Fall 2016 Renew Update – Accommodation or Transformation

October 26, 2016

Dear Renew Network,

Since my last Newsletter, much has happened in the church. But by far, I believe the most transformative event for our church is the creation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, which met in Chicago in early October. As one young pastor from Texas put it, “It is not often that you get to be part of history.” Indeed, history was made, and you can read more about that HERE.

I like how Bishop Mike Lowery described the meeting when he wrote,

I experienced the event as a movement of the Holy Spirit. Prayer was deep. Hope was bright. A sense of the Spirit’s leading was strong. Obedience to Christ was paramount. Such prayer, hope, sense of the Spirit’s leading, and obedience to Christ remains paramount.

For me, the gathering felt like a daylong prayer and praise meeting, which was interspersed with the preaching and presentations of some of our denomination’s most astute bishops, theologians and pastors. I was particularly interested in the words of the church historian, Rev. Andrew Thompson, because his remarks reflected much of what the Renew Network is all about.

Thompson had been asked to give us an overview of church history. He emphasized that the church throughout the centuries had been tempted to accommodate the demands of the culture, instead of transforming culture with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He began by reminding us that Jesus himself had warned us that we would have tribulation, conflict and challenges in the world, but He had overcome the world.

Thompson powerfully spoke to the challenge before the UMC when he said,

The Church was not meant to be the handmaiden of the culture. The Church was rather called to be the ‘light of the world,’ the ‘city built on the hill,’ and the ‘lamp upon the lamp stand’ giving light to the darkness beyond. (Matthew 5:14-15) If your standard is the ‘spirit of the age,’ then considerations like the sovereignty of God, or the moral law of Christ, or the atoning sacrifice of the cross – these are just embarrassing relics best swept under the rug in the name of ‘progress.

For over 26 years, part of the work of Renew Network has been to shine light on the places where our church has been tempted to accommodate the prevailing culture rather than be the light of the world and agent of real transformation.

In my last newsletter I wrote about one of these challenges, and what I subsequently learned is known by the term, “sex positivity.” As you may recall or can read about HERE, the United Methodist Women’s 2016 spiritual life study is a book by Helen Brubaker, The Bible and Human Sexuality: Claiming God’s Good Gift. This study asks the church to move away from The Book of Discipline’s stated biblical understanding of human sexuality as fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness based on the moral teaching of Christ.

Instead, Brubaker calls for the church to embrace a sexual ethic built on consent and safety. The sexual ethic known as “sex positivity,” is also built on consent and safety. Sex positivity is the view that sexual activity in all its forms is positive and healthy if consensual and safe. This was clearly taught at the Mission U events of the UMW, which I attended this past summer. But the idea of “sex positivity” goes farther than legitimizing sexual behavior that has been seen in previous times as immoral; it claims that sex should be unrestricted on the basis that it is a human right.

The notion of “sex positivity” is being used in the efforts of organizations like Amnesty International, United Nations AIDS, UNDP, UN Women, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU to decriminalize prostitution – and not just decriminalizing sex workers who are often victims of human trafficking. Some go so far as to advocate the right of men to buy and sell women’s bodies for sex, because sex is positive and good for everyone’s health. You can read about this in the excellent article by Darren Geist in the August 2016 edition of First Things.

Is this what we want the United Methodist Church to adopt as it’s teaching on human sexuality? Is our church teaching to be no more than the culture’s contemporary understanding of sex?

You no doubt will find this an outrageous development, which may seem hard to believe or perhaps overstated. The UMW 2016 spiritual life study does not directly advocate for prostitution to be decriminalized and seen as a right. But be aware that Brubaker’s study, The Bible and Human Sexuality leads the UMW and the UMC far beyond de-stigmatizing sex outside of traditional marriage, or legitimizing homosexual behavior and the right of same-sex partners to marry as a matter of justice.

We are being asked to embrace a new sexual ethic that is unbiblical, particularly harmful to women, works counterproductively to ending sex trafficking, and encourages prostitution and pornography, which are becoming increasingly extreme and violent. Geist shares a disturbing statistic – prostituted women have a mortality rate two hundred times higher than the general population.

Lest we despair, let us remember John’s Gospel tells us Jesus has overcome the world; He has the answer to all that is wrong and evil in our culture. Be encouraged! And know there is a significant group of conservative, evangelical, orthodox believers in the UMC who are committed to being “the light of the world” and the “city on the hill.”

