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Archive for Thursday, February 8, 1996

AN INTERNATIONAL SPIRITUAL RENEWAL PROGRAM FOR CHRISTIANS HAS MADE ITS WAY TO LAWRENCE.

February 8, 1996

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Jana Rae grew up in a family with Catholic father, a Protestant mother and a conflict in spiritual doctrines.

"I could just never figure out why, if they were worshiping the same God, why there was so much friction," the Lawrence woman said.

But Renovare, an international spiritual renewal program she has been a part of since 1989, has helped her resolve many of the conflicts.

"It's meant to bring us all together and give us the perspective that helps us appreciate the differences in the different denominations," said Rae, a member of Lawrence's First Christian Church.

Rae has been working with the Rev. Ron Goodman, pastor of First Christian Church, to set up the Renovare program in Lawrence.

Renovare, taken from a Latin term meaning "to make new," was founded by Richard J. Foster, a religious author who has been a professor at Friends University in Wichita. The program is committed to working for the renewal of the universal Christian church in its multifaceted expressions.

It is designed to create a balanced vision of "the five great traditions of Christian life."

Goodman said those traditions are contemplative (a prayer-filled life), holiness (a virtuous life), charismatic (a spirit-empowered life), social justice (a compassionate life) and evangelical (a Scripture-centered life). A sixth tradition, dealing with liturgy and ceremony, is also being integrated in the program, he said.

Rae said that, since she became an adult, she has been in several different denominational environments.

When she attended a Renovare conference in the late 1980s, she saw the historical vision they offered of the beauty of the different traditions.

"It's like a river with different tributaries," she said. "Because of temperament and personal preference and our background, we're drawn to certain denominations. The downside is we encamp there instead of growing and seeing the Christian experience as multi-faceted."

Rae and Goodman said about 70 people from First Christian Church attended a Spiritual Renewal weekend in January, during which the concept was explained.

Those in the program meet in small groups of four to five people and perform "spiritual exercises" to improve in whichever of the five disciplines they think need work. Every person in each group is committed to the spiritual growth of each other.

Goodman compared the Renovare small group experience to training for an athletic event.

"If you were training to run a marathon, you would do the training," he said. "That's an image we've used to help a person understand the program."

Rae also liked the athletic comparison.

"It's a simple way of examining the different denominations and find ways to challenge ourselves and develop muscles in each of those areas," she said.

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