UMM History

United Methodist Men's Work — It's Heritage

The heritage of United Methodist Men is a most glorious one.

The roots of Methodist Men are buried deep down in the heart of Methodism and find their source in the life and work of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley. From the Holy Club at Oxford University to the societies and classes formed among Methodist Men in the ranks of the British army and navy to the Naval and Military Bible Society organized in 1779 by two men in Wesley's West Street Chapel to the impact of John Wesley's work among men and, especially the men of the British army was profound. Organized brotherhood groups began to spring up among the men of the army. Many of these men later chose ordained ministry as their vocation. Some of Wesley's earliest preachers were former soldiers.

In an old Gentlemen's Magazine a British naval officer declared that at sea it was impossible to get efficient work out of the men without the use of profanity, with one remarkable exception. He said,"I never knew but one exception and that was extraordinary, I declare, believe me it is true, there were a group of men called Methodists on board the VICTORY, Lord Nelson's ship, and these men never wanted swearing at. They were the best seamen on board. Every man knew his duty. Every man did his duty. They used to meet together and sing hymns, and nobody dared to molest them. The commander would not have suffered it, even if they had attempted it. They were allowed a mess to themselves. I have often heard them singing away myself. And, incredible as it sounds, not one of them was either killed or wounded at the battle of Trafalgar, though they did their duty as well as any man. Not one of them was even hurt. These are the only seamen that I ever knew to do their duty without swearing, and I will do them the justice to say that they do it."

In the United States, work among men of The Methodist Church began with the formation of various independent societies from 1875 to the turn of the century. Available records refer to an organization in 1894 known as the "Brotherhood of Saint Paul." It held what may have been the first National Conference of Methodist Men in 1898.

At this same time, another organization call the "Mizpah Brotherhood" shape. After undergoing several re-organizations with several changes in name, it finally formed itself into a group called the "Wesley Brotherhood."

In 1907, the Brotherhood of St. Paul united with the Wesley Brotherhood and named itself "The Methodist Brotherhood." It also formed a separate group for boys called the "Knights of Methodism," an organization that continued until church unification in 1939. It had an outstanding slogan: "A Mission Methodist Men Making the Mind of the Master their Main Motive and Mission."

In 1924 another organization called the "Wesley Brotherhoods" arose in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Key leaders were Dr. George L. Morelock, Edgar Welch, founder of the Welch Grape Juice Company, and Branch Rickey a professional baseball manager and league executive.

In 1928, a meeting was held in the Brown Hotel in Louisville for the unification of men's work in the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South after unification. The Joint Committee on Men's Work was the result. Among the men who contributed to this work were Dow Bancroft, Edgar Welch, Harry Denman, Jamie Houston, George Morelock, Ray Nichols and J. M. Sullivan. When the Uniting Conference was held in 1939, all legislation regarding men's work was ready. Through Dr. Morelock's influence, the men's work of Lay Activities was lifted out of the former Methodist Episcopal Church, South and made an integral part of the program of Lay Activities of the Methodist Church.

The first General Conference of the Methodist Church, held in Atlantic City in 1940, established the General Board of Lay Activities, headquartered in Chicago. Edgar Welch became the first President and Ray Nichols its first vice-president. Dr. Morelock was named Executive Secretary and Dow Bancroft its first Associate Secretary. Two years later, a program of men's work was launched. Authority to grant charters was given and in the week ending September 29, 1942, 6 charters were granted. Three of these original 6 chartered units are active today.

The name "Methodist Men" was adopted in 1942, along with the present objectives, purposes, and program. The work has spread beyond the borders of the United States. We now have chartered fellowships in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chile, Philippines, Hawaii, Alaska and Liberia. Correspondence has been exchanged with men in Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Germany.

Evangelical United Bretheren Men's Work — It's Heritage

1. The Otterbein Brotherhood

The men's movement in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ began more than 75 years ago. In 1909 the Board of Control elected the Reverend Warren L. Bunger as national director of the movement. He left the position in a year's time, after which the movement was without leadership until 1913 when Dr. C. W. Brewbaker was elected General Secretary of Sunday School and Brotherhood Work. While the Brotherhood was without leadership, the Men's Bible Class flourished in many churches as both a Sunday School and a local men's movement. About this same time, the Laymen's Association of the United Brethren Church came into existence as a successful Conference-wide organization.

Over the next 30 years, the Brotherhood movement flourished and faltered depending largely on the availability of willing and capable leadership. On June 25, 1929, the Reverend M. I. Weber was elected Adult Director of Christian Education and assumed the responsibility for Brotherhood work. For five years until Weber's untimely death, Brotherhood work flourished.

