UM Men engaged in a two-year bungee jump
Anyone who wishes to bungee jump over a river must trust the bungee rope is securely attached around the ankles. You must then dive head-first, otherwise you will end up with a severe case of whiplash.
It’s not unusual to feel as if you are going to die as you descend some 500 feet toward the river below.
As you come within 10 feet of the river, you are suddenly on the rebound. You are sent high in the sky, and you are on a bouncy swing over the river.
Yes, everything looks different. After all you are no longer looking down at the river from a secure platform bridge, you are upside down and able to see rocks and ripples that could not be seen from the bridge.
UM men have been engaged in a two-year experience that resembles that 500-foot bungee jump.
Standing on the platform
In early 2020, United Methodist Men were meeting in person, they routinely worshipped in their local churches, Boy Scouts earned merit badges in the church basement, and the denomination was preparing for the 2020 General Conference.
Men were building handicap ramps, and they engaged in Wesley Class Meetings and addressed domestic violence in Amend workshops.
Gil Hanke was the top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, and the National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men held their March meeting at the Denman Building in Nashville.
On the way to the bottom
The pandemic impolitely shoved UM men off the platform.
Men could no longer meet in person, they worshipped from their homes, and the 2020 General Conference was postponed.
The Boy Scout bankruptcy, which had seemed like a distant river in early 2020, now appeared much closer with the possibility of lawsuits against individual local churches.
Many UM Men projects were cancelled, and all Wesley Class meetings were held on-line.
Gil Hanke announced his retirement near the end of 2021.
The 2021 meeting of the National Association of Conference Presidents was held virtually, and the Denman Building of Discipleship Ministries was closed for the 2022 gathering.
Just when it appeared the ties supporting ministries of UM Men would surely break, they were stronger than one supposed.
Yes, like bungee-jumpers, UM Men are not where they were while standing on a firm platform in early 2020, but they are bouncing back with new perceptions.
In 2022, some UM Men organizations will again be meeting in person and worshipping in their local churches.
The Boy Scout bankruptcy is near a final settlement, and local churches are no longer concerned about lawsuits once the Bankruptcy Court approves the plan in late January.
The postponed General Conference is now scheduled for Aug. 29-Sept. 6, 2022, in Minneapolis. Of course, that gathering could again be postponed.
Men are again building handicap ramps, engaging in Wesley class meetings, and addressing domestic violence in Amend workshops.
Greg Arnold is the new top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, and he will meet with staff and UM Men officers to establish new goals and processes in early January.
The National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men will hold their March 2022 meeting at the Aldersgate Renewal Ministries Conference Center in Nashville.