Fall Newsletter

Renew: A Women’s Ministry Network for United Methodists

October 14, 2015

Dear Renew Network,

After my last letter to the network, a woman wrote to me to say, “Thank you for standing on God’s truth and not being swayed by those who scream the loudest.” She went on to say that it must grieve the Lord that the United Methodist Church was even considering changing its biblical teaching on marriage.

Indeed the voices within the church are loud calling for the church to follow the culture and change its teaching on marriage and human sexuality. This summer I was asked to attend and report on The
Gather at the River conference for the LGTBQ community in United Methodist Church. It was sponsored by Reconciling Ministries Network and the Methodist Federation for Social Action. You can read my articles here, here, and here.

Yes, the progressive voices are loud, and many of our bishops have encouraged these loud voices by their misguided attempts over the years to pacify and accommodate them. But just as committed are the clear voices of Good News, Renew and the other renewal groups. As Rob Renfroe wrote in the July/August edition of Good News magazine, “We can care deeply about our confused culture without conforming to it. We can have our hearts broken for the sexually broken without compromising what the Scriptures teach.”

In the midst of the confusion that exists in the church and the talk of schism, it is important to remember that the United Methodist Church’s official position regarding human sexuality and marriage upholds a high view of biblical authority and remains rooted in biblical teaching. Legislation has been prepared that will clarify, strengthen, and hold accountable our church’s biblical positions on a number of important issues – most notably our position on marriage an sexuality. I invite you to visit the Good News and Renew website and to encourage your delegates to General Conference to support these petitions and resolutions.

Renew continues to report and speak to important issues in our culture and in the church. On some things we cannot keep silent. By far our most important work is to encourage and aid the women of the United Methodist Church in their walk with Christ.

Renew highlights and encourages women in the church to come away from the fruitless pursuit of secularism wrapped in religious garb and pursue a clearer understanding of the way, the truth, and the life we are called to in Christ. It is from Him all blessings flow to each person and all organizing structures in society.

Renew still receives calls from women who are questioning the program materials and spiritual life studies as well as the social and political positions offered by UMW National. Many want to know if their mission dollars further the gospel or if their dollars merely support programs of rights and empowerment.

But even more important, Renew receives calls and emails requesting suggestions for Christ centered programs and Bible studies.

One Renew member and president of her church’s women’s group recently told me that they had used the Renew Women’s Survey to reach out to younger women in their church. Like so many groups, their UMW membership was mostly older women. The younger women were hungry for Bible study but had little time during the week for an added commitment. They helped these young women start a Sunday School class which is meeting their needs to grow in Christ and fellowship with women who share their challenges.

In another part of the country, a woman wrote that her group of women had renamed themselves the Bible Babes. Since they have come together to study God’s word they have seen mighty answers to prayer and lives turned around. The president of yet another group remarked to me, “We want Bible study – not politics!”

Renew continues to help just such women’s groups.

Several new resources have been added to the Renew website. In Jeannine Fogwell’s teaching Mirrors II: Broken Mirrors, she reminds us that God wants to make deep changes in us that we might reflect His glory. As you work through this teaching, you will learn what it means to be a child of God and how to accept His gift of grace so that transformation is fully not just partially realized. Mary Lambrecht shares some great resources and helpful ideas in her teaching,
Faith of Our Children: A Model for Home Devotions. And BJ Funk writes out of her experience that Women Need Each Other.

Please join me and the Renew Team in praying for the United Methodist Church, the up-coming General Conference and a way for us to proceed that is not fearful of the depth of our division but is clear, committed and willing to contend for the faith, our doctrine and our discipline as we hold one another accountable.

As always, Renew exists because of your sacrificial and generous gifts. Although Renew is an all volunteer organization, we still have expenses. Our work would not be possible without Renew’s network of faithful friends.

You can 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:

Good News
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
Fax: 832.813.5327
In His Service,
Katy Kiser
Renew Network Team Leader


Methodist Protest Caucuses: “We Are Coming For the Institution” By Katy Kiser

“We are Coming for the Institution, and like a mighty river, we will sweep it away with the might of our love,” said Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy at the close of her remarks at the “Gather at the River” conference held in San Antonio for progressive United Methodists.  The heavily LGBTQ-focused conference was sponsored by Reconciling Ministries Network and the Methodist Federation for Social Action.

Many in the United Methodist Church have been exploring ways to hold together two diametrically opposed views of human sexuality.  At General Conference 2012 the church defeated a proposal to agree to disagree on this divisive issue. Conservative orthodox believers who take the authority of Scripture very seriously were not willing to concede this disagreement as a mere matter of interpretation. Since that time any number of similar proposals have surfaced, some of which will be presented at General Conference 2016.  But the rhetoric at the gathering in San Antonio indicated at least as much opposition to compromise.

Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy condemned the institution of the UMC, which she described as having become so stagnant, “it seemed like all it is producing is flesh-eating mosquitoes.”  Saying there were times she can hardly stand to be in the swamp waters of the institution with the negativity buzzing around her, threatening to eat her alive.

She boldly declared, “I am a self-avowed practicing homosexual.” But she took deep umbrage with the term “practicing.”  She stated, “I am not practicing. I’m professional. And if the IRD or the rest of the groups are here, make sure you quote me on that please.”  And although she referred to her own sexual acts, she condemned the institution for reducing LGBTQ people “to our sexual acts.”

Tweedy said she had been hurt most by “the white moderates,” and what some call “the mushy Methodist middle.”  Tweedy very strongly condemned the institution, making clear her disdain for those who try to have it both ways.  She called out those who try to accommodate the LGBTQ agenda and yet maintain the institution at all costs by upholding the Discipline.  She decried those who say the church needs to stop focusing on politics and instead focus on ministry.

She ridiculed those who had ordained her “with a wink and a nod.”  Her favorite hypocrisy came from bishops who suggested guidelines for ministers who participate in same sex weddings, “You can say a prayer – read a scripture because those are not chargeable offenses.”  “These are crumbs,” she declared, “And I can’t live on crumbs.”

She condemned those who had brought formal complaints against her for her choice to violate our denomination’s explicit policies for clergy sexual behavior, complaining that “Suddenly our institution was gearing up to put an effective pastor, a compassionate minister, faithful wife and loving mother on trial thinking it was preserving itself.”  She also shared that she was told that if she denied being “practicing,” the complaint would go away.  Tweedy applauded all those who had performed same-sex marriages in defiance of the Discipline.  She boasted that as a result of their courage, suddenly trials had gone away.

