Address by W.Va. United Methodist Men President George Hohmann
to the Cross Lanes UMC Men on Jan. 10, 2019
Let us pray: Dear Lord, thank you for the opportunity to gather this evening. Thank you for the dinner we have shared, and for those who prepared it. Help those who are present hear the message. And help me deliver a message that is meaningful and true to your word. Amen!
It’s a pleasure to be with you this evening! My name is George Hohmann. I am the newly minted president of the West Virginia United Methodist Men, having been elected at the annual retreat at Jackson’s Mill last September. I began a one-year term on October 1 and might serve additional terms, if I don’t mess up.
I’m a native of Fairmont. I’ am a graduate of West Virginia University and Marshall University and I am now studying at West Virginia State University. I’ve been living in the Kanawha Valley for 20 years. I had a wonderful career as a newspaper reporter. I retired six years ago from the Charleston Daily Mail, where I had the honor of serving as the business editor.
The title of this evening’s presentation is, “What We’re Doing Right!” Well, we are doing a lot right — but if you’re like me, bedtime is around 9:30 p.m., so I’ll just hit some of the highlights, talk for a moment about the future, and then take your questions.
Our bishop, Sandra Steiner Ball, sent a message this past week point out that this is the season when we celebrate Christ’s mission and ministry among us. She said, “In the West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church we are making Christ known in our communities and we are proudly claiming our identity as Christ-filled United Methodist Christians. Christ’s light is shining through us all around our conference and many people are finding their way through the darkness and into the light by the active presence of our United Methodist Mission Projects, ongoing Disaster Recovery, campus ministry, and our Local Congregations.”
In addition to summarizing what the West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church is doing, I think the Bishop’s message summarizes what we United Methodist men are doing. We are making Christ known in our communities. We are proudly claiming our identity as Christ-filled United Methodist Christians. Christ’s light shines through us. Many people are finding their way through the darkness and into the light be the active presence of United Methodist men in mission projects, ongoing disaster recovery and — especially — our local congregations.
When I think of the United Methodist Men, I immediately think of the programs and activities that take place in local churches. That’s where the rubber hits the road. The Cross Lanes United Methodist Men are a great example. I understand that in the past you:
* Supplied security for the church.
* Hosted Thanksgiving dinners.
* Assembled and delivered Christmas baskets.
* Provided annual car care inspections.
* Picked up litter.
* Held a Mother’s Day fundraiser and participated in the United Methodist Women’s garage sale.
* Supported various organizations financially
I also understand that you’ve named a “Layman of the Year” annually since 1956.
Activities like these are undertaken by about 70 local men’s organizations throughout the West Virginia Conference. It would be interesting to know just how many hours of service are volunteered by your men and the other men in the conference each year. It surely is an astronomical figure!
At the state level, our signature events occur the second weekend in September each year at Jackson’s Mill. That’s when your state organizations hosts a men’s retreat. At the same time, we host what’s known as Circuit Rider — a weekend of camping and learning for Scouts.
The men’s retreat features nationally known speakers, workshops, live music, prayer, fellowship — and, of course, food!
Scouts from all over West Virginia and several nearby states come on Friday evening and camp out on the big green commons at Jackson’s Mill for Circuit Rider. They cook, play games, and visit numerous educational stations to learn about a variety of things such as fossils, ATV safety, geo-caching, and the Bible.
The United Methodist Men are involved in some of these activities. Some of us show Scouts how to fly model airplanes at the Jackson’s Mill airstrip. Last year we offered a class in Bible basics. Scouts who completed the class earned a special patch. Also last year, we offered a classroom where Scout leaders provided safety training that’s required for adults who interact with Scouts.
Every year we men host the Scouts at dinner in the Jackson’s Mill Dining Hall on Saturday night. Some of us work on the serving line and, often, Bishop Steiner Ball either joins us on the serving line or greets each and every person at the Dining Room front door. Following dinner, the men join the Scouts for a campfire and skits at Jackson’s Mill’s aphitheater.
The entire weekend for Scouts is free, other than transportation and three meals. The weekend typically attracts 400 to 600 Scouts. These are our future leaders! It’s no surprise that United Methodist Men consider Scouting to be a ministry. I hope you will plan to attend this year’s retreat and Circuit Rider. This year’s Circuit Rider will be the 31st!
As successful as our annual weekend at Jackson’s Mill is, I believe our greatest success is our continuing focus on our mission. Here it is: To Help Men Grow in Christ, So Others May Know Christ.
For more information about the state organization, I urge you to visit our website, http://wvcummen.org
We United Methodist Men are blessed at both the local and state level to have a national staff that provides a wealth of resources and support. It’s all available on the national office’s website, www.gcumm.org
Looking ahead, I want to highlight my vision for the future of the state organization.
* I want to provide whatever support you need to help your local organization thrive.
* I want to improve communication with local men’s groups. To that end, we will continue to improve the state organization’s website. Also, I will mail a letter with news and information to each local church’s men’s president every three months.
* We will continue to improve and enrich the men’s retreat and Scout Circuit Rider at Jackson’s Mill. I want it to become so valuable that every one of you will want to sacrifice your time during the second weekend in September to attend.
Our leaders at the national office in Nashville also have a vision for the future. Their goals include:
* Focusing outward to all men, not inward to a group.
* Creating ministry entry points for men.
* Fostering an attitude of invitation, not expectation or obligation.
* Providing leadership by empowerment, not control.
* Developing mentoring relationships.
* Building positive relationships with women.
I want to thank you for keeping your charter current — the annual fee you pay benefits many causes, including the national office as well as our programs right here in West Virginia. I also want to encourage you to subscribe to the United Methodist Men Magazine, so you can keep in touch with what other men are doing in the conference, the nation, and the world, as well as Scout news.
Well, I’ve covered a lot of ground this evening. Before you leave, please help yourself to the resource materials I have left on the table in the back of the room.
Let us pray: Lord, help us to be grateful for what we have, and to use it for the upbuilding of your Kingdom. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jerry, if there’s time, I’ll be glad to take questions.