From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[UMNS-ALL-NEWS] UMNS# 556-Men's commission moves four-year gathering from Purdue

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Mon, 18 Sep 2006 17:02:18 -0500

Men's commission moves four-year gathering from Purdue

Sep. 18, 2006 News media contact: Linda Green * (615) 7425470* Nashville {556}

NOTE: Photographs and a related report, UMNS story #557, are available at

By Linda Green*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The governing body for United Methodist Men is moving the denomination's quadrennial men's conference from Purdue University to Nashville.

On Sept. 16, the churchwide Commission on United Methodist Men voted to hold the 10th national United Methodist Men's gathering July 9-12, 2009, at a university to be determined in Nashville, Tenn.

The tradition of gathering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., began in 1953. The conference has been described as a "life-changing event" that allows men from across the world to gather for fellowship, spiritual renewal, instruction and inspiration.

The men's organization, once part of a division on men's ministry at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, became a churchwide agency in 1996. Its purpose is to help the United Methodist Church help men make Jesus Christ the center of their lives.

"We are not going back to Purdue for the 10th gathering," said Glenn Wintemberg, Saint Charles, Mo., chairperson of the gathering committee and president of the National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men "We have nothing against Purdue University," he said. "It has run its course."

The commission, which met Sept. 14-17, voted for the change in response to requests for a more family-friendly locale, better access to an airport or metropolitan area, and more confined spaces for workshops and other options, instead of having to walk long distances to participate in gathering events.

"It's a new day with a new opportunity for us to provide this meeting," said Gil Hanke of Nacogdoches, Texas, president of the men's commission. "The transportation to Nashville is must easier than our previous location. The facilities that we are considering are very accommodating ... and we felt that it was a time to move this event closer to the center of the population centers of the United Methodist Church."

He emphasized that Purdue has "done an excellent job for well over 30 years," but he said Nashville offers better logistics, a more family-oriented type of atmosphere and "comparable facilities that can provide an event that will be an exciting and spiritually dynamic encounter with God." He said he is delighted at the move because "Nashville really shows off the center of the United Methodist Church."

According to Wintemberg, the attendance at the gathering at Purdue had been declining over the years. "Purdue is a difficult place to get to, both by plane and by car. And at the same time, I think we have run the course of Purdue. It is a large campus, and we need to make the gathering more accessible to those men who are attending."

Reaching younger men

The Rev. David Adams, the top executive of the men's commission for the past three months, is excited about the decision to move. "We've had a wonderful relationship with Purdue University; they've been very supportive of us, and we've had a good ministry there," he said. "But in order to reach the younger men and in order to improve the ability to come to one of our gatherings with comfort and ease . . . we decided that we needed to move to a new venue that would allow for better accessibility to the event."

Each quadrennium, the decision will be made on where to hold the event, Adams said. "Having it here in 2009 does not mean that it is going to remain here."

The commission said the decision would be well received by a large number of United Methodist Men across the country. "I think (there) is a new, fresh spirit among the men of the United Methodist Church," Adams said. "They are ready for change and they are ready to see some new vision for the ministry of men, and I think this will help facilitate that."

In the past, both the image and message of the organization have been centered around the purpose of United Methodist Men, which is to declare the centrality of Christ in the lives of men and in all their relationships, but there is a disconnect between the programs offered by the commission and the programs reaching into the hearts and lives of men, he said.

"Part of our challenge is recreating a positive image throughout the entire organization of United Methodist Men and the church. I have heard far too many negative comments about UMM, not only from bishops and pastors, but also from laymen and women across the church," he said. "Part of their assumptions are erroneous and some a reality."

Men's centennial in 2008

The commission also:

* Passed a resolution in support of reducing teen smoking. * Learned that the United Methodist Church completed 2005 with 376,472 scouts - boys and girls - meeting in 11,864 units in more than 8,000 of the denomination's 35,000 churches; and that while losing traditional Boy and Cub Scout memberships, the size of Venturing crews has doubled. * Learned that Boy Scouts of America experienced a 6.6 percent loss in overall membership in 2005, including among mainline denominations. * Heard that more than 230,000 copies of the Strength for Service to God and Country devotional have been distributed to military personnel serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in Southwest Asia. * Learned that 2008 will be the centennial anniversary of United Methodist Men and that the commission will propose some type of celebration at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. * Heard a presentation on men's ministry by staff executive Larry Malone to help determine ways that "create, capture and sustain the spiritual growth process for men to become spiritual fathers and Wesley Men." * Received an update on the men's study of the United Methodist Church as directed by the 2004 General Conference, a study that is still under way.

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or


United Methodist News Service Photos and stories also available at:


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