Archive for May, 2010

Dr. Richard Hunter

This post is by Richard Hunter, senior pastor of Snellville United Methodist Church (North Georgia Conference). He holds a doctorate in parish revitalization from McCormick Theological Seminary (Chicago) and teaches on the adjunct faculty at both Asbury Theological Seminary and the Candler School of Theology. — Ed.

I want to be a part of renewing our Methodist movement for faithfulness in the 21st century.

Renewal requires facing facts — namely that reversing our downward spiral of membership losses and evangelistic ineffectiveness calls for dramatic changes and creative innovations across the church.

I suggest four areas where we need to embrace a different way of doing things:

  • We must bring an emphasis on church planting into every district and place it in the DNA of every church.

After 20 years of existence, the average United Methodist congregation brings one new believer to Christ for every 85 members (an 85-to-1 ratio)! In contrast, our new churches reach new believers at a 2-to-1 ratio. After five years, they are still reaching new people, 3-to-1.

The future of our denomination depends on starting new churches every week just as we did at the beginning of the 20th century, yet we put far more resources in serving ourselves rather than church planting.

We must welcome innovative and “out-of-the-box” church plants. To reach today’s culture, we must be starting churches in coffee houses, in warehouses, in homes and movie theaters. Not all church plants can succeed with the UM label. We need to insist on UM theology and accountability but not require these new starts to carry a label that is a huge hurdle for some people.

  • We must recognize that growing churches of the future will be multicultural.

Thirty years ago I was taught that fast-growing churches were homogeneous. Not anymore! Many thriving churches are multicultural, especially in our cities.

Most of our conferences are behind the time on this trend. We need to educate, place, and promote pastors who are bilingual and effective in developing these churches.

  • We must encourage and embrace innovative and contemporary worship.

This does not mean churches like mine should stop offering “traditional,” main-sanctuary worship services. Our traditional service is still relevant and growing. Yet the trends tell us that innovative worship is here to stay.

We must be wiling to use modern media to 1) reach the unchurched, 2) teach the Gospel to a visual culture, and 3) communicate with people through the modes of communication that they use daily. We must require our seminaries to respect this trend and teach how to be effective in using communication technology.

Virtual churches will be common in the next decade. Will the UMC be a part of this movement or leave it to non-denominational churches?

  • We must offer sound doctrine and serious discipleship.

People may choose a church based on the style of worship, the preacher, and the programs. But they stay and commit to a church that disciples them to a cause and a movement that is changing the world. Therefore, we must embrace our Methodist roots and bring scriptural holiness to every community we serve.

People are drawn to high-commitment churches. So let us clearly state the membership expectations of prayer, worship, tithing, and servant living.

Thirty years in ministry have demonstrated to me that God’s Kingdom-design for a community will be served by faithful churches and visionary leaders.

The future of our movement depends on our willingness to be committed to change and innovation regardless of the hardships. May God find many United Methodist churches that will be faithful to His call.

To serve the present age, my calling to fulfill:
O may it all my powers engage to do my Master’s will!

—Charles Wesley

A version of this column previously appeared in the newsletter of the Wesleyan Renewal Movement.

The WRM is a group of North Georgia clergy seeking “to promote the election of delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences who are committed to ensuring the Book of Discipline and the election of bishops reflect [the] principles of Wesley and the Bible.”

Bishop Scott Jones (Kansas Area) is scheduled to speak at next month’s WRM annual breakfast (June 18) in Athens, Ga., concurrent with the 2010 session of the North Georgia Annual Conference.

Related posts
Podcast: Randy Maddox on Methodist ‘doctrine, spirit, discipline’
Adam Hamilton: ‘We are in desperate need of excellent preaching’
John Ed Mathison: Seven concerns about the UMC (address to N. Georgia’s Wesleyan Renewal Movement)
John Ed Mathison: Six ways for a pastor to make a lasting difference (address to N. Georgia’s Wesleyan Renewal Movement)
Bishop Robert Schnase on ‘The Five Practices’
Bishop Lindsey Davis: ‘The primary task of the Church’

Related information
Planting new congregations (PDF) | Bishop G. Lindsey Davis (chapter one of The Future of the United Methodist Church: 7 Vision Pathways — Abingdon Press, May 2010)
United Methodists seek 250 to start new churches | Jeanette Pinkston, United Methodist News Service (June 2, 2009)
UMC Path 1 (Collaborative UMC leadership for church starts in the USA)
High expectations: How to raise the bar so people will stay | Sam S. Rainer, BuildingForMinistry.com (April 6, 2009)
The Spirit and the holy life (PDF) | Bryan Stone, Quarterly Review (Summer 2001)
Richard Hunter’s blog
Sermons by Richard Hunter

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Today (May 24) is observed by members of the Methodist and Wesleyan family as Aldersgate Day, commemorating a pivotal event in life of John Wesley — an experience of God’s grace that began his transformation from a largely ineffective Anglican clergyman into one of the most effective and influential leaders in Christian history.

