Meet Don Latham - The Man Behind MenUnited
A blessing from church leaders in the city, proved to Don Latham that he was on the right track, with his idea for a 'cringe free' men's breakfast event..."that any man would feel comfortable and confident to invite a neighbour, work colleague or friend to" in 2007. Since then Menunited has gone from strength to strength, regularly meeting the first Saturday of each month with Christian speakers.
But what did inspired Don to unite the city's men with bacon, eggs, coffee and God?
"I was prompted in 2007 to start a new work for men in Bath - to reach men for Christ. Many churches run successful fellowship style Saturday breakfasts but I wanted to arrange a ‘cringe free’ event that any man would feel comfortable and confident to invite a neighbour, work colleague, or friend to attend that would be inspiring, enjoyable, and potentially life changing. Men who would not initially attend a church based breakfast. A key word for the event would be excellence." says Don.
The next step would be a 'discussion paper' for church leaders in the city to give their thoughts on this new 'blokeish' event. To Don's joy he received a green light in the response 'we are positive regarding your ideas for men, so feel free to proceed with our blessing and support.' So Don did.
What's In A Name?An old friend, Christian philanthropist and first Menunited speaker, Graham Dacre and his wife Julie came up with the title for Don's project. "I did not know what to do about the name but was clear in my mind was that Graham should be our first speaker. He duly agreed to come from his home in Norwich, and it was from him the name Menunited came.
"Julie, his wife, had thought of this name for a recent men’s dinner organised by their own church that had attracted over 200 men. So with their permission the name was adopted and has been very well received. It is simple, blokish and not stuffy."
Why Do Men need to Unite?
Ask Don why men need this sort of regular event and he points to the need to make space for God and the big issues of life, as well as the challenge of being distinctly Christian in the workplace.
He explains: "Men need a place they can network, develop relationships and friendships and be inspired by other men who have achieved success – sometimes even through great adversity. They have to balance high pressure at work, family life, Christian and other activities demanding their time."
Don says that men need a particular space to find a real relationship with God and a safe arena in which they can feel free to ask questions and be encouraged, mentored and not shut down.
"Men want reality and not religion. They want a Christian faith that is real and is relevant to every aspect of life. They also need plces where they can relax and enjoy creative thinking time and be challenged to make a difference. A place to ask questions and to have mentoring available and efffective prayer ministry." he explains." says Don.
When you meet Don who formerly held the role of Chief Executive of West Wiltshire District Council, it is obvious he has a passion for uniting people, a warmth for others and is a keen evangelist. His empathy for the characteristics of men and their needs is clear and everyone is welcome to the free, but donations welcome event.
"We are open to all men of all ages and social backgrounds and hope to attract men of faith and those who simply want to find out more. In particular we hope that men who would not initially feel comfortable at a church run/based event will find our events accessible and enjoyable."
Part of Bath's Kingdom Life!
Although aimed at men only, Don feels that Menunited's reach extends into all aspects of the Kingdom of God in Bath. "One of the aims of Menunited is to make an impact for good on the life of the City. We need to bring the principles of the Kingdom into all aspects of City life. Public sector, politics, education, private sector, retail, tourism, sport, media and voluntary sector. Already there are Christians making significant contributions to the quality of life in our city by their active engagement in each of these areas. We even have a Christian captain of Bath Rugby – Luke Watson - who filled the Ha Ha Bar to capacity for a recent breakfast.
"A new initiative being planned is for a City Prayer Breakfast so that we can pray for Bath and in particular for Don Foster our MP. We live in a very special place which I believe will see revival in my lifetime!"
Where has Evangelism Taken You?
A keen evangelist, Don has travelled throughout Britain, extensively in Europe and at times further afield. He has regularly delivered more than 100 speaking engagements a year to anything from small house meetings to radio broadcasts and audiences of more than 1,000.
"My wife and I have ministered in more than 30 counries and have witnessed revival in a number of them. Central and South America have been exciting but our primary work abroad has been in India."
Don jokes: "I did change my car regularly and thankfully much was done before the M6 became so congested! Whenever I could I would fly or go by train. It was more relaxing and always interesting to discover the people you would meet on the journey!"
The Future for Menunited?
"I started without any idea of setting up an organisation. What I wanted was simply to establish a standard or benchmark for no 'cringe' evangelism for men in Bath. An event of excellence, simple to organise and high quality that men could invite, with confidence, any neighbour, work colleague and friend..We will soon have six Menunited's operating... and there are other expressions of interest...
"My home group leader had a picture of me launching a shiny new fishing boat and after the launch a fleet of other new fishing boats followed. How far this will spread I do not know. But the concept is simple and can be replicated easily. A key is involving men from a wide range of chuches (over 20 in Bath). God loves unity and that is why Menunited is such a good title!" says Don.
A Typical Menunited Breakfast
"We meet in Bath on the first Saturday of the month at the Ha Ha Bar & Grill, Walcot Street and men start arriving at 7.30am.
Self Service coffee is available. Breakfasts start to be served from 7.45am and the staff keep going until everyone is served. The speaker starts no later than 8.15am and finishes by 9.00am. Men are then free to leave or if they wish to stay on for more conversations/prayer.
"We get between 80 – 160 men and now have an email list of 500 names. No charge is made but we do have a donations box. So far a number of Christian businessmen have also provided sponsorship. Men are encouraged to bring guests and we are well promoted through Church news sheets, various web sites and the Bath Chronicle."