Men’s commission deals with several issues, honors Gil Hanke
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––Meeting in person for the first time in two years the 20-member General Commission on United Methodist Men spent part of their August 26-27 meeting honoring Gil Hanke, top executive of the agency for the last 12 years. Chief executives of United Methodist general agencies are limited to 12-year terms. Hanke is scheduled to retire before the end of the year.
Agency directors learned that a search committee led by Dan Ramsey, former president of the National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men, is still interviewing candidates for Hanke’s successor. No timeline for a final decision was announced.
Prayers for troops and people of Afghanistan
The commission met on the Thursday, August 26, the day when news stations were reporting the killing of 13 U.S. service men and scores of civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan,
In the opening session, Mississippi Bishop James Swanson, president of the commission, said the events in Afghanistan would affect the views of people around the world. He recalled how he felt when he returned from his service in Vietnam. “I had made friends with the Vietnamese, and I wondered what happened to them.”
The bishop also said the “polarization in the world” is a “toxicity that affects the church.” He prayed the church could find a way to respond helpfully.
New affiliate organization
The agency works with other agencies and organizations across the United States. There are four affiliate partners, seven affiliate organizations and 10 endorsed ministries. These ministries are vetted every four years.
In business sessions, board members added Kairos Prison Ministry as the eighth affiliate organization. Some 30,000 same-gendered volunteers conduct weekends in prisons in 37 states. Prison chaplains select 42 prisoners to attend a 3-1/2-day event to participate in carefully structured talks and activities designed to invite prisoners to live in personal relationships with Christ. The group also sponsors Kairos Outside weekends for female family members of the incarcerated.
The board formerly worked with Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries (now named Cross and Key Prison Ministry). That ministry now limits its focus to North Carolina.
- Noted the expected decline in support from the general church (from 25 percent to 18 percent) and encouraged everyone to participate in the third annual Give Day, set for October 18, the day after Laity Sunday. Text UMMEN to 44321 to participate or call 866/297-4312.
- Prayed for people of Louisiana and Mississippi as they prepared for Hurricane Ida.
- Learned that the Center for Men’s Ministry is restructuring the process of recruiting and training men’s ministry specialists. There are now 38 certified specialists working in various locations across the nation.
- Learned that Strength for Service Inc., a ministry begun by the commission, is in the process of hiring a new executive director. Larry Coppock is retiring after 22 years of service to the ministry that provides daily devotional books to the military and first responders.
- Received a report from Wade Mays, a staff executive with the Society of St. Andrew. He encouraged each conference to recruit 20 new challenge fellowships (a group that commits to provide annually between $200 and $500 for Meals for Millions).
- Received reports on the BSA bankruptcy and United Methodist responses. See separate news release here.