Listening to Luther (actor Leonard Sachs from the 1954 film, ‘John Wesley’)

At a prayer meeting in a chapel on Aldersgate Street in London, Wesley, who had been struggling with his faith, “felt [his] heart strangely warmed” while listening to a reading of the preface to Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans.

This podcast features a re-enactment of that event (based on Wesley’s journal) from the 1997 BBC Radio production, Love Divine, with Clive Francis as John Wesley.

In addition, you’ll hear an address delivered at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on the 250th anniversary of Wesley’s Aldersgate experience: May 24, 1988. That service attracted 2,500 people from 50 nations, including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Service at St. Paul’s on the 250th anniversary of ‘Aldersgate’

The speaker is the Rev. Dr. Donald English, one of the most well-known Methodists of the 20th century.

In the words of a British newspaper, Donald English was a “scholar, preacher, author, evangelist, [and] church statesman.”

He was twice elected president (presiding officer) of the British Methodist Conference, the only person to be elected to that office two times. From 1991-1996, he served as chairman of the World Methodist Council.

Donald English

For several years, Dr. English was heard regularly by millions in the U.K. via the BBC Radio 4 feature, Thought for the Day.

His books include The Message of Mark (“The Bible Speaks Today” series), The Meaning of the Warmed Heart, and An Evangelical Theology of Preaching.

The Rev. Dr. Donald English was designated a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth in 1996.

He passed from this life to the next on Aug. 28, 1998, at the age of 68.

To listen to this podcast, use the audio player below (18.5 min.) — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3 (8.6MB).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, click the “podcasts” tab at the top of this page. To subscribe via iTunes or other podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link near the top of the right column.

Related posts
Podcast: John Wesley on ‘The New Birth’
Podcast: Bishop Gerald Kennedy on ‘The Marks of a Methodist’
Podcast: Randy Maddox on ‘Methodist Doctrine, Spirit, and Discipline’
Podcast: Tom Atkins—‘We Need the Power of the Holy Spirit’

Related articles and information
An excerpt from John Wesley’s journal, describing the events leading up to May 24, 1738 | UM General Board of Discipleship
May 24, 1738: John Wesley’s heart strangely warmed | Christian History Timeline
The power of God at 3 a.m.: An excerpt from Wesley’s journal | John Wesley (Jan. 1, 1739 — via Wesley Report, July 28, 2009)
Let’s not put social justice emphasis before Aldersgate experience | Donald W. Haynes, UM Reporter (Dec. 9, 2009)
Book: More than a Methodist: The Life and Ministry of Donald English | Brian Hoare and Ian Randall (Paternoster, 2006)
Obituary: The Rev. Donald English | The Independent (Aug. 31, 1998)
Death of a leading minister | Oxford Mail (Aug. 29, 1998)
Reignite spirit, Methodist chief says: World chairman calls for return to Wesley brand of evangelism | Associated Press (Sept. 29, 1995 — via Google Newspaper archive)
Celebrating Wesley — when? (PDF) | Randy L. Maddox, Methodist History 29 (1991)
Aldersgate: A tradition history (PDF) | Randy L. Maddox (excerpted from Aldersgate Reconsidered, Kingswood Books, 1990)
Queen joins 2,500 to celebrate Methodism’s 250th anniversary | (May 25, 1988 — via Google Newspaper archive)

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Liza Kittle

This post is by Liza Kittle, president of the RENEW Network, a renewal group that “advocates on behalf of evangelical women in the United Methodist Church” and “promotes mission outreach that offers Jesus Christ.” — Ed.

In March, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly thanked the United Methodist Church for helping secure passage of a controversial health-care law that vastly expands the role and power of the federal government, a firestorm of protest erupted among United Methodists. Many were angry that UM leaders had advocated on their behalf in the political arena, especially in regard to legislation opposed by many United Methodists.