But for all her disdain and condemnation of bishops, institutionalists, the accountability process, and the Methodist mushy middle, Tweedy declared that she and others like her did not intend to leave the United Methodist Church.  She said that it is their church, too, which they will not leave; but neither will they wait for the Discipline to be changed.

She boldly stated that they could not wait to be who they are and for their relationships to be celebrated in the churches where they “have worked as hard as anybody to build.”  The crowd laughed and cheered when Tweedy declared, she personally could not wait for General Conference 2080 to be her “authentic, self-avowed, practicing, professional lesbian self.”

She emphatically stated LGBTQ members will not accept a “no” vote in Portland. They will not back down, but will be prepared to take additional recourse.  She said, “The Civil Rights movement taught us to put pressure on the institution until it had no choice but to change.”  Tweedy called on her queer clergy brothers and sisters to stop supporting the ‘don’t ask; don’t tell’ policy implicit in the Discipline.  She called for a national clergy “coming out day” – a total coming out – not a one-foot-in-and-one-foot-out position of the institution.

Following her remarks, Bishop James Dorff of the Rio Texas Conference (within whose bounds this gathering took place) came to deliver a brief welcome.  A moderator acknowledged the pain in the room but requested the bishop be allowed to speak.  Nevertheless protest ensued.

In his remarks, Bishop Dorff chose to go much further than offering the greetings which bishops sometimes customarily give to such caucus gatherings in their areas.  He expressed support, however vaguely, for the gathered activists.  “It is not a fun time to be a bishop, but more importantly it is not a fun time to be LGTBQ in the church,” he said.  He expressed hope that “the Spirit of the Almighty God will continue to bless you, all of you, in your work and your mission.”

Then he declared that God wants a “fully inclusive” church.  He said, “I want to be a part of the journey.. I want you to know there are many bishops who wish to be a part of the journey to have a fully inclusive church.”  He specifically thanked Bishop Melvin Talbert for “all the work” he has done in his activism, and told Tweedy that he needed to hear what she had said.  He also apologized for disappointing some of the activists in some of his administrative duties, in apparent reference to the liberal outrage directed at him for his role in preventing the illegal ordination of a lesbian/transgendered activist in his conference.

But despite the cheers for some of his pandering comments, ultimately, none of this was good enough for the liberal caucuses.  When he first came to the front to speak, Bishop Dorff was escorted by Julie Todd, an activist with Amy DeLong’s “Love Prevails” protest group, who carried two posters, one of which said, “DORFF IS NOT A FRIEND TO LGBTQ PEOPLE.”  Immediately, seated individuals came up to fill the prayer rails at the front of the sanctuary, some with their mouths gagged and their hand bound.  Others held protest signs in the balcony for him to see.  At times in his talk, the bishop was shouted down and heckled.

Dorff had done little more than illustrate the hypocrisy that Tweedy had just condemned.

At “Gather at the River” there was no appreciation, only contempt for bishops who attempt to uphold the letter of Discipline while at the same time diminishing consequences for those who violate it. The orthodox conservatives and the LGBTQ community agree; there is no middle ground; there is no “third way.”  At the very least, the days of having it both ways, of coexistence, shared ministry, and accommodation appear to be numbered.  The Supreme Court decision to allow same sex marriage in all states has emboldened the LGBTQ movement in the church.  If Tweedy is correct that they will not back down or go away, then this forty-plus-year conflict is far from over and attempts to preserve unity at General Conference 2016 will be difficult, at best.

The Coming Train Wreck: Progressive UMC Plans for General Conference 2016 By KatyKiser


Disclose, Divest, Disrupt. This slogan, worn on the shirts of many at the Gather at the River conference sponsored by Reconciling Ministries Network and Methodist Federation for Social Action in San Antonio, Texas, perhaps summarizes what can be expected from progressives at the United Methodist General Conference 2016.  It is easy to dismiss such blustering as empty rhetoric only meant to galvanize the progressive United Methodist base. But can it continue to be written off as such, especially considering their past performance at General Conference and the rhetoric and clear messages propagated from Gather at the River?

Speakers at the gathering demanded immediate changes to church doctrine and “full inclusion” in the United Methodist Church. Bishop Minerva Carcaño declared it was time for the church to catch up with society, our sister mainline churches, and God. One presenter defined inclusion as “all who are NOT white, NOT straight, and NOT over 45,” which indicates that exclusivity is the basis for their understanding of “inclusivity.”

Rev. Peter Storey, a (non-UMC) Methodist pastor from South Africa and former chaplain to Nelson Mandela was especially judgmental of those in the church who hold a traditional biblical view of sexuality: “The Holy Spirit knows the prejudices of the devout, no matter how respectable or carefully mapped in dogma, are the most dangerous prejudices there are. The Spirit is showing us what once was revered as ancient truth has become uncouth and untenable. Time makes ancient truth uncouth.”

Nevertheless, Storey assured the conference their future was secure, saying, “Welcome to the future of the UMC where none will be excluded.”  But for all his assurance, he reminded the gathering that they must rise above their fear and have a willingness to die. In calling for bold and courageous action, he asked, “What or who is there to fear? Can a bishop water-board you?”

In a plenary, Amy DeLong of Love Prevails made it clear that progressive expectations should be low.  “If you are hopeful, I am here to rid you of that burden. We get trounced.” She acknowledged the reality that the votes were simply not there to change the UMC’s governing Book of Discipline and remove restrictions against homosexual practice. She told the crowd that democratic change was closed to them; they had nothing to lose, and called for “new and disruptive tactics.”

Delong declared that the liberal United Church of Christ denomination is not designed to be a refugee camp for exiled United Methodists. She promised they would work for change in new and different ways, and claimed they would be 100 percent successful. Success was defined as showing up. She told the conference, “We are the embodiment of justice. We are the incarnation and incarnation is meaningless if we don’t make an appearance.” Among some of her more incendiary comments was her suggestion to bring “gallons and gallons and gallons of piss and vinegar,” adding “just think of the trouble we can cause.”

Both Amy Delong and Julie Todd also of Love Prevails have not waited for General Conference 2016 to begin their campaign to Disclose, Divest, Disrupt. Bishop Carcaño acknowledged that they have been allowed to influence meetings of the Commission on General Conference (COGC) and the Connectional Table (CT), even if unofficially from the margins.  Carcaño announced that very little would have happened with the Connectional Table if it were not for Julie Todd.

