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45 Years of Vision for Renewal and Reform

The first issue of Good News magazine was published in 1967. Charles W. Keysor, a Methodist pastor in Elgin, Illinois, published the first issue of the digest-size magazine for Methodist evangelicals out of the basement of his parsonage. At the suggestion of his wife, Marge, he called it Good News.

It had all begun a year earlier when James Wall, then editor of the Methodist minister’s magazine New Christian Advocate, asked Chuck, “Why don’t you write an article for us describing the central beliefs and convictions of this part [evangelical wing] of our church?”

Chuck’s article, “Methodism’s Silent Minority” was published in the July 14, 1966 issue of the New Christian Advocate, where he identified the major evangelical convictions (see original article on p. 14).

To his amazement Keysor received over 200 letters and phone calls in response to his article, most of them coming from Methodist pastors! Two themes surfaced in the responses: first, “I thought I was the only one left in the church who believes these things,” and second, “I feel so alone—so cut off from the leadership of my church.”

As he prayed about the letters and phone calls, Chuck felt he must do something. Having been a journalist prior to entering the ministry, he decided to launch a magazine which affirmed the evangelical message of the Wesleys and Francis Asbury. Good News magazine was born.

Responses to the first issue were much like today. One disgruntled Methodist in Alabama wrote, “Your magazine is JUNK!” But Carl F. H. Henry, then editor of the new evangelical journal Christianity Today, wrote, “A mighty fine beginning—congratulations!”

Rallying renewal groups: Seeing the immediate surge of interest in his magazine, Keysor chose 12 Methodists to serve as board members, and the Good News effort became incorporated as “A Forum for Scriptural Christianity.” The board’s first meeting was in May of 1967, only two months after the appearance of the first issue of the magazine.

Good News was a breath of fresh air for Methodists seeking spiritual renewal, quickly becoming their rallying point. Pastors and laity began organizing clusters of like-minded Methodists who came out of a felt need for fellowship, support, encouragement, and prayer. Soon, they began to map strategies for increasing evangelicalism within their annual conferences.

Today renewal groups exist in more than 40 of our United Methodist annual conferences, forming an extensive grassroots network for evangelical advocacy, fellowship, and prayer support. In my annual conference, the East Ohio Evangelical Fellowship—just one of such renewal groups—began in 1969 and has made an invaluable contribution in strengthening the evangelical witness in the conference, especially in youth camping programs and ministries.

Read more HERE.