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Men’s agency consecrates building, launches partnership

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A UMNS photo by Maile Bradfield

The Commission on United Methodist Men has a new home on Nashville’s Music Row.
March 8, 2006

By Rich Peck*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The agency responsible for men’s ministry in the United Methodist Church has consecrated its new headquarters and launched an effort to provide big brother relationships with sons of fathers who are incarcerated.

The nine-member staff of the Commission on United Methodist Men has moved to a 4,200-square-foot structure previously occupied by the Nashville office of the General Council on Finance and Administration. The $850,000 building on Nashville’s Music Row became available when the financial agency moved its main office from Evanston, Ill., to Nashville and bought a new facility.

During the March 3 service of consecration, Bishop William Morris, acting top staff executive of the commission, acknowledged the leadership of the agency’s former chief executive, the Rev. Joseph Harris, who is serving as assistant to the Oklahoma Area bishop and director of communications for the denomination’s Oklahoma Annual (regional) Conference.

The commission had occupied a corner of a building owned jointly by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship and Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The new address is the first building occupied solely by the men’s agency.

“I felt like Moses wandering the desert for a long time,” said Harris, who served for eight and a half years as top executive of the 9-year-old commission. “I didn’t know the Promised Land would only be a few blocks up the street.”

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Bishop William W. Morris
Along with the relocation, the agency has moved ahead in several other areas of work, including launching its new relationship with Big Brothers Big Sisters. The National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men acted on those priorities during its early March meeting in Nashville.

Mentoring children

On March 4, the commission publicly signed a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to develop Amachi, a program matching church congregants with youth whose parents are incarcerated. “Amachi” is a Nigerian word that means, “Who knows but what God has brought us through this child?” Big Brothers Big Sisters is located in 5,000 communities around the country. The signing ceremony took place during a plenary session of the National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men.

“This is an historic day for our organizations,” said Larry Coppock, a commission staff executive. “The partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Amachi affords United Methodist Men an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young men in our church communities.” The commission will begin the program with pilot projects in one annual (regional) conference in each of the five United Methodist jurisdictions in the United States. Following those, the program will be launched nationwide.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters is building real, meaningful and productive partnerships with institutions in the hope business,” said the Rev. Mark Scott, director of mentoring partnerships for the Philadelphia-based organization. “The core mission of both the Big Brothers Big Sisters and United Methodist Men is that a child’s tomorrow can be much better than today. We play an important role in creating that better tomorrow.”

The organization estimates about 700,000 parents and guardians — primarily mothers and grandmothers — are rearing children while a parent is incarcerated. The organization has matched 6,300 children of prisoners with adults. Its goal is to serve 25,000 children who have incarcerated parents by the end of 2007.

Fighting hunger

In 2005, units of United Methodist Men, in partnership with the Society of St. Andrew, led more than 9,000 volunteers into farmers’ fields to pick up more than 3.7 million pounds of food for America’s hungry. At the same time, through their Meals for Millions contributions, the men provided another 5.7 million pounds of fresh produce for the hungry through the society’s Potato Project. The salvaged food together resulted in 28.2 million servings of food for hungry Americans.

During their March meeting, the association of conference presidents urged local units of United Methodist Men to participate in the national Hunger Awareness Day on June 6 and to conduct worship services on hunger-related issues on a Sunday near that date. The men also agreed to participate in the U.N.-sponsored World Food Day on Oct. 14.

Responding to a suggestion from Glenn Wintemberg, president of the association of conference presidents, the group also launched “Fami1y” (Fast a Meal in One Year). The group suggests that money that families would have been spent on the meals should be given to the hunger relief-fund of the Society of St. Andrew.

The conference presidents also honored men of the East Ohio Annual (regional) Conference for increasing amounts raised for world hunger from $10,000 in 2004 to $20,000 in 2005.

In other business, the 46 conference presidents of United Methodist Men:

  • Heard Migdiel Pérez, manager of Upper Room Prayer Line, report that the prayer line receives an average of 36,000 calls a month, and United Methodist Men annually give $28,000 to support the toll-free lines.
  • Learned that Louisiana Conference President Joe Kelley raised $6,520 from United Methodist Men units for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and, during their meeting, the presidents added $792 to relief efforts.
  • Noted that the United Methodist Church is the second highest denomination in number of chartered Boy Scout troops, with 376,472 Boy Scouts meeting in 8,000 churches.
  • Celebrated financial gifts that enabled the men to print 230,000 copies of Strength for Service to God and Country, a book of daily devotions first published during World War II for troops fighting in that war and now updated and sent to troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Learned that men in the Southeastern Jurisdiction plan to honor former President Jimmy Carter with membership in the John Wesley Society.

*Peck is the communications coordinator for the Commission on United Methodist Men

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or

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