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UM Men has strength, purpose at Mo. church Fred Koenig, Apr 26, 2012
Fathers and daughters enjoy a dance at St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Mo.
By Fred Koenig Special Contributor
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Getting men to commit to come to church on Sunday morning can be challenging. So how about getting them to come to a service that starts at 6 a.m.? And let’s make it on New Year’s Day.
That’s the kind of challenge that the United Methodist Men at St. James UMC in Kansas City aren’t afraid to try.
“We thought it would be good to bring in the new year in church, in worship and in prayer,” said UM Men President Doug Ngomsi. The Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III wasn’t so sure that anyone would be ready to come to church at 6 a.m. the morning after New Year’s Eve, but if the UM Men were willing to give it a try, he would give it a go as well. He’s glad that he did.
“We had about 175 people there,” Dr. Cleaver said. “It was a great service of praise and prayer, that reached well beyond the United Methodist Men’s group to other men in the church.”
The big event to open 2012 was just one example of the type of activity that the UM Men at St. James can make happen.
The group has a strong legacy, and Mr. Ngomsi credits many of the older members with giving it the strength, support and vitality to be as active as it is.
“The heritage of the men who have been with us a long time is very important to us,” Mr. Ngomsi said.
But the group is also aware of trying not to rely too heavily on the heritage, and to also plan for the future. Mr. Ngomsi is intentional about trying to incorporate more young men into the group, and make them an active part of everything that they do.
“For the past few years, we’ve been trying to get more of the younger set involved, and we’re beginning to see more of a mix of ages at events,” he said.
Every Sunday there’s a men’s Bible study.
“We really study the word, and how it applies to our lives,” Mr. Ngomsi said.
The UM Men group is also involved in mission. There’s a men’s group called the “Minute Men,” who have made themselves available to members of the church for work needed around the house, which might be shoveling the driveway, doing yard work, or even fixing a problem with wiring or more technical repairs.
The UM Men at St. James developed a quarterly journal, treating it just like a commercial magazine, with a cover story and special sections, like sports. The publication addressed contemporary issues in faith. The UM Men business chamber promotes businesses owned by members of the church.
Every year at Men’s Day there is a special worship service, often with a guest preacher. “It’s our Sunday to re-energize the group,” Mr. Ngomsi said.
Heartland Central District Superintendent, the Rev. Yolanda Villa, was very impressed with the worship service at Men’s Day. “It was one of the most incredible, powerful expressions of worship I have ever seen,” she said.
One of the most recent events put on by the group was the father/daughter dance on March 24.
“With the father/daughter dance, the girls are demonstrated proper courtship,” Mr. Ngomsi said. “They really look forward to it. It’s a very popular event. It’s one of the ways we get other pockets of the congregation involved in what we do.”
On May 18-19, the group will be having a retreat at the Missouri Conference Wilderness Retreat and Development Center. Dr. Cleaver characterizes the UM Men at St. James as very active, and getting stronger.
“They are becoming involved in more ministries throughout the life of the church,” he said.
Mr. Koenig is editor of the Missouri Conference Review, where this story first appeared.