Renewal Coalition in Portland

“I am very happy. For the first time, I can say that the best news of the day is that I am in the company of Good News,” Bishop Pedro M. Torio of Baguio City in the Philippines said as he greeted the guests at the Good News Briefing Breakfast.

“I am very happy. For the first time, I can say that the best news of the day is that I am in the company of Good News,” Bishop Pedro M. Torio of Baguio City in the Philippines said as he greeted the guests at the Good News Briefing Breakfast.

“There is a truth that transcends all cultures, all generations, all nations, and all eras of time. That is the Truth of Jesus Christ,” the Rev. Madeline Carrasco Henners, a United Methodist clergywoman, reminded the delegates and guests at one of the Good News Briefing Breakfasts in Portland. “The more you believe the truth of his Word, the more it will become true in how you walk every day.”

In the whirl of General Conference activity, that was the kind of anchoring message that kept evangelicals and traditionalists spiritually sustained in Portland. As United Methodists from all over the globe converged on the Pacific Northwest, the Good News staff and associates convened to take part in the proceedings. Fielding a team of more than 35 volunteers, The Renewal and Reform Coalition was comprised of Lifewatch, The Confessing Movement, Transforming Congregations, UM Action, the Renew Women’s Network, and Good News.  The Coalition had been working steadily to identify vital issues coming before the church, draft petitions, and assess proposed legislation for the Conference.

Breakfast Briefings: “One reason Jesus so impacted the people of his time is that he ‘came with grace and truth’ – not one instead of the other, not one more than the other, both together,” the Rev. Rob Renfroe, president of Good News, told the guests at one of the Briefing Breakfasts. “The United Methodist Church will transform lives and renew our culture only if we follow our Lord’s example and proclaim grace and truth. That balance characterized the early Methodists when they were actually making disciples for the transformation of the world.”

Good News provided seven breakfast briefings at the Crown Plaza Hotel where delegates had a chance to be inspired by rousing devotionals, network together, plan legislative strategy, and hear presentations about the progress of legislation. Our team worked tirelessly from 6:00 a.m. until late into the night each day to serve the delegates and promote a revived and renewed Wesleyan vision of the church.

The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, coordinator of the Renewal and Reform Coalition and vice president of Good News, kept the delegates abreast of the legislation in each of the 13 committees during the first week. During the second week, the briefing alerted the delegates about issues that would be coming up in the plenary session.

Most importantly, the briefing breakfasts were a sanctuary for delegates and observers to find inspiration and prayer each day.

“I am very happy. For the first time, I can say that the best news of the day is that I am in the company of Good News,” Bishop Pedro M. Torio of Baguio City in the Philippines said as he greeted the participants at the breakfast. He shared about first seeing Good News magazine while he was a student at Duke Divinity School. Torio testified that Good News was one of the publications that was “very formative in my life as a pastor and as a bishop.”

“In 1999, I never dreamed that this day was going to happen. I am in prayer with the whole church as we continue to be a Bible-based, mission focused, and Christ-centered church,” he told the assembly. “I believe that at this time it is very important for us to affirm our connectional faith and UM Book of Discipline as we continue to engage in mission. We have been blessed because this quadrennium we have 28 new local churches that we have just recognized, eight just for this year. God has blessed the missionary efforts of the people in the area and because of this, this invitation from Good News to be with you today means so much to us.

“We believe that in coming here we are making a very clear statement of our faith, our mission focus, as well as our centeredness on the lordship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in our lives,” Torio said.

Devotions were given each morning from United Methodist pastors such as the Rev. Kenneth Levingston of Texas, the Rev. Jessica LaGrone of

“The Church must live and thrive and do its work – not by getting organized – but through responsiveness to the Holy Spirit,” Dr. Maxie Dunnam said at the Briefing Breakfast. “The power of ministry and mission is the Holy Spirit. Revival and renewal will not come by our own will, certainly not by our own efforts, but by our responsiveness and our surrender to the Holy Spirit.”

“The Church must live and thrive and do its work – not by getting organized – but through responsiveness to the Holy Spirit,” Dr. Maxie Dunnam said at the Briefing Breakfast. “The power of ministry and mission is the Holy Spirit. Revival and renewal will not come by our own will, certainly not by our own efforts, but by our responsiveness and our surrender to the Holy Spirit.”

Asbury Theological Seminary, Dr. David Watson of United Theological Seminary, and Dr. Maxie Dunnam from the Confessing Movement.

Be a witness

“Be a witness for the gospel,” Dr. Watson told the delegates, bringing a message from 2 Timothy 1:7: “God didn’t give us a spirit of fear but a Spirit of power, love, and self discipline.”

“Don’t make winning an idol,” Watson said. “This can’t be about winning; it has to be about witnessing. …Because when it’s about winning, we’re setting ourselves up against other people.” Those who are most vocally opposed to the traditional viewpoint “matter to God and God loves them,” he said. “And as we look at them we can’t just look at them as opponents. These are people for whom Christ died on the cross and they matter. We may disagree with them, but they still matter. If this becomes about winning and not about witnessing, then we’re not even in the game. God’s called us to something better than politics; God’s called us to be witnesses of the incarnate Word who died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead.”

There was also a special guest presentation from the Rev. Wayne Lavender, a United Methodist pastor who made a run/walk/drive trek from the east coast of the United States to the General Conference to raise awareness and the support to embrace the world’s estimated 210 million orphans as a missional priority of the UM Church.

The Rev. Garry Ingraham, the new director of Transforming Congregations, spoke about the denominational divide over marriage and sexuality and his own testimony of dealing with same-sex attraction. John Lomperis, a delegate from Indiana and the head of UMAction, briefed the delegates on the imperative of having United Methodism end its relationship with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) through the United Methodist Women and the General Board of Church and Society.

Focus Newsletter: Good News’ daily newsletter was once again distributed by many early-rising volunteers to the breakfast briefing and also outside the convention center every morning. Each Focus newsletter contained news, commentary, and edifying devotional material from Christians throughout the ages such as C.S. Lewis, Richard Allen, E.M. Bounds, Phoebe Palmer, Hannah Whitall Smith, John Wesley, E. Stanley Jones, and Catherine Booth.

Perspective: MethodistCrossroads.org was launched in order to provide Good News supporters the most comprehensive news and analysis of General Conference business. This included the day’s Focus as well as video updates from the Rev. Rob Renfroe. Additionally, further digital updates were given via the Good News Facebook page and Twitter feed.

In the midst of grueling hours, technological difficulties, and the weight of concern for General Conference legislation, the prayers and messages from Good News supporters were extremely appreciated as the Renewal and Reform Coalition worked on behalf of local congregations, jurisdictions, and conferences at home and on the other side of the globe.

The Good News family continues to grow, and we remain thankful to all, named and unnamed, who worked hard to contribute to the Coalition effort in Portland.

 

–Good News

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