ยท Leader Letters

From your partners in men’s ministry

A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff

to leaders of United Methodist Men


Bringing you up to date

By Gil Hanke

It has been a busy summer but one with great experiences.

I have just returned from an extended trip to Virginia and Maryland. While there I got to speak in the Winchester (Va.) District and in the Baltimore Washington Conference. In Virginia, I also was able to hear Dan Schaffer’s presentation on Wesleyan Building Brothers, and I worked at the BSA Jamboree with Larry Coppock. It was a productive and exciting time, and I expect it will bear much fruit.

This trip (and the welcome I received) is quite a contrast from reports I have read from consultant groups analyzing the UMC. Two groups report that agencies are not in touch with the local churches or with annual conferences. I hope that is not your current experience with the General Commission on UM Men. If it is, I want to know about it and how we can change and improve; if it is not, please respond to the Call to Action Steering Team as requested in the article “Agencies receive poor grades on mission” http://www.umc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=lwL4KnN1LtH&b=2789393&ct=8541727

 We recently conducted an on-line survey to provide our consumers an opportunity to evaluate our agency. More than 400 detailed responses provide great direction.

As an example, responders raised concern about difficulties in ordering materials and clothing from our website. That has been corrected, and I have used the revised site with ease and success. We also received input on some of our brochures, needed materials and suggestions for additions to our ministry. I welcome this two-way communication, as we are here to serve you and this great church.

I want to share with you my perception of the BSA Jamboree. It was amazing! With somewhere around 48,000 folks, plus visitors; this was a very big deal. The quality of the young men there was inspiring. As we hurried to get Bibles, special patches, and worship bulletins handed out to some 5,500 participants in our August 1 worship service, Scouts and their leaders spontaneously rose to their feet to help. Their response to Bishop Bickerton’s sermon literally saved lives as they raised more than $12,400 to end malaria.

All the efforts GCUMM and the UM Men Foundation have done to keep scouting a high priority in the UMC are well worth the investment. Where I stood, I knew I was looking at future Christian leaders –– boys that would be better fathers and better husbands because of this life-changing experience. I saw 18 UM chaplains, and two dozen other UM men volunteer to serve in a wide variety of places. I met Scoutmasters and other leaders who were appreciative of our decades of support to this great experience.

In just three years we will meet again at a new site currently being constructed in West Virginia. How is the scouting program at your church? How can the commission help in your area? I’ll look forward to meeting the Scouts from your church at the next jamboree.

Please stay in touch; I want us to learn from each other how to better serve this great church.



Gil Hanke, general secretary

General Commission on UM Men



Encourage a friend

By John Dowell

Often a letter or e-mail can make a huge difference to someone experiencing a crisis in his or her life. Let’s look at how a historic letter made a difference in one man’s life as he was striving to make the world a better place.

In 1791, William Wilberforce, a member of the British Parliament, was facing yet another discouraging defeat in his attempt to abolish the slave trade in Great Britain. A letter from John Wesley came to be a continuing source of strength for the rest of the politician’s life:

 London, February 26, 1791

 Dear Sir:

Unless the divine power has raised you up... I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise, in opposing that execrable villainy, which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But, if God be for you, who can be against you. Are all of them stronger than God? O be not weary in well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of His might, till even American slavery [the vilest that ever saw the sun] shall vanish away before it.

 . . . That He who has guided you from your youth up, may continue to strengthen you in this and all things, is the prayer of

 Your affectionate servant,

 J. Wesley

Four days after writing that letter, Wesley was dead and once again Wilberforce was defeated when a vote on slavery was taken in Parliament.

During the following years Wilberforce faced additional disappointments, and he was often tempted to give up the fight. He was vilified in published articles and victimized in vicious whispering campaigns. Opponents arranged for him to be challenged to a duel and even attempted to kill him.

Each time he became discouraged, Wilberforce returned to Wesley’s letter. Each time he read it, it was like the first time. Never did it fail to encourage and strengthen him.

