Men’s ministry agency celebrates achievements, ponders future

September 12th, 2011


Photo:  Bishop James King (left), president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, chats with and Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the commission, following the presentation of expressions of appreciation to board members for their last four years of service to the Nashville-based commission.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –– The agency responsible for expanding ministries to men within the United Methodist Church celebrated the certification of 30 men’s ministry specialists and 127 scouting ministry specialists who are helping local churches increase their outreach to men and young people.

Meeting September 7-10 for the last time this quadrennium, 20 members of the General Commission on United Methodist Men celebrated their four-year accomplishments, including the election of Gil Hanke as top staff executive, the recruitment of three volunteer deployed staff persons, and an increase in the number of chartered groups of United Methodist Men in 29 annual conferences.

As they looked to the future of men’s ministry, the 19 men and one woman discussed the probability of reduced funding for commission ministries and the possibility of new structure.

Funding proposals

For the first time in the history of the denomination, delegates to the General Conference, meeting April 24-May 4, 2012, in Tampa, Fla., will consider a proposed 6.5 percent decrease in the World Service Fund.

The Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and Administration are recommending a goal of $241.3 million for the World Service Fund for the 2013-2016 quadrennium. United Methodist Men presently receive one-half of one percent (0.5%) of that total. There is also a possibility that the decrease could increase to 16 percent if a proposal for additional $60 million for training young people and central conference clergy is approved.

The commission anticipates it will continue to receive 20 percent of its operating budget from the World Service Fund. Eighty percent of the agency’s $1.3 million annual budget is derived from charter fees from groups of United Methodist Men and from gifts from individuals.

Proposed structure

In a discussion of the proposed structure, Bishop James King, president of the commission, explained that Connectional Table and Call to Action groups want to create a way for the United Methodist Church to become more “nimble.” “The church is dysfunctional,” said King. “the General Conference meets once every four years and no one has authority to make adjustment between sessions.”

The proposed structure calls for the General Commission on United Methodist Men to be continued as the Board of United Methodist Men with a governing board, reduced from the present 25 members to 20 members.

Under the proposal, the top staff executive of the Board of United Methodist Men would serve as an ex-officio member of the General Council for Strategy and Oversight with voice but without vote. The 45-member council would meet once a year to establish long-term strategies to be implemented by a 15-member board of directors of the Center for Connectional Mission and Ministry.

The center would elect an executive general secretary and staff members of nine general agencies would be organized under five offices reporting to the center.

The boards of Pension and Health Benefits, the United Methodist Publishing House, United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women would continue to be responsible to General Conference.

In earlier reports the Call to Action Committee was uncertain about where to locate United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women, but finally decided to support United Methodist Women’s efforts to move from a division of the General Board of Global Ministries to a separate board. They then categorized the two agencies as membership-based boards that would report to General Conference.

Members of the commission were encouraged to carefully study the proposed new structure and to share their responses with General Conference delegates.

Hanke, top staff executive of the commission, was elected as a Texas Conference delegate to the General Conference. He will serve on the General Administration Legislative Committee, which will review and possibly revise the proposed radical changes prior to presentation to the 1,000-member plenary session.

In other business, the commission:

• Reviewed plans for the July 12-14, 2013, National Gathering of United Methodist Men at Belmont University in Nashville;

• Learned that 452,000 copies of Strength for Service to God and Country have been printed and distributed, mostly to deployed military personnel. The commission endorsed plans to create a 501c3 non-profit corporation to continue to receive funds for the historic devotional book and to add new publications to meet the spiritual needs of the military personnel, fire fighters, police officers and first responders. The non-profit status will encourage secular organizations to support the effort to print the books;

• Received a report on the packaging of 101,000 Stop Hunger Now packets during the World Methodist Conference sponsored by United Methodist Men, Mississippi Conference, Korean Methodist Men, and a Korean Methodist congregation. Larry Malone, former staff executive of the commission, was re-elected as president of the Men’s Section of the World Methodist Conference;

• Learned there are 376,000 young people involved in Scout troops and packs meeting in United Methodist Churches. Noting that most of growth in scouting is occurring in churches, Boy Scouts of America have launched a Faith-Based Initiative (F.B.I.) to retain and strengthen these organizations;

• Learned that the United Methodist Men Foundation allocated $10,000 to provide New Testaments to 6,000 Scouts attending the Protestant worship services at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, with additional copies for Scouts attending the Minnesota-based Northern Tier High Adventure Program;

• Received a report on the Amachi program, an effort by Big Brothers and Big Sisters (BBBS) to match men and women as mentors of children with at least one parent in prison. The commission launched the effort in 17 annual conferences with more than 40 matches. Mark Scott, a BBBS executive, noted that the first Amachi match occurred March 29, 2001, at the Philadelphia-based Eastwick United Methodist Church (now Eastwick Worship Center).

• Received a report from the Upper Room Prayer Line noting that United Methodist Men organizations contributed $6,735 to the prayer line and 16 new volunteers added 2,256 hours of extra coverage by the daily prayer line.

• Celebrated the 13-year support of the Society of Saint Andrew Hunger Relief Advocate Initiative with advocates in 17 annual conferences. These advocates led 1,979 volunteers to pick up 1.92 million servings of fresh food for America’s hungry. United Methodist Men also provided another 8.4 million servings of fresh produce through the society’s potato project.

• Set plans for a paver project in which United Methodist Men are invited to place engraved bricks in front of the national office on Music Row in Nashville at $500 for an 8x8-inch paver, or a 4x8-inch paver at $200. The men agreed to purchase a paver in memory of Charles Steele, a Tennessee Conference leader who died in 2011 and gave significant gift in his will to United Methodist Men ministries.