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UM Men 2019 wrap-up

General Commission on UM Men

In 2019, the General Commission on UM Men began hammering out a new mission statement, and they agreed that no matter what happens at the 2020 General Conference, they will continue to minister to men and youth. They expressed appreciation to Bishop James Swanson, president of the commission since 2013, and other members of the commission who have served the maximum two-4-year terms.  The Council of Bishops nominated Arkansas Area Bishop Gary Mueller and Southern Congo Area Bishop Kasap Owan to serve a second 4-year term. Louisville Area Leonard Fairley was selected by the Council of Bishops to be the third bishop of the commission.

The commission continues creating small groups of men who study The Class Meeting, a book by Kevin Watson about John Wesley’s forming small accountability groups. “Class meetings provide a format that helps people actively grow in their faith in Christ together in community, not just study information,” says Watson. Many of these groups meet on line and most continue long after they conclude the 8-week study. “These groups are transformational for our men,” said Gil Hanke, top executive.

The commission released its first study of discipleship.  “The Road to Discipleship” offered local UM Men and the churches a resource to better understand discipleship and their role in being a disciple and a disciple maker.

The agency is also supporting small group studies of Amending Together through Faith, an 8-week study for men to reduce domestic violence throughout the U.S., by changing the present culture. Additionally, there are groups being formed in colleges and universities.

In 2019, the commission launched its first “Give Day,” the October 21 effort raised more than $20,000. The agency also reduced costs by eliminating printed copies of the quarterly magazine. Digital copies of the free magazines are available here. Staff and agency officers also produced a bi-monthly publication. Individuals may subscribe by entering information at the homepage of the commission.

Joe Strausbaugh, charter administrator for the commission, resigned his post in 2019; he was replaced by Lucretia (Cre) Ward.

Scouting Ministries

United Methodist congregations are welcoming Scouts from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which dropped BSA on December 31. This action leaves 425,000 boys without a chartering partner in Scouting. The UMC is now leads all denominations in providing a home base for Scouts BSA.

On February 1, 2019, the Boy Scouts of America changed the name of its program for 11-17-year-old youth to “Scouts BSA”. The parent organization stays the same: “Boy Scouts of America”. The program remains single gender––all-male Scouts BSA troops or all-female Scouts BSA troops. Cub packs may be made up of boys and girls in separate dens.

Prayer Line

“After prayerful discernment, research, and evaluation of data”, The Upper Room Prayer Center ended the live call-in ministry. That’s what Migdiel Pérez, manager of the prayer line, told conference prayer advocates and conference presidents of UM Men, during their March meeting. Live call-ins ended May 1. Kara Oliver, executive director of The Upper Room Center for Christian Spiritual Formation, explained the prayer line annually receives 111,000 calls, but only 20,000 receive answers. “You’re not doing anything wrong,” she said. “But we have to ask, ‘Are we promising more than we’re delivering?’” UM Men continue their support for the Upper Room Prayer ministry and offer prayers posted on the prayer wall.


In 2019, we lost some faithful leaders, including Robert Powell, former president of the National Association of Conference Presidents (NACP)and former president of the UM Men Foundation; Rod Erskine, former president of East Ohio Annual Conference UM Men and NACP treasurer; Ed Cole, the person who, with his wife Gwen, paid off the mortgage on the Nashville office of the General Commission on UM Men; Jim Roy, former director of the Upper Room Prayer Center; Ed Shytle, former president of the UM Men Foundation; Ernie Wendell, former NACP president; George Washington, former president of UM Men of the Mississippi Annual Conference; and Tim Ewing, a Scout leader in the Virginia Annual Conference.


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