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United Methodist Men seeks to reach all men

Bishop Richard J. Wills Jr. (left) announces the re-election of the Rev. David Adams (center) to head the Commission on United Methodist Men as commission vice president Glenn Wintemberg watches. A UMNS photo by Martha Davis.

By J. Richard Peck*
Aug. 27, 2008 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)

With its goal to "help men know Jesus Christ," the Commission on United Methodist Men must reach out beyond its chartered local church chapters to connect with a wider range of men, say its leaders.

"Our goal is to help men grow in Christ so others may know Christ," said the Rev. David Adams, who was re-elected top staff executive of the commission during the Aug. 22-24 meeting of its board of directors.

"Churches should hold the charter of United Methodist Men because the charter includes all men of the church. Our focus should be outward, not inward. We need to be invitational and provide many entry points for men," he said.

“We need to be invitational and provide many entry points for men.”
–The Rev. David Adams
These entry points include mission trips, teaching opportunities, Bible studies, home repairs and scout troops. "Don’t tell men what to do," Adams said. "Invite them to action."

Celebrating its 100th birthday this year, United Methodist Men is a ministry to and through all men of The United Methodist Church in the United States. It has 239,000 members in its chartered chapters, but wants to reach all men among the church's 7.9 million U.S. members.

Earlier this year, the commission reported to General Conference, the church's top legislative assembly, about a survey of United Methodist men citing a "lack of interest in religion" as the top reason the church does not reach more younger men.

To help churches cast a wider net, the commission is training "men’s ministry specialists" and soon will begin a program for "scouting ministries specialists." This effort will be supported by "teaching churches" that will provide training and resources for other churches wanting to enrich their ministries to men.

Men's specialists will be certified by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry following recommendation and mentoring by their pastors, training experiences in men's ministry, a course in United Methodist history and polity, and experience in leading a local or regional event. In addition, people who have completed courses in lay speaking ministries may receive additional training to become men's ministry specialists.

Begin with boys

Bishop James King, who was elected president of the 25-member board for the next four years, said the commission should focus its attention on nurturing boys.

Bishop James King

"We keep expecting fruit from men, but we have neglected the roots of boys," said King, who is in the process of moving from Kentucky to South Georgia.

King told the commission that the most teachable time in a person’s life is the pre-school age of 4 through the fourth grade. "We are giving the church a gift of nurturing men, beginning with boys," he said.

The commission is responsible for United Methodist relations with Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, Camp Fire USA and 4-H. The agency also entered into a partnership with Big Brothers/Big Sisters to encourage men to mentor children of incarcerated adults.

The commission learned that scout troops chartered by United Methodist churches will be supporting the Nothing But Nets campaign to eliminate malaria in Africa. There are 368,000 scouts involved in more than 11,000 United Methodist-chartered packs, troops or crews.

The commission’s scouting committee elected Dr. Sam Bala, a surgeon in Dade City, Fla., to serve as committee chair. A native of the Philippines, Bala has provided free reconstructive cleft palate operations for children worldwide and recently led a medical mission trip to the Philippines.

The committee created two new scouting awards: the Silver Torch Award for people who support scouting at regional, national or international levels, and the Shepherd Church Charter Recognition for churches that sponsor youth-serving groups.

United Methodist Men also supports the Upper Room Prayer Center and hunger relief.

The board learned that the prayer center, supported by an annual $24,000 grant from the United Methodist Men Foundation, receives an average of 30,000 telephone prayer requests each month and 6,000 requests by e-mail.

United Methodist Men have led more than 720 volunteers into farm fields to pick up nearly 489,000 servings of food for America’s hungry through the Society of St. Andrew. In 2007, the men also gave more than $170,000 for Meals for Millions.

In an effort to address hunger across the globe, the men agreed to participate in Stop Hunger Now, an international campaign to provide rice-soy meals in sealed plastic containers.

Coming together

Trainer Mike Dill leads commissioners in a goal-setting experience during an orientation session. A UMNS photo by Joshua Eidson.

United Methodist Men will celebrate all of its ministries next summer in Nashville at its national gathering held once every four years. After a long tradition of meeting at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., the 2009 meeting will be held next July 10-11 on the campus of Nashville's Belmont University.

Scheduled speakers include Chicago Area Bishop Hee-Soo Jung; the Rev. Kevass Harding, pastor of Dellrose United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kan.; and Patrick Morley, chairman and chief executive of Orlando, Fla.-based Man in the Mirror Ministries. Performers scheduled include country music star Vince Gill, Nashville-based recording artist Steve Hornbeak, and Sheltered Reality, an Iowa-based percussion group that will include youngsters from a inner-city church in Nashville.

In other business, the commission:
  • Learned that the mortgage for the agency’s Nashville headquarters will be retired Sept. 24 following a $500,000 gift from Ed and Gwen Cole; and
  • Celebrated the distribution of 308,000 copies of a revised World War II Strength for Service to God and Country devotional book. Most of the books were presented free to members of the armed forces.

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

News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn. (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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