Dear Renew Network,
Renew Network Team Leader
In the last Renew newsletter, I stated that conservative, orthodox churches should carefully consider their relationship with United Methodist Women who have changed their bylaws hoping not to lose any UMW units when the church separates in 2022. UMW’s National Office is known for taking controversial positions on any number of social issues. Their position on abortion is just one example.
In September 2021, the New York headquarters of United Methodist Women National (UMWN), issued a press release that came out against the Heartbeat Act, sometimes called the Texas Abortion Law. UMWN touted the position of the United Methodist Church and claimed the Texas law was, “…a danger to women and an intrusion on families.” They also stated the Texas law usurps the critical decision-making process of women and families claiming the law bands abortion before most women know they are pregnant.UMW was correct in saying that “United Methodist Women, like the United Methodist Church, believes “governmental laws and regulations do not provide all the guidance required for the informed Christian conscience. Therefore, a decision concerning abortion should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, family, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel.” Nevertheless, the UMW statement misrepresents the Heartbeat Law and adds to the erroneous claim that Texas is banning abortion.
When one looks into the facts concerning the Texas law, a very different story emerges than that of the UMWN press release.
On September 30, 2021 Brian Hughes, author of the Texas law wrote in the Wall Street Journal titled, The Texas Abortion Law Is Unconventional Because It Had to Be. In the article, he explained:
The law does not ban abortions after six weeks. It requires that a physician performing an abortion first check on a fetal heartbeat. If there is a heartbeat, the physician may not abort the child. When a physician performs an abortion without checking for a heartbeat, or finds a heartbeat and performs the abortion anyway, he has performed an illegal abortion.
The Texas law does not take away the option of abortion, but it does prioritize the life of the baby and protects him/her from undue suffering. Hughes explains that no governmental authority can mete out punishment, but the law does provide for the doctor to be sued; the mother cannot be sued. Additionally, Texas’ commitment to women and the unborn does not begin and end with the passage of the Heartbeat Law.
Before this law was passed, the state had already passed the Alternatives to Abortion Program which provides counseling, classes, and other necessities to women who face unwanted pregnancies. Texas has provided over $100 million dollars to fund this program. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the UMW and the entire church put as much energy and financial resources into encouraging adoption and foster care not to mention programs to offer positive alternatives to abortion?!
The Texas law was a creative attempt to put the questions of abortion back into the hands of American democracy. It is an unconventional means of regulating abortion.
The law is not without its problems. As flawed as some say it is, there is no excuse for UMWN to claim that the Texas Abortion Law prevents women from “access to medically safe reproductive health services.” Nor does the law pose a danger to women or an intrusion on families as UMW’s press release contends.
UMWN for some time has expressed their position on abortion in the language of providing women with full access to comprehensive reproductive health education and care for women. When the 2016 General Conference voted to withdraw denominational support for the pro-abortion lobby, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), Harriet Jane Olsen, General Secretary and CEO of UMW and Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crow, the General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), issued an Open Letter to the RCRC. In it, they regretted that they would no longer be at the table to represent the United Methodist “theological framework and carefully nuanced position on abortion,” and the UMW commitment to reproductive health.
Both agencies complimented RCRC for providing, “important ministries in support of pastors who are counseling with women and families during the ‘tragic conflicts of life with life’ when abortion may be considered according to the Discipline of the United Methodist Church.” They failed to inform the readers of the Open Letter that neither RCRC, the UMW nor GBCS had ever lobbied for any restriction on abortion—even late-term and partial-birth abortion. They claim to respect the sacredness of life, but do they? Can this be possible when they have never found any reason for restricting an abortion?
The United States is one of 59 countries that allow abortion without restriction as to reason. The US is one of only seven countries that allow abortion without restriction in the third trimester. Restrictions on abortion are common in 139 countries. UMWN has consistently rejected all limitations on abortion even those based on the fact that a fetus as early as six weeks has a heartbeat and at 20-24 weeks is capable of suffering and feeling pain.
