Get to know Revd Stewart Fyfe
I was ordained in the Church of England in 2005 with a strong call to rural ministry. I served my curacy on the Solway in the north of Carlisle Diocese and for the last 10 years have served the North Westmorland Parishes, a group of (now 10) rural churches in the Eden Valley in Cumbria.
I believe passionately in little, local and ordinary churches and, indeed, in little, local and ordinary Christians. Jesus said the meek would inherit the earth and I believe that says something fundamental about the nature of his kingdom and his plan to save the world. While it is good to dream big, the dreams must always be of individual lives restored. Abraham was told to look at the stars to get a glimpse of the scale of God’s plan, but it still all began just with him and his faith, his willingness to leave his old life behind and go wherever God showed him. I find that such a helpful window into God’s plan. He always seems to start with little, local, ordinary people, but when their lives are transformed by the Holy Spirit, he can make a whole universe of difference.
Part of the trouble is that the language we use about the Holy Spirit is often rather scary or remote from ordinary people’s lives. People are often afraid of being hyped or manipulated or being drawn into a weird religious culture they don’t feel comfortable with. Yet our actual experience of the Holy Spirit is quite different. I remember when I first invited the Holy Spirit into my life. Far from feeling scary, it felt like someone very familiar had returned to me, someone I could really trust, someone who really cared for me and someone who empowered me, giving me back control of my life. Yes, the experience is emotional and powerfully loving, but never hyped or manipulated. On the contrary, we know that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. And far from making me more weirdly religious, the more faithful he has helped me to become, the more human it has made me. That’s what the Holy Spirit seems to do for people.
I am very inspired by John Wesley’s spirituality that was somehow catholic, evangelical and charismatic at the same time. I love the seasonal worship of the Church of England and the opportunity it gives us to delve into the full breadth of the scriptures and to journey through the life of Jesus every year, going deeper each time. But I also believe that it needs to be brought alive by the Holy Spirit breathing life into our worship and helping us to interpret and receive the Scriptures. I believe that when the Holy Spirit is present in our lives, he helps us to love one another more too and builds up genuine fellowship and community – another reason why I believe in the importance of little, local and ordinary churches. Size doesn’t matter, it’s the life within us and the quality of relationship we have with God, with each other and with our communities. Above all, I love Wesley’s vision of mission, what he called a “lively, practical faith” that saw coming to Christ not merely about the hereafter, but in lives turned around immediately, having a godly impact on our habits, our priorities, our self-image, our family life, our workplace and our communities. It is a change only possible when we invite the power of God to be at work in us, doing for us that which we could never do for ourselves.
I have devoted my whole ministry to little, local, ordinary churches because I believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is for everyone, not just the big charismatic evangelical churches (though we love them!) And I love New Wine, but don’t quite buy the idea that traditional church is ‘old wineskins’. I still believe that God is at work in traditional church as well as the new. I pray that God will help me to introduce many more people to the Holy Spirit who, far from being scary, hyped or manipulative, is deeply personal, wonderfully practical, trust-worthy and loving and who brings out in us the most wonderful fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
A brief personal background: I was born in August 1969 and was brought up in the Church of Scotland. My early faith faded in the teenage years before coming back in a powerful conversion experience around the age of 17. I was introduced to the work of the Holy Spirit at University in London in the late 1980s, when attending St George the Martyr, Queen Square and was introduced to the central Anglican tradition in my 20s. I still treasure both experiences. I began my working life as a financial investigator at the Serious Fraud Office, before going on to practice law as a commercial litigator for around 8 years before ordination to full time ministry. I am married with two grown-up children. I love music, reading, gardening, cricket, cooking and classic British sports cars.