Archive for August, 2010

During MethodistThinker.com’s late-summer hiatus, we’re highlighting podcasts from our Spring 2010 season.

This podcast 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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MethodistThinker.com is on hiatus until after Labor Day. In the interim, we’re highlighting podcasts from our Spring 2010 season.

This podcast features an address by Dr. Randy L. Maddox, William Kellon Quick Professor of Theology and Methodist Studies at Duke Divinity School. In his presentation, he focuses on a widely quoted statement made by Methodist co-founder John Wesley in 1786:

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)

Dr. Randy L. Maddox

Dr. Maddox explores the meaning of “doctrine, spirit, and discipline” by quoting from other writings of John Wesley and hymns by Charles Wesley.

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

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

He is also the co-editor of The 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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The United Methodist Renewal and Reform Coalition has released the text of a letter sent earlier this year to the UM Council of Bishops. The Coalition includes the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church, Good News, Lifewatch, UM Action, and Transforming Congregations. The full text is reproduced below. Links have been added by MethodistThinker.com. — Ed.

Dear Bishops,

God’s grace and peace to you and yours.

We honor you as the duly elected spiritual and temporal leaders of The United Methodist Church and count it a privilege to share with you some carefully considered perceptions about our church’s future.

The annual conferences of our church have recently through spoken decisively through their votes on the 32 proposed constitutional amendments.

Though most of these proposed amendments were endorsed by the Connectional Table, and all were approved by at least two-thirds of the 2008 General Conference, rank-and-file United Methodists through their annual conferences have apparently rejected most of them by wide margins.

The people of the church are clearly calling their leaders to reconsider the direction proposed by most of the constitutional amendments.

More specifically, the reorganizational plan that the 23 Worldwide Nature of The United Methodist Church (WWN-UMC) amendments would have set in motion, has apparently been decisively overturned.

We are convinced that United Methodism’s most pressing problem is not her organization. Our denomination’s decline for over forty years (PDF) is not the result of faulty organization. Indeed, if we focus attention and resources on reorganization, we will miss a precious opportunity to address the main problem in our church.

The main problem facing The United Methodist Church is spiritual and theological in nature. Over the last forty years, our church has drifted from the foundational truth of Biblical authority and Wesleyan doctrine.

Significant portions of the church no longer believe that Scripture, well interpreted by the church, is “the true rule and guide for faith and practice” (The Confession of Faith, Article IV). A considerable minority in Methodism no longer believes that all persons, in their natural condition, are sinners in need of salvation.

A 1960 study guide

Some even disagree that Jesus’ death on the cross was an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Indeed, there is no general agreement in our church about what the Gospel is. Seldom do our clergy and other leaders teach the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith.

Because our church lacks consensus about our message and its accompanying mission, we are a drifting, declining denomination.

We in the renewal movements take seriously John Wesley’s warning that Methodism would surely become a dead sect unless it “hold[s] fast to the doctrine, spirit, and discipline” with which it began.

Only the Triune God — not reorganization — can renew The United Methodist Church. We are convinced you can help lead us into the proclamation, pedagogy, and practices that God can and will anoint with His Holy Spirit. We respectfully ask you to consider implementing the following initiatives.

  • Call our entire denomination to acknowledge that we have failed to be an obedient church and to focus on II Chronicles 7:14 in a time of repentance and rededication to God.
  • Lead and equip the church in a strengthened and energized prayer ministry, encouraging local congregations to engage in ongoing prayer for renewal and revival, for the needs of specific individuals and for the church’s ministries, local and worldwide.
  • Teach the clergy at least annually the truth of the church’s faith as outlined in the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith, and challenge the clergy to do the same in their respective charges.
  • On a regular basis preach doctrinal and evangelistic sermons which demonstrate how to invite hearers into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.
  • We observe with sadness that last year in 43 percent of our local churches, not a single person joined by profession of faith. We urge the bishops and district superintendents to meet with the pastors and lay leaders of those churches and offer instruction in how to lead people into a personal relationship with Christ and how to foster a congregational climate of spiritual growth and evangelism.

Finally, we acknowledge that from time to time circumstances require a reorganization of the church’s structure in order to make it more effective at fulfilling its mission. We appreciate and look forward to the opportunity to have input into the study commission’s work.

In that vein, we believe the following points are essential for creating a structure that is both helpful and has the broad based support of the church’s people.

