From your partners in men’s ministry
A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff
to leaders of United Methodist Men
By Bishop James King
What do you think of when you see or hear the letters LA? I usually think of Los Angeles the city or the Dodgers in baseball or the Lakers in Basketball. In this instance, I am using the initials as an abbreviation for Loving Accountability.
My father owned a dry cleaning business. As a young boy, I loved watching cartoons and cowboy stories on Saturday mornings and playing ball in the backyard or running off with playmates to get in someone’s pond or riding bicycles on what we called the back road in my small hometown.
My father, who had prayed for my birth, also wanted me to learn how to work and be responsible. Some of my playmates either did not have a father at home or those who did, did not have one like mine. Dad placed a high value on hard work and being responsible and so he pulled me from play and insisted that I work at the dry cleaners.
Somewhere between the energy from childhood, the sugar from Nehi sodas and cookies from Mr. Pal’s grocery store, it was a challenge for me to focus on one job.
One of my responsibilities at the cleaners was maintaining the fire in the boiler that produced steam for pressing clothes. “Firing the boiler” (we called it) required periodic checking to keep the fire maintaining the water at the right temperature to keep the steam from becoming too weak.
Sometimes my playmates would come to the cleaners to play ball with me, or I would go down to the playground to play with them. I would then get caught up in the fun of the moment and forget about firing the boiler.
It didn’t take Daddy long to figure out I had neglected my responsibilities because the steam would dissipate and he could not press the clothes. In such instances, he would get me from the playground and remind me that I had abandoned my responsibilities.
Yes, he wanted me to play and have fun, but he also wanted me to be responsible; when I was not, he had a way or reminding me that was not easy to forget.
Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
The point is my father loved me dearly, but he also held me accountable. He was helping me appreciate the importance of discipline and responsibility that enabled me to follow through. Without follow through, our agreement or covenant with another is broken and so is the path to being productive.
Let’s consider love. Love is the essence of the Kingdom of God. God is spirit and the character of God is love. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, that unless love is our primary goal we have left out the most essential part of life. As the song goes, “Love makes the world go round.”
As a man engaged in men’s ministry I am asking you to wear –– at all times –– love as your Christian identity badge. Jesus said: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35).
All people want to be loved and they should be. Love is the experience that belongs to us as children of God. People who do not show love toward others probably have missed this experience and understanding in their own lives. Often some negative experience is waiting to be converted or replaced by a greater experience called love. Repentance is an experience that belongs to human family.
Just as “L” is for love; “A” is for accountability. Accountability helps us stay connected to our goals. It keeps us tied to our covenant. It has been said that what gets measured gets done. Loving accountability means that we are to remind each other of our covenant to God. We should keep in mind that the foundation for holding each other accountable is rooted in love in order that we might participate fully in expanding the kingdom of God.
Men of God while it is very important to be accountable, no system of measurement will ever be more important than our love for God and each other. In fact, it is because of our love for God that we commit to work together in fellowship with one another. Therefore, if a brother falls down or falls back, let’s pick him up and pray him up and when we do we will be carving into our hearts another acronym LA.
Remember, God’s will for us is good. We must do the rest.
Bishop James King, president
General Commission on UM Men
A list of ten
By Gil Hanke
At the National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men, I was inducted as the new general secretary. I was asked to say a few words, and I talked for a few minutes about my leadership style. I told them, I was not sure what they expected, but here are 10 things from me that they can count on. A video clip of part of this is on the commission website, but here is the list:
- I will begin every day in the Bible and reading the Upper Room Disciplines, I invite you to join me. Knowing you are doing that will keep me on track. Knowing I am doing it might keep you on track.
- I was brought up a Methodist, but I could have changed if I wanted to…I did not, I will not. Wesleyan theology, when expressed by our membership will revive the UMC. Wesley talked of a balance between spiritual holiness and social holiness. The notion that we grow in our spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, worship, study of the scriptures) so that we can act in the world, that Christian Action. I will strive for that balance, and I invite you to do the same.
