|Centennial event to promote United Methodist Men|
Men attending the 8th United Methodist Men Congress in Purdue, Ind.,
pray at the closing worship service in 2001. United Methodist Men will
celebrate the organization's 100th anniversary in 2008. A UMNS file
photo by Tim Tanton.
By Andrew J. Schleicher*
Sept. 18, 2007 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
Cubmaster Michael Asbell leads members of Pack 32 in a flag ceremony at
Eakin Elementary School in Nashville, Tenn. Scouting is among the
monthly themes being celebrated next year by United Methodist Men. A
UMNS file photo by
United Methodist Men will mark 100 years of men's ministry in 2008 in
a year-long celebration that also aims to grow the organization as it
works to move more men into discipleship.
Directors of the Commission on United Methodist Men, which met Sept.
15-16, have proposed 12 months of activities for local churches to
celebrate the anniversary.
Approximately 239,000 people are part of United Methodist Men in the
United States in a denomination with about 8 million U.S. members.
"What our challenge is that, in the church, we got nothing but
volunteers," said the Rev. David Adams, top staff executive for the
commission, in his opening address to directors. "But God calls us to go
into the world and to make what? Disciples. … We have got to step up
and help men move from that volunteer stage into the discipleship
Adams pointed out that "when men are growing in Christ, they impact the whole church."
In a recent commission survey of men in The United Methodist Church,
respondents cited a "lack of interest in religion" as the top reason the
church does not reach more young men, followed by "societal emphasis on
individualism/materialism" and "distrust of organized religion."
The centennial celebration will allow United Methodist Men to
showcase its work and ministries over the course of 12 months and
demonstrate its impact on society.
Each month of 2008 is designated with a theme, beginning with ethnic
and human relations in January. Activities suggested for that month
include recognition of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and
holding a joint meeting of men’s groups with a church of a different
ethnicity. February’s theme is scouting and youth-serving agencies,
camping and mentoring. March is "Celebrating Women through their
Contributions to UMMen."
Every local church, including those without chartered United Methodist Men’s groups, will be encouraged to join in the party.
As part of the observance, the commission is asking members of United Methodist Men to contribute $12 — one dollar for each month — to be disbursed at the beginning of 2009 to the various ministries highlighted throughout the celebration.
A long heritage
Men’s ministry has been a part of the Methodist heritage since
Charles and John Wesley established holy clubs in 1729 at Oxford
University. The 1908 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, meeting in Baltimore, authorized the creation of Methodist
Brotherhoods, making men’s ministry a part of the denominational
One-hundred years later, the 2008 General Conference will recognize
the anniversary when the denomination’s top legislative body meets next
spring in Forth Worth, Texas. Every General Conference delegate will
receive a commemorative pin. A video presentation will be sensitive to
both the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren history of the
church, as each formed a men’s ministry around the same time.
Part of the commission’s work in strengthening men’s ministry is
through the creation of men’s ministry specialists. Adams said the goal
is to have one specialist in each district by 2012. These specialists
will be trained and will have experience organizing men’s events. They
will be available to assist other church leaders in assessing, equipping
and motivating for men’s ministry.
In other business
The commission provides oversight for all men’s and scouting ministries in The United Methodist Church.
In other business, its directors heard a report on preparations for the
10th national gathering of United Methodist Men and adopted the theme
"FocUS on the Cross." The event, which formerly convened at Purdue
University in Indiana, will be held in July 2009 in Nashville. The
commission hopes to build in activities that will be of interest to
younger men and youth.
The Rev. David Adams thanks commission members for their contribution during the
directors’ final meeting before the 2008 General Conference. A UMNS photo by Andrew
The commission noted that 2008 has been designated as the year of the
volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America and that the organization
hopes to add 1 million new volunteers by 2010. The Boy Scouts are
considering joining the Nothing but Nets campaign, of which the people
of The United Methodist Church are a founding partner. The commission
agreed that United Methodist scouting programs could become involved in
Nothing But Nets even if Boy Scouts of America does not get on board.
Camilo Toledo Jr., a commission member from the Philippines, reported
on a new scouting project in his country. Robert Powell of the UMM
Foundation pledged that the foundation will provide funding for the
The commission heard an update on requests for the Strength for Service to God and Country devotional book. The Strength for Service Task Force received and filled 17,000 requests for the book in June and July —
most of which went to military chaplains. The book is now available in
Cokesbury, Borders, Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart stores.
In legislation being sent to General Conference, the commission
proposes that conference presidents submit additional detail in annual
reports to the commission. The commission also asks that its membership
be expanded from 23 to 25 to permit additional central conference and
*Schleicher is a freelance writer living in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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