Rev. Thurmond Bowens, Jr., (Trinity Baptist Church) of Columbia, South Carolina has a vision that men should step up and take their rightful position in the home, church and community. Toward that aim, in 1997, his first year as spiritual leader at Trinity, Pastor Bowens organized a male and female Bible study group (separate from regular Wednesday night Bible study). The men studied from a book entitled The Measure of a Man by Gene A. Getz. In 1998 Pastor Bowens commissioned some of the brethren to look into having an overnight retreat to commemorate the completion of the book. The efforts of the brethren led to a Male Retreat that was held at the White Oak Conference Center, White Oak, South Carolina.
On Friday, September 11, 1998, sixteen men of the Trinity Baptist Church arrived at the White Oak Conference Center. The men arrived Friday evening and stayed until Sunday morning. Pastor Bowens wrapped everything up emphasizing the "role of man". It was truly an awesome experience for the men of Trinity, young and old to witness such an event. It was decided at that occasion to make this an annual event.
After the 1998 Male Retreat, Pastor Bowens realized that the fellowship of men was so important that he shared his vision and mission with other pastors of the Columbia area.
The 2nd Male Retreat was held August 27-29, 1999, along with three other churches: Central Baptist Church, Pastor Ricky Ezell; Jerusalem Baptist Church, Pastor Chester Gray; and Peaceful Baptist Church, Pastor R. A. Sanders. There was a total of forty-nine (49) brothers attended this retreat.
During this retreat the pastors did a series of studies:
- No More Going Through the Motions
- What is Man?
- Man’s Right Position at Home
- Becoming Faithful Men
- The Time is Now
- The Urgency of God's Purpose
The series of teachings were so uplifting and inspiring that brothers were saying, "we are onto something." The pastors appointed two men from each church to come together monthly to form a Christian men's organization.
The first committee meeting was held September 18, 1999 (Trinity Baptist Church) to formally organize the Men's Retreat and identify participating churches. Representatives present at the first meeting were: Reverend Victor Berry, Peaceful Baptist; Deacon George Richardson, Central Baptist; Deacon Ben Oliver, Jerusalem Baptist; Deacon Oscar Walker, Trinity Baptist, Brother Fred Hogsett, Central Baptist; and Trustee Kelvin Capers, Trinity Baptist. Officers were elected to serve as the Men's Retreat Committee. The officers are as follows: Deacon Oscar Walker, Chairman; Deacon Ben Oliver; Vice Chairman, Reverend Victor Berry, Treasurer; and Brother Fred Hogsett, Secretary. It was voted upon that each officer should hold office for a term of two years. Also, no two officers shall be from the same church during the two-year period.
The annual gathering was re-named the Male Retreat. The umbrella organization that the Annual Male Retreat will operate under will be called MEN UNIFIED IN CHRIST.
On January 22, 2000, (Central Baptist Church) a recommendation was made to the organization to have a foundation (Men Unified in Christ Foundation). This would allow the organization to apply for grants to further enhance Christian maturity and education in Columbia and surrounding areas. The pastors stressed the significance of this Christian organization to not allow monetary issues move the organization from the focus and purpose of men uniting for Christ. The pastors recommended that the mission statement should reflect the positioning of man to Christ with guiding principles to teach men that the spiritual foundation is being rooted in Christ is first which will cause you to sew seeds on good soil.
On February 19, 2000 (Jerusalem Baptist Church) two more churches joined Men Unified in Christ; Friendship Baptist Church (House Street in Columbia), Reverend A. A. Dicks, Pastor and Red Hill Baptist Church, Gadsden SC, Reverend Donnie Chambers, Pastor. The mission statements were also revised to read:
Men Unified in Christ (MUIC)
To unite with one another to develop a deeper love for Christ, and properly understand Man's role to Christ. We are committed to lead men back to his proper position in his home, church and community.
Gathering in Christ to create a solid foundation in God's word. To commit our service to God to have a better understanding of Man's role.
On May 27, 2000 (Trinity Baptist Church) Zion Canaan Baptist Church, Reverend Bobby Smith became our seventh church and Praise & Deliverance Temple, Reverend Joseph McBride became our eighth church to join this ministry. On July 10, 2000, Reverend Stacey Mills of Mountain View Baptist Church, Greenville, SC consented to come aboard as our ninth church.
