United Methodist Men get new home, ensure future ministry
|Photo by Dewayne Lowther
The Rev. Joseph Harris, outgoing top executive of the Commission on United Methodist Men, says goodbye at a farewell party.
July 21, 2005
By Linda Green*
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.
(UMNS)—The United Methodist Men’s organization will reach true adulthood
by the end of 2005, when its headquarters moves to a new building.
Participants at the 9th
National Gathering of United Methodist Men cheered upon hearing the
announcement that the Commission on United Methodist Men will be moving
into the facilities being vacated by the Nashville, Tenn., office of the
denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration.
The men’s organization,
once part of a division on men’s ministry at the United Methodist Board
of Discipleship, became a churchwide agency in 1996, but has been
housed in a suite of offices at the discipleship agency. The commission
has been seeking its own office since then.
Gil Hanke, president of the men’s commission and a layman from Nacogdoches, Texas, announced the move during the gathering’s final plenary session July 17.
“I am pleased to tell
you that by end of this year, the General Commission on United Methodist
Men will have its own office, with its own building that will be
financed in a way that will not interrupt one piece of the ministry that
we do,” Hanke said. “Our staff and everybody who works for us as
volunteers will finally have the space they need to do the ministry we
are called to do.”
The commission is financing the purchase of the building through donations and through the United Methodist Men’s Foundation.
|A UMNS photo by Linda Green
Bishop William Morris has been named interim head of the Commission on United Methodist Men.
Bishop William Morris,
recently named interim general secretary of the commission, told United
Methodist News Service, the building is a part of a new beginning. “It
is definitely a new beginning for us in that we will have a facility
that can house a staff ... and our brand of identity. A part of what we
are about is to have our own identity.”
United Methodist Men is
moving in new directions and getting a new facility provides an avenue
and space for ministry, he said. “The point is to be open to what God
wants you to do and be faithful to the task.”
To those who doubt the
commission’s ability to sustain itself in its own building, Morris said,
“We have people who have been extremely blessed in our denomination. We
(the church) are not poor. I don’t think the issue is ever one of
money; it is the issue of stewardship and commitment, and we have people
who can do what needs to be done. With the blessings of God and
guidance of the Holy Spirit, we have to challenge those people to
understand that God has called them to give, something they ought to be
The 2,200 men attending
the assembly pledged to do their part to help pay for the new
surroundings and to ensure that men’s ministry would continue for future
On the spot, the men
filled out pledge cards to express their continued financial support of
scouting and youth ministries, the Upper Room Prayer Line, hunger-relief
efforts and compassion ministries, and they also pledged support for
new efforts to train and recruit younger men into United Methodist men
and form local church men’s groups.
“The question before
the whole church is how do we deal with youth and young adults and young
families and bring them into the church?” Morris said. “This is true
too for United Methodist Men.”
The tradition of the
gathering at Purdue University extends back many years and has been
described as a “life-changing event” that allows men from across the
world to come together for a time of fellowship, spiritual renewal,
instruction and inspiration.
“This gathering of
United Methodist Men is unique in our church in that there is no other
large gathering of men across the United Methodist Church,” said the
Rev. Joseph Harris, the commission’s outgoing top executive.
|A UMNS photo by Linda Green
Carl Pierce of Flushing, Mich., likes getting the chance "to be with men who have the same ideals."
Carl Pierce of
Flushing, Mich., attends the quadrennial men’s gathering to be in the
presence of Christian men and find out more about God. The 2005
gathering was his fifth because “this is the only chance to be with men
who have the same ideals,” he said.
The theme, “Hearts
Afire for God,” reflects a spirit of dedication and the understanding
that men are disciples of God, said Willie Johnson, Baton Rogue, La.
Attending his first gathering, Johnson added, “If God’s words is going
to be spread throughout the world, we have to do it. We have to show by
the light that shines within us and in our good works that God is in us
and in everything that we do.”
