As the book of Proverbs says, “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” And that very idea is working through a group of Christian men in the Golden Isles.
Five men, all from different area denominations, found themselves drawn together with a common goal — making a difference in the lives of local children. It began when Bill Holmes, a member of St. William Catholic Church, started to connect with like-minded individuals he met by attending various men’s breakfast groups.
Richard Wagner, a member of St. Simons Presbyterian Church, was approached by Holmes.
“Bill, who has been the driver of the group, just has this passion to break down barriers and build bridges between different denominations,” Wagner said. “He approached me and told me about this group that he wanted to start, the Christian Men’s Roundtable, and asked if I was interested in joining. And I really didn’t know the man. But he had his idea kind of written out on a piece of paper and he handed it to me. I was like ‘absolutely, I’d love to be involved.”
Ultimately, that led to the round table being established and others joining. In addition to Holmes and Wagner, they are Kirby Crawford of Lord of Life Lutheran Church and Doug Monroe of Wesley United Methodist Church, all on St. Simons Island, as well as Willie Simmons of Zion Baptist Church in Brunswick.
After meeting and some prayers, they decided the group’s primary mission would be to establish a male mentoring program in the local school system.
“A friend, Pastor Craig Campbell, pointed out that one of the biggest problems is that there are mothers and grandmothers raising young boys without any male role models. And the young boys are desperate to have someone of the same gender to reach out to them,” Holmes said.
Some of the group members were already experienced mentors. Monroe, for instance, has been working with a boy at Goodyear Elementary for two years. Simmons is another, although he has a more personal connection. He has taken his grandson under his wing to provide some guidance.
“I’ve had my grandson with me for a year. He is 17 and comes from a single parent home,” he said. “Just the fact that I’ve had him with me has changed his attitude toward life. They just really want a male figure to relate to and I can help him because I remember what it was like to be young ... and the problems that 17-year- olds have.”
The group is now looking to expand and engage with the community by encouraging other local men to do the same. It is simple enough — one hour a week, becoming a mentor through the Glynn County School System. Monroe, who has experience with the application process, says it’s easy to navigate.
“There is a formal application form you fill out from the school system. You have to go to the school board central office on Egmont Street and then you also go through a background check. It’s $50 for the background check then once you pass you choose the school closest to you. You work with the guidance counselor who will assign you a child,” Monroe said.
From there, mentors simply show up at the school during school hours once a week. All that needs to be given is time and energy, the group says.
“All you really have to do is show up. These kids haven’t really had men who do that for them so it’s important. A lot of people think it’s very time consuming but it really isn’t ... it is just an hour a week. You go for an hour during the day and you can pick almost any time that they are in school,” Monroe said.
“But everyone I talk to about it ... you get as much out of it as the kids do. It’s great. But they just need to know that someone cares about them and loves them.”
For those looking for more information about the Christian Men’s Roundtable or to participate in the mentoring program, contact Bill Holmes at 912-634-2088.