  • Any restructuring plan should derive from the church’s mission statement. It should make clear how its proposals will actually fulfill the mission statement and foster more effective transformational disciple-making.
  • Any restructuring plan should assist and advance the proclamation of the Gospel around the world.
  • The church’s leadership must patiently leverage all the resources at its disposal to engage rank-and-file United Methodists in the development of any restructuring plan, including on-site meetings with United Methodists in several parts of Africa, as well as Europe, the Philippines, and other affected areas.
  • Any restructuring plan should strengthen the connection between United Methodists in different regions of the world, rather than weakening it. It ought not to allow some regions of the church to foster moral positions or teachings that are at odds with those in other regions of the church.
  • Any restructuring plan must not add to the administrative costs or bureaucratic structure of the church.
  • And if a plan is developed, it is incumbent upon the church’s leadership to share it widely with rank-and-file United Methodists, including those in the central conferences, before bringing it to General Conference for a vote and before any vote to ratify proposed constitutional amendments.

We share these perceptions with you and offer these initiatives and ideas for your consideration with profound respect and hope.

In no less than two months, we plan to share this letter with our constituents, as we are speaking on their behalf, and they share our concerns and awareness of the problems facing our church. But first, we want to give you ample time to respond, individually and/or as a Council.

Please know we are praying for the entire Council as you lead our beloved United Methodist Church in these challenging days.

In Christ,


The Renewal and Reform Coalition letter is signed by the Confessing Movement’s Patricia Miller (executive director) and Greg McGarvey (board chair); Good News’ Rob Renfroe (president/publisher) and Chuck Ferrara (board chair); Lifewatch’s Cindy Evans (administrator) and  Paul Stallsworth (president); UMAction’s Mark Tooley (president) and David Stanley (board chair); and Transforming Congregations’ Karen Booth (director). The letter is available in PDF format here.

In November 2009, renewal leaders presented additional concerns to the Council of Bishops’ Unity Task Force at Lake Junaluska, N.C. A written summary of the renewal delegation’s presentation is here (PDF).

Related posts

Prominent UM layman offers analysis of amendments outcome
Bishop Scott Jones: Rethinking the path to a worldwide UMC
Bill Bouknight: What I wish the Council of Bishops would say
Podcast: Randy Maddox on Methodist ‘doctrine, spirit, discipline’
Maxie Dunnam: Amendments outcome reflects ‘sense of the faithful’
Bill Bouknight: Methodists are saying ‘No’ to their leaders

Related articles and information
2010 State of the Church Report (PDF) | UMC Connectional Table
U.S. conferences report declining numbers | Heather Hahn, United Methodist News Service (July 20, 2010)
UM Bishops announce defeat of global church and open membership amendments | Connor Ewing, Institute on Religion and Democracy (May 12, 2010)
Study Committee responds to constitutional amendment rejections | Stephen Drachler, Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the United Methodist Church (May 11, 2010)
Conference data comparison 2007-2008 (PDF) (all five U.S. jurisdictions suffered a net loss of membership in 2008; not a single conference in the Northeastern, North Central, and Western Jurisdictions showed a gain) | Background Data for Mission, UM General Board of Global Ministries (March 2010)
Unity Task Force Meeting: Dialogue with Renewal Leaders (PDF) | Meeting with the Council of Bishops Unity Task Force, Lake Junaluska, N.C. (November 5, 2009)
This is our story: Trends in the Church (PDF) | Office of Analysis and Research, UM General Council on Finance and Administration (June 2008)
A rare breed: Professions of faith decline in UMC | Mary Jacobs, UM Reporter (Feb. 1, 2008)
Exploring professions of faith (PDF) | Background Data for Mission, UM General Board of Global Ministries (May 2007)
Methodist membership as compared to the United States population: 1790-2000 | UM General Commission on Archives and History

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MethodistThinker.com is enjoying a late-summer holiday. From now until Labor Day, in lieu of new postings, we’re highlighting podcasts from our Spring 2010 season.

Bishop Gerald Kennedy

Bishop Gerald Kennedy

This podcast features the leader who served for two decades as the bishop of the Los Angeles Area of The (United) Methodist Church: Bishop Gerald Kennedy.

Born in Michigan and raised in California, Gerald Hamilton Kennedy was schooled at the College of the Pacific, the Pacific School of Religion, and Hartford Theological Seminary.

In the 1930s and 40s, he served as a pastor and college instructor, leading churches in Connecticut, California and Nebraska, and teaching at the Pacific School of Religion and Nebraska Wesleyan University.

At the age of 40, in 1948, Gerald Kennedy was elected to the episcopacy and was assigned to the Portland, Oregon Area. Four years later, he was assigned to the Los Angeles Area (Southern California, Arizona, Hawaii) and continued in that post from 1952-1972.

In 1960, just before beginning a term as president of the Council of Bishops of The Methodist Church, Bishop Kennedy wrote The Marks of a Methodist (Methodist Evangelistic Materials), echoing themes from John Wesley’s classic work, The Character of a Methodist.