Now, some UM leaders are at it again, this time advocating for “comprehensive immigration reform” — a somewhat nebulous term used often in the immigration debate.

Such advocacy was on display at the quadrennial United Methodist Women Assembly, held three weeks ago in St. Louis, Mo. UMW officials and several United Methodist bishops led a May 1 rally and march for immigrant rights. The event (photos) also featured participation by St. Louis-area interfaith leaders and several “community groups.”

UM Bishops Carcaño and Schol led the May 1 march (UMNS photo)

The gathering took on a somewhat defiant tone in the wake of the late-April enactment of an Arizona law aimed at stepped-up border control and stronger enforcement of existing immigration law.

The Arizona legislation (PDF) largely mirrors federal immigration law but authorizes local and state officers to enforce its provisions. The law includes specific provisions aimed at prohibiting “racial profiling” (PDF) in immigration enforcement.

In recent years, Arizona has become ground zero of America’s illegal-immigration battlefield. The state’s citizens and cities have been held hostage to violent crime, drug trafficking, and kidnappings — largely stemming from a lack of enforcement of federal immigration law. Phoenix has become the kidnapping capital of the U.S.

Not surprisingly, a recent Rasmussen poll found that 70% of Arizona voters (including both US.-born citizens and legal immigrants) endorse the new law, known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.

None of the disturbing facts about Arizona’s immigration crisis was mentioned at the UMW-led rally, nor were there any calls to protect the civil and human rights of Arizona’s law-abiding citizens. Rather, both the U.S. and Arizona governments were lambasted for trying to enforce the legitimately passed immigration laws of a sovereign nation.

The speakers at the rally framed any opposition to illegal immigration as manifestation of “racism,” ignoring the fact that many innocent people are being harmed by crime related to Arizona’s porous border. None of the speakers at the rally seemed to support any means of border control.

Speakers also ignored the economic strain that a soaring illegal population is placing on medical, educational, and public services for Arizona’s citizens.

Most of the speeches at the UMW-led rally displayed a far-left political ideology that favors both open borders and amnesty for those in the country illegally. This same ideology opposes any detention or deportation for those who break immigration law.

Speeches by Harriett Olson, Inelda González

Harriett Jane Olson, deputy general secretary the Women’s Division (the governing body of United Methodist Women), argued that Arizona’s law would lead to a “virtual caste [system]” in the state.

When the combined force of a powerful nation and powerful commercial interests trample on human rights of people without power, people of faith must stand up and speak out….

This is a particularly urgent moment as we witness the signing of a law in Arizona that will criminalize immigrants, leading to virtual caste laws and legalized racial profiling. As people of faith we must proclaim that this is not just!

We follow in the footsteps of our foremothers like Alma Mathews who met young immigrant women on the docks of Ellis Island, providing housing and support as they adjusted to a new country and saved them from sex trafficking.

Immigrant rights are [sic] the racial justice issue of our time. We challenge racial profiling by local and state police, empowered as immigration enforcement officers who in 2008 turned over 45,000 immigrants to federal enforcement and customs agents who turn over immigrants due to racial profiling.

First, it should be noted that when Methodist missionary Alma Mathews welcomed and helped young immigrant women on the docks of Ellis Island, these women were coming to the United States legally.

Further, as reported above, the new Arizona law strictly prohibits racial profiling. Persons can be asked about their immigration status only if apprehended or stopped for questioning in relation to other suspected illegal activity. In such cases, if local or state police find that a person is not a U.S. citizen and doesn’t appear to have a legal resident status, they can turn that person over to federal immigration authorities.

Joining Harriett Olson in speaking at the immigrant-rights rally was Inelda González, national president of United Methodist Women.

My family lives in the border region of Southwest Texas and we are proud to say that we did not cross the border, but the border crossed us. Yet today, we experience the construction of walls and the militarization of the border regions that divides families and peoples who have had roots on both sides of the border for many, many years.

Our broken immigration system is breaking up families and we stand for families. Over the last 10-year period, 100,000 immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children have been detained or deported.

We will continue to challenge violence against immigrant women and the widespread rape of women crossing the border and abuse while in detention and at work. U.S. trade and economic policies that compel millions to migrate in search of livelihoods must also be changed.

