TRURO - After looking around his community and seeing some men who needed a good proverbial butt kicking, Pastor Bill Martin decided it was time to take action.
Now he has men thanking him for it. And, also their wives.
"We had some people who came out because I said that men need a good kick in the rear," the pastor for the Debert Baptist Church said, of his invitation last winter to male parishioners.
"You want to come out and get a good kick in the rear come be with me on Saturday," he said, of his message.
The result has left him somewhat overwhelmed as a growing number of men from the greater Debert community (Belmont, Masstown, etc.) take on the challenge and commitment of becoming Men of Honour.
Men of Honour is a group of male parishoners who have been meeting each Saturday at the church since early last winter, Martin said, in an effort to take a greater responsibility in both their home and community lives.
"I've witnessed for a long time," he said, "a scarcity of men today, both in church and more importantly in leadership in church. It used to be that men ran everything - business, associations, community organizations - they were the leaders of church, they were the leadership of everything. And quite frankly, biblically speaking, that's the way it's supposed to be and that's not an affront to women anywhere or a question of equality."
But men have a responsibility in society, he said, which in modern times has been greatly "abdicated," particularly in the home.
"So, we see too many broken homes, too many absent fathers, or homes without fathers and that's been a source of concern to me for a long time," he said.
While women "have found their rightful place" by taking on more responsibility within society, Martin said, men, on a general level, have done precisely the opposite.
"It needs to be a sharing thing and what has happened is the pendulum has swung way the other way. Men are missing. It is not a question of whether women should be there or not. They should be. But it needs to be an equality. Right now woman have been left to carry the can for everything.
"Women have found their rightful place but men have left it. It is time to bring men back into the mix. This is not a slap toward women. It's a rebute toward men. We've not done the job."
The result of the Saturday morning chat sessions has so far culminated in a recent community breakfast hosted by the Men of Honour, which fed 180 individuals. A second breakfast is planned for today. There is no admission to attend the breakfast, although donations are accepted to help fund an after-school snack program for Debert Elementary school students, which is run through the church.
It is also another area in which the Men of Honour have stepped in to assist.
The group, which at peak times numbers a tad over 15, also recently held a clean up day along Plains Road and plans are in the works to develop a work party, which will see a number of participants heading to the Dominican Republic (at their own expense) to help build a church.
Martin is hoping such journeys will become annual events, but in the meantime, it is the changes occurring in his backyard that convinces him of being on the right path.
"What we've been learning together about each other and this business about getting the kick in the pants, when you look at our world today, our community today, you don't have to look very far to find a house with one parent" he said. "It might be a man trying to be mother and father together but in most cases it's a woman. But that's a symptom of the breakdown of men following their responsibility. If a man does what is expected of a man and what a man should do, he would take his responsibility seriously."
Anyone can father a child, Martin said, "but not anybody can be a father. And our society is hurting today because of broken homes and broken homes are a result of failed responsibility. And a lot of times, that falls on the shoulders of a man. Not always but a lot of times."
Danny Gibson, pastor of the Christian Fellowship Centre in Debert and also one of the Men of Honour, said he too recognized the decline in male responsibility within society along with a growing separation within communities, including among religious institutions.
"And I was very interested in it because we as churches in the communities and in the area actually have got kind of a bad reputation because you've got your church and we've got ours, they're separate and we don't' want to have anything to do with you," he said.
"We want to get away from that. What we need to do is work together because we are all doing the same job."
Like Martin, however, Gibson sees the positive changes taking place among the still-fledgling group.
"The men got involved. Every one of them just pushed together, pulled together, just put this whole thing together and it turned out great because everybody was involved," he said.
And if they're own observations are not enough to convince the pastors of the need to carry on, once again they have female input to show them the way.
"I know it has," Martin said, of the individual progress being made. "But I can't tell you why or how because that would kind of reveal personal things. But I've had some wives take me aside and say, 'I don't know what you are doing with him, but keep doing it.'"
– The Men of Honour participants are a non-denominational group who willing welcome males of all ages into their setting.
– A priority aspect for participating is that you must be willing to commit to long-term involvement in whatever community projects are taken on.