Our 3rd conference was held at the White Oak Conference Center on August 25-27, 2000. All nine churches were represented, totaling 111 males that attended. The pastors had an awesome training agenda. Rev. Bowens "kicked" off session one on Friday evening with Removing the Mask. That training topic brought an awakening and awareness to the brethrens. Rev. Dicks continued Saturday morning with No more Half Stepping, which was aligned with the first message. Rev. Gray's subject was Making a Difference, One Man at a Time. Rev. Ezell wrapped up the session and concluded the weekend with No more Loser's Limp.
Our 4th annual conference was held August 3-5, 2001. The CEO along with the Pastors' of MUIC decided that the annual retreat was more than just a retreat; it was a conference. The goal of MUIC is for men to continue to create a solid foundation in God's Word. The conference curriculum was developed to continue to empower the men in developing a covenant relationship with God. The conference theme was "Disciplines of a Godly Man". The conference consisted of studies from using "Disciplines of a Godly Man" by author Kent Hughes.
This conference feathered separate sessions for our youths to attend as well as joint sessions with youths and adults. This allowed the youths to verbally express themselves and to discuss topics that solely related to issues they are facing in becoming a Godly man.
Collaboration with the community was necessary to establish a partnership with community organization to address the social concerns as well as the spiritual concerns of man. The conference presented the South Carolina Department of Corrections "Get Smart" team was highlighted in a panel discussion. The panel discussion focused on how making bad decisions could really thwart the attainment of one's goals in the future.
The first session was opened by Pastor Bowens asking "Why Are We Here?" Breakout sessions included Discipline of Prayer facilitated by Bishop Joseph McBride for the adults and Discipline of Works facilitated by Mr. Errol for the youths. The conference featured Boys Night Out with a movie entitled Remember the Titans. Rev. Andrew Thomas facilitated the session breakout for the adults with Discipline of the Mind and Rev. Reginald Belton facilitated Discipline of Integrity for the youths. In the final session breakouts, Rev, Stacey Mills facilitated Discipline of Devotion for the adults and Rev. Reginald Belton facilitated Discipline of the Tongue for the youths. Rev. Donnie Chambers facilitated a joint session with Discipline of Worship.
The 4th conference closed with Worship Service on Saturday with keynote speaker Rev. Rickey Glenn, Pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Cayce, SC. This service allowed conference participates to put their praise and worship into action. The attendance was 144.
In January 2001, Rev. L. C. Chavous of Ridgewood Baptist Church joined MUIC.
In April 2001, Rev. Andrew Thomas of Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church joined MUIC.
In January 2002, Rev Charles Jackson of Brookland Baptist Church joined MUIC
In June 2002, Rev. Patrick Wise of Mount Moriah Baptist joined MUIC.
Our 5th annual conference theme was Disciplines of a Godly Man II (August 9-11, 2002). The CEO, Rev. Thurmond Bowens along with the pastors decided to complete the book by Kent Hughes. The fifth annual conference featured adult and youth sessions.
A drawing contest was offered to the youths. The winning youth would have their drawing featured on the front cover of the annual program. This event was sponsored by Dick Smith Auto (Deacon Calvin Legette, Trinity). The contest offered three categories (1) ages 5-7 $50 (2) ages 10-17 $100 and (3) college students $500. Only four applicants applied and they were in the ages 10-17 category. The applicants were Randy Martin (Trinity), David Wright (Ridgewood), David Patterson (Trinity) and Carlton Scott (Red Hill). The winner was Carlton Scott of Red Hill.
The disciplines of responsibility, work, worship, prayer, mind, integrity and tongue went to another level in providing "spiritual food" to the adults and youths. The Friday movie feature was John Q.
This conference was blessed to have two visiting churches: Fellowship Baptist Church, Gadsden, Alabama, the Rev. Scottie Rice and Pleasant Hill Baptist, Blenheim, SC, the Rev. Earl Platt.
Our keynote speaker was Rev. Scottie Rice who presented a soul steering message that pricked the heart of man. The attendance was 164.
