‘Act Like a Man’ draws crowd for new venue, teaching

By Jessica Brodie

COLUMBIA—More than 200 men headed to Journey United Methodist Church Feb. 23-24 ready to learn new ways to act like a man in the eyes of the Lord.

Drawing from 1 Corinthians 13:11, “Act Like a Man” was the theme of the event, featuring powerful teaching and testimony from a host of ministry leaders on what authentic spiritual maturity requires.

“I was pleased at attendance with the change of churches,” said Men N Ministry president Kenny Bingham. “Journey embraced us and did a fantastic job supporting our Men N Ministry event.”

The two-day retreat kicked off with a golf tournament Friday morning at The Spur at Northwoods Golf Course, then a Cigars and Scriptures men’s fellowship event at Journey that evening. While they enjoyed shrimp and grits and specialty cigars, the men shared sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant answers to the question of the night: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring three items, what would those items be?

Saturday morning started right at 8:30 with a welcome from Journey’s senior pastor, the Rev. George Ashford. Ashford noted that spiritual maturity is, ultimately, about liberation and emancipation—lifting up ourselves and our brothers in Christ from the shackles of sin, the world and all its trappings.

While the event was officially a United Methodist Men’s Men N Ministry event, men of all denominations were welcomed and featured in the gathering, which was meant to reflect a spirit of unity in Christ both in attendees and speakers. 

Ty Williams of Journey served as emcee with the Rev. Trevor Miller of Mount Horeb Church in Lexington. Both shared how even though they are men, they, too, struggle with maturity, as do most men.

Miller cited pride as an issue he works to overcome, while Williams noted, “I’m 42, almost 43, but I’ve still got some childish ways pouring out when I’m all alone or when I’m mad.”

Both lifted up 1 Corinthians 13:11 as important for men of Jesus to embrace as they journey toward full holiness in the Lord.

Speakers for the day included the Rev. Rosario “Roz” Picardo, co-pastor at the multigenerational, multiethnic Mosaic Church in Beavercreek, Ohio; the Rev. Percy Reeves, senior pastor of the multicultural Sanctuary Charlotte Church in Charlotte; the Rev. Steven Brown, superintendent of the Marion District of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church; and Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, who closed the event with a Spirit-filled foot-washing to model what Jesus did for the disciples in John 13:1-9.

Marks of maturity

Picardo was the first speaker, lifting up practical steps to end childish ways and offered seven marks of maturity. A first-generation Sicilian-American who grew up in western New York, Picardo holds a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary and spent time as a military chaplain, serving four years in the Marine Reserves and five years in the Navy Reserves. Today in addition to pastoring Mosaic, he is an author and national speaker.

He shared how in America, we often have very few real rites of passage to mark when a boy becomes a man, unlike how it is in other cultures around the world. Therefore, today’s men get confused about what it means to be a man, sometimes thinking it’s about being a “discipled jerk,” he said. Men often have little direction or teaching about this.

 “Asserting power and lording it over others not manhood,” he said.

Instead, he offered seven marks of maturity for men to aspire to reach. As he said, real men:

• Seek inner healing rather than perpetuating hurts;

• Show vulnerability rather than hiding their feelings;

• Ask for help rather than ignoring their limitations;

• Lift others up rather than putting them down;

• Live to serve rather than to be served;

• Are teachable rather than prideful; and

• Love rather than hate.

He invited men to make 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 personal, inserting their own name into the passage to help them understand what to aim for with maturity when it comes to love. For instance: “Roz is patient, Roz is kind. Roz does not envy, Roz does not boast, Roz is not proud. Roz does not dishonor others, Roz is not self-seeking, Roz is not easily angered, Roz keeps no record of wrongs. Roz does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Roz always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Roz never fails.”

Faithfulness and trust

After a time for roundtable discussion, Brown served as the event’s next speaker. Brown spent a decade as a construction project manager, high school teacher, coach and youth ministry director before seeking ordination as a pastor. He holds a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School and pastored a number of churches before his appointment as Marion District superintendent.