Todd had taken to the microphone at a CT meeting, after they had hosted a panel discussion on homosexuality, and basically asked, as the bishop summarized her, “Is this all you are going to do? Do you realize you’re dealing with my life?”  Carcaño credited Todd for being the voice of the Holy Spirit and profoundly influencing the CT to formally committing itself to the LGBTQ liberationist agenda (as John Lomperis reported on here) and ultimately petitioning this upcoming General Conference. The CT is recommending changing the UMC’s effective definition of marriage, allowing pastors to preside at same-sex weddings and giving annual conferences the right to ordain openly homosexually active clergy.


Amy DeLong and her allies successfully shut down General Conference 2012 when the LGTBQ agenda was not adopted. Carcaño applauded DeLong for asking the COGC if disruptive LGBTQ protesters like herself would be safe at General Conference 2024 in Zimbabwe. As a result, the commission changed the location to the Philippines. “Isn’t this the important question?” Carcaño asked, “Will General Conference be safe for all God’s children or a life-threatening one?” General Conference 2028 will be held in Zimbabwe only if it is determined it will be safe for all LGBTQ persons.

Carcaño reported that the COGC has proposed taking all legislation concerning LGTBQ matters out of the normal committee process and to deal with them in the entire body of delegates at the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. She also reported that she was hopeful that the commission’s recommendation to suspend Robert’s Rules of Order would allow the General Conference to have “a Holy Spirit moment” as they take up these important issues with “holy conferencing.” These proposals will have to be approved by General Conference delegates to go forward.

Although not calling for disruption but just as disrespectful of General Conference were the remarks of Rev. Kathryn Johnson, Program Director for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).  She told the gathering, “What happens at General Conference stays at General Conference!”

Johnson acknowledged RCRC will be under scrutiny in Portland, but said that was not the important thing. She said, “We know we won’t have to have approval of the General Conference to do the work we need to do.” She displayed disregard for the fairly decided and democratically expressed will of the majority of our denomination.  Johnson made clear RCRC will not moderate its work even if more of its values and commitments come in conflict with the UMC’s official stance.

In committee, the General Conference 2012 held in Tampa voted to end the church’s formal affiliation with RCRC. But this and many other committee-approved petitions, never came to the floor of the full conference for a vote, so the UMC-RCRC affiliation was not severed. It is well documented that RCRC has continued to use our church’s name to directly oppose any mild legal restriction or moral opposition to any abortion. This next General Conference will consider petitions to move our denomination’s official Social Principles in a more pro-life direction. It will also consider petitions to for the UMC to join other denominations who have already ended their relationship with RCRC.

Johnson went on to say no matter what the church decides, “We will not be defeated; we will not be stopped. Our work will go on.” Johnson ended her remarks with the claim that RCRC is the leading religious, sacred, Christian voice for reproductive health and justice.

Specific plans to disrupt General Conference were not discussed at Gather at the River plenary sessions.   The event organizers did invite Love Prevails to lead two breakout workshops, entitled “Disruption 101” and “Disruption 201,” both led by Amy DeLong and Julie Todd.  Out of respect for the attendee’s privacy, the conference organizers did not allow press to observe these or any of the other workshops. In any case, the progressive coalition is emboldened and ready to take whatever action is necessary to accomplish their goals. The impression was given that they will disrupt before votes are taken, possibly during the committee process, and are ready for a sustained effort.



One thing is clear, if the progressives have their way, General Conference 2016 will not be business as usual. This gathering made it painfully obvious that changing how sexuality is discussed or allowing “the voices in the middle” opportunity to speak in small groups will not satisfy the progressives or resolve the profound differences that exist. The Gather at the River conference focused attention on just how wide the divide is and how determined the progressive caucuses are to pressure the church into not only full inclusion but celebration of LGBTQ sexuality, even if it takes “new disruptive tactics.”  We saw a taste of this in 2012 but are we ready for the train wreck they are planning?

Where Will Progressive United Methodists Go From Here? By Katy Kiser

This is my third and final article on the Gather at the River conference.  In Methodist Protest Caucuses: “We Are Coming For the Institution” I covered the progressive UMC caucus leaders’ harsh and angry words for the institution of the United Methodist Church. My second article, The Coming Train Wreck, dealt with progressive plans to disrupt General Conference 2016.

Gather at the River boasted 700 plus attendees, most of which appeared to be middle aged or older, white, married and possibly just sympathizers of the LGBTQ movement in the church. Of the few young people in attendance, the majority were presenters and staff. Although there is no reason to believe changing the church’s biblical teaching on human sexuality will draw millennials, nevertheless, the caucuses and those who support them have a loud and strong voice in the United Methodist Church.

In this final article, I will examine where the progressive United Methodist caucuses hope to go from here and take a brief look at the revisionist biblical teaching they use to support their agenda.

One theme that will no doubt define and guide the future work of progressive caucuses is that of “transgenderism.” Trans, queer, non-binary, and gender non-nonconforming are just a few of the many terms employed at this conference to describe transgenderism, which was celebrated as an emerging frontier. The term transgenderism refers to a growing phenomenon of persons whose gender identity, expression or behavior does not conform to that associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth. Some use the phrase “biblical obedience” to describe a transgendered person’s faithfulness to submit to their truth or understanding of what God created them to be even if it defies their biological reality.

Transgenderism was celebrated at the gathering in worship, dance, preaching and the sharing of personal stories. Name badges displayed the preferred pronouns of all participants. So that all transgendered persons felt comfortable at Travis Park UMC, where the gathering was held, all restrooms had been designated “gender neutral” on the bottom three floors of the church. Only the top floor had separate facilities for women and men. Eliminating “transphobia” and combating “heterosexism” are emerging justice issues for progressive United Methodists.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court legally redefined the institution of marriage to include same-sex couples. Strikingly, this was hardly mentioned at the conference.

The lack of attention to this victory for LGBTQ activists highlights the fact that no longer are we discussing heterosexuality vs. homosexuality or mere gay rights. The biblical and biological distinctions of male and female have expanded to a smorgasbord of gender options.

Another theme that ran throughout the gathering was one of “intersectionality.”  This is the word that has been given to describe the fusing of all “justice issues.” The term refers to a seamless struggle for justice against the “self-preserving forces of pride, exclusion, power and bureaucratic legalism.” “We are not single-issue people,” declared one pastor.

