WILMINGTON, N.C. –– Paul S. Wilson, a graduate of Candler School of Theology, Emory University and president of the Wilmington District United Methodist Men, has been certified as a men’s ministry specialist by the General Commission on United Methodist Men and the Turner Center for Church Development at Vanderbilt Divinity School .

He joins three other men previously certified as men’s ministry specialists who are available to help North Carolina Conference churches expand their ministries to men. Other volunteer specialists are John Hall, Durham; Charlie Gray, Fuquay Varina, and Allen Shaver, Hillsborough.

While serving as a pastor in the Florida Annual Conference, Wilson doubled the attendance of two churches before becoming the associate pastor of Palm Harbor (Fla.) United Methodist Church. That congregation also grew from 1,350 to 1,800 members during the three years he served there.

Wilson then surrendered his credentials after a move to North Carolina where his wife attended Duke Divinity School following her own call to the ordained ministry. “During that time, I felt as though God was leading me in another direction and I became active in lay leadership positions in the churches my wife has served,” said Wilson.

Man in the Mirror

“Quite frankly I ignored United Methodist Men for many years because I simply did not see them doing all that much of real value,” he said. In 2007, that attitude changed when he became acquainted with Orlando, Fla.-based Man in the Mirror ministries. He took three other men from Knightdale UMC, where his wife was senior pastor, to a No Man Left Behind training event at First UMC in Cary, N. C. “All four of us came away tremendously excited at this model of making disciples of men,” said Wilson. They began the Iron Knights men’s mission group at Knightdale UMC.

The following year he took five more men to a similar training event at St. James UMC in Greenville. “By the time I left Knightdale, it was a highly active, spirit-led disciple-growing, mission-oriented men’s group,” said Wilson. Upon his departure, the Iron Knights established the Paul Wilson Golden Knight Award, and presented him with the first of the annual awards.

Over the last 15 years, Wilson has led multiple groups in the four levels of DISCIPLE Bible Study. He has also taught the “Christian Believer” course as well as numerous short-term Bible studies. He has served as chair of the Stewardship Committee in two churches.

A member of the review committee, Ed Enstine enthusiastically endorsed Wilson as a men’s ministry specialist. “As a former pastor and presently a pastor’s husband, Paul presents a unique opportunity as a men’s ministry specialist in this district and conference. . . . It was apparent from our conversation that he is available and open to being used by clergy and lay to implant and resource men’s ministry.”

Certification process

Certification for the men’s ministry specialist takes 12-18 months. Candidates must participate in a No Man Left Behind Leadership Training experience and a lay speaker course (clergy are exempt from this requirement). Candidates must also complete an on-line course in UMC polity and history and a safe-sanctuary course.

Candidates are asked to read No Man Left Behind by Man in the Mirror Ministries and Spiritual Fathers by Dan Schaffer. They are asked to write about their spiritual history and complete a spiritual-gifts assessment prior to working with an adviser on a two-year spiritual growth plan.

All candidates are asked to consult with their United Methodist Men conference and district presidents along with their district superintendents in order to prepare a 3-to-5 year strategy to strengthen men’s ministry in their areas.

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