UMWN defines “health of the mother” in the most liberal way. This in essence means that no matter what restrictions are passed by states, abortions cannot be kept from happening. As Michael Stokes Paulsen wrote in the October 2021 edition of First Things:
The right to abortion may be exercised for essentially any reason, including social convenience, economic concerns, sex-selection, or even spite. And the right is super protected against all other interests, at all stages of pregnancy, up to and including the point of birth.
Why is this? Paulsen goes on to write, “…because abortion still must be allowed for any health reason—with health being defined, strangely, as including any ‘emotional, psychological, familial,’ or ‘age’ consideration agreed upon by the woman and abortionist as a sufficient reason for abortion.” The Texas abortion bill found a way around this health provision.
Also at the 2016 General Conference in a separate action, the church did not readopt UMW’s “Responsible Parenthood” resolution. This piece of legislation had long been used to validate the UMW support for all forms of family planning including abortion. Olson and Henry-Crow issued a joint statement claiming that, “In failing to adopt this measure, The United Methodist Church missed a great opportunity to stand with women and the girl child by supporting basic family planning.” Abortion is not “basic family planning.” As Paulsen explains, “Abortion kills a living human being …The act of abortion ends a distinct, unique human life.” We should also add, the life aborted is one that cannot defend itself.
The UMWN and GBCS say they regret tragic conflicts of life with life; but they have done little if anything to prevent abortion from happening on a massive scale. Since 1973, over 62 million babies have been aborted. That number rises every day. UMWN seems to have forgotten that women have a full range of reproductive options other than abortion.
In their statement, Olsen and Henry-Crow added, “Misinformation on this issue abounds.” By that they mean abortion can be a moral choice, because women need the option of abortion in order to make responsible decisions concerning family planning. If “misinformation on this issue abounds,” formulating their support for abortion in terms of comprehensive reproductive health is misleading and also results in misinformation.
“Misinformation abounds” is certainly an accurate description of the UMW’s New York headquarters misrepresentation of the Texas law. It has long been a concern for Renew that UMWN does not always give women an objective perspective on critical issues. Over the years, Renew has warned women that they do not always receive balanced information nor all the facts when UMWN issues Press Releases and Action Alerts such as the release titled United Methodist Women Opposes Texas Abortion Law. Women who get their information from UMWN concerning critical social issues that face the church and our society are often ill informed. That is because the UMW staff in most cases present only one-sided progressive positions based on a political conception of justice and rights. For some time UMWN has offered the church little if any biblical grounding for their position on abortion.
The issue of abortion is just one of several that have brought the UMC to the crisis that has led us to recognize that the church must separate if it is to go forward. The new Global Methodist Church has stated it will be unashamedly committed to a culture of life. We can look forward to the new church supporting and lobbying for programs like Texas’ Alternatives to Abortion Program and many other constructive measures that will offer real hope to women and families. Even more important, the GMC is committed to bring solid theology and biblical truth that reflects God’s heart both for women and the unborn into the new church’s deliberation of sensitive social issues.
Unrestricted abortion has been anything but constructive. It has been destructive to women and profoundly unjust for the babies whose lives have been aborted. The new church will have much to do if it is to present the way, the truth and the life that Jesus calls us to offer our confused and hurting world. We must do better. In the Global Methodist Church we will.
Many of you in our network have been waiting patiently and praying faithfully anticipating the passage of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation. As we wait, the signs of our times are evident. These signs remind us why we are separating and confirm the reality that the United Methodist Church will not go forward without separation.
There is much we can do to prepare. We begin by fully understanding what should be left behind and what should go forward. This is particularly true for women’s ministry in the new Global Methodist Church. We must leave behind institutional commitments that have compromised the church’s mission. We must go forward with a renewed Christ centered focus.
With these thoughts in mind, I encourage you to read Renew’s September Newsletter and the article titled, “UMW and the Issue of Abortion.” Also posted is a very sensitive and thought provoking Perspective written by Tom Lambrecht.
The women of Renew have a vital role to play in this time of preparation. I’m excited and I hope you are too.
