Renewal News – January 2017

Author: The Webmaster.
Contents current as of December 21, 2016.
In This Issue:

Two-Faced Renewal

The ancient Roman god, Janus, was portrayed with two heads looking in opposite directions. January, the first month in a new year, shares this concept of "double vision" – conveying the sense that as a new year begins and we're now focussing forward, we are not quite free of where we have been. That's a reasonable concept of renewal – going into uncharted territory, yet still connected to one's heritage.

However, I prefer my childhood cartoon images of this transition from one year to the next. The ending year was presented as a bent-over, long-bearded, haggard-looking old man. The approaching year was pictured as a bright-eyed, bouncing, beaming baby.

Now that I appear more and more like the year-ending old man, I find myself preferring the image of this "baby" as a model for renewal. The exuberant infant communicates a delightful message: here is almost unlimited potential; here is a fresh start; here is hope; and here is that often longed-for opportunity to have a "do-over".

You see, the baton passing from a worn-out, weary, old man to a fresh little baby implies that the past mistakes don't go forward with you, but the wisdom acquired from those mistakes does. And that implication has great attraction for me. In over thirty years of congregational ministry, almost as many as a husband and a father, and almost seven decades of life, my list of potential "do-overs" is lengthy.

Regrettably, as much as I am attracted to this "baby" image, spiritual renewal is more like the Janus concept. The thrust is definitely forward, seeking to venture into newness, aspiring to turn good into better, and revelling in the possibility of God's Spirit being released in ways and measures beyond one's imagining.

Yet the past must still be acknowledged – sometimes in good ways – as in affirming the faith that has nurtured us to this point, and celebrating the wisdom that has been acquired and the truths that have proved to be sustaining. And sometimes, this past is less helpful. Consider broken relationships that limp along into the new ventures, or past poor decisions whose effects linger and limit, as well as nostalgic longings that lessen capacity to embrace newness.

With that Janus perspective in mind, let me suggest a prayer for renewal that, if offered in humble trust, might bring the renewing hopes of the Baby more fully into our lives in 2017.

    Lord of time and space, healer of brokenness, finder of the lost, source of eternal hope and provider of strength and wisdom, hear my prayer for renewal.
    May all that has gone before me be a guide into ways of living that are compassionate, grace-filled, and righteous.
    Teach me to embrace with passion what I and my forebears have learned of Your holy love and tender, generous mercy.
    May Your abundant forgiveness free me – and all who love You – from debilitating memories, futile remorse, and paralyzing fear.
    Bless my eyes with visions of service to others that restore and embrace the desperate and the desolate.
    Fill my heart with dreams of passion that confront entrenched mindsets and systems which diminish and destroy.
    Infiltrate my mind with insights that discern truth from error and substance from shallowness.
    Steel my will with courage and boldness.
    And may the glory be Yours alone. Amen.

Ian Shaw, Simcoe, Ontario

(Originally, this was intended to be the "Renewal Column" for the January Presbyterian Record.)

A Year in the Life

I retired four years ago after 39 years as a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC). This naturally put me out of the loop for a while with much of what goes on nationally in our church. But my vantage point has improved due to a year of frequent online meetings with more than a dozen PCC ministers from British Columbia to the Maritimes. We are part of the recently formed PSALT organization. The acronym stands for "Presbyterians Standing for Apostolic Love and Truth". I am deeply concerned for the church that we share in common, and I hope that you are, too. If not, this article will further your awareness of developments within the PCC.

Since the 1980s, a persistent group within the PCC has continued to lobby for the acceptance, promotion, and celebration of homosexuality at the level of marriage and ordination. This may or may not be an issue for you, but it is now coming to a head in the PCC. Having only organized in the fall of 2015, PSALT is late in engaging this issue. PSALT is a national group which aims at building the Presbyterian Church into a thoroughly biblical and reformed expression of our Christian discipleship and witness. We seek to preserve the biblical, doctrinal, and personal unity that we all once valued in the PCC. We have designated representatives in most presbyteries and it is a growing movement.

If you disagree with me on this issue, God will be the final judge between us, and I'm good with that. My friendship and respect for you will remain, but this article reflects how I am compelled to act out my faith in Christ.

What have I seen as I look at the culture's impact on our church?

The culture:

The initial issue of homosexual ordination/marriage within society has become obsolete. It has morphed into one of "identity" which is now being reworked into a militant promotion of "gender neutrality", the obliteration of the personally obvious and doctrinally critical biblical identities of male and female. Something is broken.

The church:

For the PCC to accede to the demands that the culture is placing upon it would require our setting aside Scripture as the sole authority for faith and life, for the Bible nowhere endorses homosexual activity – nor lying, greed, adultery, etc., for that matter – but clearly condemns all. If the PCC decides to endorse and celebrate the phenomenon of the sexual confusion now so rampant in our culture, it would separate us from Scripture, and it is our adherence to Scripture that defines where and what the church is. We would also be set adrift from our biblically-based doctrinal standards such as the Westminster Confession and Living Faith, and alienate us from our international sister church partners.

What kind of responses have I seen and heard this past year from individuals and sessions regarding the leadership of PSALT in the PCC? There is anger at PSALT: "Why would you oppose what is so obviously acceptable?" There is bewilderment: "We are okay here at St. Andrew's, and we don't wish to deal with this." There is hope: "Can't we all just get along together?" There is sacrifice: "I will be (or my congregation will be) leaving the PCC if this passes General Assembly." And there is also relief: "I am so glad PSALT is there."

