2,200 United Methodist Men Bond through Fellowship

Thousands of Methodist men convened in fellowship and education at the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., for the 9th annual United Methodist Men’s Gathering, July 15-17, 2005.

Topics at the gathering covered both the spiritual and social aspects of ministering to men. During one unique segment, Biblical messages were linked with favorite old-time television shows, such as “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Lucy Show,” “Bonanza” and “Superman.”

"God uses story to reveal his truth to us. We're like the disciples from Matthew 13:10. We hear it in different ways,” Stephen Skelton, founder of The Entertainment Ministry, told the participants as he lead the workshop.

He explained that in Great Britain, “The Beverly Hillbillies” was more popular than in the United States because it addressed social and economic prejudices and morality and materialism.

Skelton also showed that Biblical themes lie behind these storylines because “the Bible is the most influential book in the world.” One such case is evidenced in the way characters in “The Beverly Hillbillies” are named. Granny’s last name was Moses, and Jed's nephew was Jethro, he said. Another example was the name of an episode called “Jed Plays Solomon.” Noting that Jedidiah was the heavenly name God gave to Solomon, Skelton commented, "Jed plays Solomon indeed.”

Focusing on a larger picture, Skelton provided tips for the men to find scriptural themes in secular films and books. These tips were to: Examine the overall program for spiritual themes; Focus on the storylines, characters and names; and use the information as a testimonial.
"We're meant to engage storytelling as art. God's truth will come through pastors or pagans - secular stories with moralistic messages. It's for us to discern the truth,” he said.

Skelton’s session was just one of 30 workshops offered at the gathering.

In a workshop about missions, the attendants were told to take evangelism seriously.

"Mission work is a good example of where faith and work come together in perfect harmony," said Gil Hanke, president of the men's commission and a layman from Nacogdoches, Texas, according to the United Methodist News Service.

Hanke, who works in mission both domestically and internationally, explained that through ministering, both the receiver and deliverer of the good news will be blessed.

"You may think you will be the deliver of blessings and the people you are serving will be the recipients, but you will be blessed beyond measure."

In other business, the organization agreed to move it’s headquarter to a building separate from the United Methodist Church as a way to develop “our brand of identity.” They men also recognized the Rev. Joseph Harris, the top executive for the last eight years, for his service to the ministry, and contributed more than 5,000 pounds of canned foods through the Society of St. Andrew to feed the hungry in Indiana.

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