First books to be given in Newtown, Connecticut
“I see so much of the bad that goes in a community––sickness, injuries and death––it’s every day––and it piles up on you.”
That’s what Dan Ramsey, a 30-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, told leaders of United Methodist Men attending a February 28-March 3 meeting in Nashville.
Ramsey, president of the National Association of Conference Presidents (NACP) of United Methodist Men, underscored the importance of providing a spiritual resource for police officers, fire fighters and other first responders.
During a Feb. 28 meeting, the executive committee of NACP provided $1,500 to provide 250 copies of Strength for Service to God and Community to first responders in Newtown, Conn., site of the Dec. 14 killing of 28 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The book will be presented sometime in the next few weeks.
The group also learned that 1,700 first responders in the Nashville area will also receive copies of the pocket-size book as the result of a $10,000 gift from another benefactor.
The new book is patterned after Strength for Service to God and Country, a book of daily devotions first published in 1943 for World War II troops. One million copies of the Methodist Publishing House publication were given out between 1943 and 1954. The book was discontinued after the Korean War.
Some 12 years ago, United Methodist Men supported efforts to republish the book with additional devotions. A total of 460,000 copies of the second edition have been distributed, primarily to members of the Armed Services.
In speaking to the need for a book for first responders, Ramsey said, “First responders see the hurt––more so than the average person. I never took it home. My wife and kids couldn’t grasp the reality of what happens on the street. If you stay in that profession for years, it piles up. This book gives me and other first responders the opportunity to hear stories that they can relate to and shows how God can help them through those circumstances.”
UM Men have given birth to a non-denomination non-profit Strength for Service organization that will assume responsibility for distributing the historic book for US troops and the new book for first responders. The new organization will also consider the possibility of publishing other books in the future.
National Gathering of UM Men
One hundred and twenty two presidents of annual conference UM Men organizations, prayer advocates, and members of a foundation supporting scouting and men’s ministry, also set plans to recruit men to attend the July 12-14, 2013, National Gathering of UM Men in Nashville.
Held once every four years, speakers include the Rev. Shane Bishop, pastor of rapidly growing Christ United Methodist Church in Fairview Heights, Ill.; Don Davis, former defensive player for the Super Bowl winning New England Patriots; Mississippi Area Bishop James Swanson, president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men; and David Delk, president of Man in the Mirror.
The event will include three on-campus service projects where men will build hand-crank carts for people in African nations who cannot walk, pack 100,000 plastic bags of dehydrated food for emergency situations, and sack produce for homeless shelters and food pantries in the Nashville area.
During the three-day conference men may participate in 2 of 18 seminars, and attend a concert by Phil Stacey, a finalist in the American Idol television show. “From the Inside Out,” the theme of the 3-day gathering, comes from one of Stacey’s hit songs. The song asks Christ to change us from the inside out.
Greetings from Bishop Swanson
On March 1, the men received greetings by skype from Bishop Swanson. “I’m proud to be president of the General Commission on UM Men,” said the bishop. “I couldn’t be in a better ministry for as men go, so goes our church. I’ve seen it happen. When you win a man to Christ you have an 85 percent chance of winning the family. You may also impact the grandchildren and the entire community.” He made a special effort to say that being a strong advocate of men’s ministry did not in any way mean he was not supporting women.
In other business
• Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the commission announced that an effort by UM Men to support the mission work of the UMC in Vietnam resulting in additional gifts totaling $127,900. Their goal was to provide a 16-passenger bus for the growing church. His announcement, “We bought the bus!” received loud applause.
• Men received expressions of appreciation from the Upper Room Prayer Ministries for financial gifts totaling $25,000 in 2012. Prayer advocates brought a total of $10,000 to the 2013 meeting. Migdiel Perez, manager of the prayer line, reported that the center received a total of 90,758 prayer requests in the last six months of 2012 (483 per day). He honored John Croft, president of Alabama West Florida Conference and Chuck Christian, prayer advocate, for raising $3,675 for the ministry, the highest total in the nation.
• The assembly celebrated the lives of four leaders of UM Men who died in the past 12 months: Dale Waymire, former president of the UM Men Foundation and the NACP; Bud Sears, president of North Georgia Conference UM Men; Gene Winland, president of Florida Annual Conference and Bill Cook, president of Oregon-Idaho Conference UM Men.
• The UM Men Foundation, an organization established in 1982 to provide financial support for scouting, reported assets totaling $2.24 million. The foundation also supports the Upper Room Prayer Line, provides New Testaments for Boy Scouts, and supports men’s ministry specialists. The board reelected Ed Shytle, president of the foundation; Ron Sarver, vice president; Dan Henry, secretary; and Gard Wayt, treasurer.
• A total of 745 people have been named fellows in the John Wesley Society, the highest honor bestowed on an individual after receiving gifts totaling $1,000 for men’s ministry. A dinner honoring recipients of the award will be held during the National Gathering of UM Men in July.
• Greg Vaughn, president of Letters from Dad, greeted the men via skype. The ministry helps men write letters to their loved ones. A benefactor has enabled the nine-year-old ministry to offer free materials valued at $400 each to 100 UM congregations. Monte Strother, national director of the program, said churches receiving the free gift were suspicious, and asked UM Men to let the churches know this was a great gift for a life-changing program and not a scam.
• Chuck Jones, president of the 388-member National Association of Scouters, said the group plans to provide 8,000 New Testaments for Scouts attending the Philmont Scout Camp and 1,000 for Scouts at Northern Tier Canoe Base and 1,000 for Scouts at the Florida Sea Base. The group will celebrate its 30th anniversary at a luncheon during the National Gathering.
• The association commissioned Leo Scholl, Allen Dunham, James A. Frazier, Mike Woodham, and Craig E. Judd as men’s ministry specialists. Scholl, Woodham and Judd were commissioned in absentia. They join 36 other men who help local churches expand their ministry to men.
• Larry Coppock, director of scouting ministry, reported that there are now 205 scouting ministry specialists helping neighboring churches expand their ministries through youth-serving organizations. The UMC is the second largest sponsor of the Boy Scouts with 363,876 Scouts in 10,868 units chartered by 6,700 UM churches.
• Wade Mays, national director of Meals for Millions with the Society of St. Andrew, honored Indiana Conference for giving the highest amount of money to the society in 2013. The conference provided a whopping $26,735 to provide meals for hungry people across the nation. Northern Illinois Conference was the second highest giver and the winner of the “Bud the Spud Award” for the highest percentage increase over the previous year with gifts totaling $22,715. During 2012, UM Men gave a total of $179,800 to Meals for Millions and participated in countless gleaning projects and potato drops.