It is regrettable that families are sometimes broken apart because of the detention and deportation of unlawfully resident aliens. However, this would not occur if the persons detained had not violated the law by entering the country illegally.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño’s speech (video at left) began with greetings and support from the UM Council of Bishops. Bishop Carcaño is the episcopal leader of the Desert Southwest Conference and chairs the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration (PDF).

Other bishops present were Bishop Robert Schnase (Missouri), Bishop John Schol (Baltimore-Washington), and Bishop Jim Dorff (Southwest Texas and Rio Grande).

Making no distinction between those who enter the country legally and those who do not, Bishop Carcaño said immigrant rights is an issue that stands “at the very core of people of faith.”

She then instructed the crowd to sign postcards calling for a change in enforcement of immigration laws. The bishop said the cards would be hand-delivered to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (the former governor of Arizona).

The May 1 immigrant-rights march in St. Louis

A particularly militant speaker at the rally was Jamala Rogers, founder of the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS), one of community groups that co-sponsored the event along with United Methodist Women.

OBS, according to its website, was founded “to fill a vacuum left by the assaults on the Black Power Movement.”

In her speech, Rogers claimed that some of the measures in the new Arizona law “were due to white backlash at having a black man in the White House.” Her remarks were laced with derogatory comments about the United States and capitalism.

In addition to chairing the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration, Bishop Carcaño is vice-president of the General Commission on Religion and Race. This church agency is offering $250,000 in grants for ministries related to “assuring the rights of racial ethnic immigrants and refugees.” Between eight and 15 one-year grants of $40,000 each will be awarded.

“These grants will assist church congregations and non-profit organizations in reaching out to those who have suffered the double indignity of being mistreated because they are immigrants, and because they are racial ethnic immigrants,” Bishop Carcaño said in a statement earlier this year.

The 2010 focus for the grants (PDF) is on programs related to the sanctuary movement, which encourages churches to harbor illegal immigrants in their churches, thereby evading arrest by law enforcement officers. Money for this grant program comes from apportionment dollars.

Top United Methodist leaders have made “comprehensive immigration reform” a priority issue. In May 2009, the Council of Bishops released a statement (PDF) calling on President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to support reform that would:

  • provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship;
  • reunite immigrant families separated by immigration itself, detentions, or deportations;
  • increase the number of visas for short-term workers;
  • extend legal protections to undocumented as well as documented workers;
  • eliminate privately operated detention centers.

Americans, of course, have varying opinions on what constitutes immigration “reform” and how it should take place. (“Reform,” of course, literally means “to change into an improved form or condition”; legislative history is littered with so-called reforms that have made matters worse.)

Interestingly, among churchgoers the widest difference of opinion on immigration policy appears to be between members and their leaders, not among members themselves.

A December 2009 report (PDF) from the Center for Immigration Studies, based on one of the largest polls on immigration views ever conducted, reveals a wide disparity between the membership and leadership of various religious denominations regarding immigration issues.

Those surveyed included likely voters who identified as Catholic, mainline Protestant (United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ), “born-again Protestant” (nondenominational, evangelical, Pentecostal), and Jewish (Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism).

The study revealed the following dynamics:

  • While most religious leaders believe illegal immigration is driven by overly restrictive limits on legal immigration, most church/synagogue members (74%) think people are entering the country illegally primarily because existing laws against improper immigration are not being enforced.
  • Unlike religious leaders who argue that more unskilled immigrant workers are needed in the U.S. labor force, most members (71%) believe there are plenty of Americans to do such work.
  • When asked to choose between a) enforcement that would cause illegal immigrants to go home over time or b) creating a conditional pathway to citizenship, most members (88%) choose enforcement.
  • In contrast to many religious leaders, most members (67%) think too many immigrants are coming into the country at present.

This study suggests that church leaders’ views on immigration are sharply different from those of the “people in the pew.” (The overwhelmingly negative reaction from United Methodists in the wake of the UMC’s involvement in the health-care bill indicates that UM leadership is out of step on that issue as well.)

