Dads Discussion Group Off to Strong Start

Steady attendance. Empowering curriculum. Enlightening conversation. Urban Light Ministries’ Dads Discussion Group is off to a strong start.

A group of seven men have been meeting weekly this fall at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays at COHatch The Marketplace in Springfield. The weekly topic? The fine art of fatherhood. The group is still open to new joiners, call ULM at (937) 408-1050 to register or for more information. ULM supporters can help by referring fathers in their social circles to the group.

Facilitating the free one-hour discussion groups are Urban Light President and CEO Eli Williams, a long-time local advocate for children and fathers, and James Cooper, a former South High School basketball standout and Wooster College All-American. “I want to provide an opportunity for dads to come together to bond and talk over issues they may be facing,” said Williams. “The majority of the phone calls I get are from fathers and people who love them who have children in an estranged situation and are facing barriers to having access to their child. It is very heartbreaking that a father can’t see his children.”

Cooper knows what it is like to be one of those fathers and knows the challenges of fatherlessness. “Being a father is everything for me, especially me growing up without a father,” Cooper said. “I know what it is like first-hand. I don’t want my kids to feel like I felt growing up. I work with so many young men who don’t have a father. You feel frustrated, angry and lost. But you can overcome it, making the best of the hand that you were dealt,” he continued. “Instead of playing victim and being angry, try to learn from your own mistakes. Enjoy life the best you can. The ‘poor me mentality’ leads to disruption, which can lead to prison, drugs, sometimes even death.”

Participants are gaining a lot from the discussions, which cover a variety of topics, including managing co-parenting when the romantic love is gone, making the most out of parenting time, healing from a hurtful past, achieving and maintaining holistic health, loving your children the way the Father does, and being your children’s POPS (Protector, Order-keeper, Provider and Stabilizer).

“There’s two words that come to mind: insight and comradery,” said Ben Peshek, who last month became a step-father after marrying the love of his life, Ashley. “Understanding different points of views has been important for me. It’s wonderful having the different perspectives of the ages that are part of this group. The different experiences that each man in this group gives from different backgrounds and different perspectives have been so helpful,” he continued. “It is interesting to see that some things are not really that different when you are dealing with a child. You can see it in the guys’ faces. You see a lot of love, and it ends up being a lot of love of the Father because we are all believers.”

Bruce Lemley, who has two grown children, says the discussion group provides much more than just an education on childhood. “There’s also some inner healing,” he said. “I thought I was done (healing), but I wasn’t. I’d call it father healing, from the father wound. I was surprised. So it is healing from a deeper level. Jesus is still in the healing process. He is forever in the healing process, and He waits until we are ready.”

That healing has been the goal of Urban Light’s fatherhood ministry for the last several years, using resources like Williams’ book, “Father Love.”

“I’ve found it is helpful that fathers know there are dads who have been in that situation and have learned from it,” he said. “There are things that can be shared that can help fathers through these tough times. Sometimes it is difficult overcoming past mistakes. For men struggling financially, taking care of himself and his kids through child support, life can really be tough for a guy who really wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t have the resources to do it.

“Providing an intimate setting where men can feel confident, they can actually open up and have other men in the room affirm and encourage them, even become a mentor,” Williams added. “Good outcomes can happen when you get men together in a safe place. It’s uplifting, it’s a rare opportunity; I’ve learned a lot from other men through this and have been able to share it.”

New Father Love Discussion Group


When: Weekly on Tuesdays | 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM | August 3 through October 26, 2021

Where: COhatch Heritage Room, Downtown Springfield


Facilitated conversation on fatherhood using the Bible-based book Father Love – The Powerful Resource Every Child Needs by Eli Williams.  Each participant receives a copy of the book and Study Guide.  Thesessions lead dads through a deeper dive into male-style parenting and helps men build bonds with other fathers for fellowship and peer mentoring.


  • Thirteen (13) one-hour sessions
  • Interactive Power Point® Presentations
  • Stimulating and encouraging conversations
  • Challenging Action Steps toward growing from good to great


  • Others


  • Book
  • Study Guide

About the Author and Discussion Facilitator

Eli Williams is a husband, father, grandfather and ordained minister. He is president and co-founder of Urban Light Ministries ( which provides a weekly after school program serving nearly 800 children annually.  ULM operates a fatherhood program that since 2006 has annually impacted over 500 dads and their kids. Learn more at

Registration ends July 27, 2021


The Value of Black Fathers

Join us on June 12th at 10:00 am as we discuss with top panelists important misconceptions concerning black fathers.

Click here to read more about the event and panelists.

Click here to register for the event

Correct the myth… Black Fatherhood is not dead. Let us honor good fathers and celebrate them for what they contribute to the children, families and their communities. Educate on the importance of engaged dads in general (all races).

Fathers’ Day? Every Day — The Importance And Influence Of The Black Father

Beyond being often classified as mere sperm donors, the role of fathers in the lives of children — especially black males — have never been more important, or necessary, than it is right now. One mommy, two mommies, or 27 mommies is no substitute for one daddy.  Black men bring power into a family, and the knowledge, the energy, the development when they are there, makes the whole world an unlimited universe. However, when they are absent, it takes away from the power of the Black family.

