The changing face of the Anglican Church Men’s ministry
The Old Boys Club!
These were common names that younger Anglicans jokingly used to refer to the Anglican Church Men’s(ACM)ministry, but not anymore. This former”old people’s”ministry is getting a facelift as more young men are drawn to join the ranks.
“In the past when you thought of the ACM, most people would think it was for the older folks, probably because within the Anglican Church we already had a Christian Youth Ministry(CYM)that attracted kids up to 18 years old and Anglican Youth Association(AYA)which gathered the young people ages 18 to 35. So it couldn’t be helped that we only got the population 35 years old and older. But over the last few years we have been successfully breaking the barrier and getting through to young men that the ACM is not just for the older men. It is for all Anglican men 18 and older,”says president of the ACM Council, Kevin Ryan.
Within the last few years the once almost dormant organization has sprung to new life–unexpectedly because more younger men have taken an interest in the Christian men’s group. In the past it was common to see men aged 40 and older involved in the ACM, but now younger men below age 35, and even in their 20s are are finding the”old-timers” association appealing.
“While it is taking some time to get more younger men in New Providence on board we are having much more success in some Family Islands. On Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, for example we recently formed a new ACM branch and more than half of the members are young men between the ages of 20 and 35. This was astonishing and a big step for us. We have a few young men scattered in the branches in New Providence as well, but not to the extent we saw in Abaco. It was astonishing and we want to keep with this trend because it is important to have young blood, ideas and enthusiasm in this organisation.”
Even though the organization is still working on attracting even more younger men it is bringing in many more members in general as Ryan says there has been a boom in the membership and branch numbers in the last few months.
“The ACM is the fastest growing organization in the country and within the last five months between September and January we have added six new branches and are poised to add even more in another three months. Our aim is to have this organization so active that it is in every Anglican parish in the diocese. We want to also rejuvenate branches where they have gone dormant and this will only be possible with the help of the clergy and the interest of the lay people.”
Ryan says that there are many misconceptions about the organization beyond the age group. When the ACM initially started almost 40 years ago by Bishop Michael Eldon it was because there was a need for an organization for men in the Anglican church to correspond with the already existing Anglican Church Women’s organisation that was formed under Bishop Bernard Markham. In those times the organisation’s main purpose was to assist in the maintenance of the church’s physical structure and grounds. Over the years, the ACM has evolved and this is no longer the primary purpose.
“Many young men may still be under the impression that this is all that we do, but times have changed and there is much more that we do to interact to influence those around us,”says the president.”Our focus is now on responding to men and their issues. Our role now is to lead by example in the rearing of boys into manhood. Although this is something that we did do on the church front, we are planning to do much more than before. Instead of only concerning ourselves about the conduct of the young man in church we want to be all around involved.”
This he says will be accomplished by embarking on a big brother/little brother program that Ryan hopes will officially be organized and put into play by June. He says this is something that the older and younger members are interested in. Getting an organization like that started will not only benefit the young men in the church and the community as they will be taken under the wing of a big brother, but it will also help the men themselves.
“Knowing that the point of the program is to lead by example it will push men to be more accountable of their own actions. Although we are Christian men we are not perfect, and knowing that we can impact another life and someone is watching us in order to follow it will make us want to be better men and do more. So it’s something that helps everyone, the mentee and the mentor. The program will let our men mentor the young men in church and get them involved in their personal lives as well in terms of academics, giving relationship advice, finding job opportunities and simply being someone they can talk to about anything. We want to be that consistent father figure in the lives of these young men that we see in the community and on Sundays who may not have that at home. We can only help our young men if we get interested in them as a whole and not only on one front.”
Ryan is pleased with the growth of the ACM and the involvement and genuine interest of the young men because he and the older members want to see more young men claiming their ministry in the church.
“We the older members have seen it, experienced it and we want to share it with the younger generations. We want to teach them how to develop positive relationships and how they should be treating others whether they get along or not. We want to start to reverse this social degradation in our society and we have to get through to the young men which I think we are doing. So with the growth of the ACM we want there to be more positive role models for young men to see and want to emulate. If they can see positive from us, or better yet one of their peers, the troublemakers may have a change of heart and start to behave differently. It is important to start somewhere and I believe the church is a good place to do it.”