Reconciling Ministries Network used the term “intersectionality” to describe their coalition with eleven liberal United Methodist organizations known as the Love Your Neighbor Coalition (LYNC). The coalition speaks about the intersections of injustice around all issues. Notable was the coalition’s mention of a new “justice issue,” “alternative methods of pregnancy.”

From the beginning, there has been the claim that the struggle to obtain LGBTQ rights was the same struggle as that of the civil rights movement. For the most part progressives have been successful in making this connection regardless of the profound differences. Currently, two staff members of Reconciling Ministries Network are working with leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, which RMN says includes other “queer people of color.”

Today the LGBTQ movement within the UMC has gone beyond the supposed civil-rights-movement connection, now claiming that all justice issues are LGBTQ issues. By appropriating all social-justice concerns as LGBTQ justice issues, they appear to strategically strengthen their cause and make it difficult to separate legitimate justice issues from those that are not.

In keeping with the “intersectionality” mantra, this conference also promoted some other very different causes. Amidst the variety of workshops offered were a couple appearing to make the move of equating Israel with apartheid-era South African and promoting singling out the world’s lone Jewish state for Boycotts, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS). One of these workshops was co-led by a co-founder of a group called “Black Laundry—Queers Against the Occupation.” The BDS movement within and beyond the UMC has been extremely callous in its willingness to resort to anti-Semitic rhetoric and completely dismiss concerns about victims of anti-Israel terrorism.

Conference organizers also hosted a workshop on “Reproductive Justice” (a slogan for unrestricted abortion on-demand through all stages of pregnancy), which was led by Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) official Kathryn Johnson. The workshop was advertised as exploring “intersections between the struggles for LGBTQ justice and reproductive justice.” It is striking that a conference that so vehemently marched under the banner of “inclusion” made clear that their vision of “inclusion” involves acting as if unborn and Israeli lives do NOT matter.

The most striking intersectional remarks were those of Jason Redick, a youth minister in Carrollton, Texas. He stated that, “All intersections point to Jesus. We don’t know about His personal life – I believe that Jesus was Queer, Black and Poor.” He was given thunderous applause.

Underlying the LGBTQ demands for justice in the church is the vague concept of “biblical obedience” which is broadly defined as disobeying the alleged injustices of parts of the UMC’s covenantal Book of Discipline, out of professed faithfulness to a variety of subjective personal understandings of marriage, gender and other justice concerns currently popular among progressive United Methodists. It was first coined by Bishop Melvin Talbert at the 2012 General Conference.

At Gather at the River, Talbert explained that this phrase was intended to counter the idea that the Bible belongs only to the conservatives. “The Bible is our book, too. We can read and interpret, too.” One presenter used the term, “biblical obedience” to describe queer people who live out their lives in obedience to whom they believe they are created to be. RMN’s CEO Matt Berryman added, that they put loyalty to God’s justice before institutional power. They follow “a queer Christ to the margins of life and the intersections of injustice.”

When trying to make sense of their use of the term “biblical obedience” or the revisionist interpretations of the Bible which are offered to support the LGBTQ agenda, it is important to keep in mind certain principles.  First, progressives read the Bible through a liberationist lens where overcoming injustice and obtaining rights are paramount. The focus is on the institution and not the individual heart. Secondly, creative story telling that conveniently supports their pre-conceived political agendas serves as a substitution for sound biblical exegesis. Thirdly, their appeal to the Holy Spirit is an appeal to a spirit who is revealing new evolving truth, which contradicts previous biblical revelation.  In the words of the Rev. Peter Storey, “The Spirit is showing us what once was revered as ancient truth has become uncouth and untenable.”

The lack of sound exegesis was seen throughout the plenary Bible studies led by the Rev. Grace Imathiu of the Northern Illinois conference, formerly of Kenya.  She retold well-known Bible stories to support the LGBTQ struggle for justice in the church. When teaching from Luke 3, she mimicked and mocked those who think they are saved and say to themselves, when they see an African baby, or a LGTBQ person, or someone in prison, “if only they knew Jesus.” She invoked John the Baptist’s words to call them “children of snakes.” She added, “Don’t think you are saved,” because you are American, or white, or live in the white suburb of Chicago.



After sitting through four days of Bible study, preaching, and reports at Gather at the River, it was painfully clear that what orthodox believers see as good – the progressive UMC caucuses see as evil; what they see as light – the orthodox see as darkness. While everyone is looking for a way forward characterized by clarity and moral fortitude, no one agrees how that should be defined.

Many in the church still hold on to the idea that shared ministry, continued dialogue, and a strong commitment to unity can hold this doctrinally fractured denomination together. Meanwhile, the agitation of a minority of United Methodists who reject biblical standards for sexual self-control has become increasingly militant, pushing our church to the breaking point. But in a day when many believe that truth is relative, when a prominent Methodist pastor can say time honored biblical truth is “uncouth and untenable,” will the truth of our situation be faced? And if it won’t be faced at General Conference 2016, then when?

Yesterday, Then and Now: A New Testament Vision for the Church: September 2015 Update

2015 Fall Update

Dear Renew Network,

In September 2015, I received the Newsletter of Lifewatch, which is a sister renewal group in the Methodist Church.  I always look forward to Rev. Paul Stallworth’s excellent writing.  In the September letter was a special report titled God’s Own People by Bishop Timothy Whitaker.

The essay challenged the church to rethink its identity and purpose by asking, “What does it mean to be the church?” Bishop Whitaker believes, if the church is to be faithful to God’s own plan, we must recover the meaning of the church revealed in the New Testament.  This means that both progressives and conservatives will have to alter their ways.  Progressives must move away from trying to accommodate the culture, and likewise conservatives must move away from trying to convert the culture.

I have oversimplified Bishop Whitaker’s excellent remarks, so I encourage you to read his entire deep and very pertinent essay.  But having reported many years for Renew, I certainly could see my work for Renew in the Bishop’s remarks about conservatives.

Over the years, many women came to Renew concerned that “mission,” as interpreted by the staff in New York, was far from the mission work of their mothers and grandmothers, which had been centered in the offering of Christ and fulfilling His Great Commission. Instead, these women recognized that the mission of the church was being tied to the goals of the United Nations and left leaning political agendas in the name of a secularized understanding of justice which had become little more than a crusade for rights and empowerment. The reality of the strength of Christ’s message in the light of our weakness and need was being lost.  These concerns still exist.