For the following ten years, however, little was done. At the General Conference held at South Bend, Indiana, in 1941, a new Otterbein Brotherhood organization was authorized and effected for United Brethren men. All of its officers were laymen who, through the Executive Committee, led outstanding growth in both national and annual conference Brotherhood organizations. In June 1943, Dr. W. R. Montgomery, pastor of Brookside United Brethren Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, accepted the call as the first full-time Director of Brotherhood and Adult Work. Brotherhood work among United Brethren men again flourished.

2. The Albright Brotherhood

For some years prior to 1930, a number of unrelated men's organizations existed in local congregations of the Evangelical Church and the General Board of Religious Education held active membership in the Interdenominational Council on Men's Work. However, the rise of the present denomination-wide Council on Men's Work and the present denomination-wide Albright Brotherhood is traced to the 30th session of the General Conference held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1930. The General Secretary of Religious Education, Dr. E. W. Praetorious called attention in his report to the Conference to new and vital interest being taken in men's work. He also said that Brotherhood work in the various denominations had received a new impetus and was showing signs of life and vigorous growth. He pointed out that vast possibilities were stored up in the manpower of the church, which, if released, would mightily stir things within the kingdom, and that the Evangelical Church could profit by promoting, with greater earnestness and zeal, the men's work of the church through men's classes and Brotherhoods.

Dr. Praetorious submitted a proposed Constitution for the guidance of local Brotherhoods; however, only the following resolution was adopted: "Resolved, That we sponsor the formation in each of our Churches and Annual Conferences of Men's Leagues, Classes, Clubs, Lay Chapters or Brotherhoods, whichever seem best in their appeal to meet the local situation, whose aims and objects, however, shall be in accordance with the Constitution provided in the Quadrennial Report of the Board of Religious Education." Shortly after that session of the General Conference, a Brotherhood movement (without announcement or promotion) burst in upon the Evangelical Church. Brotherhoods were being formed in local congregations in many parts of the church and many requests were made for assistance in organizing and promoting the work of the Brotherhood.

The General Board of Religious Education in 1931 crystallized this movement by creating the General Albright Brotherhood of the Evangelical Church. The Board requested the officers elected by the laymen during and for the session of the General Conference held in Milwaukee, to serve as officers of the newly created General Albright Brotherhood. With the aid of these officers, the General Board of Religious Education prepared Constitutions for the General Conference, the Annual Conference, the District, and the local Brotherhoods, adopted an emblem, prepared a charter, and provided suggested monthly programs for the Brotherhood.

3. The Brotherhood of the Evangelical United Brethren Church

At the General Conference held at Johnstown, Pennsylvania in November 1946, the former Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ united to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church. A convention of the lay and ministerial delegates of the Uniting General Conference was called at which time the Otterbein Brotherhood and the Albright Brotherhood were merged into the Brotherhood of the Evangelical United Brethren Church. Care was taken to preserve the values and the traditions of both former Brotherhoods.

The first Convention of the Brotherhood of The Evangelical United Brethren Church was held at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, November 20, 1946, during the Uniting General Conference.

4. Evangelical United Brethren Men

With the growing concept of men's work as a total program for all of the men of the church, a General Conference held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in November 1954, changed the name of the men's work program from the Brotherhood of the Evangelical United Brethren Church to Evangelical United Brethren Men. The change in name was inevitable. The word Brotherhood was not big enough for the growing concept of men's work in the church. The new name, Evangelical United Brethren Men, recognized that every man in the church should be a participating member of the men's work program. It called for a unified program so that the Men's Class, the Brotherhood Class, the Usher's League, and other men's groups, became activities of Evangelical United Brethren Men.

Chronology of United Methodist Men's Organization

The present history of United Methodist Men begins in 1968. However, the seeds were planted, cultivation undertaken, and growth realized long before 1968. The following are a few milestones in the organization's great history.

1769 First Brotherhood organized by John Wesley.

1908 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church authorized Methodist Brotherhoods.

1909 Otterbein Brotherhood of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ organized; Reverend Warren L. Bunger elected director.

1913 Dr. C. W. Brewbaker elected General Secretary of Sunday School and Brotherhood work of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

1924 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church authorized the Wesley Brotherhoods.

1929 The Otterbein Brotherhood of the Church of the United Brethren revived; Reverend M. I. Weber assumed responsibility for Brotherhood work.

1931 The Albright Brotherhood of the Evangelical Church organized (interest was noted at the 30th session of General Conference in 1930).

