It gives me no pleasure to write this, but I am no longer going to be publishing the e-zine New Wineskins. As both a print magazine and later an online e-zine, New Wineskins has had a colorful history over the last 20+ years, but I can no longer continue to publish it.
I simply don’t have any of the essential ingredients that it takes: time, money, and heart.
I’m working fulltime now in a university office where two recent departures have left the rest of us shouldering more responsibilities, and I’m raising a teenage daughter on my own — as well as preaching once or twice a month at my small and loving church home — and that is taking all the time and energy I can spare.
The money wasn’t a problem until my family’s income shrank by 80%. And while hosting has always been generously provided free, the e-mail connections are not. Fact is, I just can’t afford them anymore.
But the main ingredient was heart, and I have lost mine. Angi was my partner in this ministry for the past ten years, starting with a simple jointly-written article and progressing to helping editor Greg Taylor move the publication from print to online, and eventually publishing it on our own. With her death on May 8, half my life and heart went with her, and it was simply too much to continue doing this.
For a while, I could continue the conversation to the best of my ability as a loving brother in Christ … even with angry people, hateful people, bitter people, condemning people, people who could only see the communion cup filled with the blood of vengeance and exclusion for those who did not share their every view — rather than with the grace of Christ.
I don’t have the heart for those arguments anymore. And I was tempted to lose my own measure of His grace beyond what I cared to resist. I am much more interested in exploring new and better ways of sharing the Story, the gospel of Jesus Christ, with those who have not heard it, or who seek to more fully grasp it.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate every person who has ever contributed time, thought, prayer, money, advertising revenue, articles, encouragement, participation on the ZOE board of directors and music ministry which oversaw this ministry for a good long while, offers to assist, technical assistance and free hosting from Alliance Software (which I pray they will continue to provide as the site moves to an archive, at least for a while), leadership and spiritual direction, founding zeal, enthusiasm for resuscitation when energies and resources were running low — all of the vitality that made the New Wineskins conversation worthwhile.
I do, and with a depth of gratitude that mere words can’t express.
I would list the names, from founding Wineskins editors Rubel Shelly and Mike Cope through Greg Taylor and Eric Noah-Wilson to the last person to send me an article proposal just a couple of days ago — but there would be too many. You know who you are, and you know what a difference you have made in opening hearts to the greater grace of our Lord.
If New Wineskins has been as much of a blessing in your life as it has been in mine (and I sincerely doubt that is even possible), then that is all of the gratification that I’ll ever need from having served as her WebServant for all these years.
Thank you for your grace, patience and understanding as I close out that service.
And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the transcendent peace of His Holy Spirit and the love of our God and Father be with you always.
Keith Brenton, WebServant