- I am in a small accountability group that meets every week, I hope you are too.
- I support this ministry with my time, talent, gifts, service and witness, I hope you will too. That ministry includes the Upper Room prayer ministries, the Society of St. Andrew, scouting, and UMCOR.
- I will continue to do mission projects in this community and around the world; I hope you will do that as well in person or by gifting someone else to go in your place.
- The church that holds my membership is a chartered UM Men unit. I will see that it always is, even if I have to pay for it myself. I am sure you feel the same way.
- I am a legacy builder, because I believe that is a way to build this ministry, so I ask you to join me. You can’t sell something you won’t buy.
- I carry a copy of Strength for Service for God and Country every time I travel. God usually makes His plan plain to me as to whom I will give it. I hope you will buy those devotional books so you can give them away.
- I will balance my work with my family, I hope you will too.
- I will be open to new ways of serving Him; I hope you will join me in the great adventure God has prepared for us.
During that meeting we had over 100 Upper Room Disciplines available, and they sold out immediately. For more information about the book, contact Sherry Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org .
We are off to a great start. Please make sure your church and other churches in your area have current charters. That is a vital link between the commission and the local church.
Call, write, or email me if I can help you in your men’s ministry. Let us hold each other accountable for this wonderful walk together.
Striving to be His servant,
Gilbert C. Hanke
General Secretary, GCUMM
By John Dowell
They came all across the nation, from New England to the California coast. UM Men came to Nashville for our annual national meeting. They came to learn, to become better informed, to re-kindle old friendships and make new ones.
Conference presidents, prayer advocates, foundation board members and other leaders of the National Association of Conference Presidents came together to celebrate a "new day" of men's ministry in the UMC.
Some arrived Wednesday for the UM Men Foundation board meeting. During our time together a sense of unity and dedication flowed throughout our meeting that had not been experienced for some time. This seemed to set the stage for the next 3 1/2 days.
Thursday afternoon we were greeted by our new general secretary, Gil Hanke. He was installed as our third top executive, and there were "terms of endearment" expressed after he gave his acceptance speech. The Rev. Dr. Joe Harris, former top executive, expressed his appreciation at the election of Gil and shared his belief in a bright future the UM Men will experience under his leadership. Old friends from the past joined us to be part of this historic occasion; including Harold Batiste, Jr., past national president, and Allen Brown and Roy Lifsey, leaders from the days before the general commission was established.
Next on our agenda was a spiritual focus, a time of worship, prayer and music presented by the prayer advocates, led by George Houle.
Thursday evening was devoted to an informative time of questions conference presidents have about the commission. This began the training phase of our meeting.
Friday morning began with the new training program from the commission called "Understanding Men's Ministry." It includes a workbook, a CD and a textbook, "No Man Left Behind." Contact the commission for additional information and ordering instructions.
We moved into the program describing the Leader Learning Development Center. This may be the vehicle that will change the training of ministry to men in the UMC. It will enable you to go on line to get whatever men's ministry training material needed. You can receive training in how to start a UM Men unit in the local church or you may receive training as a local church, district and conference president. The potential is unlimited. More information will be forthcoming.
Men received training in electronic communications and how to host events. Presentations were made on Wesley Building Brothers, Letters from Dad, and the Society of St. Andrew.
One huge change, I insisted on, was the conference presidents and the prayer advocates joining together for the entire meeting. In the past these groups were separated during the NACP meetings. The coming together was well received by both groups and will continue.
Evaluation sheets reflected a high level of enthusiasm:
- “This is my fifth and best overall NACP meeting.”
- “We had the best presentation I have ever experienced!”
- “Good flow of information.”
- “Meeting was handled punctually and with good humor. It was informative productive and spiritual!”
- “The new stuff was exciting! Thanks for including the prayer advocates.”
This entire NACP meeting was videotaped by UM Communications and is presently being edited. Announcements of its availability will be forthcoming.