The power of having a Black father, or a Black man, in the home is tremendous, because it gives symbolism. The Black father should be a role model for his children, and all children in his community. If he is in the home, then that’s leadership. That is the role of a man — providing, nurturing, caring and teaching.

In the absence of that, it falls to a woman. A woman cannot understand how to be a man. It is both mentally and biologically impossible. And when that man is absent, then it falls to the uncles, the church, to the community and to the village. – Yvonne Sam,

Black Fathers Matter

What happens… when there are impediments to both the presence and participation of fathers in the lives of children, particularly Black fathers?  Conservatives often address this question by contending that Black fathers are not adequately present and involved with their families. They push to create policies that encourage marriage among families, particularly Black families, as a way to foster child well-being and success.

The share of Black children born to single mothers has more than tripled from about 24% in 1960 to nearly 70% in 2018, indicating that Black fathers are less likely to live in households with their children than fathers of other races. But it’s important to note the share of children in single-mother families among all races has risen dramatically since the 1960s.

Moreover, we now know that among nonresidential fathers, Black fathers are more involved than Hispanic dads and share more responsibilities and generally co-parent better than white or Hispanic nonresidential fathers. Still, nonresidential Black fathers face myriad barriers to being a stable, consistent support to their children because of other systemic challenges that conservatives often overlook. – Black Dads Matter by Kenneth Braswell,

The Truth: Black fathers are more involved

We cannot equate the number of unmarried dads to the number of “fatherless” children. First of all, marriage rates don’t necessarily reflect the number of Black fathers living with their children; as writer Josh Levs points out, the majority of Black dads (2.5 million of around 4.2 million) do live with their kids, even if they’re not married to their partner.

And second of all, according to a 2013 report by the CDC, Black dads—whether they live with their children, or not—are more actively involved in their children’s lives than their counterparts of other races.

For example, the CDC reports that Black fathers who live with their children are more likely than fathers of other races to provide physical care (bathe, diaper, feed) for their young children, read to their children, and help their children with their homework—all on a daily basis—than fathers of other races who also cohabitate with their kids.

The report also reveals that, among dads who don’t live with their children, Black dads are more likely to be involved in care, including reading to their children, helping them with homework, talking to them about their days, and taking them to activities, than Hispanic or white dads who live apart from their kids. Non-residential Black fathers are also the least likely to report that they’re not at all involved in the care of their children, including bathing, dressing, changing diapers, and playing with their children. – Alecia Eberhardt-Smith,  August 11, 2020

For example, the CDC reports that Black fathers who live with their children are more likely than fathers of other races to provide physical care (bathe, diaper, feed) for their young children, read to their children, and help their children with their homework—all on a daily basis—than fathers of other races who also cohabitate with their kids.

The report also reveals that, among dads who don’t live with their children, Black dads are more likely to be involved in care, including reading to their children, helping them with homework, talking to them about their days, and taking them to activities, than Hispanic or white dads who live apart from their kids. Non-residential Black fathers are also the least likely to report that they’re not at all involved in the care of their children, including bathing, dressing, changing diapers, and playing with their children. – Alecia Eberhardt-Smith,  August 11, 2020

Restoring the Family to the Creator’s Design

In the beginning, the Creator designed the perfect plan for the establishment, nurturance, maintenance, and perpetuation of the human race.  The family.  Fathers and mothers raising children together in the same home, and in the worship and discipline of the Lord.  Loving parents providing everything their children need to grow up holistically healthy, safe, educated, skilled, and prepared to eventually raise their own families.  It is a simple plan, really.  Father and mother become parenting partners for life.  Each child completes their education, begins a career, falls in love, gets married, and has children.  Repeat generation after generation. 

Fast forward.  What do we see today?  Unwed birth rates as high as 70%.  The father absence crisis.  Divorce.  Single parent households.  The resulting poverty, child abuse and neglect, academic failure, youth crime, behavioral, emotional and psychological problems, drug abuse.  The list goes on. 

What happened?  The divine order was rejected.  God’s original vision for the family, which was intended by Him for the healthy development of civilization, is viewed by many as antiquated.  The need for a live-in dad has been questioned.  The concept of a God-ordained male family head has been denounced as gender biased.  Men and women have been freed to practice sex outside of marriage. Becoming pregnant out of wedlock has lost its former stigma.  Hence, we are experiencing the breakdown of the family, and the failure of family formation. We are on a path toward the very collapse of society.  Is it too late to turn things around?  Perhaps.  However, as Christians, we have been given a charge to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. 

Jesus proclaimed: 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16

As salt preserves meat, our responsibility is to do everything we can to keep the rotting world alive until Jesus comes again.  As darkness tries to overwhelm mankind, our job is to shine as lights to show people the Father’s love and His righteous ways.  One way we can be salt and light is by the good work of restoring the family to God’s original design, and by giving the Father the glory for all that results.  The logical place to start is in the Church.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a pastor that didn’t acknowledge there needs to be a fatherhood strengthening ministry in his church.  Because we are at crisis stage, I believe we must go beyond fatherhood classes. 

