Commission holds first on-line meeting
All previous meetings of the General Commission on UM Men had a Nashville dateline as meetings were held in their national office on Music Row.
For the first time, the 2020 meeting has no dateline.
Nearly all 28 participants in the September 26 meeting remained in their homes across 16 time zones from the U.S. to the Philippines. All documents were posted on-line and some staff reports were on-line videos.
Bishop James Swanson, president of the commission, chaired the two and one-half -hour virtual event.
Board members agreed to hold a special session prior to Aug. 29-Sept.7, 2201 postponed General Conference.
This meeting would include current members, at-large members proposed by the Nominating Committee and bishops nominated by the Council of Bishops. At that time, current members could elect nominated people and review legislation to come before General Conference.
The board received audited reports on previous fiscal years and reported that the agency finished 2020 in the black, partially because of $20,000 raised on the October 2020 Give Day.
Hanke describes the funding for the agency as “complex, and unpredictable.”
The commission also established an operating budget for 2021, which plans for a decline in giving to the World Service Fund. Current estimates indicate the fund will only collect between 50 to 60 percent of its budgeted amount. While the commission only receives a tiny fraction of that fund, it still represents 25 percent of the income to the agency.
The commission hopes income in 2020 and 2021 will again be supplemented by the Annual Give Day, an opportunity for people to provide additional support to the ministry. The 2020 Give Day will be held on Oct. 19.
Steve Nailor, president of the UM Foundation, reports the foundation currently has assets totaling $2.4 million. The 39-year-old foundation annually provides $41,000 to the Center for Men’s Ministry and $114.500 to the Center for Scouting Ministries. Nailor is currently working with Scout leaders and conference prayer advocates to ensure the foundation will continue to support these ministries.
Amanda Vogt, chair of the Finance Committee, suggested the board consider sponsoring a virtual 5K fund-raising run.
Men’s Ministry Committee
The Rev. Ben Trammell, chair of the Men’s Ministry Committee, reported on the activities of the Center for Men’s Ministry.
There has been an “exponential increase” in requests for resources during the pandemic, said Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Nashville-based center. “This year, we published three new resources,” said Vance. “The first, Mission Stories from a Reluctant Volunteer by Gil Hanke, is given to those who provide financial support for the commission. The second, Thirty Stops on the Journey, is a 30-day devotional sent to all charter subscribed churches. The third resource is a virtual publication entitled United Methodist Men Pray for Peace with Justice; it is available for anyone to download.”
The commission continues to provide Amending Through Faith, an eight-week study series for men who are passionate about ending violence against women
Scouting Ministry Committee
Phil Howard, chair of the Scouting Ministries Committee, reported on the Scouting Ministry Committee.
The 15-member group agreed to encourage parents and other supporters of scouting to contribute to the foundation, which recently agreed to extend its support through 2024.
The committee also reviewed action taken following the announcement of the bankruptcy of Boy Scout of America. Steven Scheid, director of the center, reports that 53 percent of the staff of the national office, no longer work in the Irving, Texas, office. The bankruptcy does not affect local Scout Councils or churches with Scout units.
Jason Nowland, top staff executive of Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY), told the committee that there was a 31 percent decline in the number of young people receiving PRAY awards in 2020. However, Scheid noted that the UMC only experienced a 5 percent loss in PRAY awards.
North Georgia Annual Conference Scouting Coordinator Chris Karabinos reports 23 people have already registered for the July11-16 training event at Philmont Scout Ranch. The group hopes to increase the number to at least 100 following the cancellation of the 2020 event at the high-adventure camp in northern New Mexico.
In other business, the commission:
- Received a report on men’s ministry in the Philippines from Carlos Manio.
- Learned there are now 39 certified men’s ministry specialists who help churches in their areas find additional ways to minister to men. An increase in the use of Zoom and other on-line tools open ways for a specialist to serve communities far from his home territory.
- Noted a 4 percent increase in the number of EMS and Legacy members in the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. There are now 2,442 EMS members and legacy builders. There are 3,312 chartered organization, an increase of 146 in the same time period.
- Expressed concern about increased incidences of derogatory language against women as found in national political circles and local levels. “Good guys speak out,” said Vance. “Our silence speaks to what we accept.”
- Learned the commission is preparing a 2021 coordinating calendar that will include national, conference, and district events related to men’s and scouting ministries. The agency is considering the possibility of an on-line summit national meeting in February.
- Learned that 354 people attended a virtual Religious Academy for Scouting
- Received a report from Wade Mays, an executive with the Society of St. Andrew. He said there was 102 percent increase in the number of people who are out of work and the number of hungry families doubled in 2020.
- Heard L.W. Smith, chair of Strength for Service Inc., report that 80 percent of the books of daily devotions are now given to first responders.
- Learned of plans for a virtual 3-hour Pan-Methodist Prayer Gathering soon after the commission meeting. Several members remained on-line for that event. See news report here.