National Gathering of Methodist Men aims to build faith, service
By Chris Bavender
Approximately 700 men gathered in Indianapolis July 7 and 8 to strengthen their faith and serve the community during the National Gathering of United Methodist Men. Held at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, the two-day conference is geared toward helping men change their lives and the lives of those around them.
“We want to create a supportive fellowship of men and declare centrality of Christ in the lives of men and all their relationships,” said Dave Martin, a Carmel resident and past president of the Indiana Conference of United Methodist Men. “The goal is also to make disciples of men for the transformation of the world.”
The conference is held every four years. The theme of the 2017 event was “Discipleship: The Contact Sport.” Each session was geared toward a sport. For example, a Friday session had a racing theme.
“It was about getting men thinking about how it’s a team effort ,and to get other men to be disciples for Christ, you have to talk to them about it,” Martin said. “But it also focused on developing as an individual and dealing with yourself as a contact and how that can affect what you’re doing at your church and why, say, your men’s group isn’t growing.”
The conference featured 19 workshops on topics such as leadership and personal growth and subjects ranging from cyber bullying to stress management. In addition, the men gave back to the community by bagging 42,000 pounds of potatoes for food pantries and families in need. They also built wheelchair ramps and 24 hand-cranked mobility carts for distribution around the world.
Martin said the conference is important because it’s about strengthening the family around men.
“So many families struggle out there with personal hardships and relationships, and so I think any man who attended had to go home and tell their family, ‘I love you,’” he said. “So many men struggle with telling people they love them. I think if you attended this and couldn’t go home and tell your family you loved them, then there has to be something missing in your life.”