It would be naive of us to think that the systemic brokenness that has befallen the United Church, the Anglican Church, and the Lutheran Church could not happen to us. Even a small split in our now precarious national church would have a serious impact on Presbyterians Sharing, the Pension Plan, and Church Offices at 50 Wynford Drive. It will affect your congregation. I want to make you aware of the threat to your church, to encourage your prayers for the PCC, and to motivate you to take appropriate personal action as the Spirit leads you. Yes, I'll even come and speak at your church or else find someone closer to go.

Our role as Canadian Presbyterians is not to be as so many churches have become – "chaplains to the culture" – but to be fearless, prophetic voices proclaiming the good news of new life and eternal life through Jesus Christ as Lord. Scripture teaches us that our true identity is found when we are in Christ, and when it is, we experience what I have personally experienced and seen in so many others, and of which Paul writes so much: the Christian life is transformational.

James Statham,
Peachland, British Columbia

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If you resonate with PSALT's mission and would like to stay in touch, please drop us a note at PO Box 15065, Aspen Woods PO, Calgary AB T3H 0N8

Sure, I'll come and speak at your church – or find someone closer to come.
J.S. <>

Ministry Position: Executive Director

The Renewal Fellowship Within The Presbyterian Church In Canada is seeking an Executive Director to engage, encourage, and equip pastors and congregations across the Presbyterian Church in Canada, through a pastoral, preaching, and prayerful presence, and to be a voice for hope and renewal within the Presbyterian Church in Canada. For a full job description, click here. Applications will be accepted until February 28, 2017.

Pastor Ian McWhinnie, Mississauga, Ontario <>

Renewal Fellowship Renewal Day Conference

Saturday, April 22, 2017, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 170 Steel Street, Barrie, Ontario. Theme for the full-day conference is "Personal Renewal". Speakers include: Rev. Douglas Rollwage, Rev. Jeff Loach, and Rev. Matthew Ruttan. At 1:20 p.m., the Annual General Meeting of the Renewal Fellowship will be held. Posters and registration brochures are available from the Renewal Fellowship Office. Register by April 10 and receive an early bird discount. Click here for online registration. All are welcome.

Names on the Ballot for Moderator of the 143rd General Assembly

The Rev. Peter G. Bush, minister, Westwood Presbyterian Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Mr. Brent Ellis, elder, Chalmers Presbyterian Church, Hamilton, Ontario
The Rev. James T. Hurd, minister, Parkwood Presbyterian Church, Ottawa, Ontario
Dr. Alexandra Johnston, elder, Rosedale Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Ontario
The Rev. Dr. Andrew J.R. Johnston, minister, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Kingston, Ontario
The Rev. Mark A. Tremblay, minister, Knox Presbyterian Church, Calgary, Alberta

Editor's note: Both Peter Bush and James T. Hurd have been faithful supporters of the Renewal Fellowship for many years. James continues to lead the Eastern Ontario Regional Renewal Task Force, and recently retired as Renewal Fellowship Prayer Co-ordinator.

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 <>.

Financial Status: The current bank account balance at the end of November is $42,468, down from $45,071 at the end of August.

Contact the Renewal Fellowship Office for Information:
3819 Bloor St. W., Etobicoke, ON, M9B 1K7.
Phone: 416-233-6581
Email: <>
Check our website regularly for up-to-date news.

Consider Faith Today

On behalf of the Board of the Renewal Fellowship, I want to extend our thanks to the Presbyterian Record for what it has meant to many Presbyterians past and present across our denomination. Over the years, we have benefited from the shared experience of having a national printed periodical that connected, challenged, and gave voice to what it meant to be Christian, Presbyterian, and Reformed in our congregations, in our communities, and across Canada.

In recent years, the Record has been very generous in giving the Renewal Fellowship a regular column to bring an encouraging voice of God's renewal and mission within our denomination. Our past Executive Directors, Calvin Brown, and more recently, Fred Stewart, have been regular contributors, along with others, bringing a prophetic and pastoral perspective of God's on-going renewal in our personal, congregational, and denominational life and witness. Most recently, we were pleased that in the Viewpoint column of the November issue, our Annual General Meeting was covered, and in particular, the topic of Being Present presented by Liz Honeyford and Alex MacLeod. To David Harris and the editorial staff, we are grateful, and the loss of the Record is also a loss of a positive and established relationship that the Renewal Fellowship will miss.

As a Board, we have also been asked to recommend an alternative periodical, and though it does not have the same denominational flavour and perspective as the Presbyterian Record, we would encourage readers to consider Faith Today, published by EFC (Evangelical Fellowship of Canada). The editors of Faith Today have made an arrangement with the Record whereby they will be advertising in the December Record issue, then gifting to the Record's mailing list copies of Faith Today in both January and March. Presbyterians can then subscribe or not as they may wish. Personally, I have found that Faith Today strives to bring a consistent perspective that is open to engaging various world views, ideologies, and theologies without compromising the basic orthodoxy of the Christian faith.

In this way, I have found the editorials, articles, and regular columns helpful, as one who is seeking to be an engaged Christian and pastor participating in God's renewal and kingdom work in a Canadian context. As an example, in a recent sermon on the topic of stewardship at Glenbrook PC, I referred to an article in the March/April 2016 edition of Faith Today called "Being, Doing and Having" which I found to be helpful in my research and preparation. Further, in the January/February 2016 issue of Faith Today, there was a timely article entitled "Responding to a Refugee Crisis in 1915" written by Rev. Peter Bush, pastor of Westwood PC in Winnipeg MB. If you are looking for a printed and online alternative for the Presbyterian Record, I would encourage you to give Faith Today a try.

Pastor Ian McWhinnie, Mississauga, Ontario <>

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