Dear Renew Network,
It is with sadness and yet joy that I remember Marilyn Anderes who went to be with the Lord on December 28, 2020. Many of you recall Marilyn who was a very special friend and resource for Renew. Her column “From the Heart” appeared on the last page of the Good News Magazine for many years. And like myself, you may have turned first to read her always poignant and inspiring words before turning into the rest of the magazine. Marilyn also penned articles for other ministries and wrote four books, the last of which, The Intentional Remnant was released just a few months before her death; it is so appropriate to the challenging times in which we find ourselves. Like all her writing, it is a Spirit inspired message that the remnant would do well to read. An excerpt from this book appeared in the November/December edition of the magazine.
In all her writing and speaking, Marilyn called her audience to a deeper intimacy with God. Like the title of her book published in 2006, Marilyn wanted others to know that regardless of where we are in our walk with the Lord, there is always More. She knew the faithfulness of the Lord goes with us through our good times as well as our most difficult circumstances and trials. One such trial in her life was the disease of diabetes which struck two of her three children, her husband and eventually a grand child. In describing her decades-long battle with the disease, Marilyn wrote that God had showed her, “…life without sugar is still sweet.”
On writing of her death, long-time friend and founder of Renew Network, Faye Short wrote: “ Marilyn was an incredible Bible scholar and teacher. The Word of God was her passion, as were the people to whom she longed to deliver God’s Word for their benefit, that the Holy Spirit might do a great work in their lives. The anointing of the Holy Spirit was upon her ministry. She was an incredible wife, mother and friend. Above all, she loved Jesus and was His faithful servant. “
As I read Faye’s words, I was reminded of Paul’s words to us in the second chapter of I Corinthians. There he speaks of that which is coming to nothing and contrasts it to knowing Jesus Christ crucified and “the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages.” Marilyn will be remembered for leading many to go deeper into that wisdom.
Several years ago, Marilyn was the speaker for a Renew Network retreat. The title of her teaching was a well-known line from the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” Today Marilyn is home with the Lord. I see her delving even deeper into all that Jesus has prepared for her. For truly Marilyn like Paul exhorted all to discover that:
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
Dear Renew Network,
In 1850 Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a Christmas poem titled, “Ring Out, Wild Bells.” Instead of exalting the baby Jesus, it describes a year that has much in common with 2020. He writes of ringing out the year with its false pride, civic slander, party strife, foul disease, lust of gold and wars of old. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply ring out all that is wrong, unloving and unjust in our world? Oh that we could be done with the racial unrest of this past summer, the contentious election, and the devastating virus that took away our growing economy and brought us death in 2020. But hope is more than putting the past behind us.
Tennyson also speaks of what we should ring in. In some ways he points us to a time to come – perhaps a time when Jesus will return. He mentions ringing in the love of truth and right, the common love of good, the thousand years of peace and the Christ that is to be. But our hope is built on more than the future reign of Christ.
We will never ring out all the tribulation in this world. It is utopian and futile to think that can be done. As Tennyson alludes, tribulation is with us for now. While that is true and there is something to be said for letting go and looking to the future with hope, Jesus points us to a deeper truth. He says to us,
In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world.
We at Renew encourage you to ring in the good news that a baby born of a virgin and conceived by the Holy Spirit has come. He is God with us. He has come and He has overcome! He has come that we might know our worth and experience the joy that is meant for all to know. And He calls us to come – come and follow Him. He has also overcome the darkness of all that is untrue, wrong and evil. Through Him, we too overcome. We have reason to be of good cheer. Jesus is the light of the world!
Let us not forget that we have seen a mighty move of God in our own denomination.
Despite strong forces that have pulled us in competing directions, officially our doctrines have held firm. With the development of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace, our church finally accepted the reality that some ideas are incompatible and cannot be held together. Despite the delayed General Conference and the uncertainty that came with the postponement, we are moving forward.
