I know all the reasons why Terry Virgo and the team closed down Stoneleigh Bible Week. Missions ... the nations ... etc etc. But I was listening to some of the classic Stoneleigh worship on my iPod at the gym and just had a complete longing to be back "there". It was a painful, aching longing to be among thousands of charismatic Christians worshipping God with all their might.
For those who don't know and who aren't familiar with Stoneleigh Bible Week (near Coventry) - it was run by Terry Virgo and Newfrontiers from 1992 to 2001. It was preceeded by the Downs Bible Week run at Plumpton Racecourse in Sussex. Stoneleigh Bible Week far grew and overshadowed it's predecessor - mainly thanks to the extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1994-96 and by it's closure in 2001 gathered upto almost 21,000 people from across the world.
Sadly - I only attended the 2000 and 2001 Bible Week - but I can honestly say that I will never forget the two years I went. What made Stoneleigh Bible Week so extra-special to me?
I love, love, love Spirit-filled and inspired preaching. I have an ever-expanding list of heroes who I love to sit under their ministry and Terry Virgo comes very near the top of that list along with Dave Holden. The most memorable sermons to me during the two Stoneleigh weeks I attended I think were:
1. Dave Holden speaking on; "The Past, the Present and the Future" - Stoneleigh 2000
2. Terry Virgo speaking on the vitality of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit - Stoneleigh 2000
3. Dave Holden speaking on running a race - Stoneleigh 2001.
4. Terry Virgo speaking on "You have been round this mountain long enough" - Stoneleigh 2001.
5. Terry Virgo speaking (and re-preaching Ern Baxter) on "You are Meant to Fly" - Stoneleigh 2001.
Here's a clip of Terry from Stoneleigh 2001:
Stoneleigh was especially significant for me - because I always believed in the gift of prophecy despite my home church in Dunstable telling me it had ceased and was no longer available. Stoneleigh was the first time that I actually heard the genuine gift of prophecy in action. I still remember it to this day (even though it is now 10 years ago).
Terry Virgo came up to the microphone on the 1st night of the Bible Week and I knew something special was about to happen because he took his glasses off. And he prophesied this;
"As you come on hands and knees, ground that you would have thought was outside of your sphere that you were disqualified to get near, "I've cleared the ground for you" says the Lord. "I've cleared it so you can dance now. You can dance on holy ground - I've cleared the ground for you" ... "You are free to dance because of my eternal grace towards you, my kindness and my celebration over you. I celebrate in my finished work. I celebrate in embracing my sons and daughters running home".
My first prophecy - my first exposure to the grace of God.
Ah the worship. No it wasn't the fact that it was Kate Simmonds or Lou Fellingham leading that made it special - although that helped. I think it was the fact that there were thousands of like-minded Christians all gathered there with one sole aim - to worship and exalt God. Just playing the music and worship on my iPod reminds me of how effortless it was and what a touch of heaven it was to stand and lift hands and be swept away in reflecting on the glory and wonder of God.
For me, one of the all-time classics has to be "Before the Throne of God Above":
As I say, I know why Terry and the team shut down Stoneleigh Bible Week - but I just had to state my aching longing for massive, corporate worship. Good times.