By Liza Kittle
As we begin 2011, I bring important news regarding the future ministry of Renew. Beginning January 1, Renew will become its own separate 501c3 non-profit organization. Renew will continue to collaborate closely with the ministry of Good News, as we have for almost 20 years. As the Good News office completes its transition to the new location in Texas, Renew will be making some transitions as well.
From our office in Augusta, Georgia, Renew will continue to be closely associated with Good News on your behalf—advocating for reform and renewal in the United Methodist Church regarding women’s issues. We will continue to uplift issues and provide information concerning the Women’s Division through Renew’s monthly column in the magazine and through special reports. Renew will also be a member of the Renewal and Reform Coalition, a partnership of renewal groups that will represent evangelical perspectives at the 2012 General Conference.
With the recently released Call to Action Report adopted by the Council of Bishops and being implemented by the Connectional Table, Renew believes the timing is ripe for change regarding the acceptance of a variety of women’s ministry options in the denomination. Renew will work towards this goal on behalf of the women in the UM Church. With a new mandate on “building vital congregations” and empowering pastors and laity to actively be involved in this process, surely building vital women’s ministry programs would be a priority. Strong women’s ministries are essential to vital congregations.
Renew will still be an avenue of support and encouragement for the women of the church in beginning or restructuring their women’s ministry. We are able to recommend resources, connect you with other network members, and suggest speakers for women’s events and meetings. Renew plans to increase our focus on leadership development and partnering with women’s ministry leaders in the UM Church to highlight and share information on fruitful women’s programs.
Renew will continue to develop the use of internet technologies such as the Renew website (www.renewnetwork.org ), monthly e-newsletters, and our new Renew Network Facebook page. These vital tools are already having a tremendous impact on growing the network, connecting with other women in ministry, and dessiminating information of interest to our members.
While we applaud church leadership for looking honestly at the critical problems facing the United Methodist Church and for recognizing that the church’s current economic state is “unsustainable”, there is much work to be done by renewal groups, clergy, and laity.
Most importantly, we must address the theological drift taking place among our young people, within our seminaries and in our pulpits. Basic truths of the Christian faith are being attacked, maligned, and re-interpreted—striking at the very root of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. According to a recent George Barna report analyzing patterns during the past year, the Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate. The report states, “What used to be basic, universally-known truths about Christianity are now unknown mysteries to a large and growing share of Americans—especially young adults.
We must address the continued partisan political advocacy of our boards and agencies, pastors and bishops. Recently, a United Methodist pastor Rev. Lorenza Andrade Smith was released from a San Antonio jail after staging a hunger strike to support passage of the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children to apply for legal status after attending college. The General Board of Church and Society and the Women’s Division push political legislation through General Conference that allows them to advocate in the name of United Methodism on a plethora of issues. There is much diversity of thought within the denomination and these partisan actions have created dissension and contributed to membership loss.
Renew and Good News will continue to inform the church on important issues and advocate on your behalf regarding theological integrity and balanced social witness. Renew will especially concentrate on those issues that affect the women of the UM Church and women’s ministry.
With our change in relationship with Good News, Renew can only be effective as we receive support from our members and partners. In these economic times, we must be financially responsible with our resources. The growth and fruitfulness of Renew will be based on the Lord’s provision through you.
Please stand with Renew as we advocate, encourage, and support the spread of women’s ministry in the United Methodist Church. Please stand with us as we influence the church regarding theological and social issues especially pertinent to women. Vital women’s ministries will help build vital congregations which will in turn build a vital United Methodist Church.
Blessings for a Spirit and hope-filled New Year.
Liza Kittle is the President of the Renew Network (www.renew-network.org), P.O. Box 16055, Augusta, GA 30919; telephone: 706-364-0166.
Gratitude for Renew
By Rob Renfroe
I want to express the deep sense of gratitude that the members of the Good News Board and I feel for the contribution of Renew to the reform and the renewal of the United Methodist Church. Renew has been a genuine gift to the women of the church who have looked for balanced, biblical resources to support their spiritual growth and their ministry in the world. In addition, Renew has served as a vigilant and effective force in exposing the radical political agenda behind much of the work of the Women’s Division.
Other organizations that were once under the wing of Good News have “left the nest,” so to speak, when the time was right and always with even greater effectiveness. I feel sure that will be the case with Renew under the leadership of Liza Kittle and I know that those of you who have supported Renew in the past will continue to do so.
Mrs. Kittle will continue to attend our board meetings and keep us apprised of the issues and events impacting women within the UM Church and how we can support Renew’s efforts for reform. I grow more grateful every day for the efforts of the many orthodox renewal groups within our denomination, each one playing its vital role in the renewal of the church, as Renew will certainly continue to do.
—Rob Renfroe, Good News President and Publisher