By Gil Hanke
On March 10-11, 2020, the Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministry, and I attended a remarkable meeting.
Since joining the staff of the General Commission on UM Men ten years ago, this annual meeting with men who have a position in other denominations similar to mine, is one of my favorites.
At this March meeting, each denominational leader shared materials that work best for men and scouting. We heard about efforts to engage youth to remain active in church in high school, in college, and beyond, and each leader shared successful efforts to bring men and youth to Christ.
We heard a presentation about sex trafficking and reviewed statistics from a “Growing Young” study by the Fuller Institute. We heard from Teen Challenge, a drug rehab program. The Society of St. Andrew told how it feeds thousands of hungry families in the U.S. with food that is about to be wasted.
We had prayer for all our efforts and, at the group’s request, the group offered prayers for Rick and me and for the UMC.
Denominations represented at this meeting included: Disciples of Christ, Episcopal/Anglican, Assemblies of God, International Holiness Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, Evangelical Lutheran, Free Will Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal, Lutheran Men in Mission, and the UMC.
I have served as the shepherd of this group for several years which has been a real joy. A few of these men hold one responsibility for men’s and scouting ministries. Others guide their denomination in several ways. Some are paid with benefits. Others do this work in retirement, or part time. Some are well funded, others, like us, raise a majority of their budgets.
We’ve had many honest and challenging conversations over the last decade, and we have each gained new methods and new materials which are now present within our ministries because we listened and learned during these annual events.
We have never had an argument because we have a shared focus greater than ourselves.
This event was hosted by the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Mo. Our March 9-10, 2021 will be hosted by the Seventh Day Adventists in Columbia, Md.
Gil Hanke, chief executive officer
General Commission on UM Men