1:00 P.M. EST March 10, 2010 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
Conference presidents of United Methodist Men pray for one of their
colleagues during their annual meeting in Nashville. A UMNS photo by
View in Photo Gallery
United Methodist Men want to be known less as a group of retired old
men eating out and more as advocates for the hungry.
Marking a new era, the organization has elected a new chief
executive, is expanding its hunger ministries and is creating a new
online learning center.
The National Association of Conference (regional) Presidents of
United Methodist Men, meeting March 3-7 in Nashville, installed Gilbert
C. Hanke as the new chief executive officer of the General Commission on
United Methodist Men.
Hanke, a speech pathologist who has made 12 mission trips to Haiti,
showed the men slides of the destroyed school where he once provided
hearing aids. As a part of the installation service, the conference
presidents and their prayer advocates presented a $2,000 check to the
United Methodist Committee on Relief for Haiti relief in his honor.
The 42 presidents and their 23 prayer advocates also learned about
plans to launch an online learning center to provide continuing
education experiences for persons interested in men’s ministry,
scouting, prayer and anti-hunger activities.
The commission has already developed a 12-hour, 16-segment training
course titled "Understanding Men's Ministry." The course is based upon
the content and materials used in the No-Man-Left-Behind training
offered by Orlando, Fla.-based Man in the Mirror.
Hanke told the presidents that they should expect him to strive for a
Wesleyan balance between work and family and between spiritual holiness
and social holiness. He said he would begin each day reading the Bible
and the “Upper Room Disciplines” as he sets plans to work in local
mission projects and will go to Haiti to aid rebuilding efforts as soon
as the Texas Conference is cleared to go.
Gilbert C. Hanke is installed during the annual meeting of the National
Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men.
photo by Ronny Perry.
View in Photo Gallery
He also promised the men he would continue his involvement with a
small accountability group and will make an annual pledge to support
United Methodist Men ministries.
He noted that the commission has provided members of the Armed Forces
with 420,000 free copies of “Strength for Service to God and Country,” a
revised World War II book published by the United Methodist Publishing
House. “I carry a book every time I travel,” he said. “God usually makes
His plan plain to me as to who I give it to.
“I will be open to any new adventure God has prepared for us,” he
concluded as he invited the presidents and prayer advocates to make
Anti-hunger battle lines extended
Over the past 12 years, United Methodist Men have given $2.3 million
to anti-hunger efforts led by the Society of St. Andrew, an agency based
in Big Island, Va. Funds collected by the men provided 176.8 million
In addition, hunger relief advocates related to United Methodist Men
led over 50,000 volunteers in more than 4,000 gleaning efforts to
provide 19.7 million pounds of produce donated to 11,306 critical
As part of a long tradition, Wade Mays, a staff executive with the
Society of St. Andrew, presented a “Bud-the-Spud Award” to the men of
Detroit Conference for leading the nation in giving to Meals for
Millions. The award honors the late Nelson L. “Bud” Curtis, who donned a
potato costume to urge men to participate in “potato drops” where
thousands of potatoes are bagged for food pantries.
Participants at the March meeting also agreed to help Stop Hunger
Now, based in Raleigh, N.C., provide 13-ounce packages of nutritious
dried food for hungry families throughout the world and were encouraged
to host food-packaging events.
Larry Malone, a staff executive with the General Commission on United
Methodist Men and president of the men’s affiliate with the World
Methodist Council, recently invited Korean Methodist Men to establish a
warehouse in South Korea to distribute food packets to North Korea and
other nations in Asia.
“Stop Hunger Now allows us to address hunger internationally and
complements our long-standing relationship with the Society of St.
Andrew,” said Malone. “With the two, we’re able to extend hunger relief
around the world.”
Online learning center
United Methodist men may soon be able to walk to their home or office
computer instead of boarding an airplane and booking a hotel for
expensive training in men’s ministry.
Neil Brown, a certified men’s ministry specialist from Spruce Pine,
N.C., explains the concept of the online learning center.
photo by Rich Peck.
View in Photo Gallery
The presidents learned about the proposed creation of a Web-based
“Leader Learning & Development Center” where participants can
improve their skills as local, district and annual conference leaders.
Two courses, the “History and Polity of The United Methodist Church,”
and “Safe Sanctuary and Sexual Ethics,” are already online with the
“Understanding Men’s Ministry” course.
Neil Brown, one of the architects of the learning center, said
participants would be able to major and minor in subject areas. Upon
completion of specific leader tracks, they will receive certification
papers. “We hope to find a financial sponsor for the entire center,” he
added. “Other agencies and individuals will be able to sponsor
Twenty-five participants in a December webinar tested the concept of
the online learning center. When it is complete, it will be available 24
hours a day for self-paced learning at the commission’s Web site (www.gcumm.org).
*Peck is a retired clergy member of New York Annual Conference and
communications coordinator for the General Commission on United
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.