Please believe me when I say a "new day" has arrived and truly our best days are before us.
Grace and Peace,
John Dowell, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men
NACP and Korea
By Larry Malone
The training offered at the spring NACP meeting was the best ever! We are entering a new era, where much of our learning/training will be offered online. This changes what we can do when we meet. Our time together can be spent upon relationships, renewal, connection, trust and team building. This will greatly strengthen us for the work to which God calls us.
At the invitation of Manny Managuelod, a board member of the General Commission on UM Men, I attended the first biennial congress of the UM Men Philippines (UMMP). The March 26-27 gathering was attended by several hundred men from a wide area, around the theme of “spiritual transformation of men and meeting the challenges of social responsibility.” Bishop Rudolfo Alfonso Juan and Bishop Leo Soriano were featured speakers, and several important lectures were offered. There was great interest in resources that can be used to help men grow spiritually. A UMMP team will be formed to review and adapt men’s resources for use in the region.
Plans are underway to establish operations for Stop Hunger Now, our UM Men international hunger partner, in the Philippines. The dehydrated food packet could be a response to hunger needs in the Philippines and a disaster relief storehouse could serve all of Southeast Asia. A significant love offering was taken as a sign of UMMP commitment. A detailed report with photos is posted as an electronic resource on the commission website (www.gcumm.org).
Larry Malone, director of men’s ministries
General Commission on United Methodist Men
New (Holy) Spirit Reigns
By Larry Coppock
Recently, our 10-member commission staff enjoyed the opportunity to assist –– as we do each and every year –– the UM Men Foundation (UMMF) and the NACP at their annual March meetings. This support takes many forms including ex-officio service on boards, ministry presentations, resource material, and an array of logistical items. These meetings parlay into long days and even the best-rested and seasoned individuals are challenged by the schedule.
These two affiliate partners provide value to the commission in seeking to make disciples for Jesus Christ: the foundation –– in the form of funding support to our Office of Scouting Ministry, the Upper Room Prayer Line, and men’s ministries; and, NACP –– one way in which Christ reaches out through the connectional structure.
Having attended these meetings for almost 13 years, I felt the Holy Spirit move within our leaders and within the vast array of meetings and presentations as never before. I witnessed a newfound cooperative spirit and attitude of prayer and servant leadership combined with a true sense of humility and confidence that only the Holy Spirit can produce among men.
Please be in prayer for our team of leaders –– Gil Hanke, new general secretary, Carl Young, UMMF president, John Dowell, NACP president, and Bishop James King, GCUMM president –– as they guide us with a renewed sense of optimism and hope. May we support them by keeping our hearts afire for service as we navigate the challenging and untested waters before us together, always seeking God’s wisdom and with our eyes firmly focused on the cross.
Let us be guided in our journey by our faith as we move forward. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.”
Larry Coppock, national director
Scouting Ministries and director, Strength for Service Publication Fund
General Commission on UM Men
By Bari Eason
I am ten months into my position with the commission. It has been a blessed time of hard work, new friendships and great fellowship. It has been a time for new ideas, new leadership and a new vision of men’s ministry for the UMC.
What I have observed through my time here, more than anything else, is that all new ideas, dreams and discussions are truly rooted in prayer. The God I love and serve is included in all we do on a daily basis. For that, I am thankful!
A few weeks ago we had the annual NACP meeting here in Nashville. It was a wonderful gathering of conference leaders from around the country. During the week, our prayer advocates were in a room praying for us. After my presentation to the men, one of the leaders recommended that the group hold a special prayer time for me. It is so powerful to be held up in prayer by a group of prayer warriors.
With that in mind, I ask that you, too, remember the mission of my office as you pray this week. The development office is new, and this is the first time the commission has presented the Circuit Riders Society. My specific goal is to get 100 men to join the society for 2010. We already have many who have signed up, but we have many more to go. The minimum level to participate this year is $1,500.
I thank you in advance for your prayers. I know it works.
Director of marketing and development
General Commission on UM Men