Both progressive and conservative women in the church were concerned about the poor and any number of theological and social issues. But there was a deep divide not only on how to best address these issues, but also a concern on the part of conservative women that secular approaches to issues like abortion lost both God’s perspective and call to holiness resulting in a rejection of scriptural authority.  No one wanted women butchered in back alleys.  But for many women, the answer to that wrong was not the wrong of sacrificing innocent life.

Renew prayed that all women’s ministry in the UMC would experience a revival and once again in the words of John Wesley,  “Offer them Christ.”  But in 2008, then president and founder, Faye Short called the leadership of Renew to a time of prayer and discernment.  It was evident that UMW under the leadership of the Women’s Division was not going to include the voices of theologically orthodox evangelical women or address their concerns.

UMW membership was declining across the United States.  It was declining at a rate  faster than that of the church as a whole. The leadership of Renew was discerning that God was calling us in a new direction.  As I read Bishop Whitaker’s remarks that call the church to understand itself “according to the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than according to its status in the culture,” I realized this is just how God had been leading Renew.

Today, many churches are designing their own women’s ministries to meet the spiritual needs in their congregations.  Many of the women, men and youth want hands on mission opportunities to share Christ and not political agendas.

It is not so much that we have achieved the meaning of the church or even that we have influenced those who have.  But Renew highlights and encourages women in the church to come away from the fruitless pursuit of secularism wrapped in religious garb and pursue a clearer understanding of the way, the truth, and the life we are called to in Him.

Renew will still report and speak to important issues in our culture and in the church.  On some things we cannot keep silent.  But our primary focus will be to call and aid the women of the United Methodist Church in their walk of faith. It is from Him all blessings flow to each person and all organizing structures in society.

I invite you to visit the Renew website and Facebook page.  There you will find several resources that you are free to copy and use as you and your women’s ministries grow in Christ and offer Him to a hurting world.  As always, Renew exists because of your sacrifices and generous gifts.

Please join me in praying that the United Methodist Church will recover this New Testament vision of what God intends for the church. In the words of Bishop Whitaker, let us pray:

The church whose future is assured by the living God will learn to be a people that is distinctive in its identity from others in the culture and lives an alternative way of life in the larger culture while loving the world and all peoples, praying for the world, serving the world, and inviting people of all ethnic groups and social classes to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and to become a part of “God’s own people.”

In His service,

Katy Kiser

Renew Team Leader


Summer 2015 – Beyond Pentecost

July 2015

Dear Renew Network,

Team Renew and I hope you are enjoying this summer. For some of us, it is a time of vacation from the scheduling demands of the school year, and hopefully it includes a vacation to an exciting or at least peaceful destination. It is also the time after Pentecost, which some traditions call “Ordinary Time.” That is curious; for if you know even just a little about what followed Pentecost in the book of Acts, you realize that those days were anything but ordinary.

Starting with Pentecost Sunday, my pastor began a sermon series on the book of Acts. The book is aptly named for it is full of action. The most recent sermon centered on the story of Stephen, the first martyr. Chapter 6 of Acts tells us that he was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. We see that clearly when Stephen is accused of speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God. What follows is Stephen’s historical summary of God’s call and faithfulness to His people. The word says that as Stephen spoke, his face was “…as the face of an angel.”

But Stephen does not sugar coat what has just happened. The death and resurrection of Christ is still fresh on everyone’s mind. He likens it to the persecution of the prophets who foretold of the coming of the “Just One.” He tells his accusers that they “…have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”

Of course this was too much for them to tolerate, so they cast him out of the city, stoning him to death. Stephen gazes into heaven and seeing the glory of God and Jesus standing at His right hand, asks God to receive his spirit. Then he speaks his last words, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”

This struck me as very timely. Stephen’s words echo Christ’s own words on the cross, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” What a powerful witness of forgiveness – and what a powerful outcome. Saul or Paul as we now know him is present. The next chapter of Acts will report one of the most dramatic conversions ever recorded.

This sermon was delivered at my church just after another dramatic demonstration of forgiveness. I am thinking of the forgiveness and prayers that the victim’s family members extended to the young man who killed nine men and women while attending a bible study at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Forgiveness did not stop with the family members; it inspired a whole community and beyond.

New on the Renew Website are several posts that turn our hearts and minds to contemplate The Power of Forgiveness. That is the title of my post, which takes a look at the power of men and women to effect change and outcomes when real Christ-like love and forgiveness is extended. Forgiveness is powerful on a large scale as the events of Charleston demonstrate, but forgiveness is also powerful in our everyday personal lives.

Mary Lambrecht looks at forgiveness from a more personal perspective in her post, Casting Off the Cloaks of Unforgiveness. She asks, what is forgiveness, and what could be hindering us from running the race that God has specifically appointed for us? In her devotional, The Sweet Scent of Forgiveness, BJ Funk reminds us that at times, we may need to ask someone to forgive us.

Also new is part one of a new teaching by Jeannine Fogwell titled, Mirrors. Jeannine is a breast cancer survivor who has a touching testimony. In the first teaching, she reminds us that we are created to bring light to a darkened world no matter how dark our personal circumstances. I hope you will take advantage of these new resources.

As you all know, the Supreme Court has changed the law of the land making same sex marriage legal in all fifty states. This ruling did not surprise me, but it did make me sad. By issuing this ruling, the court went outside its constitutional set boundaries of interpreting the law, and instead it made law.

In less than a year, the United Methodist Church will decide if we change or compromise the law of the church concerning same sex marriage, ordination of practicing homosexuals, and other related issues. For us too, it is a matter of boundaries – not those of the Constitution certainly, but those of Holy Scripture.  The Connectional Table of the UMC and others are proposing we too adopt these changes.

The boundary question for us in the UMC will be one of authority. Will we continue to be under the authority of Holy Scripture? We are being asked to bless the experience of a few and to allow that to define truth for the church, just as it now defines marriage for our society. But truth is more than our sexual desires or how we define ourselves; truth is more than what the Supreme Court defines it to be. Truth is the person of Jesus himself who comes to the church as a bridegroom.

Stephen reminded the Jewish authorities that they had received the law by the direction of angels and had not remained faithful to its authority. That strikes me as the challenge before the UMC. Will we remain faithful?