In 1807, Parliament passed legislation that abolished slave trade in the British Empire, but not slavery itself. Slavery was finally abolished in 1833 by the Slavery Abolition Act, freeing some 800,000 slaves.

Wilberforce died Aug. 5, 1833, just three days after hearing that the passage of the abolition act was assured.

While he had devoted his entire life and political career to this end, he might not have prevailed had it not been for the encouragement of his friends who strengthened him in the Lord.

Can you remember a time when someone encouraged you to remain faithful to your appointed task? If so, write him a note expressing your appreciation. Before mailing, spend a few minutes asking God to bless him.

What about your friends? Are any of them discouraged and facing hardships? In addition to your prayers for them, look for ways to encourage them. Remember the ways in which others have strengthened you and follow their examples.

God blesses our efforts in encouraging others.

 John Dowell

NACP President

United Methodist Men



BSA’s 100th Anniversary Jamboree

By Larry Coppock

The BSA National Scout Jamboree, held July 26-Aug.4 at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., was a huge success. Over 48,000 Boy Scouts and leaders attended.

This year the BSA celebrates 100 years of service to the nation. Chartered by Congress in 1916, it is the foremost leadership organization for boys in the world. This year also marked the last jamboree to be held at the Virginia military installation.

The UMC, the second largest sponsor of troops, should be very proud of the role played by clergy and laypersons at the jamboree. Eighteen pastors served as chaplains –– 15 in sub-camps and 3 at BSA headquarters. Special thanks are extended to the Rev Greg Godwin for coordinating chaplain placement and the Rev. Don Scandrol for coordinating the worship service. Additionally, 11 volunteers served on the scouting ministry exhibit staff.

Nothing But Nets, the BSA’s first international “Good Turn” project, was highlighted throughout the jamboree, including arena shows, the UMC scouting ministry exhibit and at the Aug.1 worship service.

One Scout came up to me at the exhibit and told me he had put $30 in the offering plate. He had listened closely to Bishop Thomas Bickerton’s message of how a $10 donation could buy a net and save a life of a family in Africa. In all, almost 5,500 Scouts and leaders responded to Bickerton’s challenge. More than $12,432 was raised and combined with donations received at the exhibit, a check for over $17,000 will be sent to Nothing But Nets.

Each Scout and leader also received a New Testament along with the commemorative BSA-UMC-Nothing But Nets patch. Our goal was to get the message out to Scouts and leaders and facilitate a flurry of Scout and troop service projects aimed at achieving the goal of ridding malaria in Africa by 2015.The jamboree offered a perfect venue.

Praise God!


Larry Coppock, national director

Scouting Ministries and director, Strength for Service Publication Fund

General Commission on UM Men




Louisiana Methodist Men got it right

By Bari Watson

I have been blessed to travel to various cities over the past year to meet with UM men. I typically discuss the outreach, leadership training and ministry projects of UM Men. I also ask for financial support.

Perhaps the most successful trip to date happened in Louisiana last month.

During the March meeting of the National Association of Conference Presidents, I was approached by Ron Sarver, Joe Kelley and Gard Wayt, all from Louisiana. They said they would each like to host gatherings in their respective cities, and they set up events for me to speak about UM Men. I accepted their proposal and we began planning the dates.

On July 6, I spoke in Lafayette to a group organized by Ron (Joe also helped host the event). It was a spectacular evening and I got to speak about the Men’s Ministry Program. The following day I was in Shreveport, speaking to a group organized by Gard. I had a wonderful time meeting each person at that luncheon. The men were gracious enough to listen to my presentation and respond financially.

That two-day trip produced six new members of the Circuit Riders Society as well as almost $10,000 for the commission.

I need other UM Men, like Ron, Joe and Gard, to step up and arrange these types of opportunities for me to speak and ask for financial support.

Are you able to help in your city? If so, I would certainly appreciate the opportunity to talk with you right away.

God Bless!


Bari Watson

Director of marketing and development

General Commission on UM Men



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