People of Faith: Dec. 2, 2016

cos_grads_2016Four students finish Arkansas Course of Study School in Fall 2016 session

Four students completed coursework this fall through the Arkansas Course of Study School, an extension school of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.

Pictured, from left, are Bob Sanders and Johnnie Davis of the Arkansas Conference, and Dwight Gressel and Wally W. Jones of the Missouri Conference.

Approximately 60 students currently participate in the Course of Study School, which offers classes each semester at Hendrix College in Conway. To complete the school, students must pass 20 classes. If a student takes all of the classes at Hendrix and never misses a semester, it takes 10 years to complete the school. Students also may take classes online or at other schools to count toward the coursework.

Wright named inaugural Spirit of Maya Award recipient

Hazel Trice Wright

Hazel Trice Wright

The Celebrate! Maya Project of Arkansas recently announced that Hazel Trice Wright of Hot Springs is the first recipient of the Spirit of Maya Award. The award was presented to Wright on Sunday, Nov. 17, during the 139th anniversary celebration of Haven United Methodist Church Hot Springs, where she is an active member.

“This award symbolizes Maya Angelou’s legacy of artistic greatness, her human and civil rights advocacy and her lifetime of service to others,” said Janis F. Kearney, founding president of the Project. “Mrs. Hazel Wright’s life works, her passion for the arts and her advocacy for human and civil rights beautifully represents these attributes.”

Wright is a poet and arts advocate born in Bauxite, Arkansas, and raised in Pine Bluff. She attended Merrill High School in Pine Bluff, where her 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Bennett, introduced her to poetry. At her graduation in 1948, Wright was recognized as the Class Poet. She attended Triton Community College in Forest Park, Illinois, and joined a group called the Live Poets, as well as the Great Books Group, which encouraged her writing and performance in local plays. She later joined the Front Porch Writers in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb with a rich history of diversity and tolerance.

In 1992, Wright wrote and published her first book of poetry, A Collection of Thoughts, which she hopes to reprint soon with updates. She is currently working on a new book of poetry set for publication in Fall 2017.

The mission of the Celebrate! Maya Project is to honor and propagate the creativity, social consciousness and inclusion modeled by artist and activist Maya Angelou. The public is invited to nominate candidates for the annual Spirit of Maya Award; visit to learn more.

Stephen J. Copley

Stephen J. Copley

Copley honored as ‘Abolitionist of the Year’

The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty on Nov. 15 honored United Methodist elder the Rev. Stephen Copley with its Abolitionist of the Year award. Copley, a Church and Community Worker with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, currently chairs the board of the coalition, as well the boards of several other justice-focused organizations within the state. Beyond Arkansas, he serves on the Justice and Advocacy and Interfaith Relations Convening Table of the National Council of Churches, as well as on their Local and Regional Ecumenism Committee.

A graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, he also earned degrees from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology and the University of Arkansas’ Bowen School of Law.