Our 1st mini-conference was held in March 2003. The mini-conference was held in Greenville, South Carolina. The theme of the conference was Men Missing in Action. This conference involved all areas of the man's responsibilities by targeting (in separate break-out sessions) Pastors Missing in Action, Deacon's Missing in Action, Trustees Missing in Action and Lay members Missing in Action.
In August 2003, Rev. Joann Murrill of Victory Full Gospel Interdenominational, Sumter, SC joined MUIC.
Our 6th annual conference (2003) was held on Friday, August 8-10, 2003 at the South Carolina Baptist Conference Center in White Oak, SC. The conference theme was "Disciplines of a Godly Man" Part III that focused on relationships. Reverend Ray Sanders presented on the topic of "Discipline of Purity". This workshop informed us of sensuality being one of the biggest obstacles to godliness among men today and is spilling over into our churches.
The sub-theme was "Relationships". We were blessed to involve our community to highlight our relationship within our community- through community awareness. Brother Quincy L. Ford of the SC Law Enforcement (SLED) Forensic Department gave an excellent presentation on Drug Awareness followed by Officer Ronny Maurice and Officer Torrey Hollis of the Richland County Sheriff Department on Gang Awareness.
Reverend Reginald Belton and Reverend Perry Oliver held sessions with the youth in follow-up to the drug and gang awareness sessions that were presented on Friday night. The youth also discussed Discipline of Work, and Discipline of Integrity.
The adults session began with "Discipline of Friendship" presented by Reverend A. A. Dicks, Sr. Pastor Dicks encouraged the men to pursue and practice friendship if we are to be all God wants us to be. Reverend Andrew Thomas, presented on the "Discipline of Marriage". Pastor Thomas placed strong emphasis on charging men to love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Reverend Stacy Mills presented on the "Discipline of Fatherhood". Pastor Mills challenged the men to re-examine their relationship with their children. What awesome influence we have over our children. He reminded us that most children just want the attention and love of their fathers. Reverend Thurmond Bowens, Jr., concluded the workshop portion of the conference with a Wrap - Up Session entitled "Are You Ready?" Pastor Bowens informed the conference participants that spiritual discipline frees us from the gravity of this present age and allows us to soar with the saints and angels. He posed the question - Do we have what it takes to becoming men of discipline? Our keynote speaker was Reverend Dr. George D. Crenshaw, Presiding Elder of the Cheraw-Bennettsville AME Zion Church. Reverend Crenshaw gave a powerful message encouraging and challenging men to grow in their daily walk with God. The conference attendance was 196.
Our 2nd min-conference was held in December 6, 2003. MUIC held a Drug and Gang Forum at Trinity Baptist Church. The theme was Reaching Beyond the Church Walls to Make a Difference. Expert panelists came from the areas of education, legal, church, law enforcement, community leaders and victims.
Our 3rd mini-conference was held in March 27, 2004. MUIC sponsored a Financial Awareness workshop at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church. The focus of this conference was to assist our brethren on having good credit, getting out of debt, credit card debt, home buying, investments and biblical truths about stewardship.
Our 7th annual conference had a new change in venue in August 6-7, 2004. Dr. Andrew Thomas and his church family constructed a beautiful Family Life Center to serve the community. The executive board voted to have the seventh conference at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church in Lugoff, South Carolina. The theme for the 2004 conference was Men of Perseverance. Each year the goal is to take the conference to another level and this was certainly accomplished. The Mt. Pilgrim family provided service and hospitality to the conference attendees equal to and better than previous conference locations. This conference incorporated open forums that allowed more participation from the attendees. The conference was not well attended as anticipated. Evaluation results determined that the host (Mt. Pilgrim) could not enjoy the conference to the fullest because of being the host. Majority of the men registered as day students thus decreasing the fellowship among the men in the evenings. The executive board decided to have the annual conferences where majority of the men would stay overnight and not put the additional burden on a member church hosting and decreasing their fellowship.
Our 4th mini conference was held at Red Hill Baptist Church on April 30, 2005. This conference was designed for health awareness and wellness (body and soul). The goal was to encourage males in the community and member churches to have a health screening. The mini-conference offered blood pressure check, diabetes, cholesterol, prostate education, etc. The morning offered health screening and the afternoon offered spiritual food.
