DOTHAN, Ala.––Robert L. Powell, 86, former president of the National Association of Conference Presidents (NACP) of UM Men and former president of the UM Men Foundation, died Saturday, March 2. 2019, at his home following an extended illness.
“Robert was a mentor, a close friend and his leadership was instrumental in moving the Commission forward,” said Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men. “His passion for ministry with children, youth, and men was obvious and life giving.”
"Robert's leadership was instrumental in my success as the first general secretary of the commission," said the Rev. Joe Harris, now serving as assistant to the bishop of the Oklahoma Annual Conference..
Robert was inducted into the John Wesley Society in 1988, and he received a second John Wesley Society Award in 1989. The Alabama West Florida Conference presented him with a Harry Denman Award in 2013, and in 2016, he received the Dale Waymire Award from the UM Men Foundation.
He was serving as NACP president when that organization asked the 1996 General Conference to establish the General Commission on UM Men.
Robert traveled to Denver to advocate for the creation of the agency. The assembly voted 754-185 to create the 23-member board, and, as a member of the newly formed commission, Robert was instrumental in employing Harris.
In 2000, Robert was named president and executive director of the UM Men Foundation.
During his nine-year leadership of the foundation, Robert helped secure a $1 million grant from the Cal Turner Family Foundation.
In 2006, the commission moved into a new office on Music Row, and, in 2007, the foundation secured a $500,000 gift from Ed and Gwen Cole. That gift and additional funds from the foundation paid off the mortgage on the Nashville building.
Robert resigned from the foundation in 2009 to assume a position with the UM Children’s Home in Alabama.
Robert traces his leadership career with UM Men when he was elected president of the Dothan District UM Men in 1985. At that time, there were seven chartered groups in the district; within a year of his presidency, 27 churches held charters.
In 1988, he was elected president of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference UM Men. After his election, attendance at conference events increased from 50 to 200.
In 1992, Robert was elected president of the Southeastern Jurisdiction when he led a jurisdictional effort to build a church near a Naval Submarine Base at Kings Bay, Ga.
Robert is survived by his wife, Elene, and seven great grandchildren.