Nov 28, 2023 | John W. Coleman

Eastern PA’s United Methodist Men (UMM) discovered truly “how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity,” (Psalm 133) during a weekend men’s retreat in November, sponsored by Lansdale United Methodist Church’s men’s ministry.   

The church’s 12th annual men’s retreat, November 10-12, at Innabah Camp & Retreat Center in Spring City, welcomed 17 participants from First Lansdale, Christ Lansdale, Bethel Hill, Church of the Good Shepherd in Lebanon, and other churches. They joined in worship, witnessed to their faith in Christ, and worked together on service projects for six hours to help Innabah prepare its site for fall and winter activities and next year’s summer camp.

And as always, there was plenty of good food, fellowship and fun to share, reports Ed Hartmann, retreat coordinator.

The Rev. Zachary Hopple

The Rev. Zachary Hopple, senior pastor of Christ UMC Lansdale and the weekend’s keynoter, led the men in exploring the intriguing theme “Distortion.” He spoke about how we sometimes have a distorted view of God, ourselves, and our church and community. He also led the men in celebrating communion together. Four men brought guitars and led the gathering in singing and praising God.

Their labors of love included building a fence around two trash dumpsters, moving mattresses from the camp’s outpost cabins for storage, and taking down the archery backstop net for storage. They also replaced 19 rotted boards on the path to the new canoe dock at French Creek. And they cut down a tree and split and stacked logs. 

Some men had fun removing, cutting apart and disposing of a large canopy from the shelter by the camp store, said Hartmann. Innabah will install a new canopy for its 2024 summer camp.

From left: Wayne Wylie, Rays Koshy, Mark Reinmiller, Dale Nice and Edward Gale

“Engaging in the work projects proved to be both enjoyable and rewarding,” said Edward Gale, president of Bethel Hill UMC’s UM Men. A first-time attendee, he helped take down the archery net, replace the dock boards and build the fence around the dumpster.

“Captivating and deeply thought-provoking” is how he described Hopple’s message. “Personally, I realized that my perception of God had been distorted. After Saturday’s session, I found myself contemplating the need for a shift in my views, based on the compelling insights he shared. It was not only down-to-earth but also delivered with genuine, heartfelt sincerity.”

Gale knew Hartmann only from his visits to Bethel Hill’s monthly UMM breakfast gatherings. (Read “Men’s group marks 30 years of monthly breakfasts.”) But now they know each other better. “And I got a chance to work alongside individuals I had never met before.”

“The camaraderie among the group members made me feel genuinely welcome,” said Gale. “This retreat has left a lasting impression, and I’m eager to continue this journey of self-reflection and meaningful connections. I look forward to attending again next year.”

View a short video of the men’s retreat produced by the Rev. Steward Warner, who also photographed the event.