1939 Unification of the three great branches of Methodism into The Methodist Church.

1940 Men's work placed under the General Board of Lay Activities of the new Methodist Church.

1941 A new Otterbein Brotherhood organization authorized and created.

1942 Adoption of the official name Methodist Men; implementation of the chartering system.

1943 Dr. W. R. Montgomery elected leader of the Otterbein Brotherhood.

1946 The first convention of the Brotherhood of the Evangelical United Brethren Church during the uniting of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and The Evangelical Church at General Conference.

1952 Methodist Men Radio Hour originated with 38 stations.

1953 First Methodist Men's Congress with 4,000 men present; 5,000th charter issued.

1954 Name of men's work program of the Evangelical United Brethren Church changed from Brotherhood to Evangelical United Brethren Men.

1956 Methodist Men chartered units reach 10,000.

1957 Second Methodist Men's Congress at Purdue University with 5,000 men.

1958 Methodist Men Radio Hour broadcast over 400 stations.

1961 Third Methodist Men's Congress at Purdue University with 4,700 men.

1962 Charter fellowships total 18,000.

1965 Fourth Methodist Men's Congress at Purdue University with 4,700 men; chartered fellowships decreased to 15,444; men's work given low priority by General Board of Laity.

1967 Chartered fellowships decreased to 9,941.

1968 Unification of The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church into the United Methodist Church; chartered fellowships decreased to 4,861; UMMen Life Member program began.

1969 First National Congress of United Methodist Men at Purdue University with 4,600 men.

1970 Chartered fellowships increased to 5,744.

1972 Board of Discipleship created and assumed United Methodist Men's work.

1973 Men's Conference became Laity Conference; Board of Discipleship made United Methodist Men's work a priority.

1974 Two staff employed to strengthen men's work; conference UMMen presidents elected committee of ten to draft new legislation for UMMen; First workshop for UMMen presidents held with Conference Lay Leaders in Chicago; 74 UMMen Life Members.

1975 National workshop for conference UMMen presidents held in Nashville; National Association of Conference Presidents (NACP) formed with Judge Ed Boardman of Florida elected first president.

1976 Second annual meeting of the NACP; By-laws and Constitution adopted; General Conference adopted UMMen legislation that changed the Unit of United Methodist Men to a Section on United Methodist Men in the Division of Lay Life and Work, and placed 23 UMM members at large of the General Board of Discipleship.

1977 Second National Congress of United Methodist Men at Purdue University with 3,800 men.

1978 1,300 new fellowships chartered; United Methodist Men established the Upper Room Living Prayer Center with a promise of partial support.

1979 Dale Waymire of Madill, Oklahoma elected third national president.

1980 Roy Lifsey, Douglas, Georgia, elected chair, Section on United Methodist Men, General Board of Discipleship. General Conference updated purpose and general legislation of United Methodist Men; Board of Discipleship restructuring made United Methodist Men one of 12 program sections.

1981 Warren Hostetler of Amboy, Indiana, became fourth national president; third National Congress of United Methodist Men at Purdue with 5,400 men; charted fellowships totaled 5,000. Every Man Shares program introduced; United Methodist Men Foundation chartered. Men contributed $61,000 to the Foundation.

1982 Kenneth Weatherford, Lawrenceville, Georgia elected fifth national president to serve out the unexpired term of deceased President Warren Hostetler.

1983 Kenneth Weatherford re-elected national president for a two year term. Chartered fellowships totaled 7,884. EMS income was $24,211.

1984 Roy Lifsey of Douglas, Georgia re-elected Chair, Section on United Methodist Men, General Board of Discipleship. Chartered fellowships totaled 8,663.

1985 Harold Batiste, San Antonio, Texas elected sixth national president; Fourth National Congress of United Methodist Men at Purdue University with 6,055 men and boys. $112,000 in pledges and offering for United Methodist Men Foundation. "A Spiritual Journey for Men" introduced. Chartered fellowships totaled 9,283.

1986 Chartered fellowships totaled 9,306.

1987 Harold Batiste re-elected national president; First BOWL-A-THON raised $109,464 for the United Methodist Men Foundation. Men's Section, General Board of Discipleship, made Division in General Board of Discipleship. Chartered fellowships totaled 9,685.

1988 Chuck Jones, Van Nuys, California, elected First Chair of the newly formed Men's Division, General Board of Discipleship. Second BOWL-A-THON raised $119,533 for the United Methodist Men Foundation. General Conference changed Paragraph 264 of the Discipline to read, "Each local Church and charge shall have an organized unit of United Methodist Men Chartered and annually recertified through the General Board of Discipleship to provide another channel for involving men in the local church." General Conference made Jurisdictional Presidents full members of the General Board of Discipleship. United Methodist Men Foundation sponsored the First "Catch the Spirit Cruise", a seagoing retreat for 964 United Methodist men and women. United Methodist Men Foundation Scouting endowment reached $202,821. Chartered units totaled 10,050.