Clayton Nedd, a
fourth-time gathering attendee from Ecorse, Mich., said he keeps
returning to the gatherings because “it is refreshing and spiritual and
gives me a chance to know men.” The gatherings are important
because “we need to bring men to God. This is what we are in it for, to
bring men to serve God,” he said.
As a first-time
participant, the Rev. Rufus Campbell, Springfield, Minn., said he does
not believe God is finished with United Methodist Men. “God still has a
role for UMM, he said. “We are called to remember how God has enflamed
us, has given us a vision for ministry and that passion for ministry
needs to be rekindled from time to time.”
Campbell echoed a
goodbye message from Harris to the United Methodist Men’s organization.
Harris told the gathering that “I know that in many ways, the real work
of United Methodist Men has just begun.” He has been appointed
assistant to the bishop and director of Oklahoma Conference
communications, effective Aug. 1.
United Methodist Men’s
ministry is beginning because “men continue to be an unreached field in
our communities,” Harris said. “The future of the church is getting men
involved in the life of the church.”
The work for United
Methodist Men is also just beginning, Harris noted, because there are
women who “are spiritual widows with men whose sole religion is
baseball, football, basketball or some other
Continuing in that
sphere, the Rev. Tyrone Gordon, pastor of St. Luke “Community” United
Methodist Church, Dallas, admonished the men to “Lighten Up on the
Brothers.” He challenged the gathering to remember that all men are not
the same. “There are some good godly men in this world. When we are
broken, only Jesus can put us all back together again.”
Men, he said, have been
programmed to hide their emotions because showing emotion makes a man
seem lesser. “There are men whose masculinity is not threatened
because they praise the Lord,” Gordon said. The world gets
uncomfortable when the church is brought into its presence because the
world knows there is power in Jesus’ name. But, “real men love the Lord
and are not afraid to show emotions.”
He challenged the men to never be afraid to say, “We love you Jesus because you loved us first.”
|A UMNS photo by Linda Green
The Rev. James Moore tells men never to give up on their commitment to Christ.
In a keynote address,
the Rev. James Moore, author and pastor of the 7,500-member St. Luke
United Methodist Church, Houston, encouraged the men to never give up on
their commitment to Christ. He asked if any had “ever been
tempted to throw in the towel and quit on life.” He reminded the men
that when they get discouraged, to be like the Apostle Paul and fight
the good fight, finish the course and keep the faith.
The men had a visual
example of one who did not quit in Clay Dyer, 27, a national fishing
champion, who is 40 inches tall, weighs 86 pounds, was born without legs
and a partial 16-inch long arm. The national tournament bass fisherman
told the men that by adopting the attitude that he can do the best he
can with what he has, he learned not to give up.
In an interview with the Daily News,
the newspaper of the 9th National Gathering of United Methodist Men,
Dyer said that God made things he wanted to do easier. “He has
given me willpower, strength and courage to try things that I wouldn’t
ordinarily try. He has taught me to not give up.”
The men also:
- Recognized Harris, the top executive for the last eight years, for his service to the Commission on United Methodist Men.
- Presented Eddie
Crossman, a Syracuse, N.Y., Boy Scout with learning disabilities, and
Courtney Ware, an Indianapolis Girl Scout, with the Good Samaritan
- Presented John Wesley Fellow awards to Rudy Ruettiger, Curtis Brisbon, Ted Johndrow and August Martin Hanke.
- Paid tribute to James
Snead, 1935-2002, a leader in the United Methodist Men, and to all other
United Methodist men who died since the 2001 gathering.
- Recognized Evan Hunsberger, the Boy Scout who began the effort to reprint Strength for Service to God and Country,
a World War II book of daily devotions and they applauded his effort to
get one of the devotionals into the hands of military personnel.
- Contributed more than 5,000 pounds of canned foods through the Society of St. Andrew to feed the hungry in Indiana.
- Heard storyteller Dayton Edmonds describe how to find the city of your dreams.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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