Our 8th annual conference was held August 12-14, 2005 at the White Oak Conference Center. The conference theme was " Men of God Carrying out the Great Commission". Friday morning Rev. Donnie Chambers (Red Hill Baptist) begin the mission of the conference by beginning with Discipline of the Church - Rev. Fred Coit (Assistant Pastor, Ridgewood Missionary Baptist) presented Discipline of Leadership - Rev. Reginald Belton presented - Discipline of Giving. Rev. Perry Oliver (Associate Minister, Trinity Baptist) begin the youth session with Why Personal Character Matters. Our Saturday morning joint session begins with Dr. A. V. Strong briefing the brethren on Gang Violence in the Midlands. This session was a follow-up to the December 6, 2003 mini conference on Reaching Beyond the Church Walls to Make a Difference. Rev. Rickey Glenn (Mt. Zion Baptist) preached on Our Body is the Temple of God - Rev. Donnie Chambers preached on Discipline of Evangelism. The Youth sessions were Sexual Immorality by Elder James Harris (SC Dept of Environment Control) and the youth ended up with a Rap Session on Making the Right Choices by Brother Errol Thomas (Macedonia Baptist). Our Keynote Speaker for the conference was Rev. Charles B. Jackson, Sr., pastor of the Brookland Baptist Church, West Columbia, South Carolina.
On February 10, 2007 Temple Zion (Rev. Reginald Flynn) joined MUIC.
Our 9th annual conference was held July 7-9, 2006 at the White Oak Conference Center. The conference theme was "Men Becoming Servants of God". Rev. Fred Coit (Assistant Pastor of Ridgewood Missionary) opened with It All Starts with God - Rev. Stacy Mills (Mountain View) preached on How We Grow - Dr. Andrew Thomas preached on Accepting Your Assignment. The youth sessions were Living a Balance Life by Brother Errol Thomas (Macedonia Baptist) - Personal Character by Brother Quincy Ford (Trinity Baptist). Rev. Thurmond Bowens (Trinity Baptist) "kicked off" the Saturday session with How Real Servants Act - Rev. Donnie Chambers (Red Hill) preached on Thinking Like a Servant - Rev. Reginald Belton (Mt. Olive) preached on Transformed By the Truth. The youth sessions covered Relationships (Brother Errol Thomas) and Knowing Your Purpose in Life (Rev. Bowens) The Saturday session of topics ended in a joint session conducted by Dr. Andrew Thomas (It Take Time). Our Keynote Speaker was Rev. Dane Harris, Associate Pastor of the Word of God Church and Ministries, Columbia, South Carolina.
April 28, 2007 was our 5th Mid Conference at the Brookland Banquet and Conference Center. Our theme was Financial and Health Awareness. We partnered with the Crown Financial Ministries of the Brookland Church to bring forth straight forward training from Mr. Jerome Nesbitt and Ms Wanda Barr on How to Start and Sustain a Financial Ministry in Your Church. Dr Andrew Thomas spoke on Get Your House in Order. Doctors Reginald Parker and Wayne Duffus brought in the health piece by speaking on Your Health and its Financial Impact and HIV 101.
10 Years - July 2007 - The MUIC Conference Committee recommended to the pastors (Executive Board) that we celebrate our 10th Anniversary in 2007 by having a banquet celebration in alignment of the same week of our annual conference. It was approved by the pastors and the committee went to work. At the end of ten years we had eight member churches of Men Unified in Christ (1) Brookland, (2) Friendship, (3) Mount Pilgrim, (4) Mountain View, (5) Red Hill, (6) Ridgewood, (7) Temple Zion and (8) Trinity. Our ten year theme was Ten Years of Servanthood. The week of our annual conference July 9, 2007 we celebrated by having a banquet and invited family, friends and church members to celebrate ten years of servanthood with us. Our Masters of Ceremony was Dr. Andrew Thomas. The Just Five group from Red Hill provided songs of praise during a video presentation of ten years of servanthood. Our guest speaker was Dr. Ralph Canty from Savannah Grove Baptist Church. MUIC was recognized by Richland District One as an Outstanding Volunteer Group working with the After School Programs at Alcorn and Gibbes Middle Schools.