As we ring out 2020 and ring in 2021, let us look within and ring out that which hinders and ring in “the way, the truth and the life, that Jesus came to bring each and every one.
The Network hopes you will find hope, peace, joy and love as you celebrate the coming of the Christ Child this Christmas.
This year when you make your end-of-year giving, I hope you will include Renew Network. Visit the Renew website to download or print the Donations Form. Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
In His Service,
Renew Network Team Leader
This coming week we will celebrate Thanksgiving. Some of us will be with family; and some will not because of the increase threat of Covid-19. The virus is but one of the challenges of 2020 which has been full of disappointment and tragic events. I have heard many say they can’t wait until this year is over. But before this year is over, Thanksgiving comes around.
I looked up the history and found that the idea of giving thanks nationally goes back to the early days of our country. During our Revolution, days of thanks were proclaimed by the Continental Congress in honor of military victories. George Washington declared a day of thanksgiving after the Constitution was ratified. Other presidents called for similar days to give thanks until it was made a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 in an effort to heal our nation because of the Civil War. Of course we are all too familiar with the story of the first Thanksgiving in 1621 when the Pilgrims gave thanks to God even though half of their original group had died. Our country has a rich history of giving thanks in the midst of conflict and trials.
Even more, is our faith built on praise and thanksgiving. Giving thanks is a major theme in both the Old and New Testaments. The Bible gives the command to praise the Lord and be thankful more than any other. King David was known for his songs of praise. Paul and Silas while in chains in Philippi sang songs of praise to the Lord. In fact, Paul tells us in I Thessalonians to “Give thanks in everything; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Thanksgiving is a day when we come together and rise above our challenges and conflicts. We join those who have come before us and honor the Lord for who He is, for what He has done and for His faithfulness to all generations. In troubled times like ours, the Lord calls us to look beyond our present circumstances. He calls us to turn our eyes on Jesus; for when we do, in the words of an old praise song, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” It is in that light that we find so much for which to be thankful.
Renew Network Team Leader
Today is Memorial Day and unofficially it begins the summer season. More importantly, it is a day to remember those who have died while serving in the U.S. military to protect our country and its values.
Recently a supporter of Renew called and shared with me the incredible story of a Methodist Pastor and his family who have been serving the Lord since the early Twentieth Century. This pastor, Rev. Bert Jones Sr. and his wife Ruth Caye Jones along with their five children were familiar faces at revivals and camp meetings for years leading up to World War II. Later they became Mom and Dad Jones of the popular radio program, “A Visit With The Jones,” a program that began in 1948 and is still running today under the leadership of their daughter Carol Jones Saint.
In 1943, seeing the causality list of America soldiers who were moving up the boot of Italy, Ruth Jones turned to God’s Word for comfort. She landed on 2 Timothy 3 where it says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” From the inspiration of this verse and the melody of the clock that chimed on her mantle, she began to write a hymn that would become the beloved Gospel song, “In Times like These.”
The words are simple and few; they reflect not only the 2 Timothy passage, but also the comfort of Hebrews 6:19, “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” The song is also rooted in the comfort that Jesus preached at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6. It tells us that vehement storms come in life, but they are weathered when our lives are built upon The Rock.
How true these words are today. We too live in perilous times. Our enemy is not the Axis powers of World War II. Our enemy is a deadly virus that has spread around the globe and infected more countries than those involved in all the wars of the Twentieth Century.
As we look back today and honor those who gave their lives in battle, let us remember those who are on the front lines battling this virus, and the sick fighting for their lives, and the families who have lost loved ones. Let us pray for each one who has lost a job and all of us who must make decisions on how to proceed with life during our perilous time. And above all, let us remember to share…
May you and your family have a meaningful Memorial Day and join those of us at Renew in prayer for our families, our church, our country and our world in this difficult time.
