Men of Action, “. . . doers of the word. . .”

United Methodist Men: 2014/15 Agenda and Theme

The General Conference of the United Methodist Church (GCUMC) charges United Methodist Men (UMM) with the primary oversight for the coordination and resourcing of men’s ministry within the United Methodist Church.  UMM is the largest men’s ministry in the U.S.  Based on this commission, the Eastern Pa. Conference (EPC) United Methodist Men Board of Directors recently laid out the agenda for our 2014/2015 year.  Our theme this year is “Men of Action – Doers of the Word!”  Our mission is that of all UMM across the Denomination – “To Help Men Grow In Christ, So Others May Know Christ.”  To achieve this we have four areas of emphasis:

1. Our first action is to invite and initiate spiritual growth opportunities for all men of our churches.  To do this we offer many avenues.  Our EPC UMM provides programs from our own resources based at our GCUMM headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.  You can utilize this resource by going to the UMM website at http://www.gcumm.org. Our UM Men’s Magazine is full of articles on successful ministries that have been developed at our UM Churches, large and small, around the world.  A second avenue is to utilize the programs provided by our UMM ministry partnerships – “Man in the Mirror”, “Wesley Building Brothers”, “St. Andrews Society” and “Letters From Dad” among others.  You can use these ministries in your churches and/or attend their regional events.  A third way is already in many of our churches but you may not know it.  That is our Scouting movement.  The United Methodist Men are the second largest supporter of scouting in the nation, behind only the Mormons.  Scouting, Boys and Girls, is a great way for your men to become mentors to your boys and girls.  I guarantee that the  Scout Leaders will appreciate your help.  And let me mention our “prayer breakfasts and dinners”.  Yes, we tease about them but we all know that men like to eat.  But much more importantly, these monthly gatherings are great ways for our men to get to know each other and develop ideas for our churches.  From these breakfasts come Bible Studies, Prayer Groups,  Missions and many other programs.  These programs are a good way to introduce a man to the church and to find out his talents and interests.  And this year we will be holding a major Rally for Men in May of 2015 that will bring men from our cities, our suburbs and our countryside together for committed Christian fellowship.  What a great way to develop inclusiveness among the men of the EPC.

2. Our second action is to reach out to the “younger” men in our communities, those from 20 to 40 years old.  When we visit our EPC Churches we clearly see that the vast majority of our parishioners are “older”.  But in talking to them they agree that very often their own children and grandchildren do live in their community but do not attend church.  Now the UMC as a whole has a big responsibility to change that situation, and we in the UMM are trying to help with this through our programs that are listed in our first action.  But we are also offering several programs that will allow the EPC UMC’s to reach out to these young families ad singles in a fun way.  These are our “UM Day at Dorney Park”, “UM Day at the Phillies”, “UM Day at the Phila. Zoo”, “UM Night at the 76ers” and our “Nets and Vets Golf Tournament”.  These are events that young people enjoy and support.  When you go to Dorney Park or one of these games you will see thousands of young couples, young families and young singles walking around having a fun time.  Why not have them do this with their Christian friends?  Wouldn’t it be cool if they saw their Pastors and the Bishop riding the Roller Coaster or seeing their UM Choir singing the Nation Anthem at the Phillies, maybe even singing it with them.  Another way to reach young people is athletics.  Softball is the number one participatory sport in America.  My own church’s team has been in our local church league for 25 years.  There are 12 teams in our league.  But we are the only United Methodist team, all the other teams are from “independent churches”, you know the kind that are full of young people.  We the EPC UMM will be holding our 21st UM Softball Tournament on July 19th for United Methodist Softball Teams.  Does your church have a team?  If so get in touch with me at rossbrightwell@verizon.net.  If not ask when of your “old guys” to do the organizing, the ball players will come out of the woodwork.  If you want young people to come to you, go to where they are first, at the softball field.

3. Our third action is to reach out with Prayer.  Every UMC Conference has a UMM Prayer Advocate.  Ours is Dennis Wack, gemmaster3000@yahoo.com.   Our EPC UMM, through Dennis, is developing a connected prayer ministry in which we will be contacting those in charge of prayer lines at each of our churches.  We then wish to connect them with the nationwide Upper Room Prayer Line ministry.  The Upper Room Prayer Line, based in Nashville, gets over 350,000 prayer requests every year.  The UMM pays for its phone service.  We are looking at ways to give churches the opportunity to have these phone requests sent to your church so that your members can be part of this great nationwide prayer chain.  You will be hearing more from us about this program very soon.  Furthermore, just recently we have opened a Prayer Room at our EPC UMC Headquarters in King of Prussia that is open to all.

4. Our fourth action is to reach a helping hand out into the world.  Now this could be providing opportunities for 10 Phila. school boys who gain points by reading the great books to go to a 76ers game – or providing 50,000 lbs. of potatoes to the Food Banks of SE Pa., – or building cabins at our United Methodist Retreat Centers – or providing thousands of copies of “Strength Through Service” daily devotional to our service men and women and our EMS, Fire and Police personnel – or helping raise millions of dollars to fight Malaria in Africa – and many, may more.  Please visit our UMM booth for a whole list of what is being done by the UMM.  Guys like doing these things.  Are we giving our younger men in our communities these opportunities?

Folks this is what the UMM is doing, but we could be doing so much more.  Our biggest problem is our inability to talk with the men at our local churches, to hear what they are doing, what they would like and to tell them about the many programs that are available through the UMC through the UMM.  Yes, we know that many of our churches have, “the guys” and many have men’s programs.  And yes, when I walk into the Dorney Park sales office I do tell them that I as President of the EPC UMM represent 440 United Methodist Churches.  And yes they do get really excited and offer us great discounts when they hear this.  But in reality, I am only speaking for about 40 EPC churches because they are the churches with which we have clear UMM connection.  My friends, we cannot come to all 440 churches.  We need help from our Pastors and Lay Leaders to develop this connection.  Please see the attachments.  We the EPC UMM are noted across the Denomination for our innovative fellowship and fund raising programs and our outreach but the United Methodists Churches in the min-west and the south do much more because they are much more connected.  When their UMM Conference Presidents are asked by the UMC to help fight Malaria or help with hurricane relief or raise money for feeding the poor they can send an email to the hundreds of UMM Chapters in their Conferences and the response is swift and resolute.  I see this every year at our annual meeting of Conference Presidents where these Conferences are acknowledged for their successful programs.  And, better yet, back at their churches, their men can see that their efforts have been very successful which leads them to recruit even more men for their churches.  The beauty of the United Methodist Church is that its connectional ministries, UMW, UMM and UMYF are successful both as “small group” ministries where they reach the hearts of each of our members in our local churches and as very major ministries that can reach out around the world to fight racism, to fight for women’s rights and to support youth – plus fight against hunger and malaria and for education.   This is something for which we can be proud.  So, today, we are asking you the churches of the Eastern Pa. Conference to step forward and become members of the UMM and help our men become even more so Men of Action, Doers of the Word!

Thank you and God Bless you all.

Ross Brightwell
1050 Limekiln Pike
Maple Glen, Pa.19002
Ph. 215/643-1269
rossbrightwell@verizon.net