In response to the United Methodist Women immigration rally, as well as bishops’ statements on immigrant rights, many United Methodists have posted comments on the official UM website, UMC.org. A sampling is below:

  • I have been a Methodist for 59 years and never so angry. This is a nation of laws which has made our country the great place it is! It is unconscionable to advocate breaking the law…to enable the “illegal” immigration policy being pushed by the church. I am not anti-immigration, but happen to be a law-abiding Christian and this is causing me to reevaluate my association with this church.
  • These laws are not in place due to racism or unfairness and I am so tired of being called a racist or unchristian because I support LEGAL immigration. It is appalling that our bishops engage in these political actions in the name of all United Methodists. We will withdraw our money and our time if these actions continue by our bishops.
  • I have been a Methodist for 50 years. I am becomingly increasingly disturbed at the political positions of our church leaders. The influx of illegals must be stopped or we will continue on a dangerous economic and social decline. Our church should invest more time and effort into winning souls for the Lord and stay out of these political issues. It appears our leaders have lost touch with the majority of the members. Their actions will cause more people to leave the church rather than support this far left agenda.
  • This demonstration is either the result of terrible ignorance or horrific dishonesty. Either way it is a sign of the UMC’s hypocritical sellout to politics over faith, and the reason for our rapid demise. This is not a justice movement as presented, but a tribute to UMW’s inability once again to speak fairly and thoughtfully to a complicated issue.
  • I am appalled the United Methodist Church advocates breaking the law. These women are obviously misguided and misinformed, and when you see the bishop of Arizona making the statements that were made, it makes my blood boil! It is time for Americans to turn back to God, to seek His face, to repent, to put Him first again in our lives and our country, and pray we are not about to have another Sodom and Gomorrah moment.
  • I would like the church to stand with the family members who are mourning a death in the family as a result of weak border controls. Who is standing with the victims of the crimes occurring in Arizona?
  • It is time for Methodist leadership to get out of politics. The church is hemorrhaging members because of the leadership speaking for the entire church when in fact it only represents a misguided group. For Bishop Carcaño: people illegally in the United States are not “immigrants.” They are illegal aliens, and they are breaking our laws, using U.S. taxpayer paid health, education, and welfare services, and are contributing heavily to the absolute bankruptcy of California and Arizona. If people want to enter this country, they need to abide by the laws, just as any U.S. citizen must when entering another country.
  • The state of Arizona is in a crisis. The UMC needs to be careful here. We have chosen another leftist side of a divisive issue. The result will be more members leaving and the further drying up of funds.
  • I started thinking about leaving the church when I heard Nancy Pelosi thank the UMC for its support of the health care bill. Seeing this seals my decision. I was born a Methodist and I’ve been one for 60 years.
  • I personally will no longer support the church. Our tithes will be going to missionaries who struggle in Africa.
  • When I traveled to Israel I was told that I needed to have proper identification and the ability to show that I was legally in the country. I am assuming that the same type of documentation is both proper and reasonable in America. Isn’t the Arizona law simply upholding the federal law that already exists? Do our bishops feel that it is improper to uphold the existing immigration laws or Arizona’s desire to enforce what already exists?

Related articles and information
Immigration: A brief analysis | Alan Wisdom, Institute on Religion & Democracy (May 24, 2010)
UM women at Assembly rally for immigration justice | Robin Russell, United Methodist Reporter (May 10, 2010)
Bishops urge action on immigration | David Briggs, United Methodist News Service (May 6, 2010)
March in St. Louis protests Arizona’s immigration crackdown | Leah Thorsen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (May 2, 2010)
UMW Assembly theme moves from page to pavement | Elliott Wright, UM General Board of Global Ministries (May 1, 2010)
Bishop Carcaño joins other faith leaders to oppose Arizona law | United Methodist News Service (April 28, 2010)
Grants offered by General Commission on Religion and Race to assist immigrants | Faith in Action newsletter, UM General Board of Church and Society (March 29, 2010)
United Methodist Women joins 200,000 on National Mall for just immigration policies | Carol Barton, United Methodist Women (March 25, 2010)
UM Immigration Task Force travels to Sonoran Desert | California-Nevada Annual Conference (Feb. 2, 2010)
Religious leaders vs. members: An examination of contrasting views on immigration (PDF) | Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies (December 2009)
Evangelicals and immigration | Mark Tooley, The American Spectator (Oct. 21, 2009)
A biblical perspective on immigration policy (PDF) | James R. Edwards Jr., Center for Immigration Studies (September 2009)
Statement on the U.S. immigration situation (PDF) | Council of Bishops, The United Methodist Church (May 8, 2009)
Statement by 28 bishops of the UMC on news President Obama will take up immigration reform in 2009 (PDF) | news release (April 15, 2009)
Alma Mathews: Pioneer for immigrants rights (PDF—see pp. 4-5) | NEWS, United Methodist Women (Fall 2008)

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The third podcast of our spring season features one of the most influential United Methodists of the 1960s and 70s: Dr. Charles W. Keysor, founder of the Methodist renewal ministry known as Good News.

