Photo: Paul Diehl, former president of Southwest Conference UM Men and a member of the Circuit Rider Society, stands in front of the Sidney Opera House during a 2010 trip to Australia.
AUSTIN, Texas –– Paul Diehl, 69, the former president of UM Men of Southwest Texas Conference, says he joined the Society of Circuit Riders because it provides a “long-term investment in men’s ministries in the UMC.”
The Circuit Rider Society is composed of men who pledge to provide at least $1,500 for men’s ministry annually. “I have benefitted greatly from these ministries and want them to be available for future generations,” said Diehl.
Diehl, a 1964 graduate of Bowling Green (Ohio) State University (BS in chemistry), married Janice (Jan), and went to work for Firestone Tire and Rubber in Akron shortly after graduation. Four years later he was promoted to chief chemist and they moved to Costa Rica.
In 1970, Diehl moved to Costa Mesa, Calif. to become director of development for tire retreading materials for the AMF Voit in Santa Ana, Calif.
Four years later he became technical sales representative for Harwick Chemical Corporation in Pico Rivera, Calif. (now Harwick Standard Distribution Corp). He was promoted to the post of sales manager of the Dallas District in 1977 and vice president and manager of the Memphis (Tenn.) District in 1986.
In 1991, he moved back to Akron as vice president of national accounts and assistant sales manager, and in 1987 he was named a director of the company, a post he held until his retirement in 1998.
Diehl grew up in Tod Avenue Methodist Church where he was active in church school and youth fellowship. During this time he enjoyed attending father/son activities of the UM Men. He says he drifted away from regular attendance while he was in college, but he returned to church in 1972.
As a member of Mesa Verde UMC in Costa Mesa, Calif. he served on several church committees and assisted Jan in teaching a fourth grade Sunday school class. It was in that church that he first attended a few UM Men activities.
While in Plano, Texas in 1979, Diehl and his family attended a Reformed Church in America congregation before transferring their membership to Custer Road UMC in 1981. In that congregation he served several positions and again became active in UM Men. Once again he helped Jan with various teaching assignments.
While living in the Memphis area in 1986, the Diehl family attended St Mark’s UMC in Germantown. There he served on the church council and was active in UM Men. In 1988, the family transferred to Capleville UMC in Memphis where he again served on the church council and was active in men’s ministry. It was there that he also attended his first conference UMM retreat and went on his walk to Emmaus.
In 1991, when Diehl returned to Ohio, the family attended Hudson UMC where he once more held a position on the church council, but he was not active in a UM Men organization.
It was after his 1997 move to Austin that Diehl fully hit his stride as an active UM Men participant. While attending Westlake UMC, Diehl served on numerous committees, as lay leader, a lay member of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference and president of the local UM Men unit. He would later be elected district president and finally conference president (2006-2008).
“Presently I volunteer in a homeless men’s clothes closet operated by the Austin District UM Men, and serve at large on the district and conference UM Men steering committees,” said Diehl.
Belief in men’s ministry
“I believe very strongly in the need for men’s ministries,” said Diehl. “Just as men have their own physical and emotional needs, they have their own spiritual needs. While blended worship (gender and age) is good and necessary, men need a place and way to address their needs in a manner for them.”
Diehl says the Westlake congregation has no “meet-and-eat” organization, but the men engage in Bible study and prayer groups along with other volunteer opportunities. They also utilize UMM resources from district and conference events.
Diehl has been married to his Jan for 47 years. They have three professionally successful adult sons and five grandchildren.
The Circuit Rider Society is composed of a special group of UM Men who are committed to providing a long-term ministry designed to touch the lives of men both within and beyond the local church.
If you are interested in joining Diehl as a member of the society, contact Larry Coppock (firstname.lastname@example.org) (615-620-7261).