United Methodist Men promise to continue their ministries regardless of general church actions
NASHVILLE––The General Commission on United Methodist Men, meeting August 15-17, agreed that no matter what the 2020 General Conference decides, the commission is going to continue its ministry to men and young people.
In his opening address, Mississippi Bishop James Swanson Sr., president of the board, asked the 20-member board to adjust their Friday committee meeting schedule to allow time to prepare a statement to the denomination.
He noted that ever since the 2019 Special Session, “We’ve been trying to make decisions while running toward a precipice. We’re getting ready to destroy something God has created,” he said “In Mississippi alone, we have over 900 churches and other ancillary ministries. There are countless numbers of men and boys who are counting on us to stay the course.”
“We are keenly aware of the conversations surrounding the future structure of connectional ministry within The United Methodist Church as we move toward General Conference 2020,” said Swanson. “However, we refuse to allow these conversations to dampen our spirits or our commitment to fulfilling our purpose.”
On Saturday morning, the board unanimously finalized their statement to the church:
“The General Commission on United Methodist Men is committed to expanding its ministry to men and youth within all Wesleyan communions, regardless of the outcome of the 2020 General Conference.”
“The meeting was encouraging and confirming that United Methodist Men are determined to continue to fulfill the Great Commission,” said Tarmo Lilleoja, a commission member from Estonia.
Hammering out a new mission statement
The commission took a long prayerful and thoughtful look at its ministry in light of the current context of the world and the church.
“We have decided that our primary purpose for which we were created in 1996, ‘to declare the centrality of Christ in the lives of men in all their relationships,’ has not been fulfilled,” said Swanson.
“In fact, given the context of our world that in every facet of men’s lives today we see more of a need to be ‘a creative, supportive fellowship of men who seek to know Jesus Christ, to grow spiritually and to seek daily His will.’”
Under the leadership of the Rev. Jennifer Wilson, chair of the Personnel Committee, the 20-member team began the process of hammering out a new mission statement.
By Saturday afternoon, the assembly referred a possible new statement to the executive committee for refinement and possible legislative action by the 2020 General Conference.
“The purpose of the Commission on United Methodist Men is to coach men to thrive through Christ so others will know him.”
“The meeting inspired me to give my best to the United Methodist Men of the Philippines,” said Carlos Manio.
“I am energized by the proactive organization going forward,” said Steve Nailor, president of the National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men. “The future of United Methodist Men is an ever-changing ministry, and I’m proud to be engaged with it.”
In other actions, the board:
- Learned there are 314,493 Boy Scouts meeting in United Methodist Churches, the largest number of any denomination and United Methodist congregations are welcoming Scouts from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which will drop BSA on December 31. Steven Scheid, director of The Center for Scouting Ministries, participated in the World Jamboree of Scouting, and he is working to increase the presence of the denomination in Scouting in other nations.
- Learned that the Amending Together through Faith, an 8-week study to reduce domestic violence, has been used by groups of United Methodist Men across the nation and college groups.
- Established October 21 as United Methodist Men Gift Day, an opportunity for United Methodist to support Scouting, efforts to reduce domestic violence, resources for men’s ministries, support of hunger-relief efforts, prayer ministries, Strength for Service, and scores of other outreach ministries.
- Agreed to recommend making changes to four resolutions in the 2020 Book of Resolution and one change in the 2020 Book of Discipline (see separate news release).
- Celebrated the accomplishments of the commission as several members, including Bishop Swanson, have served two 4-year terms and will not be part of the 2020-2023 board.
- Noted that the Society of St. Andrew is celebrating 40 years of providing meals for hungry people; the agency set August 27 as a “Day of Giving.”