Brown talked about how trusting with all our heart is evidenced in the choices we make.

“To follow Jesus and let him be the shepherd we have to act and make choices,” Brown said.

He called a volunteer onstage and used the encounter to illuminate how trust works with men—often, men will trust if they can understand they are getting a good deal or there is an ironclad promise behind something—a truth in writing.

Brown shared how we make trades every day, some wise and some not so wise. For instance, he said, we might trade checking our email versus quiet time with God or scanning our social media feed over reading the Bible. But as Jesus asked in Mark 8:36, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (NKJV).

We have to make trades—to choose to serve rather than be served, to set time apart to be with God.

“God can be trusted, but you have to find that out for yourself,” Brown said.

Navigating Life’s Obstacles

Reeves spoke next. A former college football player for the University of South Carolina, Reeves started Sanctuary Charlotte Church in 2007 with a goal to establish a church that was truly welcoming to everyone regardless of personal history, family background, ethnicity or gender. He shared how when he was 13, his mom passed away, and his life entered a tailspin.

“I lost my way,” Reeves said, noting how he got kicked off the football team and was failing in school by his senior year when he realized he needed to turn his life around.

One day, watching George Rogers play football for the South Carolina Gamecocks, he was inspired to pray: “God, if you give me the ability to play, I’ll honor you wherever I am, no matter the circumstances.”

Two years later, he said, Rogers was his roommate. His life transformed. He eventually went from a walk-on who served as a tackling dummy at football practice to a full educational ride, and he knew the Lord was at the root of all of this.

“The Lord is able. I don’t care how old you are,” Reeves told the crowd.

He said the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those being saved, who are called, it is the power of God, and there is something in the cross that still speaks to us despite the world around us.

“When God breathes life into you, you become the man who God wants you to be and you discover and discern who God wants you to be,” Reeves said. “We mirror on outside what God is doing inside”

He pointed to the men before him, noting he knows some of them have had dreams shattered, marriages shattered, even relationships with their kids shattered. Yet God is still king.

“He’s able to put you back together again,” Reeves said. “I encourage you—whatever stage of life you’re in, God’s going to build something right where you are.”

A sending out

After lunch from Charlie’s Grill, South Carolina Resident Bishop Holston empowered the men, reminding them God has called them to be men of faith, men of valor, men of hope, men of grace and men of mercy. And without effective, godly men in the church, community and workplace, the world cannot become better.

“With you the world will be better, for God makes the difference through you,” Holston said.

Holston called all four of the UMC district superintendents there— the Revs. Anthony Hodge, Telley Gadson, Stephen Love and Steve Brown—onto the stage, asking them to sit in chairs and remove their shoes. Then, he knelt before each one and washed their feet in a reflection of what Jesus did in John 13:1-9.

He reminded the crowd that Jesus washed their feet to purify them before sending them out to do his work. Today, we can do the same.

“We must be An example,” Holston said. “My friends, in these moments we decide: We’re going to make the difference that needs to be made.”

The event also featured a host of vendors, sponsors and other supporters who helped make the day possible. Bingham lifted up corporate sponsors Southern Mutual Church Insurance, Church Visuals Twelve:Thirty Media, the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate and the South Carolina Conference Lay Leadership Area, as well as ministry vendors Salkehatchie, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Early Response Team, Men N Ministry Scouting, Asbury Hills Camp and the conference’s Campus Ministries.

He also expressed appreciation to the major sponsoring churches and local sponsoring churches for the event. Major sponsoring churches were Ashland, Journey, Union and Windsor UMCs (Columbia District); Surfside UMC (Marion District); and Good Samaritan and Woodland UMCs (Rock Hill).

Local sponsoring churches were Bethesda UMC (Anderson); Dacusville, Lee Road and St. Mark UMCs (Greenville); St. Mark UMC (Greenwood); Aldersgate and Lyttleton Street UMCs (Hartsville); and New Light UMC (Orangeburg).

Next year’s event will be Feb. 22. For more on UMM Men N Ministry:

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