Gil Hanke (left), top staff executive of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, joins Bishop James Swanson (center), president, and Bishop Thomas Bickerton, vice president, following the election of officers.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––The United Methodist agency responsible for ministry to men held its organizational meeting for the 2013-2016 quadrennium, elected officers, and set plans for a 2013 national gathering.
The 20-member General Commission on United Methodist Men, meeting Sept. 6-9, elected Mississippi Area Bishop James Swanson, president, and Pittsburgh Area Bishop Thomas Bickerton, vice president.
Meeting at the agency’s office on Music Row in Nashville, the group set plans for the 11th National Gathering to be held July 12-14 at Belmont University in Nashville.
Speakers for the event, held once every four years, include: Don Davis, former NFL football player now serving as regional director of the NFL Players Association; David Delk, president of Orlando, Fla.-based Man in the Mirror Ministries; Bishop Swanson, elected to the episcopacy in 2004 and appointed to the Holston Area prior to his recent move to the Mississippi Area; and the Rev. Shane Bishop, pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Fairview Heights, Ill., a church that increased the number of members from 200 in 2009 to 1,000 in 2012.
During planning sessions, the group established 18 workshops for the national gathering.
Participants will also engage in bagging 40,000 pounds of produce for Nashville area food banks, building hand carts for people in African nations who have lost the use of their legs; and preparing ingredients for dehydrated food packages for emergency situations.
The theme of the event will be “From the Inside Out,” words from a song performed on a CD “Into the Light” by Phil Stacey, one of the five finalists on season six of the American Idol television show. The Nashville public will be invited to his concert on Saturday evening.
Price for the registration and meals at the three-day event was set at $239 for people who register before March 1 and $299 after that date. Housing costs vary.
Other officers elected supporting men’s ministry include: the Rev. Greg Godwin, Athens, W.Va., commission secretary; Lee Donley, Oxford, Mich., treasurer of the commission; the Rev. Ed Enstine, chair of the Men’s Ministry Committee; Dr. John Bright Cage, Nashville, chair of the Scouting Committee; Dan Ramsey, Houston, Texas, president of the National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men and chair of the Personnel Committee; Ed Shytle, Ashland, Ky., president of the United Methodist Men Foundation; and LW Smith, chairman of the Strength for Service Committee.
Strength for Service
The commission celebrated the distribution of 460,000 copies of Strength for Service to God and Country, an expanded World War II book of daily devotions. As the result of gifts totaling $1.8 million, most of the books have been given for free to U.S. service men and women.
The commission learned that the committee is now in the process of forming a non-denominational 501(c)3 non-profit corporation that will ensure the continual printing of the historic book and the January 2013 launch of Strength for Service to God and Community, a similar book of daily devotions for fire fighters, police officers and other first responders.
Scouting and Men’s Ministry specialists
The commission noted the recruitment and training of 184 scouting ministry specialists and 34 men’s ministry specialists.
These volunteers help neighboring churches establish and expand scouting units and develop ministries that reach men who do not belong to any church.
Some 550,000 Scouts and other members of youth-serving agencies meet in United Methodist churches, and 50 percent of them belong to families that do not belong to any faith community. Scouting ministry specialists help churches understand how these programs can help churches minister to their communities and reach families with the good news of Jesus Christ.
While many churches have small groups of men who meet for meals and brief programs, men’s ministry specialists help churches find ways to reach men who don’t belong to any church and provide spiritual-growth opportunities and materials for men who are church members.
In other business, the commission:
• Received an update on the effort to raise $34,000 for an 18-passenger bus to expand the ministries of the Vietnam United Methodist Church (Advance Number 14932A);
• Noted that the amount of World Service monies in the 2013-2016 quadrennium will be reduced by 11 percent, but the commission is not planning any staff reductions. “Our God is a God of abundance,” said Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the commission. At present, 25 percent of the agency budget comes from World Service;
• Received an expression of appreciation from Narciso Managuelod, representative of the United Methodists from the Philippines, for sending the Rev. Mark Lubbock to train leaders of United Methodist Men and for a gift of $1,700 to help establish two medical and dental missions for 300 families affected by a typhoon. Members of the agency took up a collection to provide relief goods for 500 families flooded by a week-long monsoon rain. A medical mission is also set for November in Calumpit, Bulacan;
• Received greeting from leaders of United Methodists in Estonia from Tarmo Lilleoja, a new member of the commission;
• Learned that in 2011, United Methodist Men led 2,067 volunteers into farmer’s fields to pick up 2.55 million servings of surplus food for hungry Americans. The men provide another 8.4 million servings of fresh produce through Society of St. Andrew potato projects;
• Learned that through a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the agency launched efforts in 18 annual conferences to recruit adults who will mentor children of incarcerated children. To date, 57 adults have been matched with children; and
• Continued support of the Upper Room Prayer Line which receives an average of 668 calls each day. That ministry is expanded by 155 remote line locations, and 235 covenant prayer groups. There are prayer advocates in each annual conference, and last spring these volunteers brought in $20,000 for the ministry; and
• Created an United Methodist Men Foundation endowment fund for scouting within the United Methodist Church Foundation