Renew Network Team Leader
Jesus’ words in Matthew 6: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink … but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Each day as we handle the crisis of the Covid19 virus, new advisories are coming out of the CDC and the White House. We are being told that it is imperative to dramatically restrict our social activity; we are being warned that the death toll depends on our response. And responding we are: schools are closing, churches are offering worship services online, restaurants are shutting down, and travel bans are being respected. There is an understandable amount of anxiety and fear. Most of us have not passed this way before, our lives have been put on hold, our routines have been disrupted. Some parents are asking, “What shall I do with the children for the next few weeks, what if they don’t go back to school until next fall?” We find ourselves in an unfamiliar and frightening situation.
Yet, Jesus tells us: “Do not worry…” Be vigilant, prudent, and take precautions seriously. But take Jesus seriously as well. Given that much of what keeps us busy has been put on hold, we have more time to seek Him, more time to study his Word, and pray. What an opportunity. What a promise that all we worry about will sort out.
When something is taken away, like our normal schedules, that something is usually replaced; the replacement is opportunity. Sure it is normal to react with worry, fear, and resentment. But in Matthew 6, Jesus invites and commands us to seek the higher reality of God’s kingdom. Instead of worry, we can take the opportunity he offers us: opportunity to be at home with our family minus our usual activities that cause life to be hectic. We turn to those around us and reassure them of the love of Christ, which calls us to overcome fear and respond in faith. Many of us will have occasion not only to demonstrate the love of Christ, but to offer Christ to those who do not know him.
I see God moving on my small street of twelve families who are offering to pick up groceries so neighbors do not have to go out. Those who had the foresight to prepare for shortages are offering to share out of their abundance. It has been a time of coming together in ways that we have not before. One neighbor of a different religion has shared that she was educated in a Catholic school; she has opened the door to talk about what we have in common. What an opportunity!
Despite the death, destruction, and concern that comes with a pandemic like the Covid19 virus, God is still in control and we see Him moving among us. I find this to be true in the case of our United Methodist Church. The 2020 General Conference has been postponed. We will not be able to pass the Protocol in May. As yet, we have no idea when that will be. Just like our lives, the General Conference has been put on hold. Although postponed, it will be rescheduled.
Has Jesus provided? Yes He has. Our United Methodist Church operates under the Book of Discipline, which was NOT changed, but affirmed and strengthened at the 2019 General Conference when the Traditional Plan was passed. We still officially follow the same scriptural doctrines that the Church has operated under for over 2,000 years. Will those who have vowed to be unfaithful to our doctrine be so? Certainly. But as many if not more of us will remain faithful to historic Christianity in the United Methodist Church. “Do not worry!” Instead pray and seize the many opportunities that will be given to you to be the Church. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; proclaim His faithfulness.
“Behold I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun!
Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
Much of Isaiah unfolds God’s grand scheme for the restoration of His people. The prophet announced that something new was going to happen. God’s vast divine plan, made before the foundation of the world, was going to take a new turn. The long awaited Messiah was going to be born.
For the Israelites, life leading up to the birth of the Christ Child had not been easy. They had experienced many challenges over the centuries as they struggled with obedience and fidelity to God. The Jews were looking for the Messiah to liberate them from the unjust Roman regime. But He would come with an infinitely greater mission. He would come to save humanity from sin itself.
For the sake of peace and power, the Pharisees and Priests had compromised with the Romans. It was a compromise not unlike the compromises that the mainline churches, including The United Methodist Church, have made to accommodate our cultural reality. Throughout Israel’s history, they experienced times when, in today’s vernacular, they needed a ‘do-over’, a coming back to their God and His plan for them as a people. And Praise God, we too are being called to a renewed commitment.
As Keith Boyette, President of the Wesley Covenant Association, proclaimed in his powerful address at the WCA Global Gathering in November, “God is birthing a new Wesleyan movement.” One man in Florida put it well, “I left the Global Gathering lifted, encouraged and more deeply committed. I am convinced we are in the right place for such a time as this. We are where God wants us; we are on the right side of history.”
We all have a role to play in this new movement. This was brought out beautifully by Cara Nicklas, a lay member of the Oklahoma Annual Conference. At the WCA gathering, she reminded clergy and laity that we are all ambassadors for Christ; in fact each of us, she said, has a role to play as theologians in the new church — the Next Methodism. She challenged laity to grasp a thorough understanding of the issues that divide the church and help prepare congregants for the decisions that lie ahead.
