UMM is working to implement a new model and vision of men’s ministry. We believe that the result will be men involved in all four areas of focus which will reach the world for Christ. United Methodist Men are responding to the four areas of focus in the following ways:

Developing principled Christian Leaders…

  • Training UM Men leaders for ministry of Jesus Christ through Advanced Lay Speaking Course.
  • Training Men’s and Scouting Ministry Specialists to serve in every conference.
  • Training and equipping leaders in Central Conferences in scouting and men’s ministry with on-site visits and on-line courses.
  • Training youth to be effective, caring leaders in church and community through ministries with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Campfire.

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My ten years as a Big Brother

By Ingram Howard

NASHVILLE, Tenn.––My story begins in Ingram April 2008; that is when I first met Christopher and his mother, Julie. He was 8 years old; I was 61.

His dad left the family when Christopher was 3-years old, and he had not maintained contact since then.

I had just completed and passed all the requirements and background checks with the Middle Tennessee Chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BBBS).

Hesitant beginning

I remember thinking on that April day, “What have I got myself into now?”

Christopher probably was asking the same question.

I had some assurance in the fact my sister had mentored a young girl through Youth Villages in Memphis. Other UM Men, who served as big brothers, also encouraged me.

But, Christopher and I were now a match; I was the “big” and he was the “little.”

I had no idea we would still be together 10 years later

Two options

BBBS offers two ways to interact with your match: 1) Site-based matches meet at a school, and 2) community-based matches allow for once-a-week activities in places and times of mutual convenience.

I was fortunate to be in a community-match relationship, giving me more time to get to know Christopher.

Learning to fish

I like sports of all kinds, especially baseball. I imagined Christopher and I would share the same interest. However, I soon realized he was not into sports. His real interest was fishing. Therefore, I spent many afternoons by creeks or lakes where Christopher taught me how to fish. I learned a lot, but Christopher will always be a better fisherman than me.

Our “fishing time” became our “sharing time” when we talked about how school was going and family events.

A vanishing concern

I knew Christopher needed our one-on-one time since he did not have a father in his home, but I still wondered what, if any, kind of impact I was having on his life. That concern vanished when Christopher was in high school. A BBBS match specialist told me Christopher said, “I consider Ingram to be my adopted father now.”

I had no more misgivings about our relationship.

Even though we came from different backgrounds (I grew up on a dairy farm), we enjoyed each other’s company and we learned from one another.

Honor commitments

People asked me how I was able to spend at least one hour (usually three to four) hours a week with Christopher. My answer was simple, “You don’t do something else once you have made the decision to be with your “little”. One of the teaching tools I instilled in Christopher was to be responsible and honor your commitments; another was to respect each other’s opinions

As he grew older, our choice of activities was the result of a mutual decision. We could be honest with one another and express our feelings; that was something that was difficult for Christopher to do at first. He was reluctant to trust anyone when I first met him. Over time, I became not only his friend, but a confidant as well.


Christopher, his mother, and I attended a BBBS graduation ceremony on May 3. Christopher was one of 20 high school seniors graduating from the program. Three weeks later, I attended his high school graduation. He was the second of 175 Sycamore High School students to walk across a stage at Austin Peay State University campus to receive his diploma.

Christopher is now 18 and I am 71. We are no longer paired as a BBBS “big” and “little”. However, we are solid friends and I expect our friendship to continue for many years to come.

I am truly thankful for the experiences we shared together, and I’m glad I did not pass on this opportunity.



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