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Men Pass Resolution on Promise Keepers

United Methodist Men's Commission clarifies relationship to Promise Keepers movement


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
Governing members of the churchwide Commission on United Methodist Men stopped short of an unqualified endorsement of the Promise Keepers movement during their semi-annual meeting here Sept 25-27. At the same time, the 23-member group celebrated "the renewed dedication of men who have responded to the call to discipleship heard through Promise Keepers" and committed the organization to work with it and other groups "where similar goals and objectives do not conflict."

By secret ballot, commission members adopted a 460-word resolution in an attempt to answer questions raised by United Methodists about Promise Keepers and its relationship to the United Methodist Men organization.

Among commission members supporting the resolution was Harold Batiste of San Antonio who said church officials had previously "dodged the bullet." "People across the church want to know this commissions position on Promise Keepers," he declared.

United Methodist Men, formerly part of the denomination's Board of Discipleship here, was established as a separate entity by the 1996 General Conference, top legislative body of the church. It oversees the coordination and resources for men's ministries within the denomination.

The Rev. Joseph Harris, new staff executive for the Commission on United Methodist Men, supported the resolution. "Promise Keepers is affecting perhaps hundreds of thousands of United Methodist men throughout our connection," he said. "What our relationship to Promise Keepers will be is extremely critical, both to the men of the church and to the work of this commission."

On Oct. 4, scores of United Methodist Men will join other men in Washington for "Stand in the Gap," an assembly sponsored by Promise Keepers that is calling men to repentance, prayer, commitment and worship. Leaving from the Alabama West Florida Annual Conference will be a "Bible Caravan" of 66 buses, named for the books of the Bible.

Before the vote was taken on the resolution here, commission president Bishop Raymond Owen of San Antonio said men are finding new life with the movement and United Methodist men do not have to compromise who they are to embrace Promise Keepers. "I've never been afraid to read a book by someone with whom I disagree," he said.

Dan Erickson, director of denominational relations for Promise Keepers, assured the commissioners that his movement is not trying to infringe on the work of men's organizations. "The intent of Promise Keepers is not to compete with the church, but to complete the church," he said.

Addressing the criticism that Promise Keepers encourages dominance of men over women, Erickson said men are encouraged to grow in their role as leaders in their churches and homes. "This is not to dominate over women," he said, "but simply to be a better servant to women and to be a better servant in their church."

Noting that 27 million men in the United States claim a relationship with God but do not participate in local churches, Erickson said the church has been losing the battle for the hearts of men. In 1990, he said God called a coach to address the "stagnation" of men in the church.

Promise Keepers, founded by Bill McCartney, former head football coach for the University of Colorado, Boulder, encourages men to mobilize and to assume a new level of spiritual responsibility. It asks them to make a commitment to honor Jesus Christ through worship prayer and obedience to God's word. It also calls on them to be faithful husbands and loving fathers.

The resolution acknowledges that Promise Keepers and United Methodist Men share some common goals. It also notes that the Commission on United Methodist men, working within the United Methodist "ethos" may be at odds with Promise Keepers stated doctrines and practices.

Among these, listed in the resolution, are:

  • "United Methodist broad theological diversity contrasted with Promise Keepers theological parameters;

  • "United Methodist affirmation of women in ministry and church leadership contrasted with Promise Keepers diversity of opinion;

  • "emphasis of the United Methodist Church on global missions, evangelism and nurture contrasted to Promise Keepers emphasis as a - catalytic ministry that motivates and trains men for men's ministry in the local church and

  • "United Methodist connectional structure contrasted with Promise Keepers predominate congregational nature."

In conclusion, the resolution commits the commission to working with Promise Keepers and other groups where similar goals and objectives do not conflict. That working relationship, the statement explains, is not intended to be a "formal partnership."

Where there are differences between the two groups, the commission committed itself to "creative engagement" and, if necessary, work in separate directions.

The status of men in the church continued to draw attention in other portions of the commission's three-day meeting.

Asking "what's wrong?", Larry Malone, new staff member of the commission, reported there are two million men in the United Methodist Church, 400,000 of whom are members of the United Methodist Men organization and only a fourth are active. Only 15 percent of the 40,000 United Methodist congregations have chartered United Methodist Men's groups, he reported.