Dr. Charles W. Keysor

In a 1986 tribute, published several months after Dr. Keysor’s cancer-related death at age 60, Good News magazine described him as a “minister and journalist who almost single-handedly forged an influential evangelical movement within the United Methodist Church.”

Charles Winchester Keysor was born in Pittsburgh, Penn., in 1925 and was raised in Illinois. After receiving a journalism degree from Northwestern University, he married Margaret (Marge) Wickstrom, the daughter of a Swedish Methodist pastor, and began a career in journalism.

In the 1950s, he served as managing editor for The Kiwanis Magazine and later as managing editor of Together, the now-defunct official magazine of The Methodist Church.

Then, in 1959, he had a profound encounter with Christ at a Billy Graham crusade. Soon, he felt called to leave journalism and enter seminary.

By the mid-1960s, Charles Keysor — known to his colleagues and friends as Chuck — was serving as the pastor of Grace Methodist Church in Elgin, Ill. During a late-1965 lunch meeting with James Wall, then-editor of the Methodist ministers’ magazine, New Christian Advocate, Keysor shared his concerns about the prevailing liberal theology in the denomination, which he saw as a departure from the historic, orthodox Christian faith.

Wall invited him to write an article for the Advocate “describing the central beliefs and convictions” of the evangelical wing of Methodism. That article, “Methodism’s Silent Minority: A Voice For Orthodoxy,” was published in July 1966.

Within The Methodist Church in the United States is a silent minority group…. Its concepts are often abhorrent to Methodist officialdom at annual conference and national levels.

I speak of those Methodists who are variously called “evangelicals” or “conservatives” or “fundamentalists.” A more accurate description is “orthodox,” for these brethren hold a traditional understanding of the Christian faith….

Here lies the challenge: We who are orthodox must become the un-silent minority! Orthodoxy must shed its “poor cousin” inferiority complex and enter forthrightly into the current theological debate….

[W]e must be heard in Nashville, in Evanston, and on Riverside Drive. Most of all, we must be heard in thousands of pulpits, for the people called Methodist will not cease to hunger for the good news of Jesus Christ, incarnate, crucified, risen, and coming again.

“Methodism’s Silent Minority” sparked an overwhelmingly positive reaction from hundreds of Methodist pastors and leaders, several of whom asked why the church couldn’t have a publication that reflected an evangelical understanding of the Christian faith.

Months later, Keysor launched such a publication: Good News magazine. Bishop Gerald Kennedy (Los Angeles Area), the most well-known Methodist bishop of the time, wrote an article for the inaugural issue, which rolled off the press in March 1967.

In 2007’s 40th-anniversary issue of Good News, James Heidinger (who succeeded Keysor as editor) described how the new magazine led quickly to the formation of a full-fledged renewal ministry.

Seeing [an] immediate surge of interest in his magazine, Keysor chose 12 Methodists to serve as board members, and the Good News effort became incorporated as “A Forum for Scriptural Christianity.” The board’s first meeting was in May of 1967, only two months after the appearance of the first issue of the magazine.

Good News was a breath of fresh air for Methodists seeking spiritual renewal, quickly becoming their rallying point. Pastors and laity began organizing clusters of like-minded Methodists who came out of a felt need for fellowship, support, encouragement, and prayer. Soon, they began to map strategies for increasing evangelicalism within their annual conferences.

Good News' logo

In 1972, Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, president of Asbury College in Kentucky, asked Charles Keysor to join the Asbury faculty to teach journalism part-time, so the Good News ministry relocated from Elgin, Ill., to Wilmore, Ky., where it remains headquartered today, just a few blocks from Asbury College and Seminary.

In addition to leading Good News, editing Good News magazine, and teaching journalism at Asbury, Dr. Keysor wrote several books — including Our Methodist Heritage (David C. Cook, 1973), Living Unafraid (David C. Cook, 1975), and Come Clean! (Victor Books, 1976). He also edited What You Should Know about Homosexuality (Zondervan, 1979).

In 1982, weary from 16 years in the trenches of renewal ministry, he left the United Methodist Church to become a pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, a denomination founded by Swedish immigrants to the U.S.