Dr. William Abraham, the Albert C. Outler Professor of Wesley Studies at Perkins School of Theology, proclaimed that the church is at a turning point and the choice is clear. He explained that Jesus presents us with two paths: a broad way that leads to destruction, and a narrow way that leads to life. We will either be a part of a church that is built on sex, gender, and rebellion. Or we will be a church built on the Lord’s teaching on marriage and creation – and most importantly, Divine Revelation and the Creeds.
We are on the threshold of restoration where Methodism will throw off the constraints of the world that caused the church to entertain trendy, compromised theology that has led to decline. Before us lies the opportunity for our church to be one whose identity is in Christ, built on God’s revelation of Himself, and one which is open to and led by God’s own Spirit.
Now is not a time for fear or discouragement. But it is a time of decision and action. As we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child, let us remember that God’s grand scheme has not changed. His divine plan, embodied in Christ Jesus, is the greatest gift of all. Let us not forget the hope that is ours this Christmas. God has not forsaken us, His Church, or His Creation. For, Behold, He is about to do something new. See, He has already begun.
As team leader of Renew, I thank all of you who support our work with your prayers and financial giving. In 2019, at the request of pastors and laywomen, Renew has helped churches to refocus women’s ministry on a mission driven program that leads to spiritual growth and biblical knowledge. Next May, Renew will represent evangelical, orthodox women at the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis. Your end of year gift will make this possible. If you haven’t made a contribution to RENEW recently, we trust you will. I promise you it will be put to good work.
You can continue to stand with us by going on the Renew Website and download or print the Donations Form. Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
In His Service,
Renew Network Team Leader
Dear Renew Network,
Ongoing Aftermath of General Conference 2019
A month after the 2019 General Conference in St Louis, where the work of the Commission on a Way Forward was received and the Traditional Plan was passed, the United Methodist Women’s annual Program Advisory Group and Board of Director’s met in Nashville, TN. I attended the meetings as a press representative.
At the opening plenary of the Program Advisory Group, Bishop William McAlilly preached from his personal experience, which has given him compassion for the marginalized LGTBQ+ community. He told the women that UMW was needed more now than they ever have been, because of the injustice done by the passage of the Traditional Plan. He asked, “How would you feel if you were told you are incompatible?” I detected a strong note of incredulity in both McAlilly and Harriett Olsen. They seemed truly shocked and grieved that the Traditional Plan had prevailed in St. Louis.
I was expecting the general tenor of disappointment expressed at the UMW meetings in March. The last day of General Conference, when the One Church Plan had not passed, UMW put out a press release that affirmed the position they announced at the Fall 2018 Board of Directors Meeting: they will be staying in relationship with all women in the Global UMC even if there is schism. They announced they are in solidarity with the LGTBQ+ community, which is in pain. Even before the 2019 General Conference, the UMW staff had put out a spiritual growth study titled, The Bible and Human Sexuality, where the marriage culture was questioned and traditional morality was explained away by the rejection of laws that came out of a society dominated by men. Can the UMW National staff expect to be in relationship with traditionalists when they have made it clear that their heart is with the progressives?
Before we consider that question, we should ask, is the passage of the Traditional Plan unjust as McAlily implied? First of all, centrist/progressives are mistaken to say that those who identify as LGTBQ+ are being called incompatible by the majority of the church who supported the Traditional Plan. No one is being labeled incompatible; but certain behavior is incompatible with clear straight forward teaching in the Bible. It is behavior that has been questioned – not people.