I would encourage you and your church to stand firm by staying prayerfully committed. I also would encourage you to go a step further and join the WCA (HERE).

In the meantime, the Renew Network continues in the work that has been so necessary and important to the women and the church called United Methodist. If you have not made a contribution this year, please do. We need your prayers and we need your financial support. Renew is a group of volunteer women, but our work does come with costs. You, our supporters, have been faithful. We appreciate your continued prayer and financial support.

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

Above all, let us not forget the words of Jesus:
My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid… In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
John 16:27, 33b

In His Service,
Katy Kiser
Renew Network Team Leader

My Experience at Mission U: The Bible and Human Sexuality: Claiming God’s Good Gift

The UMW Spiritual Life Study: The Bible and Human Sexuality: Claiming God’s Good Gift.

August 3, 2016 Newsletter

Dear Renew Network,

By now, you most likely have heard that the Western Jurisdiction elected Karen Oliveto, a married lesbian to the episcopacy. I want to thank the Renew Network for your response to the Good News statement concerning the crisis this action has escalated. If you have not already, please read and sign the statement at http://methodistcrossroads.org. This action is a serious breach of the covenant that holds the United Methodist Church together.

I think a word needs to be said about how we as a church got to this place. We have been at a crossroad for some time. Our official UMC sexual ethic has remained unchanged and rooted in an understanding of scripture that has been clear for thousands of years. But for 44 years, our sexual ethic has been challenged by those who would have our church capitulate to the culture’s demand for an acceptance of sexual freedom that is completely untied from any historical or theological understanding of morality much less holiness. Let me give you an example…

The day after Karen Oliveto was elected bishop, I attended a United Methodist Women’s Mission U event. The UMW’s 2016 spiritual life study is a book by Helen Brubaker, The Bible and Human Sexuality: Claiming God’s Good Gift. Brubaker goes back to the creation account before the fall stressing God’s intention for sexual intimacy before sin entered into His creation. So far so good.

Brubaker wants us to know interpretations of Scripture have affected the church and views of faith and sexuality. By stressing interpretation of the Word, she opens the door for reinterpreting the Bible. This study leans heavily on a revisionist interpretation of God’s Word. The study is designed to help the church accept not only the practice of homosexuality, but also a sexual ethic that would eliminate any scriptural boundaries on sexual practice other than consent and safety.

At UMW Mission U we were reminded over and over that the scriptures were written exclusively by men during a time of cultural patriarchy when women were considered property and had no rights. Laws were not represented as God’s revealed will and standard to help us distinguish righteousness from unrighteousness, but instead they were presented as written from the will of the male perspective.

Brubaker misrepresents Genesis 20 and 26 where Abraham and Isaac claim their wives are their sisters. She states, “Adultery took place and Sarah was powerless in the situation.” This is simply untrue; the scripture is rather clear that God himself intervened through a dream and circumstance that protected both Sarah and Rebecca from committing adultery or being raped.

Brubaker reinterprets the story of Sodom and Gomorrah saying, “it makes more sense that this is an episode of violence on the part of men who are out of control and ready to rape whomever they can.” A film clip shown during Mission U introduced the idea that God judged these cities for their lack of hospitality.

A thorough examination of all the misinterpretation of scriptures that pertain to sexual holiness is not possible in this letter. But not only does this study call into question our traditional understanding of morality and God’s plan for sexual intimacy, it also tells us we should take authority and decide a sexual ethic for ourselves. Brubaker quotes Barbara Lee to give us the foundation for making this judgment.

To relate to each other as whole human beings, we need to develop and live by a Sexual Ethic that celebrates sex while treating it with moral integrity. An ethic that begins by recognizing that people of all sexual orientation and gender identities, of all marital status, and of all physical capacities, have the right to experience sex as a healthy and life giving part of their existence.

God’s intention for human sexuality is clearly stated in Genesis 2 and re-affirmed in Matthew 19 by Jesus himself. But at Mission U we were told that we must go beyond our church’s marriage ethic because it says nothing to widows, singles or gays: and it condones harmful behaviors as long as they are in marriage. We are left with a sexual ethic that can be individualized; I decide what is right for me as long as I accept the universal principle of mutual consent and agreement where yes means yes, no means no, and take responsibility for sex being safe.

