INTERVIEW – Terry and Wendy Virgo at New Word Alive

Today I am going to share the written transcript of the first segment of a three-part interview with Terry Virgo and his wife, Wendy at the New Word Alive Conference in North Wales. The video of that segment can be seen here. I have also previously interviewed Terry here.

In this segment I ask them to tell us a little bit about what they do, what is Newfrontiers, and how Terry came to speak at the New Word Alive Conference this year.

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Terry and Wendy VirgoAdrian
Hi. I’m Adrian Warnock. I blog over at adrianwarnock.com and I’m part of the leadership team at Jubilee Church in London. I’m here at New Word Alive in North Wales, and am actually in Terry and Wendy Virgo’s chalet. Terry and Wendy very kindly agreed to join us for a short interview about the conference and whatever else we decide to talk about, I guess. So, thanks for joining us, Terry and Wendy.

Terry
Thanks, Adrian. Good to see you.

Adrian
Yeah. It’s great that you were able to find some time to chat with us, and to just be here at this conference. I just wonder, how have you found the conference so far?

Terry
Well, we’ve really enjoyed the opportunity for fellowship with a number of people we wouldn’t normally see. First of all, I’ve never met Don Carson, and it’s been magnificent to listen to him, and John Piper—inspiring again. It’s good to make new friends—people whose names I’ve known, like Wallace Benn. This is the first time I’ve got to meet him. It’s been an excellent time. Thank you.

Adrian
Good, thanks. And what about you, Wendy?

Wendy
Yes. I wasn’t quite sure what I was coming to, but I was relieved to find it is set in an absolutely beautiful location. And also I have so enjoyed especially Don Carson’s and John Piper’s messages. I’ve really been blown away by their passionate delivery of theology.

Adrian
Yeah, it’s been great, hasn’t it? So, Terry, there will be a few people watching this [and reading it] who perhaps won’t know who you are. I mean, I find that amazing; you probably don’t find that amazing. But people do watch this in the States, and also some other places. I wonder if you could, in your own words really, talk a little bit about what it is you do with your life when you’re not in a chalet in Wales.

Terry
Yes, which is pretty rare! I’m based in Brighton on the south coast of England, and I’m an elder of a church there called Church of Christ the King. From there, I travel out with Newfrontiers, which is a group of churches that works in about 40 nations now. In the UK we have about 220 churches, and then globally we’re pressing on towards 600 churches. So I travel a lot. Later this month we’ll be in Russia at a pastors and wives conference, and then we’ll be in the States in May and June, and we’ll be in France with our pastors and wives there from the Newfrontiers churches. So we travel quite a lot.

Adrian
You say “we.” Is that the two of you, or just you, or sometimes a mixture of both?

Terry
We have five children who are all now married and have left home. And we often travel together now.

Adrian
Oh, that’s the “we.”

Wendy
Yes.

Adrian
So what does Wendy get up to, then, when she’s not holding your bags? Well, I hope he carries your bags Wendy!

Wendy
Yes, traveling does take up a lot of our time, but when I’m at home I love to be involved in things like Alpha Courses, although increasingly I’m not able to do that. But I do write for various Bible notes such as TWR and Day By Day, the Bible Reading Fellowship, Scripture Union obviously for as well. I speak at ladies’ days around the country, and I’m also engaged in writing a book at the moment.

Adrian
That’s very interesting. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? Or are you sworn to secrecy on that?

Wendy
Well, yes, perhaps it is a little bit premature, but it’s about the effect that women can have in a Church for good or bad.

Adrian
Very good. That sounds really interesting. I look forward to reading that, no doubt, sometime in the future. Now you’re going to have to finish it as you’ve said it online.

Wendy
I know.

Adrian
(Laughing) There you go! So, obviously both of you are incredibly busy, traveling an awful lot, all around the place, looking after all these churches. What made you decide to accept the invitation to come here? I know you’ve been involved with UCCF for quite awhile as well, haven’t you? Is it some kind of advisory board you’re on with them, or . . .

Terry
Yes. The invitation came from UCCF. I’ve made a very good friend in Richard Cunningham. He’s a fine guy.Terry Virgo I like him. He asked me to be involved with UCCF, and then having agreed to that, I was then invited to speak at their Leaders Forum a year or two back, and had a very happy time working through Romans and then leading Bible studies. And I’ve enjoyed the fellowship. I’m so glad that they have embr
aced us. We come from a charismatic perspective. Our church life is charismatic. UCCF has not been famously charismatic, but they’re making a statement of openness, and I’ve been received very warmly, both in their Forum, which I’m due to speak at again next year (2009), and then here as well. And so it’s an interesting coming together of people who love Scripture, love doctrine, love the truth of God. And it’s great to have Stuart Townend here, and Phatfish, who come from my home church. We’re very proud of them. Stuart’s written some magnificant songs, as have Phatfish, and I know they are welcomed around the world. It’s great to be together with them here as well. So we’ve enjoyed that.

Adrian
Yeah, and we’re singing the same songs as well, aren’t we? It’s interesting. Those divisions, at least in terms of songs, just don’t seem to be there anymore, really, you know?

Terry
I was fascinated when I was invited to speak at the Keswick Convention, probably three years ago now, and again I felt as the worship took place before I spoke, I think three-quarters of the songs we sang had been written by people in my home church. I felt remarkably . . .

Adrian
What is it about the sea water down there? You guys seem to keep producing singers, don’t you?

Terry
Yes, we have some great songwriters . . .

Adrian
I guess that church is a sort of resource church, really, isn’t it? I guess that would be one way of describing it in terms of—you have all kinds of different people going out and serving in various different way from there, haven’t you?

Terry
I think David Fellingham originally was with us from the beginning when we started our church. We started with 38 people back in about 1980, and David joined us quite early on with tremendous musical skills and devotion to God. He started writing songs that became very famous. And then others joined us like Stuart Townend, Paul Oakley, then his other son, Nathan Fellingham, came through writing songs. Kate Simmonds. More recently Simon Brading. In fact, we’re starting a worship school again this coming autumn, and we trust people will want to book in and come for the monthly program that will take place through this coming year.

Adrian
That’s great. So I mean, coming here, I guess we’re joining hands with people who perhaps years ago we’d never have imagined we’d be joining hands with. I mean, would that be a fair way of describing it?

Terry
Yes, it’s true. For me, when I was first converted from a completely non-Christian background, my sister had joined All Souls Langham Place, and I first responded to the gospel publically there. So I met John Stott on that day. So my roots go back to an evangelical context. And while I was at college, I listened to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. So one feels so at home with these truths. Then I had an experience of the Holy Spirit, opening up the gifts of the Spirit in our church life. Which means we’re certainly not cessationists. We believe in the presence and the power of God. We’ve never abandoned these great evangelical truths which we greatly love and have always preached during this time of enjoying the presence of the Spirit as well—seeing people being healed, and prophecies, and things of that order. So that we can find a very happy combination of those things.

Adrian
Yeah, I think that people are sort of almost feeling that this is a new thing—this combination of reformed and charismatic. I guess it’s newly prominent. It’s something that’s been around, I guess what you’re saying, all along. Is that right?

Terry
Well, I think I’ve always held that position going back many years. Joel Edwards, who has been the Evangelical Alliance leader for some years, said he felt that we at Newfrontiers in England were fairly unique for being famously charismatic and famously reformed theologically. He thought we were unusual. But we’re friends right across the board, and I’m very grateful for that.

Adrian
Good. Thanks.

Continued in part 2 . . .

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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