Join me in praying that that the Discipline of the UMC will continue to be rooted in the truth, faithful to the authority of scripture, and compassionate in its ministry.  Renew along with Good News and the other renewal ministries is working toward that end.

I want to thank each of you in the network for your prayers and your financial support. You make our ministry possible. We will have a considerable increase in expenses as we prepare for General Conference 2016 in Portland. We continue to monitor UMW National the former Women’s Division. You can stand with us by going on the Renew Website http://renewnetwork.org/donations/ and download or print the Donations Form. Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:

Good News

P.O. Box 132076

The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076

Fax: 832.813.5327


In His Service,

Katy Kiser

Renew Team Leader

Email: renew@goodnewsmag.org

Phone: 832-381-0331

The Power of Forgiveness

The Power of Forgiveness

I know all members of the Renew Network share my shock, dismay and grief over the killing of 9 innocent men and women of the Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooting was particularly shocking because it happened in a church, during a Bible study. It was one more incident in a string of incidents where loss of life occurred in the African American community.

In the last ten months or so, it appeared to me that we were going backward, not forward, in the struggle to eliminate racism. Demonstrations have occurred in Ferguson, New York, Baltimore and other cities. The strides we had made in eliminating racism, seemed to be slipping away. But that perception was turned on its head by the truly Christian reaction and witness of the victims’ family members and the church family of Emanuel AME Church. What happened in Charleston was an example to the world that when we live out the love of Christ and His teaching on forgiveness, it brings triumph out of tragedy.

After his arrest, the shooter was arraigned in court. He turned out to be a white male in his early twenties. Usually in such cases, the victims’ families are not allowed to speak until the sentencing phase. But for some reason, the presiding judge allowed the nine victims’ families to speak directly to the alleged shooter at the bond hearing. Some people present did not speak, but five relatives chose to do so.

What they said to the shooter was truly Christ-like, for each that spoke forgave the shooter and asked for mercy on his soul. The grandson of one victim urged him to repent and turn his life over to Jesus Christ. A granddaughter of another victim said that the pleas for the shooter’s soul were proof that “Hate won’t win.” She went on to say that God’s mercy is even there for him, and she prayed that at some point he would find God’s mercy. Then she said, “I am ready to forgive him. I have to, because that (unforgiveness) would block so many blessings. Nothing grows positive out of hate.”

And hate did not win! There was no denial of the pain and loss by those who spoke, but there was testimony to a higher reality. The reality that love and forgiveness will do more to eliminate racial hatred than all the laws we pass, all the demonstrations, and all the blaming of the other side or the blaming of our system that so often accompanies these tragedies.

The judge at the bond hearing called attention to the family of the shooter. He reminded us all, that they too are grieving the actions of the young man. They too will suffer loss. They too need our prayers, our forgiveness and the love of Christ showered on them.

I could not help but think of the passage in Hebrews 10 where the writer exhorts true believers to draw near with a true heart of faith and hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. The writer goes on asking us to “…consider one another in order to stir up love and good works…”   Indeed the members of Emanuel AME Church held fast their confession as they spoke to the young man who took from them their beloved family members.

But their demonstration of love and forgiveness was not confined to the shooter.

These families stirred up much love and good works in their community and even beyond. Large banners appeared on some buildings urging racial harmony, and many churches hosted prayer vigils. When Sunday came, Emanuel AME Church held church as usual. Their faith was not shaken. Worship that morning was particularly vigorous as those gathered danced, sang hymns and shook tambourines.

The Rev. Norvell Goff brought the sermon. He too reached out with words of hope, love, and thankfulness. Early in the sermon he said, “We still believe that prayer changes things. Can I get a witness?” The congregation responded with a rousing, “Yes.” “But prayer not only changes things, it changes us,” he continued.

He thanked law enforcement specifically, and the city for responding with love and compassion. Pastor Goff put it really well in his sermon when he said, “A lot of people expected us to do something strange and break out into a riot… Well they just don’t know us. They don’t know us because we are a people of faith…What was meant to divide us has united us.” And how true those words proved to be.

As the Emanuel Church goers left the service, outside on the sidewalks, they were greeted by a large crowd of mostly white people singing Amazing Grace. Many were moved to tears as the love of Christ which the families had extended to the shooter was extended to them.

That same Sunday, some 20,000 people of various races walked across Charleston’s Ravenel bridge, some arm in arm, to show the world that blacks and whites stood in solidarity.

Of course there were the detractors who seized upon this situation with the hopes of pushing through their agendas. There were those who bemoaned that racism was embedded in the heart of our system. But far more powerful was the witness throughout the weekend following the shooting that demonstrated the power of Christ when He is embedded in the hearts of men and women.

Can there be justice without repentance and forgiveness? If we learn anything from this evil, racist, senseless shooting of nine innocent blacks gathered to study God’s Word, it should be that the power of forgiveness brings about real change. Change can be mandated; it can be legislated; but unless it is written on the hearts of us all, it can never be truly experienced.

Mission Through Everyday Friendship

Friendship Partners

In 2011 our church began to participate in an outreach program to the  International students at the University of Texas, Dallas.  The program is called, Friendship Partners. Mary Beth, one of our members, headed the program for our church; she is a professor in the business school at UTD. Her husband’s job had taken her family to China just a few years earlier. She brought back with her a love for International students, particularly Chinese students and a burden for their salvation.


College Day at our Church. Larry and I, our grandson Max, and Jennifer.

The program is designed to give foreign students the opportunity to interact with an American Family. Those who serve as partners help foreign students learn about our culture, and help them meet the challenges a new culture presents.

Early that fall semester, Mary Beth began to recruit members of my church to take a student. She approached me one Sunday at church. I told her I would think about it. It was a difficult time for me; I was exhausted; I didn’t think it would be possible. I had just finished executing my father’s estate. I had been with both my parents every day of my father’s six-month battle with pancreatic cancer. The day he died, my brother Mark had a 7-hour surgery to remove a stage four brain tumor. After my father died, I was responsible for my elderly mother, who lived just a few doors from me. And soon after I took on some of my brother’s business affairs.

My brother was in the last weeks of life when Mary Beth approached me to be a partner. My mother was in a rehabilitation center after surgery. Everyday I visited her; I accompanied her to rehab and we shared a meal. I really didn’t feel I could take on one more thing physically or emotionally.