Toward the end of Mission U our leader played a video of a young teenage girl who told her tragic story of divorce, sexual abuse and early sexual involvement through a series of index cards. Her story was the perfect example of the family and societal breakdown that results when the marriage ethic is discarded for a sexual ethic built on no more than consent and safety.

I was disappointed that, on the surface, none of the women in the class voiced any concern about what was taught. Do we really believe that God cannot transcend the effects of the Fall and make His will known even if His Word was only written by males? Does the church being salt and light, standing in stark contrast to the world no longer matter?

I cannot recommend The Bible and Human Sexuality to the women of the church. This study is a prime example why the church is in the crisis it is in today. And it is a prime example why Renew has worked for over 25 years to expose the political agendas and dare I say false teaching that guide and inform the women through the UMW mission and spiritual studies like the Brubaker book. Our church needs prayer and a mighty move of God – not a new sexual ethic. I hope the Renew Network will alert the women in their churches to the problems of this study.

Katy Kiser

General Conference Update

May 2016

Greetings Renew Network,

Since our beginning, Renew Network has sought to encourage women to know Christ and to make Him known through various outreach programs. As John Wesley told Thomas Coke when he departed for the American colonies, “Offer them Christ.” That mandate is just as true and important today as it was in the late 1700s. Unless we ourselves are transformed and have a deep relationship with Christ, how can we hope to further the Mission of the UMC to make disciples and transform the world? We cannot give what we ourselves do not have. The world does not need more of the world and its secular agendas. The world needs the transforming power of the Savior.

As Renew Network members, we need to keep these things in mind as we prepare for the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon the second week in May. Whether you will be in Portland or at home, I encourage you to pray for Renew and the rest of the Renewal Coalition. Several crises will be addressed at this GC. In this update, I will address the crisis of declining membership and equitable representation as it relates to the women of the church.

In 1973, the then Deputy General Secretary of the Women’s Division, Theressa Hoover in her article in Response magazine claimed that the United Methodist Women were a million and a half strong in the United States. As recently as 2003 when then Deputy General Secretary, Joyce Sohl gave her farewell address to UMW, the United Methodist News Service unofficially reported that UMW was one million members strong.  Actually, the official membership number for 2003 was 765,724.

In 2012, UMW membership was 528,156 women for a loss of 237,568 over a ten  year period. Furthermore, the independence granted to UMW at General Conference 2012 has not been able to stem the tide of membership decline.

The latest statistics (2014) from the General Council on Finance and Administration are extraordinary numbers.

In 2014, the United Methodist Church in the United States had around 7 million members, of which 4 million were women.  There were 480,000 women in UMW units in the UMC, which means that for every woman who belonged to an official UMW unit in the local church, there were eight women who did not.  Furthermore, the statistics show that since 2010 the UMW has lost 90,000 women and over 2,000 units/circles in local churches.  There were 32,408 churches in the US in 2014.  Less than half had UMW units.

It is also important to note that some UMW women and groups in the local church are in name only.  They do not use official program materials, the reading program and Bible studies developed by the New York UMW staff, and some do not support official mission giving. These women and units are nevertheless counted in the official numbers. When you consider those facts, the numbers from GFAC become even more sobering.

In 2010 the bishops and Connectional Table of the church commissioned an outside research company to come up with a plan to help the church be more effective in its mission and change the path of membership decline. The report was called the Call to Action.  It recommended effective practices and high-quality ministries for making disciples; it called for diversity and variety in the ways these practices and ministries are adapted in local contexts.

Even before the Call to Action, many of our local churches were following its suggestions for growth and offering vibrant and inspiring women’s ministry in addition to official UMW. In the UMC today, many women attend various Bible studies, ministry programs, prayer groups and participate in both local and global mission opportunities. New evangelical women’s voices have emerged. Indeed the recommendations of the Call to Action Project are being implemented in many local churches.

Many women in the local church have the freedom to expand their ministries in hopes of not only stemming membership decline, but more importantly, with the goal of growing in Christ and offering Him to a hurting and confused world. But at the same time, there are some churches that feel bound by the Book of Discipline to only participate in officially sanctioned ministries.

It is for this reason, that Renew has submitted to the 2016 General Conference two important pieces of legislation, a petition and a resolution calling for the church to recognize the reality in our local churches; that is: there are thriving vital alternative ministries to the official gender-specific ministries of UMW and UMM.

Pet 60614      Page 1038 of the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate – Supplemental Ministries                                                                                       

This petition encourages supplemental ministry programs for women and men in addition to United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men.

