A Moment for Mission
“But be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” —Romans 12:2b, NRSV
Two years ago, the YWCA of Middle Tennessee found their domestic violence shelters constantly crowded, and they wanted to find a way to reduce the number of women seeking protection from abusive men.
Understanding that violence against women is a problem that begins with men, the organization hired Shan Foster, a former NBA star player, to lead the effort to change the behavior of men. Foster worked with several organizations, including the General Commission on United Methodist Men.
The commission served as the only religious organization to address the fact that one in four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime, and 15.5 million children witness abuse in the U.S. every year.
With a $20,000 World Service Fund contingency grant, the commission created “Amending through Faith,” a training manual for eight 90-minute study sessions.
“Only men can end domestic violence,” said Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the commission. “We have to stand up and say, ‘This is not acceptable. This is wrong.’”
“The Amend project is a timely study when the news is filled with reports crossing boundaries with women,” said the Rev. Linda Louderback, a retired district superintendent of the Great Plains Annual Conference.
“Our silence is a problem,” said Foster. “We have a problem when men find it more important to fit in and not offend, than to call out sexist jokes. It’s not women’s responsibility to stop men from objectifying them; it’s ours.”
Loving God, transform us by the renewing of our minds so that we may discern what is your will—what is good and acceptable and perfect. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost – God of all creation, as we offer our gifts to you this day, we remember the questions Jesus put to his disciples, “Who do people say that I am? But who do you say that I am?” We pray that we might be ready to answer with our lips, but also with our lives and with our gifts: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” In his holy name, we pray. Amen. (Matthew 16:13-20)
From United Methodist Men: There are days I want to hide from You, O God. There is so much suffering around this planet, and I am so comfortable. I know You expect more from me, but I make up flimsy excuses for my inaction.
I’m too old. I don’t have a position of power. I haven’t received any clear direction from You. It’s too hot to leave my air-conditioned home. There are others who are more competent. Well, You see, there’s this COVID-19 . . . But, remember, I wrote an article . . . Forgive me, Lord, for my profession of faith and my unwillingness to act upon that profession. Amen. — Rev. Rich Peck, Franklin, Tenn.
The General Commission on United Methodist Men is borrowing a practice established by John Wesley, but with a technological twist.
Wesley regarded “Christian conferencing” as one of five essential practices of the faith. He said the practice cultivates holiness “through conversations about our experience of God.” One form of Christian conferencing he established was the class meeting, at which seven to 12 people met to answer the question “How does your soul prosper?” Class meetings focused on transformation, not information.
Today, groups of 10-12 United Methodist Men, representing different ethnicities, ages and places, use Zoom, Facebook and other streaming formats to study Kevin M. Watson’s The Class Meeting: Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience. After the eight-week study concludes, participants continue online gatherings where they share joys and concerns, insights and doubts. Class meetings provide both accountability and support.
United Methodists, through support of the World Service Fund, provide 25 percent of the commission’s budget. Thank you!
—Richard Peck, editor, General Commission on United Methodist Men