from their homes. These are all people whom God has loved so much that He send His Son to save them. Will we love them enough to pray, send, and be willing to go to share the good news?

Finally, the call to “share the ONE” reminds us that Christ is the only Savior and hope for our neighbors and the nations. We must be rooted and grounded in the truth of the Gospel in order to see the Kingdom come. There was a great emphasis on the power of reading the Scripture with the lost and allowing them to ask questions and explore the implications of the Scripture on their lives. We go to share and incarnate the love and truth of Jesus Christ. The stories from missionaries who are in dangerous places sharing the love of Christ where powerful. All over the world the bonds of poverty, persecution, and prison cannot stop the advance of the love of God shared through the lives of His sent ones, as they tell of the ONE who has come to save them.

The Gulf Atlantic Diocese, under the leadership of Bishop Alex, is poised to raise up and deploy missionaries to our neighborhoods and to the nations. In the weeks and months ahead I will be reaching out to each parish to understand the current missional relationships and strategies. I will host a gathering at the upcoming Synod in Tallahassee to cast vision for how we can, together, cooperate and collaborate for greater missional impact. I am looking for leaders from each parish to join me in praying about how we all live out the call to “be the one, see the one, and share the ONE, in the months and years ahead.

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations… (Malachi 1:11, ESV)