Dear Renew Network,
Renew Christmas Letter
I love these words spoken by Gabriel to Mary in the first chapter of Luke, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” This is a remarkable passage of hope. The Christmas Story begins with the Annunciation; Gabriel tells Mary she will give birth to the savior of the world! Mary was an unmarried virgin; she knew that having a baby was impossible for her. She does not doubt that what the angel has proclaimed to her will come about. But she does ask “how.”
Christmas brings with it many “how” questions: how will I get all this shopping done; how will I keep up with all the extra festivities; how, how, how? We all face impossible people and situations in our lives, which have a tendency to be more impossible at this time of the year, when the normal pressures of Christmas are bearing down on us. We too ask, “how” can we experience the hope, peace, joy and love that is meant to be ours during Christmas? Experience whispers, “It is impossible.” But even the things we think are unfathomable, and the things we have given up on, do not take God by surprise. They are not impossible for Him.
This year many of us are asking “how” will we navigate the crisis in our United Methodist Church? How can the UMC have unity and irreconcilable differences over human sexuality? Deep theological truths are at stake. The very essence of our faith is under assault. In the midst of our dilemma, Luke’s Christmas Story tells of another angel who, along with a host of angels, appears to the shepherds and says, “Do not be afraid!” They announce the good tidings of great joy for all of us; God is with us. He will save us. New birth will bring the answer!
At Renew, we too sometimes ask, “How is this possible?” How is it possible that a small group of volunteer women can make a difference for women in the UMC. What seems impossible at times has been made possible. You who support Renew with your prayers and your gifts have made our work possible.
This Christmas, Renew has much in which to rejoice. Our magazine articles have encouraged renewal in women’s ministries and mission. Independent, vital women’s ministry and mission is increasing and thriving across the landscape of the church. We have had a number of requests from pastors and women’s leaders to connect with Renew for the purpose of growing their ministries. They are interested in un-politicized mission opportunities that offer Christ, program materials that provide for spiritual growth, and opportunities to deepen their relationship with Jesus.
Monitoring the United Methodist Women’s National (UMWN) office continues to be an important aspect of our work. If you read my last newsletter (here) you know the important role Renew played in the 90s to bring the Re-Imagining Conference to the attention of all the renewal groups in the United Methodist Church and other denominations. More recently, Renew has exposed the UMWN teaching on The Bible and Human Sexuality. You can find an excellent review by Faye Short on the website (here). New this year on the UMWN Reading Program was a book titled, If Eve Only Knew; Freeing Yourself from Biblical Womanhood. The book is actually sourced by many of the original presenters at the 1993 Re-Imagining Conference and encourages the women to turn to Sophia and a feminist understanding of God.
With this kind of teaching coming out of UMWN, it is not unexpected that the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) reports a staggering decline in UMW units and individual members. Renew does not rejoice in this decline, but we are not surprised. The UMW decline reinforces the wisdom of the 2016 General Conference to pass legislation that officially recognizes alternative women’s ministry in the church. You can read about GCFA’s statistics in a Perspective article by Tom Lambrecht (here).
This year when you make your end-of-year giving, I hope you will include Renew Network. In addition to all that I have described, your contributions will help us launch a new updated website and a scholarship for female evangelical, orthodox seminary students.
Stand with us by going on 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
Fax: 832.813.5327/p>Renew’s wish is that you will find hope, peace, joy and love as you celebrate the coming of the Christ Child this Christmas.
In His Service,
Renew Network Team Leader
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