From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 13:16:52


95223                   OF CHRIST AND MEN 
                 First "Men of the Church Day" Observed 
                         By Julian Shipp 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--On June 18, fathers across the nation pondered the age-old 
question "What makes a real man?" But Presbyterians went one step further 
by observing "Men of the Church Day." 
     Responding to a number of voices throughout the denomination, the 
205th General Assembly voted to set aside the third Sunday in June as a 
time for emphasizing the contribution of men in the life of the family, the 
church and the community. 
     This year marked the first Men of the Church Day observance with the 
theme "Men Lift Up the Cross," taken from Luke 14:27, "... Whoever does not 
carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." 
     Traditionally, the third Sunday in June has been recognized as 
Father's Day, but the Presbyterian Church expanded the scope of the 
observance to include "all men who lift up the cross by following Jesus, 
and not just those who have children," according to the Rev. Curtis A. 
Miller, associate for men's ministries in the Congregational Ministries 
Division. Miller said Men of the Church Day has been approved for 1996, 
     "Right now, we're going through a time when we're seeing the church 
not being a priority in the lives of men," Miller said, adding that an 
information packet on Men of the Church Day was sent out to all 
Presbyterian congregations in April. "Thirty-eight percent of the 
[Presbyterian] denomination are men, but we just do not have very many men 
in the 18 through 36 age group at all in the Presbyterian Church. 
     "Men have traditionally defined themselves in terms of their 
occupation or the fulfillment of a model that was established for them in 
childhood," Miller said. "But I think, as we look at what is taking place 
now in the church, men are saying there is an emptiness within them -- 
there has to be something more." 
      Miller said this need appears to be creating a resurgence of interest 
in the church among men and, in keeping with the denomination's priority 
goal of spiritual formation, the Presbyterian Church is in the process of 
developing special ministries for men in its congregations. 
     Miller said a new resource the CMD is producing called "Men's Bible 
Study," which is currently being tested in 17 congregations, will be 
available in 1996. According to Miller, this Bible study is designed for 
small groups, is organized into studies of seven sessions, and each study 
focuses on a book of the Bible. 
     Miller said the introductory course on the book of Job examines Job as 
a man confronting adversity and reveals how men deal with difficulties in 
today's world. Miller said the Bible study will also be produced in Korean 
and Spanish versions. 
     "For us this is a very exciting time in men's ministries," Miller 
said. "In the past we've heard bad news about men not being in the church, 
but we're looking at a time when men are looking to the church for answers 
to questions about their personhood, their future and their sense of 
purpose and being. And these are questions they've not asked the church in 
a long time." 
      Sam Keen, a noted theologian, former Presbyterian and author of "Fire 
in the Belly: On Being a Man," said he believes the church can learn a 
great deal from the unique problems of men. 
     "The church has been kind of late getting on the wagon in terms of 
realizing that men have some special kinds of problems that have to be 
addressed," Keen said. "I would just hope that the church would listen to 
some of the people who have listened to them on this thing." 
     Keen said the nascent men's movement has entered a "very interesting 
and solid stage" in which emphasis has shifted from mass maneuvers to the 
formation of small communities all across the United States. He said there 
are thousands of tiny groups of men who are rediscovering the importance of 
friendship and community, experiences foreign to many men. 
     Keen, who taught at Princeton Theological Seminary and Louisville 
Presbyterian Theological Seminary, said churches must become places where 
people share meaningful experiences. 
     "The church has to be something more than just a formal meeting -- it 
has to be a place for people to really share their lives. It's more like 
the house church than these large congregations where people remain to a 
very large extent really anonymous." 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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