Yet I wanted to be a part.   I felt the Lord really wanted me to do this. In fact, my family and I had been the recipients of just such an outreach. Much earlier, Larry, our two daughters and I had moved to Paris, France. We were apprehensive about uprooting our family and moving into a culture so different from our own. Our pastor told us of a family we had known early in our marriage. They were serving in Paris as missionaries just minutes from where we were going to live. They helped us find an English speaking church in Paris, showed us where to shop and so many practical things, not to mention all the encouragement and support we needed at the beginning of what turned out to be a great adventure.   I wanted to be able to do what had been done for me.

With much trepidation, I agreed to be a Friendship Partner. I share this because we all live busy lives. Most of us are not looking for anything else to take on. We feel overloaded as it is. And sometimes we do need to say no. But when opportunities come our way that have eternal value, the Lord will make a way no matter our circumstances.

I decided I would include my friendship partner in my life as my circumstances permitted. I would not neglect my own family for my partner, but I would include her when I could. The first day I met Jennifer was a busy one. She could only meet in the afternoon when I was scheduled to pick up my grandson from Kindergarten. She agreed to go with me. I will never forget her smiling face as she approached me. We began to share with each other as we made our way in the car to my grandson’s school. As we sat in the carpool line, I learned about her family and her decision to come to Dallas to do a masters degree in finance. In the middle of our conversation, I got a call from my youngest brother about my brother, Mark’s declining health and certain decisions that needed our help.

I had no intention of sharing all the difficulties in our family with Jennifer. But there it was. When my grandson got in the car, he had gotten in trouble for kissing one of the girls in his class that day. Jennifer thought that was hysterical. She then began to tell us both what school had been like in China and about the things that had gotten her in trouble. Both sorrow and gladness was experienced in the car the day I met my friendship partner. It was not planned it just happened. And what barriers that might have kept us from being close were miraculously removed as we shared happy times and tragedy. When I took her back to school, before she got out of the car, she said to me, “I am not a Christian, but I will pray for your brother and your family.” I began to pray for her.

That day was just the beginning of many days when I simply asked Jennifer to join me in the activities of life – activities like visiting my mother, sharing family meals, and holidays. She sent me an email shortly after attending our Thanksgiving dinner that year. In it she spoke of seeing our family come together after the loss of my brother Mark and spoke of how touching that had been for her.


Friendship Partner’s Luncheon

By far, the most important part of my life I shared was church. Many of the Chinese students had been told that in order to understand American culture, they would need to understand our religion. Several of Jennifer’s roommates and friends began to visit our church. We began a Sunday School class just for Chinese students. Many of them had very deep questions as they began to learn about Jesus, His offer of salvation, His teachings, and His work on the cross. One Sunday our pastor hosted a question and answer session. It was well attended, and many deep questions were asked and were answered.

I came to realize that most of these Chinese students had grown up without any religious belief. When they had questions about why there is life or how it came about, they had turned to science for the answers. Some were from families who had passed down their Buddhist beliefs, but far more had no belief system at all.

I will never forget the night we sat in my car long after the symphony concert was over. Jennifer asked me to explain the Trinity to her. How glad I was for the Bible studies that I had had which prepared me for that difficult concept. That spring on Easter Sunday, one of Jennifer’s roommates was baptized by immersion in a local Chinese church.


Friends are baptized at the Chinese Church

Jennifer continued to come to my church and joined a Bible study at the Chinese church. One day I shared something cute my granddaughter had said to me. Jennifer began to cry and said, “When I have a child, I will take her to church so she will be a good person.” It gave me the opportunity to explain that being a Christian was not just about being a good person. It was about relationship with Jesus.

Another time, Jennifer and I were sitting around my daughter’s kitchen table. My granddaughter’s birthday party was just winding up. My daughter’s friend, Kelly was sharing a moving story about her 4 year old niece who was battling cancer and was in the process of being healed. Again Jennifer began to cry. Then she shared the memory of a childhood friend who was very ill. The school never explained why the little girl stopped coming to class, but when Jennifer saw her friend’s mother holding a new baby, she knew the little girl had died. (China has a one-child policy.)

That day Kelly shared not only the gospel, but also all the Lord had done through her niece’s illness to minister to so many people. She looked Jennifer square in the eyes and took her hand and told her of God’s love for her and her friend. Only the Lord could have planned that.

Two years after our first meeting, Jennifer completed her masters degree and graduated. That Easter, she told me she had prayed to God for salvation.

Her parents came for her graduation. They stayed in our home for about a week.  It was a very special time and a very emotional time. There were lots of tears, because even though Jennifer was scheduled to fly back to China just after graduation, she had not decided if she would return or stay in the states. In the end she returned to China. I still see her waving at me from the car that took her to the airport as they pulled away from our house. But that has not been the end of our relationship; we continue to stay connected through email and Face-Time.

In his first letter, Peter tells us to be ready to give an account for the hope that is within us. The Friendship Partner Program is not meant to be used to proselytize. It is a program of friendship. But becoming a friend is about building a relationship and sharing who we are. As we share with others who we are, it is only natural that we share Him who makes life worth living. As we reach out to the strangers amongst us, we have a wonderful opportunity to welcome and befriend them. Who knows; we may be doing more for world peace and understanding than any number of other official efforts. More importantly, we have the opportunity to share the love of Christ and the hope that is within us which has eternal value that will live beyond our time here on earth.

E 15

My current Friendship Partners celebrate Easter for the first time.


New in May 2015 – Springing Forward

New in May 2015 – Springing Forward

Easter Sunday is always glorious, however, for me, I must say it was especially so this year. Singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is always moving. This Easter we sang it surrounded by family and friends in a large beautiful sanctuary with a full choir, pipe organ with a brass and percussion ensemble. I believe the majesty of that moment will remain with me for quite some time.

Now, we are moving toward Pentecost when the work of the Holy Spirit was truly astounding. But we should not over look the time between – when the risen Lord walked for forty days with his disciples. As I have been reading and journaling through the gospels this past year, I have been marking the times Jesus told His disciples that He would be delivered up, suffer, die, and rise again. Still they were taken by surprise when these events happened.

On one hand, this is surprising that those who walked and talked with Jesus before his death didn’t get it. But on the other hand, this is somehow comforting. If Jesus had to open the understanding of His disciples, how much more will He open ours!