Deacon Stan Hollis of Ridgewood made a special presentation by presenting gold watches to Rev Thurmond Bowens, Jr., founder and CEO of MUIC and to Deacon Oscar Walker for their outstanding service and contribution to the MUIC ministry. Rev Bowens closed the banquet with Where do we go from Here? Our 2007 conference was held July 13-15, 2007 at the White Oak Conference Center. Our theme was Men Becoming Servants of God, Par II. Rev Bowens invited one of Trinity son's, Rev Michael Williams, to speak to the adult group on God's Power in Your Weakness. Dr Andrew Thomas presented a powerful topic to the youth, You are not an Accident. Our keynote speaker for that Saturday evening was Rev Reginald Flynn of Temple Zion.
In January 2008, Rev Reginald Byrdon of Gill Creek Baptist Church joined MUIC.
In 2008, our 6th Mid-Conference was held March 29, 2008 at Gill Creek Baptist Church. This conference was billed as a Youth Conference. We had 184 registered men and young men present and 92 were between the ages of 8 years old and 21 years of age. Our theme was Breathing Life Back into our Young Men and Young Boys. Rev. Michael Williams opened up the adult session with Changing a Child Changes You. Exciting and challenging topics like Right Crowd, Wrong Crowd - Good Role Models, and A Good Name really challenged the youth to think differently about themselves and others.
Our 11th annual conference was held August 8-10, 2008, at the White Oak Conference Center. Our theme was Accessing the Works of the Holy Spirit. The ministry continued the challenging topics for the youth. Dea Billy Coker and Trustee Kenneth McDonald talked about Just Want to be Popular. Rev Kevin Allen and Bro Taurean Arthur carried it to another level with What's Going on with your Anger. This awakening of bringing on challenging topics for the youth has proven to be rewarding because you could see change.
Our 12th annual conference was held August 7-9, 2009 at the White Oak Conference Center. Our theme was Men with Burning Hearts. A welcomed discovery was made at this conference. We had a massive increase in the number of fathers, step fathers, grandfathers and uncles attending with their youth. Data had not been kept in the past; however, it was visibly apparent that this was a good showing of family ties. Three of the guest churches (Word of Life in the Edgefield area of South Carolina, New Hope in the Augusta Georgia area, and Shaw Temple in the Atlanta Georgia area) that were present had men at the conference with their pastors. During the Saturday evening session the pastors are going to bring their men to the 2010 conference. One pastor is going to have his male retreat with MUIC instead having it, traditionally, with their own men. Our keynote speaker, Dr. George Crenshaw, Shaw Temple, stated that he will bring his men to the 2010 conference. Our conference this year also offered Men Prostrate and Health Screening.
Our 13th annual conference was held August 6-8, 2010 at the White Oak Conference Center. We continued with our theme from the previous year (Men with Burning Hearts II). The leadership added an additional speaker for Friday evening. Rev. Marcell Bush, pastor of Majority Baptist Church, Spartanburg, South Carolina was the opening speaker for Friday evening. We partnered again with Palmetto Health Community Services to do free Prostate Cancer Screening for the men over 40 years old of age. In addition to the cancer screening diabetes blood testing was also administered on that Saturday. Dr. Andrew Thomas, pastor of Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, Lugoff, South Carolina was our Saturday evening keynote speaker.
January 2011, Mount Alexander Baptist Church, Woodruff, South Carolina joined MUIC. Rev. Kevin Allen, son of Trinity Baptist is the pastor.
Our 14th annual conference was held July 29-31, 2011 at White Oak Conference Center. Our theme that year was "Dare to be a Man'. Our opening speaker Friday evening was one of Trinity sons - Rev Kevin Allen, Pastor of the Mount Alexander Baptist Church, Woodruff, South Carolina. Breakout sessions begin Saturday morning with ages 8-12 and 13-16 and adult classes. The youth were challenged with subjects like Have G.U.T.S. - Get off you Butt and excerpts from G. Craig Lewis Ministries, The Truth Behind Hip Hop was very revealing to the youths. We were pleased to have another one of Trinity sons, Rev H. Michael Williams, Pastor of Sims Chapel Baptist Church, Whitmire, South Carolina teach a class Dare to Submit to the adults. The evening sessions included movies - the movie Polly for 8-12 year olds and Freedom Writers for the 13-16 years of age. Our Keynote Speaker for Saturday evening was Elder Antoine Bellamy, Pastor of St Luke Holiness Church, Fayetteville, North Carolina. Needless to say Elder Bellamy anointed the brethren.
