Pastor helps grow, lead men in their faith, families
Jennifer Lee Preyss
March 30, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 29, 2012 at 10:30 p.m.
At the top of Camp WhetStone's driveway, where the concrete curves along a rocking-chair front porch, a small group of men gather to shoot hoops.
Standing in the drive, right of the house, left of a fishing pond, and south of a detached garage littered with man-toys - including air hockey, billiards and foosball tables - Israel Montez, Tanner Fox and Wayne Atkinson lob a basketball at the net.
"Hey, Israel, will you go check the chicken on the grill?" Atkinson asked, as he repositioned himself to shoot the ball.
Moments later, Atkinson moved the barbecue chicken off the grill and walked it into the garage. As the barbecue cooled in the night breeze, he and Duane Deyton picked up a pair of pool cues and commenced a twilight game of billiards.
In the background, Phillips, Craig & Dean's "Revelation Song" quietly echoed from a radio by the window.
"Coming here has improved my spiritual life tremendously," Deyton, said. "I started going to church more, and becoming more active at church rather than just a pew warmer."
"I came because I was looking for a men's small group that wouldn't be full of all the fluff," Atkinson added. "I was looking for an in-your-face accountability group."
Three nights a week, men of all ages and Christian maturity levels meet at Camp WhetStone for Man To Man Ministries, which are male-oriented meet-up groups .
Victoria native the Rev. Glen Dry, who founded Man To Man Ministries, purchased the property about four years ago with the intention of transforming it into a man-friendly haven.
But 10 years ago, Dry had no plans of returning to Victoria, or transitioning into full-time ministry. Yet in the past decade, he has grown the largest franchise of Victoria-based ministries for thousands of men - and has every intention of continuing to expand.
Dry opened WhetStone as a permanent headquarter's for Man To Man's parent ministry, Experience Excellence. WhetStone was designed for men in Victoria to have a place where they can get together and do the activities guys like to do.
But he envisioned the property being used for men to grow their relationship with Jesus, set and accomplish personal goals, build better relationships with their peers and families, and learn to be spiritual leaders in their homes.
"When I moved to town 10 years ago, there was one group for men that I knew of. It met quarterly, for a breakfast, and that wasn't enough for me." Dry, 37, said. "There were lots of ladies' groups, but where were the men's groups? There weren't any."
Dry, who also founded the Family Outdoor Expo and RezFest, was, at that time, about to be a new father, and desired his son to live close to his grandparents.
He never envisioned his return to Victoria would later transition him from a lucrative financial business, to full-time ministry.
"I never thought I'd move home. It wasn't in the plan. It was in God's plan," Dry said.
Before the transition, Dry worked for several years at a financial services practice, South Texas Financial Group. In his spare time, he led and attended men's groups, and was a member of Northside Baptist Church.
Dry recognized early in his relocation that Victoria was in need of a regularly-meeting Christian-based men's fellowship.
So, within the year, he established Experience Excellence, a nonprofit faith-based organization designed to encourage men in their faith, equip them to lead their families and engage them in the community.
"Experience Excellence was born before Man To Man. It was born before the Family Outdoor Expo. It was born before Camp WhetStone," he said. "I felt like I had the opportunity to help men develop consistent Christian disciplines in their lives, and to help them seek to walk humbly with their creator."
Dry created the ministry to help men in a one-on-one and small group format, and set and achieve goals in their personal and professional lives. It was formed, he said, to help men win.
"Man To Man grew out of Experience Excellence. Its goal was men's groups: Life on life. Helping guys. Mentoring guys," he said. "It's face-to-face, nose-to-nose, toe-to-toe stuff. So it was going to get dirty."
Experience Excellence met for several months at Heritage Mark, where Dry's former financial services office was located. But dozens of men started attending, and each week the number continued to multiply.
Experience Excellence eventually outgrew Heritage Mark and the ministry moved into an office on Laurent Street. But Dry continued to pray for a more permanent location that would offer an environment where men could thrive, be outdoors, and feel at home.
While driving down a dead-end road one afternoon, Dry discovered a property for sale on Sun Valley Road that was equipped with many of the amenities he desired for his ministry's permanent headquarters. The property was equipped with a fishing pond, and plenty of land for outdoor activities, such as campfires, washers, horseshoes, frisbee golf, putt-putt golf and darts.
When Experience Excellence moved in, Man To Man groups started meeting daily at the camp, with three public groups meeting Tuesday through Friday.
While juggling his other ministries, Dry was continuing to spearhead family events for the community.
"I wanted families to come together and enjoy something they might otherwise not be able to enjoy," Dry said about launching the Family Outdoor Expo. "We had 1,500 the first year, eight years ago. We've plateaued at about 8,500 people that come every year."
The Family Outdoor Expo, held at the Victoria Community Center, has grown to expand even beyond the Crossroads.
"We're calling it the Family Outdoor Expo Road Show, with the eventual goal of having eight road shows," he said.
Currently, Outdoor Expos are planned in Brownwood and Corpus Christi, he said.
Dry also began expanding his community outreach to include Christian concerts, including big name acts such as MercyMe and the Newsboys.
"I never dreamed that we would have been able to pull off something like that. Nobody did. But it happened."
The 2009 MercyMe concert at Faith Family Church sold out. The following year, Dry helped organized a Tenth Avenue North concert at Parkway Church, and a Brandon Heath and Jars of Clay concert at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church.
"We were selling out everything, so that's about the time we established Sold Out Productions. It was an appropriate name," Dry said.
Dry's Sold Out Productions invited MercyMe back to the Crossroads last year for the first-ever Easter concert, RezFest.
"We thought, 'Let's do something bigger than Victoria can handle,'" Dry said. "What's something that's really fun, that no one else is doing?"
RezFest was held at the Brackenridge Main Event Center in 2011, and attracted about 4,000 Christian concert-goers in its first year. RezFest 2012, is April 5 at Brackenridge, featuring the Grammy nominated Newsboys, The City Harmonic, Anthem Lights and Abandon.
And Dry isn't slowing down. Later this year, he's is launching Sportsman's Church, a church for outdoorsy men and their families, with services held weekly at Camp WhetStone.
"There's got to come a day that you quit praying about it, and do something about it. There's people in this community that God is speaking to, and they just haven't taken that next step to make their mind up yet," Dry said, discussing his many ministry projects. "I'm in this with my brothers . we have done together, what no man could do alone."