2015 – The year in review
A March 5 snow storm limited the number of conference president attending the National Association of Conference Presidents, but 28 presidents were honored for increasing the number of chartered organizations in their annual conferences. The Society of St. Andrew honored Virginia Conference as the top contributor to the hunger ministries with a gift of $21,713; Detroit Conference finished a close second with $20,351 given to the Meals for Millions Fund.
During the meeting conference presidents and prayer advocates delivered copies of Strength for Service to God and Community to local fire fighters. Some 100 men stayed after the three-day conference for extra training on “Understanding Men’s Ministry.”
The UM Men organization of Christ of the Hills UMC of Hot Springs Village, Ark., was named the top local church ministry in 2015. Second place went to UM Men of Wylie (Texas) UMC; third place to men of Acton UMC in Granbury, Texas; fourth place to UM Men of Chandler (Okla.) UMC and the fifth place trophy was awarded to UM Men of Natchitoches (La.) UMC. The Rockford District of Illinois was named the top district and South Carolina took away the top award for annual conference ministries.
Ministries in other nations
In February, Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, visited UM men in Maputo, Mozambique, while attending a meeting of Connectional Ministries.
Ty LaValley, a scouting ministry specialist began a ministry with Scouts in Cote D’Ivoire. During his time there he introduced a new scouting award to the 18,000 children and youth enrolled in UM Schools in the West African nation. Because of deteriorating health, Ty was forced to return to the states in November.
In December, Hanke again led a team to provide hearing aids to children and youth in Haiti.
There are 10,503 scouting units serving 331,000 young people in 6,500 UM congregations. They are supported by 303 scouting ministry specialists.
UM churches presented 5,716 PRAY (Programs of Religious Activities with Youth) awards to young people in their churches or in scouting units related to their churches.
UM Men helped provide 10,000 copies of New Testaments to Scouts at four high adventure centers. In 2015, the UM Scouting Office secured the support of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, the Churches of Christ for Scouting, the Catholic Committee for Scouting and the National Lutheran Association on Scouting to produce and distribute 20,00 copies of the New Testaments for Scouts at four high-adventure sites.
Men target domestic violence
In 2015, leaders of UM Men agreed to increase efforts to reduce the number of incidents of domestic violence. Gil Hanke joined other agency executives in a 2014 meeting at the White House calling attention to sexual violence following a string of sexual attacks on young women on college campuses. Western North Carolina Conference launched “Men against Domestic Violence.”
Strength for Service
The commission created an 11-member non-denominational Strength for Service board to assume direction of ministries to members of the U.S. Armed Forces through the 73-year old Strength for Service to God and Country book of daily devotions and ministries to police officers, fire fighters and other first responders through the two-year old Strength for Service to God and Community. A 12th member of the board will be added in 2016.
The board is supported by an advisory committee and during the year, General Charles Krulak, former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed to serve on that committee
Home Depot agreed to provide a percentage of their sales to UM churches to the Strength for Service ministry. In 2015, more than 1,000 churches spent $1.75 million at Home Depot stores. Those purchases will provide $53,000 to the ministry.
The ministry rushed books to various cities in the U.S. where first responders were facing difficult situations. For example, they sent 200 copies of the book following the killing of eight students and one professor in Roseburg, Ore.
The group continued the practice of mailing copies to military chaplains to provide books for their troops.
Hundreds of local churches raised funds to present the books to first responders in their communities For example, Northside UMC and Aldersgate UMC in Jackson, Tenn., gave 275 books to members of the Madison County Sheriff Department and the Jackson Police Department.
During the 2015 meeting of conference presidents, Gil Hanke challenged them to create small groups that would follow a game plan first designed by John Wesley. Groups were invited to meet via the Internet to discuss The Class Meeting, a book by Kevin Watson.
Groups that began with a study of the book now continue as they follow the principles in the book.
Disciple Bible Outreach
Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries, an effort to teach Disciple Bible study in state prisons, was active in North Carolina Virginia Tennessee Louisiana and Illinois. During the year, the ministry was also introduced into two new states, Arkansas and Texas. Gil Hanke is on the national board of directors and other leaders of UM Men are active in every state.
Thousands of ministries
During the year, thousands of units of UM Men engaged in ministries to their communities. There is no way we could include them all.
- The Crossroad District of UM Men provided a $14,500 van to transport veterans to VA hospitals in upstate New. York.
- Men of Hollypark UMC in Gardena, Calif., hosted a cancer prevention event.
- Men of St. Mark UMC in Wichita, Kans., took boys and girls fishing.
- Men of John Wesley UMC in Falmouth, Mass., gave away 150 bikes to neighborhood youth.
- South Carolina Conference conducted five teaching events.
- The Baton Rouge (La.) District honored 86 district pastors.
- Chesterton, Ind., men presented 165 merit badges to Scouts.
- Men of Windsor UMC in Columbia, S.C. painted and made structural repairs of a home for troubled women;
- Men of Natchitoches, La., packed 20,000 Stop Hunger Now meals.
- Men of Auburn, N.Y., packed 40,000 pounds of potatoes for local food banks.
- Men of Centreville, Md., built a set of six swings for a UM camp.
- Men of Keezletown, Va., raised nearly $4,000 for a Salvation Army shelter.
- Men of Greensboro, N.C., raised $1,400 to feed the hungry.
- Prairie View UMC in Richland, Iowa, distributed 30,000 pounds of potatoes to 37 community service groups.
- Men of Oak Grove UMC in Decatur, Ga., raised $27,500 for 34 mission efforts.
- Men of First UMC in Heber Springs, Ark., organized a fishing retreat for 67 veterans in VA hospitals.
- Men of Stonebridge UMC in McKinney, Texas, raised $10,000 for a homeless shelter.
- Men in the Northeast District of Florida Conference formed “Tool Belts United” to repair district churches.
- Men of Catalina UMC in Tucson provide monthly meals for 100 men at a men’s shelter.
- Men of Five Springs UMC in Dalton, Ga., built a Habitat House and home for a disabled woman.
- Mandarin UMC in Jacksonville, Fla., presented 51 PRAY Awards.
- Men of Sibley, La., build 25 handicap ramps each year.
- Men of the Austin (Texas) District operate a clothes closet that has served 20,000 people since it opened in 1999.
- Each month, Arlington Heights UMC in Fort Worth, sends a food truck to being dinners to 30 homeless veterans.
During 2015, UM Men lost some faithful leaders.
Del Ketcham, 76, former staff member of the commission died April 29 following a five-month battle with lung cancer. Del served as Hunger Relief Advocate in the Nashville office of the commission from 2001 to 2007.
Harold Batiste Jr., 88, former president of the National Association of Conference President and a member of the first General Commission on UM Men, died June 15. He was elected chair of the Personnel Committee and was instrumental in hiring the Rev. Dr. Joe Harris as the first general secretary.
Dean Hollomon, 81, former president of the Oregon-Idaho Conference of UM Men and former president of the Western Jurisdiction of UM Men died August 7. Dean was active in UM Men for 18 years.
Robert L. Schou, 87, former vice president of the Central Area of the Northern Illinois Conference and Rockford District UM Men, died, Oct. 11.