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100-Plus Workshop Attendees Learn the Importance of Being “Real Men”

Story by Taashi Rowe
Published 8/28/13

The men start the day off with prayer in groups of three.
“I was motivated by the need to be a better man,” was Oliver Mahoro’s response when asked why he was spending his Sabbath some 40 miles away from his home congregation, Chesapeake Conference’s Pikesville (Md.) church. At 19, he was probably one of the youngest men to attend a one-day “Real Men” workshop held last Sabbath at Takoma Academy in Takoma Park, Md. “I want to be a better man, not just for me, but for my family, for my younger brothers and sisters. I have a lot of influence, and I don’t want to influence them in the wrong way.”
The workshop, which drew 112, was the inaugural event for the United Men’s Ministries Movement (UM3), an organization whose leaders are focused on providing resources to the men of the Columbia Union Conference for spiritual leadership in their homes and churches. The day began with a brief devotional presented by C.D. Brooks, former speaker/director of the Breath of Life ministries, who spoke about the importance of manhood and of having a good name.
“We can do better than we do now—we can be men!” Brooks said enthusiastically. He also pointed to the most important man of all time: “Jesus was not a namby pamby, flash in the pan, soft-bodied man. Jesus was a man. He chose 12 unlettered men, turned them loose and they turned the Earth upside down. If this group gets going, you have no idea what can be done.”
And turning the Earth upside down is exactly what Clifton Fitzgerald, UM3 chairman and a member of Potomac Conference’s Restoration Praise Center in Lanham, Md., yearns to do. He and several others saw the importance of a ministry like this after realizing, “There are too many of us slipping through the cracks,” he said. “We have so many issues that we are not dealing with and so few programs to address them.”
John Trusty, director of Allegheny East Conference’s Relationship Ministries Department, agreed. “In my opinion, a lot of men are not realistic about their needs and the tools required to help address what is going on in their lives,” he said. “The purpose of Men’s Ministries is to help men help each other. Some men have a lot of shame, and we think that we don’t have issues, but we all do! Also, a lot of men don’t realize the impact they could have on the church … just by being men of God.”

After hearing about the founder’s vision for this program, Trusty eagerly stepped in to serve as the group’s advisor. “Some of our conferences have weak Men’s Ministries programs, while some have very strong ones. We need to come together so that every ministry is strong and not let conferences be the defining boundary for ministry,” he said.
While UM3 is not the first Men’s Ministries-oriented organization in the Columbia Union, organizers hope it will serve as a clearinghouse for all such ministries in the union and raise more awareness about available programs to all the men in the territory. 
By starting with this one-day workshop, UM3 leaders wanted to lay the groundwork and share with attendees some very basic but necessary tools for becoming “real men.” Some of the workshops touched on topics about communication, conflict resolution, spiritual leadership and effective fatherhood.
Fitzgerald likens the organization’s purpose to that of Nehemiah, in that they are focused on “rebuilding the broken walls of commitment, of priesthood, of service, and we’re tearing down the old walls of separation, selfishness and control.  We’re trying to rebuild men and pass on the true torch to this generation and the next.”
He continued, “We need to start examining ourselves as husbands, fathers and leaders. We are dropping the ball. If we are supposed to be the priests in our homes, but instead we’ve let life take over, then we are dropping the ball. It is our responsibility to take care of our families, churches and community.”
And, for men like Tony Mathison, a member of the Pikesville church, the program was an important reminder that men do have a responsibility to help shore each other up. He said it had been a long time since he attended a Men’s Ministries event. “I’m learning the importance of being an example in the home and in our churches,” he said. “We have a responsibility to protect our families and make sure they make it into the kingdom. I also think it is really important that we help younger men learn how to be gentlemen.”
Darryl Dixon, a member of Potomac’s Pennsylvania Avenue church in Capitol Heights, Md., said, while he doesn’t need a lot of programs for men, he agrees with Mathison about the need to be an example. “There are not a lot of men in our churches and that reflects the trend in our society ... Because of this it is important for others in the community [to see] good father figures in our churches.”
Thomas Marufu, a member of Potomac’s Takoma Park, (Md.) church, said he originally attended the event because he wanted to learn more about being a priest in his home and a leader at his church. “I found the day to be very informative and uplifting, from the devotion by CD Brooks and the information I got from the communication and money classes.”
Antaeus Logan, a member of Restoration Praise Center, said of his experience, “This was great. I got a lot of knowledge and wisdom. … I think we should have more of these types of events.”
Looking back at the event, Fitzgerald said, “It has absolutely inspired us to continue to press towards galvanizing men’s ministry. However, this work is not mine alone, it’s ours; and we’re just the messengers.  We are attempting to accomplish something very big, but our God is bigger!”

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