Renewal News – October 2016

Author: The Webmaster.
Contents current as of September 26, 2016.
In This Issue:

A Wistful Goodbye

A Wistful Goodbye
A Wistful Goodbye
My time as Executive Director of the Renewal Fellowship is at an end. My contributions to both the Renewal News and The Presbyterian Record will also be finished at the same time. Because there seems to be less and less overlap between the readerships of these publications, I will take the liberty of sharing the same words as I sign off.

I would like to say that it has been a privilege to contribute to both publications, and I wish that more of you would support the Record as I have found many excellent articles as well as a good sense of the breadth of our church. We need to know what each other is thinking.

Anyway, here is my farewell.

It is time for me to bid this column, the Renewal Fellowship, and my Encouragement Road Trips a wistful goodbye. At 67, I can no longer pretend to function at an energy level or capacity I once did. So, after five years of serving the denomination under the Renewal banner, I sadly must hand it on to the next fortunate individual to take on these responsibilities.

I say "fortunate" because it has been a rich and rewarding time. I have met so many of you and shared your pulpits, your homes, and even your lives. The Presbyterian family across Canada has a warmth and hospitality to it that I believe is second to none.

I say "fortunate" because I had the privilege of listening to so many of you. I got to share your hopes and fears, your faith and anxieties, and your joys and pain. It was especially poignant when I sometimes realized that I was hearing a story that you had never previously shared.

I say "fortunate" because I met so many new friends on the journey. Many I connected with were part of the Renewal Fellowship or at least supported the evangelical/conservative/traditional beliefs we hold. Maybe it will surprise you, but a significant number of friends made during this time either subtly or profoundly disagree with me. But we talked and we shared our hearts and we became friends.

I say "fortunate" because I got to witness and experience the generosity of God's people in new and palpable ways. There was generosity of hospitality. I visited more than one hundred churches and stayed in dozens of billets this past five years. From the Atlantic to the Pacific I was welcomed graciously and enthusiastically. There was generosity of prayer. Almost everywhere I visited, inevitably someone would in a quiet moment tell me of their constant or even daily prayers for me and the ministry I lead. There was generosity of financial support. As most of you know, the Renewal Fellowship is solely supported by its friends and members and does not receive funds from the Presbyterian Church in Canada. For these sacrifices I am truly grateful. But there was also a generosity of advice. There were many of our educators, senior ministers, committee convenors, and moderators of General Assembly that took the time and effort to speak into this ministry and its direction. Often, these men and women would also serve as sounding boards as our board of directors and I sought to discern God's direction for our future.

At the end, I seek no credit for any good that was done. To God be all glory.

For any mistakes that were made, I take full responsibility.

My prayer is that the last five years have made a difference as we attempted to serve and to love as our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ commanded and demonstrated.

There is still much to do. I want to encourage the denomination, presbyteries, sessions, and members to love and encourage your ministers, educators, and leaders as never before. Love them so that they can love and serve you with joy and enthusiasm. "The harvest is great but the labourers are few." Amen!

Fred Stewart, [Now Retired] Executive Director, RFwPCC

Editor's Note: An Evening of Celebration of Joy and Thanksgiving will be held Friday, October 14, 2016, to honour the ministry of Fred Stewart. Time: 6:30 p.m. Location: St. Andrew's Islington Presbyterian Church, 3819 Bloor Street West, Etobicoke, Ontario M9B 1K7 (across from Six Points Plaza). All are welcome.

Greetings to Renewal Friends and Co-Workers

October begins a new chapter in the life of the Renewal Fellowship, with the Search Committee at work to get us into the process of finding our next Executive Director, and discerning the Lord's will and direction for us in this. The need for renewal has never been more pressing.

The Presbyterian Church in Canada faces many challenges, and we want to be ready to support and encourage congregations, ministers, and individuals in their faith and church life. Your support is so important, in prayer, in working for renewal where you are, in responding to the Prayer Calendar and Daily Devotionals, and in your financial support of the Fellowship.

Our Board of Directors is working short-handed these days, and we are all grateful for their faithfulness and diligence. Please pray for the three new Board members needed at this time. We have been so blessed in the past and at present with those who work tirelessly in their tasks, but we do need some to step forward to give leadership.

May God the creator, the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, lead you and bless you in the days ahead.

