http://renewnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/unnamed-2.jpg 4016 6016 Katy Kiser http://renewnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/renew-logo.png Katy Kiser2021-10-17 16:34:492021-10-17 16:42:24Fall Newsletter
Dear Renew Network,
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash.
Dear Renew Network,
At the beginning of his novel, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens writes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” He is less known for going on to add, “it was the spring of hope and the winter of despair…”
How hopeful most Methodists were when an African bishop called a diverse and inclusive group together; they met and developed the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation.The church finally recognized that there was no way to reconcile two diametrically opposed views of sexuality and morality. At last a way forward had been found.
It was hopeful and somewhat exciting to think that of all the mainline denominations, it would be the Methodists who would clear the impasse over sexuality in the most Christ-like way. But just weeks later, the world found itself in the throes of a pandemic and the 2020 General Conference had to be postponed to 2021 and later moved a second time to 2022. In Dickens’ words, we entered a time of hope with the development of the Protocol and a time of despair over its delay.
One of the most interesting things about this time of waiting has been how the Lord has used the delay. Some churches are not waiting for the General Conference to be the church they are called to be. Old slogans of Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors are being left behind. Instead of presenting a cheap grace that merely dismisses sin, some pastors are speaking boldly about sin’s reality. They are offering God’s grace that leads to real change of heart and life.
Wesley’s sermons and teachings, including the Methodist doctrine of entire sanctification, seem to be making a comeback. Could it be that we will see our beloved church return to its Wesleyan roots that made it great? Recently a pastor of a diverse church shared that centrists in his church, who a year ago would have wanted to remain United Methodist, are now entertaining the idea that the Global Methodist Church may be the better option.
Also not many weeks ago, I received a call from a UMW president and officer in her local WCA chapter. As she admitted, that combination seems like a contradiction, somewhat like calling oneself a conservative progressive. She went on to explain that her UMW unit found the official UMW program and spiritual life studies problematic. What they did like was the structure, fellowship, and emphasis on mission.
There are many UMW units that identify with this woman. They are basically conservative and orthodox. Many of their members feel a loyalty to UMW because their mothers and grandmothers belonged to one of the predecessor women’s missionary groups that were passionate about the gospel being brought to unreached people. These women are realizing that UMW no longer represents their values or those of their ancestors. Renew has reported on this for years. This is why for some time, women have been turning away from the “spiritual life studies” offered by the UMW National office. They have become less enamored with a mission strategy based on a politically conceived notion of justice. As a result, women have become more active in the life and mission of the local church. Both they and their churches are stronger for it.
For over a decade, United Methodist Women has been losing about five percent of its membership yearly. This is about twice the rate of membership loss in the UM Church. Churches or annual conferences that choose to join the Global Methodist Church will want to carefully consider their relationship with the continuing UM boards and agencies, of which UMW National is one.
That does not mean that targeted women’s ministry will cease to exist or that there will be fewer positions of leadership for women in the new Global Methodist Church. But it does mean that conservative, orthodox churches should carefully consider their relationship with UMW National leadership. They have consistently taken controversial positions that many will find antithetical to the reasons they choose to join the new Global Methodist Church. Their position on human sexuality is just one example.
The United Methodist Church is changing; women’s ministry and mission is changing. A new Global Methodist Church is forming. It is a time of hope. Though we have had some unavoidable delay and some needless delay, it is not a time of despair. Let us who have contended for the faith continue to stand strong and follow our Savior. He has not brought us this far to leave us now.
I invite you to visit the Renew website (renewnetwork.org), where you will find new resource ideas and articles. As always, Renew is grateful to our loyal supporters who have stood by us for decades. If you have not made a donation recently, please do. Just visit the Renew website to download or print the Donations Form. You may also click on “Make a Gift” on the Good News website (goodnewsmag.org) and designate your gift for Renew.
Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
Fax : 832-813-5327
In His Service,
Renew Network Team Leader
Renew Network Team Leader
Katy teaches in her local church and serves on several committees. She served for seven years on the Good News board of directors. Along with writing for Renew, Katy is a freelance writer, and co-author with Faye Short of Reclaiming the Wesleyan Social Witness – Offering Christ.
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