The Thursday Men

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/10/01/the-thursday-men/

I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life!
— Deuteronomy 30:19

 

Every Thursday morning at 7:30, a number of men meet for breakfast at the Union Club in Boston. They gather to enjoy fellowship, make new friends, and help each other through this adventure called life. But the main event which draws the group together is the study of the Bible led by accomplished spiritual leaders. Some men come seeking meaning for their lives – choosing life not death, blessings not curses.  Others come to pick up the pieces after divorce, job loss, and sickness.  Others come to see their friends.

The group has been meeting for 37 years.

It started in 1981 when a local businessman, George Bass, known for the pioneering role his company, Country Hen, played in the organic egg business, invited a group of businessmen to his office for a weekly noontime study of the Bible. When this effort was slow to catch on, George and his friend, Joe Cunningham, decided to meet for breakfast at the Union Club. 

During the first few years, there were rarely more than a dozen men who attended on a regular basis.  But Joe Cunningham, an investment advisor with his own firm, became the leader of the event after a few years, and he was successful in recruiting a number of top-notch priests, pastors, and professors to speak at the breakfast on a regular basis. Some of the speakers in the 1980s included Peter Kreeft, renowned Catholic professor of philosophy at Boston College and author of several dozen books; Robert E. Cooley, president of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary; and Andrew Mead, rector of Church of the Advent in Beacon Hill. Father Juergen Liias, once an Episcopal and now a Catholic priest, is the longest-serving speaker, having led the Bible study monthly for over 30 years.

One of the reasons for the remarkable success of the Thursday Morning Men’s Breakfast is its non-denominational make-up. One of the speakers leading the Bible study each month is a Catholic, another is an Anglican or Episcopalian, another a Baptist, and so on. Those attending represent many different denominations, ranging from Pentecostal, Baptist, and Congregational to Greek Orthodox and Catholic.

The word spread about the Thursday Morning Men’s Breakfast during the late 1980s, and by the end of the decade, there were fifty or more men meeting each Thursday morning of the year (except Thanksgiving) at the Union Club. Currently there are well over 300 men in the Boston area who come to the breakfast from time to time, and on any given Thursday, there are between 50 and 70 men who attend.

When asked the reasons for his attendance over the past 26 years, John Daniel, an executive at Northwestern Mutual, said, “It’s a different dimension of faith life that cannot be replicated. It is definitely not church, but it augments a man’s spiritual growth.” John also said that the friendships that have developed from the breakfast over the years have been a vital part of his life.

Every few years the question arises about whether the Thursday Morning Men’s Breakfast should be open to women. The leadership of the breakfast, supported by the great majority of regular attendees, have decided to keep it single sex. The main reason is that they believe that men act differently around women and are generally unwilling to be vulnerable about their trials in life, their transgressions, and their weaknesses. It’s the same reason that that there are numerous women-only Bible study groups in Boston.

The breakfast has been so successful that similar breakfasts have been founded in New York City, St. Louis, and Rochester by attendees who moved there.

What kind of men attend the TMMB? Every kind imaginable. Veterans, former professional athletes, investment advisors, lawyers, missionaries, engineers, professors, the unemployed, and retirees. Men with a strong faith come, and seekers do as well.

The current leaders of the TMMB, co-founder Joe Cunningham and John Daniel, emphasize that all men are welcome. First-time attendees also get their first breakfast free. For more information about the Union Club breakfast, go to www.tmbreakfast.com.

For further information, kindly contact Joe Cunningham at [email protected]. If he doesn’t know the answer, no one will. He has been coming to breakfast for 37 years.

 

Kenneth Lowell is a senior at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts.

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