1989 Ernie Wendell, Durham, North Carolina, elected seventh national president. Third BOWL-A-THON raised $105,585 for the United Methodist Foundation. Fifth Congress of UMMen at Purdue University, July 14-16, 1989 with 5,200 men, a theme of Uniting Men in Christ, Many Ministries - One Spirit, and an offering of $60,403.33. Chartered units totaled 10,555. National Congress of United Methodist Men changed to the International Congress of United Methodist Men; Every Man Shares renamed Evangelism, Mission and Spiritual Life; Men in Mission work teams traveled to Jamaica to repair damage done by Hurricane Gilbert.

1990 Ernie Wendell served a second term as national president. Proceeds from the Fourth National BOWL-A-THON were $140,000. Net worth of the United Methodist Men Foundation at January 1991 was $529,169. Foundation received $20,000 for purchase of a 2-seat Cessna airplane for Zaire, Africa. Total charters were 11,505. Second UMMen Sea-Going Retreat with 500 in attendance. In Hawaii, 60 men from 33 churches met together.

1991 Stan England of Kennesaw, Georgia elected the eighth national president. Net proceeds from the Fifth National Bowl-A-Thon were $81,488.40. At January 1, 1992, net worth of the United Methodist Men Foundation was $480,272.35. Total charters were 9,325. Total EMS's were 9,108. In October, UMMen sponsored its first satellite broadcast, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the local unit chartering process. In Puerto Rico, 162 men met together.

1992 Stan England elected National President for the 1993-1996 Quadrennium.

1992 General Conference action made the national president of UMMen a full voting member of the General Board of Discipleship. Net proceeds from the Sixth National Bowl-A-Thon were $134,360.93. At January 1, 1992, net worth of the United Methodist Men Foundation was $665,236.77. Total charters were 9,743. Total EMS's were 8,112. Second UMMen satellite broadcast, marking the 25th anniversary of the merger of The Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church. Leonard Thompson of Baltimore, Maryland, elected Chair of the Men's Division of the General Board of Discipleship for the 1993-1996 Quadrennium. In October 1992, the Rev. Byron Lee White became the Director of Scouting Ministries. First National Conference on Black Men in Crisis held in August with over 500 in attendance.

1993 General Board of Discipleship adopts Quest for Quality and restructures into "Streams." Division of UMMen now part of the Laity in Ministry stream. Funds raised in the Seventh National Bowl-A-Thon were $86,684.09. Net proceeds in the United Methodist Men Foundation at January 1, 1993 were $847,586.83. Sixth International Congress of United Methodist Men held at Purdue University with 4,500 men under the theme "A Man Sent From God." Total chartered units were 9,593. Total EMS members were 8,311.

1994 At January 1, 1994, net amount in the United Methodist Men Foundation was $1,072,307.57. The Office of Scouting Ministries became the Office of Civic Youth-Serving Agencies/Scouting. Eighth National Bowl-A-Thon raised $125,669.26. Total chartered units were 9,993. Total EMS members were 10,017. Second National Conference on Black Men in Crisis held in August with over 500 in attendance. UMMen (church-wide) reported contributions of $10,001,476 to mission projects.

1995 On January 1, Director Allen Brown retired after 16 years of faithful service. United Methodist Men Foundation assets totaled $1,081,769.84. National Director Jim Snead resigned in July. A new improved Moving United Methodist software program installed. Ninth National Bowl-A-Thon raised $86,011.68. EMS income was $117,501.

1996 On January 1 Foye Webb became the new UMMen National Director (Team Leader) of the Division of United Methodist Men. United Methodist Men Foundation assets totaled $1,243,264.14. Leonard Thompson, chair, Men's Division, General Board of Discipleship, died unexpectedly. Recognition dinner held at the Spring NACP meeting for Leonard Thompson, Jim Snead, outgoing national president Stan England, and Nashville pastor James King. Robert Powell, Dothan, Alabama elected ninth national president. General Board of Discipleship restructured into ministry units. Division of United Methodist Men now part of the Discipleship Ministry Unit. General Conference created a new General Commission on United Methodist Men effective January 1, 1997. First organizing Board meeting held September 12-15, 1996, in Nashville, Tennessee. Jim Snead named Executive Director of the UMMen Foundation as of July 1. EMS contributions at September 1 were $121,794. 11,590 EMS members on record; chartered units totaled 9,452; 1,364 UMMen Life members.