Conference presidents of UM Men mull future after 2020 General Conference
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––Two days after a devastating tornado killed 24 people in the Nashville area, 81 participants in the March 5-8 National Association of Conference Presidents met nearby to discuss the future of their ministries after what has been billed a contentious General Conference in May.
“If anyone tells you they know what is going to happen in Minneapolis they are wrong,” said Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on United Methodist Men.
The seven-time delegate to the quadrennial assembly recalled several plans that had gone array, including a 2012 plan that was scrubbed entirely as being unconstitutional. “The last plan that this church passed successfully was a 1968 merger between the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church and even that plan was flawed as it included a separate organization for African Americans. “We don’t do well when it comes to passing plans.”
Hanke is hopeful the assembly will pass legislation creating a U.S. Regional Conference, that will enable U.S. delegates to deal with legislative matters which only concern churches in this nation.
He said, his primary concern is “what happens to the men and youth after that legislative gathering. They will still need to know Jesus.”
“If there is a split, our materials will still be good and we will serve the whole church including an offer to any new expressions.”
Addressing the possible financial impact upon the ministries to men and young people, Hanke said the commission and other general agencies likely will face a reduced amount from the World Service Fund.
Apportionments make up 25% of the agency’s operating budget. UM Men make up the remaining 75% through local church charters, EMS (Every Member Shares in Evangelism, Missions and Spiritual life) membership, Legacy Builders (monthly donors), and support from the UM Men Foundation. The agency also sponsors an annual Give Day, scheduled for Oct. 19. Last year, 225 people contributed a total of $20,400 to support the Office of Men’s Ministries and the Office of Scouting Ministries. Hanke hopes for increased support in 2020.
Hanke also noted outside forces have offered proposals to the 2020 General Conference which would cripple the ministry. He said the commission would lose its effectiveness if it were to be merged with another agency.” At the same time, Hanke assured conference presidents. that the commission has no plans to sell its building.
“If there is a split in the United Methodist Church, it will be a split on paper but not a split in heart, said Bishop James E. Swanson, president of the commission. “If people leave the UMC, they will carry a lot of the what they have experienced in the denomination with them.”
The Rev. Tom Albin, director of spiritual formation and congregational life for the Upper Room, invited the men to be in prayer, as individuals and as a church community, for General Conference delegates, and for discernment. He suggests they use The Upper Room prayer guide: Be Still and Know: 40 Days of Prayer for General Conference.
In other business, the NACP:
- Learned that 13,000 copies of Strength for Service books were distributed in 2019.
- Received a report from Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministries, that Scouting ministries in local churches will not be affected by the bankruptcy of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The number of Scout units in the UMC increased by 377 in 2019. The center is expanding its connection with all youth-serving partners including Girl Scouts of the USA, Camp Fire, Big Brothers Big Sisters and BSA.
- Learned the commission has joined American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children as it continues to find ways to ensure the safety of all youth.
- Honored Northern Illinois for contributing $20,365 to the Society of St. Andrew, a national program committed to feeding hungry people, the highest in the nation. Baltimore-Washington Conference contributed $10,785 and received the “Bud-the-Spud” Award for the higher percentage (67%) increase in giving.
- Heard Bishop Swanson encourage them to focus on the “why” of their activities prior to “what” they will decide to do.
- Learned that in 2019, 197,732 people made 598,371 visits to the Upper Room Prayer Wall website and the Great Plains Annual Conference was honored as the top giving unit to the ministry ($2,000).
- Heard Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministry, review activities and materials provided by the center, and he underscored the importance of developing relationships with all men to accomplish the mission of UM Men to “coach men to thrive through Christ so others may know him.”
- Elected Herman Lightsey as president (see separate release).
- Elected Steve Nailor as president of the UM Men Foundation (see separate release).
- Contributed $1,500 for tornado relief in middle Tennessee.
- Poured 200 pounds of rice and 500 pounds of beans into plastic bags for students at Tusculum Elementary School in South Nashville.