2016 The year in review
2016 will be remembered by most Americans as the year of the Olympics and national elections; United Methodists will remember it as the year of General Conference and five jurisdictional conferences.
Troubled by the acrimony accompanying some 100 proposals related to human sexuality, delegates to the General Conference meeting in Portland meeting agreed to ask the bishops to create a commission to find “a way forward.” By the end of the year the bishops had appointed a commission asked the Commission on General Conference to explore venues for a possible February or March, 2019, special conference to deal with proposals from the commission.
For United Methodist Men, the year was significant as Bishop James Swanson was reelected president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men; Bishop Gary E. Mueller was elected vice president; Glenn Wintemberg was elected president of the UM Men Foundation; and Steve Nailor was elected president of the National Association of Conference Presidents. Richard Kim, Ken Tielke, Hank Dozier, Ken Hudgins and Wayne Custer were elected as jurisdictional presidents.
2016 was also the year when the Rev. Dr. Richard Vance, a Delaware pastor was named director of men’s ministry. Mark Lubbock, Mark Dehority, Greg Arnold and Jim Boesch continue as regionally deployed part-time leaders of men’s ministry.
Gil Hanke continues to serve as the chief executive of the commission and this year he again led a 4-member team to provide the gift of hearing to 99 Haitians. This was his 26th annual trip to that island nation.
Ann Waller, a former staffer, rejoined the Nashville staff, Martha Davis, Larry Coppock, Joe Strausbaugh, Marc Stowe, and Rich Peck continue as members that staff.
Phil Howard was elected chairman of the Scouting Committee of the commission and 333 scouting ministry specialists worked with 6,500 UM congregations with 320,000 young people in 10,000 Scout units. The Office of Scouting Ministry helped provide 10,000 New Testaments to Scouts at four high-adventure centers. Churches also held classes in which 4,874 young people receive PRAY (Programs of Religious Activities with Youth) awards. Jason Noland was appointed at the new CEO of that St. Louis-based organization. Twenty-four Scout leaders received advance training at the Bechtel Summit Training Course under the guidance of Bill Byrd.
Strength for Service
UM Men joined congregations of other denominations to provide Strength for Service books to members of the Armed Forces and first responders. SFS Chairman L.W. Smith led 135 churches to hold 9/11 commemoration events where the books were given to fire fighters and police officers. A total of 530,000 Strength for Service books have been printed for military troops since 2000, and 40,000 books for first responders have been distributed.
Thirty-nine men were certified as men’s ministry specialists with 27 in the candidacy process, and 22 of the 56 annual conferences in the U.S. maintained or increased the number of local church charters with the commission. Eighty conference presidents and prayer advocates attended the National Association of Conference Presidents meeting in March.
Queens Chapel UMC in Beltsville, Md., received top honors in the 2016 contest for the best UMM local church unit; Shreveport, La., was named the top district and South Carolina and Western North Carolina tied for the top conference.
We lost several leaders of UM Men during 2016. Bishop William Morris, 78, died in January. Following service in the Alabama West Florida Area and the Nashville Area, he served as interim general secretary of the General Commission on UM Men in 2005. Ross Brightwell, 69, former president of Eastern Pennsylvania Conference UM Men, died in March; Jim Green, 78, former president of Virginia Conference UM Men, died in September. Stan England, 83, former president of the National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men, died in October, and Walter Lee Smith, 85, former district president of UM Men in the Rio-Texas Conference died in November.