Our 15th Anniversary Celebration was held at Brookland Banquet and Conference Center on August 18, 2012. Our theme is Celebrating 15 years of Restoring Men to their Rightful Position. The 15th Anniversary involved the entire family focusing on Empowering the Family. That Saturday morning session consisted of speakers in their field of expertise to speak on subject matters that involved empowering the people. Our morning session speakers were: Dr. Bernard Gallman - Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. His topic was - Empowering through Health. Mr. J T McLawhorn - President and Chief Executive Officer of the Columbia Urban League. His topic was Empowering through Education and Community Development. Dr. Lonnie Randolph - Optometrist, and President of the South Carolina State Chapter of the NAACP. His topic was - Empowering through the Power of the Vote.
After the speakers' presentations, a panel discussion followed with questions, concerns from the audience on the above topics.
Since this was a national election year (2012) - Concurrent to the morning session, Voting Machines were available to the public for formulization. The entire community was invited to attend the morning session. Press Releases were done along with Radio and a television appearance on WIS-TV (Awareness Show). The following booths were available to the public in concurrent with the morning session:
- Voter Registration Table - inviting the entire community
- NAACP Membership Drive
Dick Gregory, civil rights activist, author, comedian and entrepreneur was slated for our Evening Dinner Keynote Speaker. This was only the second event (first was the 10th anniversary) MUIC invited the entire family to be enlightened on what MUIC has been doing for the last five years following our 10th year anniversary. Mr. Gregory, in his thought provoking way brought, a message for all to hear. Mr. Gregory was presented a Recognition Award by South Carolina State Representative Leon Howard declaring August 18th as Dick Gregory's Day. Representative Howard also recognized all nine member MUIC churches: Brookland Baptist - West Columbia, SC, Mountain View Baptist - Greenville, SC, Friendship Baptist, House St - Columbia, SC, Red Hill Baptist - Gadsden, SC, Gill Creek Baptist - Columbia, SC, Ridgewood Baptist - Columbia, SC, Mount Alexander Baptist - Woodruff, SC, Trinity Baptist - Columba, SC and Mount Pilgrim Baptist - Lugoff, SC.
Our 16th year Men Unified in Christ Conference was captured on two occasions in 2013: The first occasion was held on June 20- 21, 2013. We sponsored a MUIC Summit/Revival. This event was hosted by one of our member churches, Gill Creek Baptist Church. On the same nights prior to the two-night revivalist speaking we had a one hour Prostate Education workshop. The entire family was invited to learn more about prostate and also hear a word from the Lord. MUIC partnered with the South Carolina Disparities Community Network and the State Baptist YWA (Woman's Baptist Education & Missionary Convention). The purpose of the prostate workshop was to provide information on the pros and cons of getting tested. Our Revivalist for the two nights was Rev Eric Davis, pastor of Word of God Ministries, Columbia, SC. Our event ended with a follow-up on June 29, 2013 for those men that signed up for prostate screening as a result of the workshops held the following week. The screening location was coordinated with Gill Creek Baptist Men's Day weekend. Our annual MUIC conference was held July 26-28, 2013 at the White Oak Conference Center in Winnsboro, SC. Our theme was "Iron Sharpening Iron" taken from Proverbs 27:17. Our Friday evening opening speaker was Rev R G Glenn pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. We were delighted to know that at least 55% of our attendance were youth between the ages of 8 to 16 years of age. The pastors delivered that message to the adults in different ways that we need to bring each other along as men of God. The youth topics dealt with being responsible, being yourself, good decisions and good friendship, positive people, positive growth, uniquely me, sexuality and videos and images. The pastors had a panel discussion about the state of the church. Many pastors and ministers came to the conference just to attend that session. Our conference ended with our Saturday keynote speaker - Rev Ricky Ezell, pastor of Central Baptist Church.