Nan St. Louis,
Chair, Renewal Fellowship Board

Understanding and Interpreting the Bible

Virtually all branches of the Christian Church refer to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the standard of belief with regard to their doctrine and to their practices of faithful living and rituals. In spite of that common affirmation, the diversity of doctrine, practices, and rituals among those who self-identify as Christians is staggering. Even when one narrows the sample down to one particular denomination (e.g. The Presbyterian Church in Canada), the range of doctrinal emphases and/or exclusions, of stresses in personal faithfulness, of methodologies in worship, and of priorities in mission are unbelievably high.

Yet, in denominational life, core unity in essential doctrine, lifestyle practices, and governing regulations is a requirement for organizational vitality and focus. To determine the extent and the content of those requirements, Presbyterians most often turn to the Scriptures for guidance. Given all the diversity arising from various understandings of the Bible as noted above, how do we achieve that goal of core unity?

At last June's General Assembly, the Committee on Church Doctrine presented a study paper, Understanding and Interpreting the Bible. It outlines some principles of interpretations that seek to provide a basis for a common and accepted approach to understanding and applying the Scriptures to our life, mission, and governance as a denomination. The 2016 General Assembly has commended this document to The Presbyterian Church in Canada for use, but also invited response both to its usefulness and to its comprehensiveness. The deadline for said responses is January 31, 2017. Responses can be sent to the Committee Convenor, Blair Bertrand, through the General Assembly Office. The document, Understanding and Interpreting the Bible, can be downloaded at or found on pp. 265-278 of the 2016 Acts and Proceedings. This study paper provides good material for personal and congregational reflection. Your feedback can assist the Committee, so what is now good can become excellent. Given the challenges before us in this century, a guide that is excellent is a treasure to be passionately pursued.

Ian Shaw, Simcoe, Ontario

Recommendation No. 7 That the document Understanding and Interpreting the Bible be commended to congregations, presbyteries, and other groups in The Presbyterian Church in Canada for their use.

Recommendation No. 8 That sessions, presbyteries, and other interested groups using the document Understanding and Interpreting the Bible report comments to the Committee on Church Doctrine through the Assembly Office by January 31, 2017, and that the results of these comments be reported to a future General Assembly.

Ian McWhinnie <> is convenor of the Renewal Fellowship Search Committee and welcomes input in regards to the search for a new Executive Director of the Fellowship.

For several years now, the Renewal Fellowship Board of Directors has been in need of more members. Please consider providing input to Board Member Duncan Cameron <>.

"Good News" Financial Position of The Renewal Fellowship as of August 31: With grateful hearts it is a delight to report to you that the Renewal Fellowship has received a bequest of $50,000 from the estate of a long-time supporter. This has eliminated the accumulated deficit of $11,800 reported at the end of June, and the current bank account balance is $45,071.

Just for the Record

April 2016 Presbyterian Record
April 2016 Presbyterian Record
I have a subscription to The Presbyterian Record, and I look forward to receiving it each month. We are a denomination that has congregations from coast to coast, and our perspectives on the Gospel are wide, too. Sure, on occasion there are articles that I don't agree with or am a little "surprised" at, but that's how I stay abreast of the way my beloved church is growing and changing. It also gives me things to pray for.

When the Record arrives in the mail, the first thing I look for is the article written by a member of the Renewal Fellowship. The April 2016 edition of the Record even had a great picture of our Renewal Fellowship Executive Director, Fred Stewart, right on the front cover. You looked good, Fred, and the car with the red racing stripes you were pictured driving in, looked good too! The Record usually sends someone to cover our Renewal Fellowship Annual General Meeting and Conference. The past few years it has been the Senior Editor, Andrew Faiz, and he has genuinely sought to interact with us and understand our mission.

I recommend that you read the Record and keep up with the comings and goings of our church. I also encourage you to pray for our church, and especially as these are challenging times. I welcome your prayer requests for our quarterly Renewal Fellowship Prayer Calendar. I especially like to receive prayer requests that represent individual congregations and presbyteries across Canada, and if they have particular dates associated with them, that's a bonus!

Linda Shaw, Prayer Coordinator,
Renewal Fellowship Prayer Calendar

"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Special Offer: For all members and supporters of The Renewal Fellowship and their families, the Early Bird Student Rate of $100 will apply for the October 15 Leadership Workshop at Tyndale, with speaker John Ortberg, and breakout speakers Sr. Sue Mosteller, Dr. David Sherbino, Birgid Kamenz MacCallum, and Rick Tobias.

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