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The ROMEOs at Warrens Corners

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How do you start a vital men’s group in a small, rural congregation? The men of Warrens Corners United Methodist Church in Lockport, New York, who call themselves “ROMEOs,” have discovered an answer that works for them.

The men of the church come from a variety of backgrounds, including the local auto plant, farming, military, education, and health care. Most have attended church together for a long time. Several of these men grew up together. But unlike the women in the church, they weren’t connected or connecting much with one another.

For three years, the church tried to get a men’s group started. The pastor tried several tactics that didn’t work. He invited them to get together for a study, or a Saturday breakfast gathering, or even working together on a project for a neighbor.

Then one day, he asked a couple of the men if they might schedule lunch together sometime. They replied, “Yeah, we can do that. Where should we go?” This simple invitation birthed the Retired Old Men Eating Out (ROMEO).

As the pastor describes it, “Once a month, six to ten, mostly retired men, meet at a local restaurant to catch up, tell lies, and share a meal together. Out of consideration they ask me to say grace, and I know enough to keep it short.” He does, and then they all talk together.

Now their friendships are real. They check on one another in the hospital and make sure the guy with a bad hip gets a ride to lunch. They are gentle with the eldest who has dementia, and they don’t have to be asked to work at the annual roast beef or turkey dinners. They have a real relationship with their church, in part because they are now “church” to one another.

Questions for Discussion

  • How do the men of your congregation connect with one another for mutual support and shared ministry?
  • The power of the ROMEOs is in their relationships developed by meeting regularly and “watching over one another in love.” How might you generate more opportunities for people to offer simple support and accountability to one another?

Taylor Burton-Edwards is former director of Worship Resources at Discipleship Ministries.

Romans 12 Newsletter. Issue #191. © 2014 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this newsletter for use in United Methodist congregations. This newsletter is provided as a service of the Discipleship Ministries and is funded through World Service apportionment giving by local United Methodist congregations.

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