New Wine cancels 2021 gatherings over pandemic

New Wine draws thousands of Christians together each year

New Wine has announced the cancellation of its 2021 'United' gatherings in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

It is a blow for the church network after it had to cancel this year's large-scale events after the outbreak of Covid-19. 

New Wine had been planning to hold its United A and B events in the summer of 2021 but concluded that it could not host them "safely and legally" given the normal attendance of 11,000 to 12,000 people. 

"This isn't a case of lacking faith that brighter days are around the corner; we continue to pray for a move of God to change the national landscape. This concerns the reality that an event like United has a long lead-in time and events industry changes that we needed to see in recent months didn't materialize," it said.

"Even if local and national restrictions are relaxed in time for next summer — which seems increasingly likely — there simply isn't enough time to prepare for and run events of the size and complexity of ours.

"Some of the concrete information that we would need in the next couple of months — including social distancing and covid ready event requirements, vaccination or rapid testing access, availability of NHS resources — to name a few examples, just won't be available to us in time.

"We haven't taken this decision lightly and have prayed, discerned and applied our best wisdom as we have wrestled with this together and liaised with the events industry and other Christian festivals and events," it added.

While United A and B are off, New Wine is now pushing ahead with plans for a six-day digital gathering from 29 July to 3 August 2021. 

It also has not completely ruled out the possibility of a physical event next year but said that if this did happen, it would be with "limited" numbers. 

"Although the global news seems to be moving in a more positive direction after the announcement of a potential vaccine against covid, we will have to continue to hold this option lightly as there are still many unknown variables," organisers said.

"As we are all experiencing, things can change rapidly both nationally and locally. We are looking at all the possibilities and risks (for you and for us) within a changing landscape, and we'll keep you fully informed as we go." 

The cancellation of United A and B does not affect New Wine's new Sixty One event in partnership with Fusion, which is much smaller in scale. 

"Planning for Sixty One currently continues as planned and [is] on track," it said.