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Can you guess which one of these Presbyterian Men’s Fellowship leaders still puts in long days in the salt mine? Not Hank Vernon, the Program Chair, who has abandoned the gridiron for an active career on the links. Not Richard Eichhorn, the Membership Chair, who shares morning coffee with Max, the Lightning Fast Cat (Richard says “the caffeine does it to him”).
Yes, it is the man in a coat and tie, Gary Davis, the President of PMF. Gary claims not to have any “informal” pictures of himself. We find this hard to believe, since this man once was the lead guitar player for a Christian band called RELEASE!
Gary, Hank, and Richard (and those who came before) are responsible for the great success of the PMF. For years, the PMF met the first Saturday of every month from October to May. Dozens of men (women too) came to hear a wide range of interesting speakers, catch up on the latest news, and share the best (at least the cheapest!) breakfast in town. The purpose? To nurture a fellowship that naturally sprouted smaller gatherings in and outside of our Church community.
Richard Eichhorn remembers some of the impressive speakers. “We heard an uplifting report about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, presented by a former Marine who stood that duty. There was a thoughtful presentation from the Virginia State Police about hiring and training. On another Saturday, a young man gave us the inside story of challenges he faced opening a restaurant near the Church.”
All three see PMF as a valuable organization. “It brings you closer to Christ through Christian fellowship in a non-religious manner. You build male relationships (and let’s face it, how many friends do most men really have?) and participate in stimulating presentations, Q&A, AND get to eat,” asserts Hank. “Meaningful fellowship, keeping connected, meeting new people…these are all important,” add Gary and Richard. “All men of WPC should participate in PMF as an active way to grow closer to God. Women are welcome at all events as well,” concludes Hank.
Hank and Richard started participating in PMF shortly after joining the church. As a new member of WPC, Richard attended a breakfast meeting and was immediately offered the opportunity to be the Registrar. “This function involves keeping track of attendees as they arrive and providing name tags for members and guests. I met a lot of folks quickly. I still help with inviting new church members to attend,” relates Richard. Hank heard an announcement from the lectern, tried coming, and repeated so often he ended up as Program Chair when Bob Condon stepped down.
Not surprisingly, all three PMF leaders have spread their talents over other WPC missions, from Elders to Deacons to Nominating Committees to Christian Education and more. Gary had brought his organizational skills to so many other church groups that he was an obvious choice to become PMF President.
Now PMF is facing the challenge of COVID-19. The last meeting was in February 2020.
“COVID-19 has damaged PMF,” says Hank. “The future is uncertain. Yes, we will recover from COVID and eventually resume our breakfast programs. But COVID has highlighted the opportunity to think about positive change. Gary and the team are looking at ways to foster fellowship through virtual connections. We must recruit younger male members to participate and support PMF. Society’s pace today may mean adjusting our practice of leisurely Saturday morning breakfasts in order to attract broader participation.”
Gary, Hank, and Richard are determined to re-establish PMF and even “reach into a broader base of organizations and people across the community.” It sounds very much like all three leaders are rallying to the theme “We Shall Return.”
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