There is needed a multigenerational Christian male development and enrichment initiative.  Young men, grown men and senior men simultaneously learning, teaching, and rediscovering God’s plan.  Each with a Timothy to mentor, and each with a Paul to emulate.  It’s like the threefold cord spoken of by King Solomon (Eccl 4:9-12).  Two strands are good, but a triple-braided cord is stronger.  We need each other… sons, dads, and grandfathers… working together to restore the power of godly maleness for the sake of strengthening families.  By starting with the Church, we are positioned to raise up an army of mature, responsible, scripture informed, Spirit-filled men.  Together, we can serve as witnesses to a world that has lost the vision of the Creator’s design for humanity.      

Urban Light Ministries has begun an innovative initiative to accomplish the above, using my book Father Love – The Powerful Resource Every Child Needs and the companion study guide.  After a conversation with my friend Pastor Sam Bryant in the fall of 2018, Sam and the church leadership agreed to serve as the site for a pilot of a scripture-based enrichment class for their males.  Beginning January 6, 2019, each Sunday for thirteen weeks, the teens, college students and men meet during the Sunday School hour at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Springfield.  With the aid of video clips and a Power Point presentation, I facilitate an hour-long conversation around fatherhood, manhood and spiritual leadership in the home.  Each participant has purchased a book and study guide.  Each week they are given a reading and action steps.  The following week, a discussion is facilitated on the assigned topic.  Attendance has been averaging two dozen.  Active participation is growing each week as the guys become more comfortable.  

Father Love Dad’s Discussion Group Topics Include:

  –  Father Love Defined

  –  Love Is Patient And Kind

  –  Love Is Not Easily Angered

  –  Father Love Is Nurturing

  –  Love Bears All Things

  –  Love Endures All Things And Never Fails

  –  The Creator’s Father Love

Urban Light Ministries has also developed the POPS 101 Online Program.  POPS 101 is a four-session introduction to healthy fathering.  The content is appropriate for use in non-religious settings such as schools, jails, and drug rehab centers.  If you would like to know more about Father Love or POPS 101 please contact me at the address below.

Eli Williams, President

Urban Light Ministries
PO Box 3132
Springfield, OH 45501



Congratulations to Eli Williams for being awarded the Nehemiah Foundations 2020 Leadership Award.  Pastor Eli Williams has presented the award at the Nehemiah Foundation’s annual Leadership breakfast meeting on November 19, 2020.  The Leadership Award is presented to individuals in the community that has made a positive impact based on the foundation’s principles of Pray, Unify, Equip and Mobilize. 

God is Good – A Recap of 2020

On behalf of everyone at Urban Light Ministries, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year.  As each of us has felt in our own personal way, this year has made an impact on how we now view the world.  I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for your generous prayers and donations over the last 12 months.  As the Board Chair of Urban Light Ministries, I wanted to share with you the many things this organization, and more specifically, Eli Williams has done for the community.

Over the last 12 months as we battled the day-to-day issues of COVID-19, racism, and family strife we felt it necessary to do our part in helping build stronger bonds in the family and in the community.  And, I am proud to say that with the leadership of Eli Williams much was accomplished.  Some examples of the work this year include:

  • The release of the POPS 101 online classes to reach fathers who needed to improve their skills – this program is now offered in both English and Spanish
  • The development and implementation of a Video Series for families entitled “Fathering During a Pandemic.” With families being quarantined at home we felt it was important to provide Godly skills in fathering and family unity.  The seven series included:
    1. Why Dads Matter
    2. Being Successful Socially Starts in the Home
    3. Creating Order in the Midst of Chaos
    4. Father as a protector
    5. Father as an Order Keeper and Provider
    6. Raising Teenagers
    7. Father as the Stabilizer
  • We continued to recognize outstanding fathers in the community. More fathers then ever in the past received the Fatherhood Community Award. Twenty-seven outstanding dads were recognized for their leadership within their families and community.
  • Fatherhood Devotional was created and printed and provided to each of the fathers who were awarded the Fatherhood Community Award. The devotional was also made available to any family that is interested, free of charge.
  • Eli’s personal leadership and conviction continued through working with local churches towards building Biblically healthy multiethnic relationships through his work with Celebrate Simunye and cohosting the 4 part video series on “Defining This Moment.”
  • With the dramatic increase in the homeless population due to the pandemic, Eli saw the need to mobilize the faith-based community to address this problem and is leading a taskforce and working with the Interfaith Hospitality Network.

For all of Eli William’s work and dedication in the community, he was awarded the 2020 Nehemiah Foundation Leadership Award.

As you can see your prayers and donations are making an impact.  As the year ends please continue to pray for Urban Light Ministries, Eli Williams, the struggles that many families are now going through and those seeking shelter for the night. 

As like many nonprofits this year we were not able to host an annual fundraiser and therefore have raised only 58% compared to what was collected last year.  Please consider a year-end gift so the work of Urban Light Ministries and Eli Williams can continue touching those in the Springfield community. 

With sincere gratitude,

Bruce Stapleton