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Published: 4/2/2005

700 expected at Momentum rally in Bedford

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Momentum held a rally in 2004 in Bedford Township and will hold another Thursday. Momentum held a rally in 2004 in Bedford Township and will hold another Thursday.
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Bands like this one in Bedford Township in 2004 are part of rallies held every spring and fall to bridge the gap between Promise Keepers gatherings for spirituality and male bonding. Bands like this one in Bedford Township in 2004 are part of rallies held every spring and fall to bridge the gap between Promise Keepers gatherings for spirituality and male bonding.
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But what about the long spell between the summertime Promise Keepers events?

A group of Bedford Township, Mich., men from a cross-section of churches decided to create a nondenominational men's ministry called Momentum to tide them over by holding regional rallies every spring and fall, and an estimated 700 men are expected to attend the next gathering Thursday night at Bedford High School.

"Seventy percent of men who go to Promise Keepers come back and never get plugged in," said Mike Fisher, one of the organizers. "So we started a men's group in our own churches, and we felt like God was blessing it. We'd build it up to 30 or 40 guys, then they would split off and start another group, and that group would grow to 30 or 40 guys and split off again."

It was the growth of the various men's groups in the Bedford Township church community that convinced organizers to form a larger men's ministry that would bring everyone together: Momentum - Michigan-Ohio Men Together United in Christ.

The first Momentun rally was held two years ago at Bedford Church of the Nazarene, Mr. Fisher recalled, and the pastors of the Bedford Township churches were so inspired by the event that they asked him if they could take over the reins.

Eventually, however, the ministers found that they had too many other responsibilities to keep Momentum going, and handed control back to the enthusiastic laypersons who founded it.

Momentum organizers have since decided to hold their rallies at a "neutral site," such as Bedford High, to avoid any potential barriers involving denominations or religious affiliations.

Last fall, the rally drew 465 men, and organizers are expecting a standing-room-only crowd Thursday night at the high school's 673-seat auditorum.

One of the factors behind Momentum's popularity is the price: it's free.

Speakers donate their services and rally costs are covered by donations, said Gary Joiner, another organizer.

"The fact that it's free is a big drawing card," Mr. Joiner said. "We don't want to turn anybody off or turn anybody away. We want men to get plugged in to their church and their community,

to see that nobody is an island on their own."

Mike Stanley, founder of Manhood in Action Ministries, based in Columbus, will be the speaker Thursday night. A former entrepreneur and a college and high school coach, he now devotes his time to helping men have a "positive impact on their circles of influence."

"I think men have this misunderstanding, they think they're the Lone Ranger," Mr. Stanley said. "But the fact is, even the Lone Ranger had a sidekick. He had a companion. Too many of us think we're a lone Lone Ranger."

He said he believes Momentum is an important step in "filling the gap" between the Promise Keepers rallies, especially for men who don't regularly attend church.

"First of all, I'm a great believer in the local church and I think many local churches out there are doing a great job with men and men's ministries," Mr. Stanley said. "However, there are a lot of men floating around out there and a group like Momentum allows them to get plugged in."

He said that men often don't get involved in church ministries because the pastors and staff don't appreciate their entrepreneurial, independent spirits.

"People are wary of them. They're not used to that level of high energy and high drive. I'm hoping that the next generation of churches and church leaders, instead of inhibiting that entrepreneurial spirit, will in many cases unleash it."



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