United Methodist Men focus on ‘new beginnings’
GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn.––After decades of meeting at the Denman Building of Discipleship Ministries in Nashville, the National Association of Conference Presidents (NACP) of United Methodist Men held their annual meeting at the Aldersgate Renewal Center.
The March 3-5 session focused on “New Beginnings.”
In a virtual visit with the conference presidents, Bishop James Swanson, president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, said it is time for a new beginning for self and for the United Methodist Men. “Things we did in the past will not work today.” He described that a part of a “glory sighting,” telling us “God doesn’t give up on us.”
Greg Arnold, the new general secretary of the commission was invited to address the theme of “new beginnings” for the association’s members, saying the mission of United Methodist Men is to ensure that the more than four million men who are members of the United Methodist Church worldwide have an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ through a modern men’s and scouting ministry program.
In previous meetings, the NACP aimed their program content and attention on chartering individual groups of United Methodist Men. In Arnold’s address, he stated, “You will not hear me say, ’We need to get more charters’; that is not the focus of the commission. Our priority is to provide every church new ways to connect with us, and to offer local church leadership credible resources to help them carry out ministry with men and scouting.”
Arnold noted that the way in which we help men have encounters with Christ can be different in each situation. “Every community is unique and will require a mindful approach,” said Arnold, but regardless of how men’s ministry is done, we must commit to providing credible programs and pathways for “spiritual-growth leading toward servant leadership.”
Arnold envisions a time when there will be numerous men’s ministry specialists and scouting ministry specialists who help churches expand their ministries to men and young people.
In later sessions of the three-day meeting, Arnold introduced many new resources which will be available April 4.
Arnold likened the present situation of the commission to a mom-and-pop store that once had a thriving business, but expressways and new businesses reduced their foot traffic and customer base. “It’s time for an upgrade. It’s time that we approach this ministry with a much larger vision. We believe the product is worth taking to the world, but we’re re-imagining how men’s and scouting ministry is offered, packaged, and distributed.”
“We are bringing in the programs, processes, and vision to change United Methodist Men from a mom-and-pop mentality into a more robust global ministry,’ said Arnold.
In other sessions the assembly:
- Heard Jim Boesch, a deployed commission staff member, introduce “the Way of the Carpenter,” an 8-hour study taking men from “novice” to “apprentice” to “journeyman” to “teacher.” The study supplements “Lead Like Jesus,” a 10-hour study.
- Inducted William C. Bowen, president of United Methodist Men of the Tennessee Conference, into the John Wesley Society. The plaque was present on Bowen’s 74th birthday.
- Reelected officers: Herman Lightsey, president; Mark Lubbock, first vice president; Ben Nelson, second vice president; Don Davis, treasurer; Ken Hudgins, secretary.
- Allocated $1,000 from the NACP budget, $1,000 from the UM Men Foundation, and $1,000 from the North Central Jurisdiction for UM Committee on Relief ministries to people in Ukraine or immigrating from Ukraine.
- Expressed appreciation to Steven Scheid, director of the commission’s Center for Scouting Ministries, for his efforts with the BSA bankruptcy efforts. “There might not be a BSA without the work of Steven Scheid,” said Arnold.
- Were introduced to “healing circles” by the Rev. Dr. Rick Vance. The circles foster communications and healing to dismantle racism. Members of a circle are invited to listen deeply, suspend judgment, speak your truth, and maintain confidentiality.