Sept. 23, 2004
By Tom McAnally*
(UMNS) - If men are to be attracted to United Methodist churches, they
must feel that at the end of the day they have done something that makes
a difference, according to the newly elected president of the
denomination’s Commission on United Methodist Men.
Hanke, a layman from Nacogdoches, Texas, challenged members of the
commission, meeting Sept. 20-22 in Nashville, to help men recapture a
"doing spirit." The lack of church leadership by men is "frightening,"
he said, and the participation of men under 40 "pathetic."
his long involvement with the church, Hanke, a speech and language
pathologist, said he has observed that the most popular activities for
men are Scouting, prayer life, hunger relief, missions and
Christ-centered fellowship. "All these have in common the desire to be
‘doers of the word’," he said.
was elected president by the 23-member commission as it organized for
the 2005-08 quadrennium. The commission became an independent
organization in 1996 after being a division of the Board of Discipleship
in Nashville. Bishops headed the commission during each of the first
two quadrennia, or four-year periods. Hanke becomes the first layman to
serve in that capacity.
Rev. Joseph Harris was re-elected staff executive of the commission, a
post he has held since 1996. In his address to the commission, Harris
stressed the importance of "reaching the hearts of men," particularly
the next generation. "Younger men want to experience the faith, not just
be told about it," he said. "They want to be participants, not
Continuing the theme
of "doing," Harris urged the commission to give priority to hands-on
ministry to help those in need during the next four years.
The Rev. Joseph Harris
the presence of new commission members from the Congo and the
Philippines, Harris emphasized the importance of reaching men around the
globe for Christ. Harris is the first president of the World Fellowship
of Methodist and United Church Men, which will hold a global gathering
in Seoul, South Korea, in 2006.
members heard initial plans for the Ninth National Gathering of United
Methodist Men, set for July 15-17 at Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind.
The event, held every four years, usually attracts more than 4,000 men
for inspiration, education and fellowship.
commission took several actions to strengthen the financial base for
its work. About 25 percent of the commission’s $1.2 million annual
operating budget comes from the denomination’s World Service Fund. The
rest is raised through charters of local church United Methodist Men’s
organizations, the United Methodist Men Foundation, sale of resources,
and individual contributions of $30 per year called, "Every Man Shares
in Evangelism, Mission and Spiritual Life." United Methodist Men support
and fund many mission activities, including the Society of St. Andrew,
Upper Room Prayer Ministries, Lifestyle Relational Evangelism and Hope
members approved a "Legacy Builder" program that will seek monthly
contributions from men to support the goal of "setting the hearts of
millions of men on fire for Christ within and through the United
the next four years, the United Methodist Men Foundation, created in
1981, is committed to funding entirely the commission’s Office of
Scouting Ministry, according to staff member Larry Coppock. A campaign
to support the foundation will be officially launched at the gathering
of United Methodist Men at Purdue in July, but $1.3 million has already
been pledged toward a goal of $5 million.
United Methodist Church is the second-largest sponsor of the Boy Scouts
of America, with almost 400,000 youth meeting in 12,200 units in 7,500
congregations. Adding other groups, such as Girl Scouts, Camp Fire and
4-H, United Methodist churches serve more than 600,000 youth in about
27,000 units across the United States.
United Methodist Church has nearly 37,000 local congregations. Of
these, about 7,000 have chartered United Methodist Men’s organizations.
church’s General Conference, meeting in Pittsburgh in May, asked the
commission to conduct a study of men in the church. Harris said the
study, a first for the denomination, will "put some facts behind our
theories" and will be "critical to the future of the United Methodist
Church as we address why men are not participating in our churches in
Bishop Hee-soo Jung of Chicago is chairing a task force to guide the
study. "God is doing a wonderful work in our church and around the
world," he said. "Let us not be discouraged." A survey form will be
developed by December and will be ready for distribution early next
year, he said.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
member Larry Malone said the commission is working to change the
perception of men’s ministry from being "one of meetings and events to
empowering the local church to become a place that truly welcomes and
attracts men, as it helps them grow spiritually and resemble Christ in
their attitudes and actions." Two commission goals, he said, are to
connect and build relationships with all local congregations and with
all male members of the denomination.
said the certification and study programs approved by the General
Conference will glean critical information from local churches about
what is, and isn’t, happening with men and what is going on in their
lives, hearts and minds. He outlined plans for identifying and emulating
churches that are successfully reaching men, and a leadership and
support plan that calls for men’s ministry specialists working within
local churches and other units in the denomination.
Among other actions, commissioners:
officers for the 2005-08 quadrennium. Elected in addition to Hanke were
Bishop James King, Louisville, Ky., vice president; Dan Henry,
Bolingbrook, Ill., secretary; Rod Erskine, Cleveland, treasurer; and
Glenn Wintemberg, St. Charles, Mo., president, National Association of
Agreed to make communications a priority, using the electronic media and a Web site.
as affiliate organizations the United Methodist Men Foundation, the
National Association of Conference Presidents, the National Association
of United Methodist Scouters, and the Society of St. Andrew hunger
*McAnally is a former director of United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.