I love the way Luke records the time Jesus spent on earth after His resurrection. During His last appearance, Jesus reminds his followers of what He had told them. Luke records, “Then He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” So, I will share with you, ‘What is New at Renew’ in the hope of sharing comfort and understanding as we encourage one another to grow in Christ.

Several United Methodist women’s groups have contacted Renew lately asking for meaningful program ideas and Bible studies. Here are a few ideas…

Kris Key offers a four part Bible Study called, “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up.” Some of us are just young enough to have seen this black and white early TV show on U-Tube, not to mention those of us who remember the show from our childhood! Regardless, Kris provides a link in Lesson One to an early broadcast. Each part of the study can be divided into days or weeks depending on how often your group meets. It’s excellent for individual study too. The study is designed to draw us closer to Jesus.

Then Sara Anderson discusses “heroes” in her piece, “When I was a Child…” It is a great lesson on finding our worth in Christ – not in others.

Mary Lambrecht shares a comforting lesson on grief through the story in Luke 7 of a women who has lost a husband and a son. Mary reminds women that no matter the cause of sorrow, Jesus is deeply moved by it. This devotional can be easily used to start a discussion; it gives women the opportunity to share lessons and blessings that have come out of their own grief experiences.

Are you looking for an opportunity to share your faith? Try your own backyard! If you haven’t noticed, it is no longer necessary to travel outside our country or even our neighborhoods to be involved in mission. I have learned so many lessons as I have shared my culture and my faith just by befriending two international students. See my mission story on renewnetwork.org under the Serving tab.

Finally, the church is preparing for the 2016 General Conference in Portland. It is just a year away. Team Renew is preparing as well. Along with Good News and other renewal partners, we plan to be present. As I write this update, oral arguments are commencing at the Supreme Court on one of the most important foundational issues of a just society, the definition of marriage. All but 14 states have legalized same-sex marriage. The question before the Supreme Court is whether this will become the law of the land. The question before the UMC at General Conference is whether this will become the law of the church. In his most recent editorial, Rob Renfroe reminds us that the church needs to do the hard thing and take a clear stand against the cultural tide. “Our task is not to make the gospel easy; it’s to make the gospel plain.”

Much is at stake. Thank you members of the Renew Network for your continued faithfulness. Your prayers and your gifts are very much appreciated and especially needed at this critical juncture. Thank you for standing with us as we endeavor to make the gospel plain – free from the influence of those who co-opt it for their political preferences and free from revisionist interpretations that take God’s plain truth and twist it to accommodate the cultural trend of our time.

In His Service,

Katy Kiser

Renew Team Leader

Making LENT Meaningful and Intentional

There are many ways to observe Lent, but in whatever way we choose, we should be intentional about coming closer to Christ and deepening our understanding of what He has done for each of us through His death and resurrection. The Easter season is different from Christmastime in that we do not have the pressure of decorating, gift buying, holiday parties and big family meals that so often robs us of time to prepare our hearts for the birth of our savior. But at the same time, because we are not involved in those extra activities, Easter can sneak up on us. We can find ourselves just as unprepared for the true meaning that is to be ours in the celebration and observance of this most holy church season.

That is why I am excited to recommend several resources from Wesleyan Women on the RENEW team.

51VyGNwcdEL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Kris Key recommends two books by Max Lucado. In Six Hours One Friday, Lucado delves into the meaning of Jesus’ last hours on the cross. The reviews I found on the web of this book were very moving and heartfelt. On reviewer writes, “The way Max Lucado portrays the cross and how our father must have felt with his son on the cross gave me chills and brought me to tears throughout the book, especially the last page. As a parent, I simply can’t imagine.

You might also want to consider He Chose the Nails, an in depth look at what Jesus did for us. In this book Lucado writes about how much Jesus loved us – a love that led him to choose the cross. In this book you will find a discussion of the symbols such as the crown of thorns, the burial clothes, the sign of the cross, and many more. On reader describes this book as “very emotional and eye opening. This will most defiantly be a book I read every year!”

9780060608163_p0_v2_s260x420Karen Booth shared that every year she tries to read The Day Christ Died by Jim Bishop. The author approaches this day from the viewpoint of a journalistic historian rather than a theologian. In fact, the book reads like a narrative from a storybook. It is written in hourly increments and opens at 6 P.M. with Jesus and ten of the apostles coming through the pass between the Mt. of Olives and the Mt. of Offense in route to Jerusalem and the Last Supper. It closes at 4 P.M. of the following afternoon when Jesus was taken down from the cross. One cannot help but be drawn into the “most dramatic day in the history of the world – the day Jesus of Nazareth died.

Sara Anderson, chief operating officer at Bristol House Publishing (800-451-7323 or www.bristolhouseltd.com), has three suggestions for seven week studies that are not specifically for Lent but lend themselves well for growing closer to Christ and deepening our walk with Him.

Everyday Christian: Living Like Christ Seven Days a Week – encourages us to become followers of Christ, and invite God’s Spirit to infiltrate every area of our life, both inside and out. “Whether it be in our business practices, how we treat our family, how we react on the sports field, how we take care of our bodies, or how we treat God’s creation, our lives are to be consistently Christ-like and Holy Spirit-filled–no matter where we are or what we are doing.”

She also suggests Christian Disciplines: Creating Time and Space for God.

“Discipline is necessary to realize our desires and goals. It is the means to an end, a method of moving forward, a path toward a destination, a way of living that enables accomplishment….This study focuses on the Christian’s yearning for a deeper life in God and more faithful living out of faith in Jesus Christ.”

The Sower Went Out: And Other Parables of Jesus. This book gives fresh depth and meaning to seven parables; the sower, the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, the Pharisee and the tax collector, the wise and foolish builders, the workers in the vineyard and the ten virgins.

41h66EhKawL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The one resource that has been very meaningful to me is Richard John Neuhaus’ Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross. Neuhaus devotes a chapter to each of the seven works of Christ from the cross. I have underlined so many deep insights as I have read and re-read this book. With each reading, my understanding of His death and resurrection is deepened as I am pulled into the drama of what is taking place on my behalf and the behalf of all humanity. In the Preface I found this quote, “…Good Friday is the key to understanding what Dante called “the love that moves the sun and all the other stars.” I can highly recommend this book.

During this Lenten season, The RENEW Team hopes these suggestions will help you to deepen your relationship with Jesus, your savior and help make this time of preparation indeed meaningful. In fact any time or season, these resources will enrich your walk.

In Christ,

Katy Kiser