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Dependence on God: the mission and vision of the Renewal Fellowship.

If you are reading this column, I guess the Mayans, or those who would interpret their artifacts, got it wrong. The world did not end on Dec. 21, 2012. That leaves me with the same challenges I faced last year. Some of you may identify with me.

In our case, I believe that the Renewal Fellowship is at a major crossroads. Like many Presbyterian congregations, our members and other supporters are largely grey-haired and are either retired or soon to be. Almost every month we experience one of our donors reducing their support or even stopping completely. Unless we can cast a vision for younger Presbyterians, it is only a matter of time for our ministry to end.

Over the last year we have attempted to bring focus to the Fellowship so that we have a clear message and a strong understanding of what we are called to do and to be: Our vision, passion and hope is to experience God's renewal of our lives, our congregations, our courts, our theological schools and every place where Presbyterians gather.

Our mission is to bring Presbyterians together for prayer, learning, discussion and mutual support in groups small and large and to create environments where God's people can hear the call for renewal and respond together.

Our plan is to pray, to support existing prayer gatherings and to encourage those not connected to a prayer group to find their own or help them to start a new one.

FOCUS: PRAYER

Our plan is to partner with others to create gatherings that provide learning, dialogue, networking and community.

FOCUS: COMMUNITY

Our plan is to encourage pastors and congregations by looking for tangible ways to support and encourage them.

FOCUS: ENCOURAGEMENT

Our plan is to dedicate everything we do to God, trusting that when like-minded individuals and congregations prayerfully seek and work for renewal, He will honour our vision, mission and plans and bring renewal.

FOCUS: DEPENDENCE ON GOD

We believe in the doctrinal standards of the Presbyterian Church. We accept the church's polity and respect its courts.

We will work with everybody in our denomination with respect, compassion and shared faith.

In the past year I have had the privilege of visiting dozens of Presbyterian churches and breaking bread or having coffee with many dozens of our ministers across Canada. When I share this vision of encouragement and service, the response is immediate and positive. I have been blessed by the trust shown to me by ministers that have been willing to share deeply and confidentially about their hopes and dreams and their fears and loneliness. Almost every one of them has thanked me and the Fellowship for this form of ministry.

I love that I serve in a "big tent" denomination. Our theological spectrum is wide and our approaches to worship and ministry are diverse. The Fellowship exists to serve all Canadian Presbyterians while holding tight to the centrality and sufficiency of Jesus Christ and the wisdom and authority of God's word.

Rev. Fred Stewart is executive director of the Renewal Fellowship. To learn more see: renewalfellowship.presbyterian.ca.

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Title Annotation:Renewal
Author:Stewart, Fred
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Words:516
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