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Good News board honors Heidinger, sets 2004 agenda

2/13/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

By United Methodist News Service

The Rev. James V. Heidinger II has been named the recipient of the third annual Edmund W. Robb Jr. United Methodist Renewal Award, in recognition of his leadership of Good News, an unofficial evangelical caucus in the church.

The Good News board of directors presented the award at its Jan. 29-31 meeting in Wilmore, Ky. The board also worked on its agenda for the 2004 General Conference, the top legislative assembly of the United Methodist Church.

The Robb award is named for a United Methodist evangelist and former Good News chairman who helped found the Foundation for Theological Education.

Heidinger has been president and publisher of Good News magazine since 1981, and he serves as chairman of the Association of Church Renewal, a network of renewal ministries in mainline denominations.

"Though Jim Heidinger is always the first to nominate others for recognition and encouragement, the board of directors, by unanimous vote, has chosen to present the Robb Award to him because of his outstanding contribution to the cause of renewal within and beyond the United Methodist Church," said the Rev. Scott Field, chairman of the Good News board of directors. Field described Heidinger as "a leader with a keen mind, a servant spirit, and a pastor's heart."

Setting its agenda for General Conference, the board will focus on the accountability of the church's bishops as well as the national leaders of the denomination's Women's Division. Good News petitions will call for "strengthening the church's stance on sexuality, marriage and divorce," the board said in a news release. Field, of Naperville, Ill., will lead the organization's team at the assembly in Pittsburgh.

In other business, the board of directors:

· Affirmed "with sadness" the complaint filed by 28 United Methodists against Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of the church's Chicago Area. The board said that Sprague's views about doctrinal tenets regarding Christ's life and divinity threaten "to undermine and overturn the apostolic faith and the theological traditions of the United Methodist Church." (See UMNS #011, "Group files complaint against Bishop Sprague," Jan. 9.)
· Heard reports on "revitalized women's ministries across the church" and efforts to change the leadership direction of the Women's Division. Good News has long been at odds with positions taken by the Women's Division on a wide range of issues.
· Heard plans for its 2003 Summer Celebration, a national convocation set for the Adam's Mark Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, July 24-26. The theme will be "A Healthy Church: Called to Congregational Health; Caring for Spiritual Health; and Committed to Connectional Health."

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