Photo: Participants in the 2011 World Methodist Conference package 101,000 dehydrated meals as part of a Stop Hunger Now event sponsored by United Methodist Men.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.–– The year 2011 might well be characterized as the year of the volunteer.
During the year, the General Commission on UM Men recruited and trained four new volunteers to serve as deployed staff members. The group replaces Larry Malone, a full-time staff executive who retired at the end of 2010.
These men are aided by 134 volunteers serving as scouting ministry specialists and 31 men’s ministry specialists. Each of these volunteers has received specialized training and now serves churches in their home and surrounding communities.
During the year, the commission achieved a remarkable publishing goal of printing 500,000 copies of Strength for Service to God and Country, an updated World War II book of daily devotions. Most of the copies were given free to deployed troops by their chaplains. The attainment of that figure would never have been achieved without the generosity of United Methodist Men across the nation.
It would be nearly impossible to note all the achievements of local groups of United Methodist Men. The UMC of the Dunes in Grand Haven, Mich., received an award from President Barack Obama for their volunteer services, but it was just one of thousands of churches that provide meals for the homeless, build handicap ramps, construct Personal Energy Transport vehicles for Third World people who cannot walk, and conduct potato drops or engage in gleaning projects for the Society of St. Andrew.
During the year, UM Men engaged in a new partnership with Stop Hunger Now, and local groups of UM Men sponsored events in which dry ingredients were poured into plastic packages suitable for use in emergency situations around the world. Persons attending the World Methodist Conference in Durban, South Africa packaged 101,000 packs and delivered them to a local school.
The same year marked a new relationship with Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries, a group that provides Disciple Bible study in state prisons. Through this partnership, many UM men are now engaged in prison ministries in North Carolina, Virginia, Kansas, Tennessee, Delaware and Louisiana.
The commission continues to lead scouting ministries for the denomination and there are now 371,000 young people involved in Scout troops and Cub Scout packs meeting in United Methodist churches. During the year, BSA launched a Faith-Based Initiative (FBI) to retain and strengthen relationships with religious groups.
The UM Men Foundation allocated $10,000 to supplement gifts from other UM Men organizations to provide New Testaments for young people attending Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and the Northern Tier High Adventure Program in Minnesota.
The year 2011 is the second year of a Human Relations Day grant that enabled the commission to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters to provide one-to-one relationships with children whose parents are incarcerated. The commission launched the effort in 16 annual conferences and now has more than 45 matches.
UM Men continued their long-standing support of the Upper Room Prayer Line by contributing $6,735, the entire cost of the prayer line. Sixteen new volunteers also added 2,256 hours of extra coverage.
There are now 17 hunger relief advocates with the Society of St. Andrew. These volunteers led 1,979 volunteers to pick up 1.92 million servings of fresh food for America’s hungry. UM Men also provided another 8.4 million servings of fresh produce through the society potato project.
During 2011, the commission launched a “paver project," in which UM Men are invited to place engraved bricks in front of the national office on Music Row in Nashville.
UM Men are now looking forward to General Conference. The National Association of Conference Presidents passed two resolutions for consideration by that legislative body meeting April, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. One resolution urges churches to expand their ministries beyond the group that meets for fellowship prayer and study. A second resolution supports clergy women.
The General Commission on United Methodist Men submitted legislation that would reduce the board from 25 to 20 members, while increasing competence and continuing inclusive representation.