Pet 60844      Page 1050 of the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate –  Women’s Ministry                                                                                                   

This resolution lifts up the importance of women’s ministry in the local church and encourages local churches to provide supplemental women’s ministry programs that fit the unique needs of women in each church.

I encourage you to call and ask your delegates to General Conference to support these petitions for the sake of fulfilling the mission of this denomination. Please continue to pray for Renew, Good News and the entire Renewal Coalition.  Most of all, please pray that our denomination will not abandon our biblical standards, will strengthen accountability, and will adopt the plans and measure the Lord would have us to adopt.

In addition, please visit our Facebook page for the latest updates on denominational happenings.  In addition, the Good News website will have daily updates during General Conference. On this site you will find many new resources that include the third lesson of the Mirrors Bible teaching  by Jeannine Fogwell; A Call to Prayer also by Jeannine; and a  devotional by BJ Funk, Remember, O Lord, Your Great Mercy and Love.

Finally, to all of you who have invested in the work of Renew, please know that your gifts are very much appreciated. You have made it possible for me and others to attend GC 2016 and continue the on-going work of renewal as we follow Wesley’s admonition to “Offer them Christ.”

You can continue to stand with us by downloading and printing 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


Winter Newsletter – Hope from John 15 and 16

Winter Newsletter – Hope from John 15 and 16

February 2016

Dear Renew Network,

In the United Methodist Church, all eyes are focused on General Conference. The delegates have been chosen and legislation has been prepared. The stakes are high for the Church. Will the United Methodist Church preserve its integrity or bow to the demand of our culture?

I am discouraged, if not dismayed, that our denominational leaders continue to bend over backward to accommodate the LGBTQ agenda to change the Church’s time- honored teachings on morality and sexuality.

The bishops have allowed this group to disrupt the last five General Conferences that I have attended. After the 2012 General Conference, over two thousand pastors vowed to break church law and have ignored The Book of Discipline – all without any real consequences. This past year the Connectional Table recommended that the church abandon our historical, scriptural teaching on human sexuality. And now the document which contains all the rules and petitions for General Conference, the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate, has issued guidelines for conversation that are clearly weighted to advantage the LGBTQ cause, even to the point of asking all present not to assume male and female pronouns for persons they do not know.

The LGTBQ caucuses have vowed to disrupt our General Conference in Portland with tactics designed to be even more demanding than ever before. These demands and the accommodation of these demands have become more blatantly defiant with each year.

Perhaps you, like me, have been asked by numerous friends, “Why are you still in the United Methodist Church?” Where do we find hope in the midst of this chaos? Where did Jesus’ disciples turn to find hope after He was betrayed, arrested, and crucified? The Gospel of John gives us the answer to all these questions.

Certainly in the days leading up to the Crucifixion, the disciples faced a time of utter confusion, of debilitating anxiety,  fear, and, of course, intense suffering and pain. They faced no less, and likely much more, confusion and doubt than we do in our current crisis. Keep in mind that Jesus told His disciples that they would weep and lament and have bitter sorrow, but He promised their sorrow would turn to joy. How so?

Jesus had warned of the lawlessness that would occur. Who can doubt that we are in a time of lawlessness: many in our ranks protest; they ask us to change Church law and the Church’s teaching on human sexuality. Bishops, pastors and church staff work contrary to Church teaching, and little or nothing happens to discipline them.

Jesus also warned the disciples that they would be hated, and Jesus traced that hatred to its origin – hatred of Him (John 15: 18-19). The nature of the world is selfish.   Jesus points us to the fact that the world’s selfishness presents us with opposition that creates trials for Christians. The resultant hatred is a sign that the disciples are chosen “out of the world.” Let us remember that we too are called “out of the world,” and let us not be tempted to compromise with it.

Christians are called to be love. Love is defined by Jesus Himself: “If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15: 9-10). Real love is characterized by obedience, not by selfish demands that defy scripture or offer misinterpretations of the truth by which we are called to live our lives. Let us not be tempted or confused by failing to understand the true meaning of love. And let us not embrace an understanding of grace that cheapens the love of the Father in giving His only begotten Son. Love is obedience, and grace is not cheap but costly. It is not love to condone what God does not condone.

