Leading New Wine and CofE pastor resigns from all posts

Mark Bailey talks on leadership for New WineNew Wine/YouTube

A leading evangelical pastor has stepped down from all church leadership roles after a meeting with the Bishop of Gloucester Rachel Treweek.

Rev Mark Bailey was the national leader of New Wine, a thriving, charismatic evangelical network of churches with a dynamic and lively minstry around the country. He was also Team Rector of the hugely successful evangelical church, Trinity Cheltenham.

The announcement by the trustees of New Wine that they had accepted his resignation, made with "the greatest sadness and regret", stunned the close-knit evangelical community in the UK and some prominent members of New Wine and the Church of England sought prayers for Bailey on social media networks such as Facebook.

The details of the case are not being disclosed but he is now subject to proceedings under the Clergy Discipline Measure. Neither the police nor any other statutory agencies are involved. 

His decision to step down from his leadership roles follows his meeting with Bishop Treweek, a meeting that he requested.

The New Wine trustees said: "Please pray for Mark and Karen, their family and friends and for everyone at Trinity, Cheltenham as they cope with the shock and pain of this. The Trustees recognise and share the deep distress that this news will cause. They are profoundly conscious of their need for God's guidance and wisdom in the weeks ahead and encourage all friends of New Wine to pray for them, for New Wine itself and for all those personally involved."

In the meantime, John Coles has been appointed interim chair of trustees and discussions began yesterday about the best way forward for New Wine.

The trustees continued: "At a time like this the Trustees recognise our common brokenness. Their prayer is that the wonders of God's grace will be the more powerfully shown."

Bailey has been removed from the New Wine website's details of the leadership team and has also suspended himself from Twitter.

Bailey has been pastor at the church in Cheltenham for more than 20 years and involved in ministry for more than 27 years. He was previously a university chaplain and before that served his curacy. He has also worked in the secular world, in finance.

A Christian for more than 30 years, he grew up in a Christian home and his father was a minister. "Everything about church life drove me away from church. I gave myself to the God of my life which was rugby," he said in a New Wine video on leadership. He was seriously injured, and while confined to bed, began reading Scripture. "I came across this character called Jesus who basically bore no resemblance to anything I'd come across in church before. I realised that he loved me and I was in love with him."

He was prayed for, was healed and that changed his life. "Basically I've wanted to give back to the one who's given me everything ever since then." Soon after he and his wife Karen were married, he got involved in church leadership at St Aldates Oxford, working with the theologican and Rector, Rev Michael Green. 

He was appointed as the National Director for New Wine in October 2013.