While all persons are of sacred worth, it is clear that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is in the church where we are encouraged to be in a process (sanctification) whereby we overcome sin. Somehow many in the church have bought into the idea that behavior once understood as sin is now to be understood as a right, or even employed to define who we are. Even worse, once condemned behavior has come to define how some think God made them to be. If God made sinners to be thieves, murderers, and the rest of Paul’s list in I Corinthians 6, why would Paul say “ and such were some of you?” And if God made Cain to rebel, why did He warn Cain that “sin is crouching at the door waiting to devour you!” We are not our sin; we are overcomers of sin if we accept what God says in His Word and that which He has done for us. In the words of Michael W. Hannon, “I am not my sin. I am not my temptation to sin. By the blood of Jesus Christ, I have been liberated from this bondage.”
Our society has accepted the current psychological trend to categorize individuals by sexual orientation. The idea that anyone gets their identity from their feelings of attraction to the opposite or same sex is simply a fallacy for which there is no scriptural warrant. Sadly, many in the church have bought into this thinking. They champion a warped sense of justice and work to obtain rights for the LGBTQ+ among us and the acceptance of their agendas and actions. Christian identity is not rooted in sexuality but in Christ himself.
United Methodist Women have made no secret of the fact that they accept new modern interpretations of scripture. This is particularly true in the area of sexuality but not only there. Not too long ago, a UMW woman wrote to me about a UMW spiritual life study “Embracing Wholeness: An Earth Perspective for Covenantal Living.” Actually it was a study to support the UMW policy on Climate Justice. This UMW woman was disturbed by the author’s claim that the earth and creation was being equated with God Himself. Particularly disturbing to her was the author’s comparison of the death of her cow with the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. Unfortunately there were multiple unscriptural distortions in the study.
Recently, another woman wrote to Renew wanting to connect with other traditional evangelicals women in her area. She wrote to say that:
We have become more and more disappointed in the national UMW group. We do not agree with the social liberal agenda that is promoted in the UMW. The reading program books are becoming increasingly non-biblical and promote society’s way of viewing the world.
So to answer the question, can the National UMW stay in ministry and mission with both traditionalists and progressives? The answer is probably not. Trying to be all things to all people has failed the church, because as scripture has become reinterpreted and repurposed, that which unified us was lost. When the church was asked to change the definition of marriage and its standards for ordination, it was a step too far.
Since the passage of the Traditional Plan in St. Louis, it has become clear that many centrists and progressives do not want to stay in a church that is unwilling to change its traditional beliefs on marriage and ordination. Traditionalists have been concerned for some time. For different reasons, traditional evangelical women have been leaving UMW in a steady stream for years, and at a larger rate than the loss of denominational membership. Most give reasons similar to the ones I have cited.
We are in a time of waiting. The Traditional Plan has passed, but the dividing issue still divides; and it remains to be seen how this division will play out. Yet, we do not have to wait to see the final outcome to begin to throw off that which has become ineffective and seriously troubling. The time is now to move into deeper Christ centered ministry and mission that we may see the transformational power of our Savior and the Holy Spirit. God is at work. We should be too.
Please pray for the churches like the two examples I have shared. They represent many more who are looking to disengage from ministry that cannot deliver what is so needed. Pastors and women’s leaders have written to request a copy of the Remodel series. (Read about it here) If your women’s or men’s ministry is looking for a resource to refocus and engage members in transformational ministry, contact Renew and we will send the three booklet series to you.
A heart felt thanks to all who have made Renew’s ministry possible through your prayers and gifts. Your continued support is vital to our work in the mission of Good News to lead United Methodists to a faithful future. Because of delays and angry actions in St. Louis, much work was left undone that must be addressed at the 2020 General Conference. Work has already begun. Delegates are being chosen this spring and summer in our Annual Conferences. Pray for these elections and pray for General Conference 2020. Each of you reading this newsletter can help others to understand the division that separates us and have a part in preparing this church for what is coming.
Raising funds to attend two General Conferences within a year of one another is a challenge. Team Renew appreciates each donation however large or small. If you have not made a contribution lately, please consider making one today. But most importantly, join Team Renew as we contend for the United Methodist Church by faithfully praying for our denomination.
Stand with us by going on the Renew Website and printing the Donations Form. Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
In His Service,
Renew Network Team Leader