Part of understanding the joy that would eventually be the disciples’ was Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, the Helper, whom they had not fully experienced prior to the Resurrection. He tells His disciples that the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth. Then Jesus shows them how they will know the truth and the work of the Spirit: The Spirit will not speak on His own authority. “(The Spirit) will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine.” (John 16: 14-15 See also verses 12-15).

Today we are told by the LGBTQ caucuses in the Church that the Holy Spirit is making known new revelation when it comes to our understanding of human sexuality. But we are able to judge these “new revelations” for what they are, because Jesus clearly taught that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are ONE. They are in perfect unity and they do not contradict one another. Furthermore, the Spirit does not contradict God’s Word.

So our hope and joy are in Jesus Himself and in the Holy Spirit. He left us the Spirit that we might be kept in Christ’s teaching and His truth. Hope is also seen in the words He gave the disciples, which are found at the end of John 16. After warning His disciples of the hatred that would come their way, after warning them of the confusion and turbulence that would occur after His arrest, after promising them the guidance of the Holy Spirit – Jesus makes an extraordinary promise. It is found in John 16: 20 and following:

Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman when she is in labor has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish for joy that a human being has been born.

New birth is promised! New birth brings joy! Let us not be surprised by our current trial. Let us persevere. I believe out of the travail in the beloved Church of John Wesley, new birth is coming. I believe it, because it is promised by Jesus Himself. Out of the confusion, the doubt, the anxiety, fear, and pain will come the Church of Jesus Christ. It will not be the church proposed by the Connectional Table or encouraged by the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate or demanded by the angry voices. It may not come in the timing we desire. But out of the confusion it will come. The true Church will prevail. And with it will come the real love and healing for which the world is so desperate.

In Christ,

Katy Kiser – Renew Network Team Leader

I want to extend a special thank you to all those of you who remembered Renew this past year. Your prayers and financial gifts are very appreciated. If you did not make an end of the year gift, please prayerfully consider doing so. Our expenses for General Conference will be substantial. Your gift will go a long way to help our Renew team ensure that secular agendas are rejected and needed legislation is passed. There will be more about that in my next email. Until then please don’t forget to visit the website. There you will find both new resources and a Call to Prayer, which I hope you will use and share with others.


2015 Christmas Greetings – Hark the Herald Angels Sing


Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn king
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”

As I write this update to you, it is already the second week of Advent. This past Sunday in our church, we lit the candle of peace and sang that great Wesleyan hymn, Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Each year at this time, our family receives at least one Christmas card wishing us “Peace.” Often it pictures a wolf lying down with a lamb or a lion with a calf. This year the thought of obtaining the goal of peace seems very far from our reality.

Internationally, not only the threat, but also the instance of terrorism is on the rise. In our own country, we have faced shootings of various kinds and demonstrations that in some cases have led to outrage and destruction. In the United Methodist Church our doctrinal and scriptural differences have brought us to an impasse; the resolution of which promises to be anything but peaceful as we prepare for General Conference 2016. You add on to that the additional pressures of gift buying, decorating, and preparation for the holiday, and “peace” seems indeed unobtainable.

In all this chaos and conflict, we are reminded that Christ was born into a time of incredible unrest. And yet, an angel announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds with the words, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.” And a multitude of heavenly angels praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

God the Father sent His peace to earth through a family and the birth of His only begotten Son. He did not send a political solution or a mighty ruler to overthrow the injustice His people labored under. Instead He sent a baby who would give Himself for us that we might have a peace that passes understanding – a deeper peace than that the world can offer.

As we contemplate and pray for the conflict in our world and in our beloved church, let us contemplate the words of Richard John Neuhaus who said, “The peace that is ours is not a peace of pretending that things are not as they are; nor is it a peace of being blind to conflict. It is the peace of faith. Faith is trust in the Prince of Peace. In the child of Bethlehem, in the powerlessness of a baby, God entered into our conflicts.”

The conflict in the United Methodist Church is shaking our very foundations, which rest on God’s word and the work of His Son on the cross. The carnal desires of some have threatened not only our peace, but also leads away from the moral righteousness, which Christ makes possible for each of us. As we prepare for 2016, we must fervently pray, earnestly work and not abandon the conflict even when the way seems unclear. In this threatening time, let us join the angels and sing:

Hail the Heaven born Prince of Peace
Hail the Sun of Righteousness
Life and Light to all he brings
Ris’n healing in His wings

Katy Kiser – Renew Team Leader

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


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

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