As the "newest child of the church," the commission was encouraged by Harris to cooperate with other churchwide agencies. "We are not an island unto ourselves," he said. "They need us and we need them. We are not in competition with anyone."

Describing his first five months as top executive "exciting and exhaustive," Harris told commission members he is convinced that "we do not have the luxury of waiting to contemplate new directions but that the men of the church and others are waiting for us to strike out now in new innovative and imaginative directions."

"We're at an apex in history," Harris continued. "God has given the commission the opportunity to do two things: develop men spiritually and produce resources and training to elevate men to understand who they are in Jesus Christ. This is our call, this is our mandate."

In other actions, the commission:

  • accepted the resignation of its treasurer, Jack Brown of O'Fallon, Ill.;

  • passed a motion prohibiting the participation of nonoffical advocacy groups in commission sponsored events;

    approved the concept for an Office of Volunteerism to supplement staff;

  • welcomed new member Anton Zakharchenko of Russia;

  • welcomed Larry Coppock as the director of Scouting Ministries;

  • approved membership in the World Fellowship of Methodist and Uniting Church Men, an affiliate organization of the World Methodist Council; and

  • began planning for a Black Men's Conference in 1998 (to include men from the three historically black Methodist denominations) and a Korean Men's Conference in 1999; and

  • approved a partnership with the Society of St. Andrew, a church-related hunger relief effort.

# # #

EDITORS:

Full text of the resolution follows:


Whereas, Promise Keepers is an organization committed to providing ministry to men across denominational lines and has already involved thousands of men from the United Methodist Church;



Whereas, Promise Keepers embraces some of the same goals of the General Commission on United Methodist Men;



Whereas, Promise Keepers seeks to promote men's ministry in the local church within the existing denominational structure for men's ministry;

Whereas, Promise Keepers insists that men not start Promise Keepers groups within their churches and consider it a copyright law violation for those that do;



Whereas, Promise Keepers has stated its desire is to help United Methodist Men who attend their events to be the best United Methodist Men they can possibly be;



Whereas, The General Commission on United Methodist Men understands that its work within the United Methodist ethos may put it at odds at times with Promise Keepers stated doctrines and practices such as:

a) United Methodist broad theological diversity contrasted with Promise Keepers theological parameters

b) United Methodist affirmation of women in ministry and church leadership contrasted with Promise Keepers diversity of opinion concerning women in ministry and church leadership

c) The emphasis of the United Methodist Church on global missions, evangelism and nurture contrasted to Promise Keepers emphasis as a "catalytic ministry that motivates and trains men for men's ministry in the local church" d) United Methodist connectional structure contrasted with Promise Keepers predominate congregational nature



Whereas, The Commission on United Methodist Men recognizes that Promise Keepers is not church based (its is para-church based), that it may also have tendencies among some of its participants toward political agenda or patriarchal relapse;



Whereas, The Commission on United Methodist Men affirms the need for United Methodist Men to be affirmed in who they are as Christian men as well as United Methodist;



Whereas, The Commission on United Methodist Men recognizes that "The Seven Promises of a Promise Keepers" are not inconsistent with United Methodist polity and Commission goals;



Let it therefore be resolved, that the Commission on United Methodist Men celebrates the renewed dedication of men who have responded to the call to discipleship heard through Promise Keepers.



Let it be further resolved, that the Commission on United Methodist Men is committed to working with Promise Keepers and other groups where similar goals and objectives do not conflict (relationship without formal partnership).



Be it further resolved that where Promise Keepers doctrine and practice contrast with United Methodist stated doctrine and polity, the Commission is committed to creative engagement with Promise Keepers to learn from them and for them to learn from us.



Be it further resolved that the Commission on United Methodist Men in areas where it finds it cannot work with Promise Keepers are committed to be in prayer for that organization as we proceed in separate directions. [back]


Source:

"UNITED METHODIST DAILY NEWS 97" - DAILY NEWS RELEASES FROM UNITED METHODIST NEWS SERVICE (359 notes).



Note 356 by UMNS on Sept. 30, 1997 at 12:25 Eastern (10350 characters).



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