In the book, Bishop Kennedy noted that modern Methodists “have so minimized our history, our traditions, our doctrine, and our discipline, that to many of our church members, Methodism is only a convenience and a name.”

At a May 1960 laymen’s luncheon in Los Angeles, Bishop Kennedy delivered an address based on The Marks of a Methodist and focused on four defining marks of Methodist belief and practice:

  • Experience
  • Results
  • Discipline
  • Perfection

To listen, use the audio player below (23 min.) — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3 (10.6MB).

For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, and/or to subscribe via iTunes or other Podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link at the top of the right column.

Bishop Gerald Kennedy’s books include:

His Word Through Preaching (1947) I Believe (1958)
Have This Mind (1948) Readers Notebook, 2 (1959)
The Lion and the Lamb (1950) The Parables (1960)
With Singleness of Heart (1951) The Marks of a Methodist (1960)
Go Inquire of the Lord (1952) While I’m On My Feet (1963)
A Reader’s Notebook (1953) For Preachers and Other Sinners (1964)
Who Speaks for God? (1954) Fresh Every Morning (1966)
God’s Good News (1955) Seven Worlds of the Minister (1968)
The Christian and His America (1956) For Laymen and Other Martyrs (1969)
The Methodist Way of Life (1958) My Third Reader’s Notebook (1974)

Bishop Kennedy’s hymn, God of Love and God of Power, written in 1939, is hymn #578 in the United Methodist Hymnal.

An interesting historical footnote: Gerald Kennedy is the only United Methodist bishop to serve as both an active bishop and the pastor of a local church at the same time. In 1968, he appointed himself to the First United Methodist Church of Pasadena, California. The controversial appointment gave rise to a case that went to the UM Judicial Council.

Bishop Kennedy served as the pastor of First UMC-Pasadena until 1973. He died Feb. 17, 1980, at the age of 72.

Additional addresses and sermons by Bishop Gerald Kennedy are available in the UMC Audio Library.

Related information
Trumpets in the morning (a profile of Bishop Gerald Kennedy) | TIME magazine (April 11, 1960)
New president of Methodist Council of Bishops has a tough job | George W. Cornell, The Associated Press (April 23, 1960) — via Google News Archive
Text of the Episcopal Address at the 1964 General Conference (PDF) | Delivered by Bishop Gerald Kennedy (April 26, 1964)
At General Conference, Methodist take up thorny issue of racial integration | United Press International (April 27, 1964) — via Google News Archive
Methodists: The challenge of fortune | TIME magazine (May 8, 1964) — A painting of Bishop Kennedy was featured on the cover of this issue of TIME
Bishop takes pulpit (‘In an action without precedent In Methodism, Bishop Gerald Kennedy has decided to become a parish pastor’) | The Associated Press (Oct. 12, 1968) — via Google News Archive
Bishop Gerald Kennedy dead at 72 | Los Angeles Times/Washington Post News Service (Feb. 18, 1980) — via Google News Archive

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MethodistThinker.com is observing its second anniversary this week.*

The site receives an average of 2,000-3,000 unique visitors each month, and over the past two years has enjoyed nearly 120,000 page views.

The five most-viewed posts during the past 12 months all involved original reporting:

1. Adam Hamilton: ‘We are in desperate need of excellent preaching’
2. Why the United Methodist Church cannot condone homosexuality
3. United Methodist Church facing health bill fallout
4. How did the UMC come to define health care as a ‘right’?
5. House Speaker thanks UMC for help in passing health bill

The most-listened-to audio file during our second year was a May 2009 podcast featuring a 1960 sermon by the late Methodist missionary, E. Stanley Jones.

(*The site launched on Aug. 9, 2008. The right-column archive of posts dates back to July 2008 because it includes “test” posts written during site development.)

For next several weeks, MethodistThinker.com will take a break from posting new material. During that time, we’ll highlight podcasts from earlier this year. The ThinkerTwitter feed (see right column) will remain active, with new material “tweeted” each weekday.

Lord willing, fresh blog posts will resume just after Labor Day.

Although MethodistThinker.com has been warmly received by many readers (and podcast listeners), the future for this site is cloudy. For reasons spiritual and practical, it is unclear how long MethodistThinker.com can continue, at least in its present form.

At a minimum, we’re hoping to press on until the end of 2010 and feature a full fall season of podcasts with the following speakers:

    • Methodist theologian Billy Abraham;
    • Bishop Alfred Norris;
    • Evangelism scholar George Morris;
    • Rob Renfroe, president of Good News; and
    • The Rev. Billy Graham, speaking at the 1980 UM Congress on Evangelism.

Thank you for visiting MethodistThinker.com. If you have comments and/or suggestions, post your feedback below (click “Leave a Comment”) — or, if you prefer, send an e-mail to [email protected].

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