Charles W. Keysor died at his home in Clearwater, Fla., on Oct. 22, 1985, two months after being diagnosed with advanced liver cancer.

The address on this podcast was recorded in August 1970 at the inaugural Good News Convocation, held in Dallas, Texas — an event attended by more than 1,500 pastors and leaders.

To listen, use the audio player below (22 min.) — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3 (10.5MB).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, click the “podcasts” tab at the top of this page. To subscribe via iTunes or other podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link at the top of the right column.

Related posts
Podcast: Dr. James Heidinger on ‘United Methodist Renewal’
A salute to James Heidinger of Good News
Podcast: Bishop Gerald Kennedy on ‘The Marks of a Methodist’

Related articles and information
Methodism’s silent minority: A voice for orthodoxy | Charles W. Keysor, New Christian Advocate (July 14, 1966 — via Good News)
United Methodism in crisis: Scriptural renewal through the Good News Movement | Chapter 4 of Public Pulpits: Methodists and Mainline Churches in the Moral Argument of Public Life by Steven M. Tipton (University of Chicago Press, 2008 — via Google Books)
Theological orientation and renewal in the United Methodist Church | Riley B. Case (via The Sundry Times) (March 15, 2011)
40 years of vision for United Methodist Renewal (PDF) | James V. Heidinger II, Good News (November/December 2007)
From the margin to the mainstream: United Methodism’s renewal movement (PDF) | Riley B. Case, Good News (November/December 2007)
Lessons from United Methodist renewal (PDF—see pp. 4-8) | An address by James V. Heidinger II to the Presbyterian Coalition Gathering (November 2005)
A charge to reclaim | W. James Antle III, The American Spectator (Oct. 5, 2005)
Leader of ‘Good News’ movement leaves Methodism | St. Petersburg Times (June 26, 1982) — via Google Newspapers archive
The story of Good News: A recollection by Charles W. Keysor (PDF) | Good News (March/April 1981)
Group shakes up Methodism | George Vecsey, New York Times News Service (April 1979) — via Google Newspapers archive
The Junaluska Affirmation: Scriptural Christianity for United Methodists (PDF) | Forum for Scriptural Christianity (Good News) (July 20, 1975)

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John Wesley, co-founder of the Methodist movement (along with his brother Charles), once wrote:

I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.

And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast…the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out. (Thoughts Upon Methodism, 1786)

Dr. Randy L. Maddox

This MethodistThinker Podcast, featuring an address by Dr. Randy L. Maddox, Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies at Duke Divinity School, focuses on what Wesley meant by those words.

Dr. Maddox explores Wesley’s reference to “doctrine, spirit, and discipline” by quoting from other writings of John Wesley and from several hymns by Charles Wesley.

An ordained elder in the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church, Randy Maddox holds degrees from Northwest Nazarene College, Nazarene Theological Seminary, and Emory University. Before coming to Duke, Dr. Maddox was Paul T. Walls chair of Wesleyan Theology at Seattle Pacific University.

He is the author of Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology (1994) and the editor of Rethinking Wesley’s Theology for Contemporary Methodism (1998).

Dr. Maddox is also the co-editor of the recently released Cambridge Companion to John Wesley (2009), winner of the Wesleyan Theological Society’s 2010 Smith/Wynkoop Book Award.

The address on this podcast, edited for length, was presented at the 2008 conference of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the UMC, held at Lake Junaluska, N.C.

To listen, use the audio player below (31 min.) — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3 (14MB).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, click the “podcasts” tab at the top of this page. To subscribe via iTunes or other podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link at the top of the right column.

Related information
The United Methodist Way: Living the Christian life in covenant with Christ and one another (PDF) | A paper developed by a group of UM scholars led by Randy Maddox (September 2007)
A missional future — the United Methodist Way | Taylor Burton-Edwards, UM Reporter (March 24, 2008)
Introduction to The Cambridge Companion to John Wesley (PDF) | Randy L. Maddox and Jason E. Vickers, Cambridge University Press (2009)
Be ye perfect? The evolution of John Wesley’s most contentious doctrine | Randy L. Maddox, Christian History (Jan. 1, 2001)
Papers by Dr. Randy L. Maddox (on Methodism, Wesley Studies, and Practical Theology) — scroll down and click “Publications” | Duke Divinity School

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