'Rise up!' Muskogee District retreat inspires men for missions


"Catch the spirit now!" exclaimed Muskogee District President "Yankee" Bill Nygard as the United Methodist Men’s retreat got under way Feb. 22 at Camp Egan.

And the 41 participants agreed it was a spirit-filled time at the district’s fourth annual UMMen retreat. From the opening lines of "Rise Up, O Men of God" on Friday to the closing Communion service on Saturday, the Holy Spirit was moving, reported Jeremy Jones.

"Rise Up" became the unofficial theme, because the hymn speaks of men uniting under Christ to strengthen the church and inspire positive change in a world full of negativity. Alongside men of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC), the Muskogee District men planted seeds for such a change to occur.

District Superintendent Emery Mason led the opening service. An old-fashioned hymn sing followed, with Merle Berryhill leading as the men sang in their native languages. When it comes to praising God, the music comes from the heart, whatever the words sound like. Darryl Johnson led "cracker-barrel" sessions, offering everyone chances to talk and build friendships.

UMMen President Nyard was encouraged by the attendance and the new partnership with OIMC men. "I believe we’ve started something," he commented.

On Saturday, the men learned about mission opportunities within the district and throughout Oklahoma. Speakers included Mark Howard from the Circle of Care, Royce Whitman of the OIMC, and "Soda" Steve Pool with Volunteers In Mission.

Keynote speaker was Steve Davis, a former OU quarterback, in what became one of his last speeches. He died March 17.

Kim Hutson, pastor at Spiro and Cameron churches, presided at Communion.

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