Arkansas churches find inspiration at Leadership Institute

Members and pastors of Arkansas UMCs prepare to depart Sept. 29 from Philander Smith College in Little Rock to attend the Church of the Resurrection’s Leadership Institute in Leawood, Kan. AUM PHOTO BY AMY FORBUS

Members and pastors of Arkansas UMCs prepare to depart Sept. 29 from Philander Smith College in Little Rock to attend the Church of the Resurrection’s Leadership Institute in Leawood, Kan.
AUM PHOTO BY AMY FORBUS

Thanks to the generosity of the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, the Arkansas Conference Center for Vitality led a group of more than 100 lay and clergy leaders from more than 20 churches to the Leadership Institute at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (COR) in Leawood, Kan.

In a gathering of approximately 2,000 laity and clergy from around the U.S. and world, the Arkansas Conference brought the largest unified group to the event, which ran from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

“What excites me about the Arkansas contingent that went to COR is that we took local church teams of lay and clergy leaders,” said the Rev. Blake Bradford, assistant director of the Center for Vitality. “Then those teams are able to return home to lead their churches. It’s in sending a group that we find new potential to really transform a community.”

Attendees participated in inspiring worship services, including teaching from COR’s senior pastor, the Rev. Adam Hamilton, and preaching by Bishop Violet Fisher. They chose from a number of learning sessions on topics ranging from effective time management for leaders to discovering spiritual gifts to navigating change in healthy ways.

“It is always a joy when over 1,000 voices join together in prayer and praise,” said the Rev. Deanna McCormack of worship at the COR Leadership Institute. PHOTO BY BLAKE BRADFORD

“It is always a joy when over 1,000 voices join together in prayer and praise,” said the Rev. Deanna McCormack of worship at the COR Leadership Institute.
PHOTO BY BLAKE BRADFORD

“COR LI was a great source of fresh new ideas,” said the Rev. Ryan Rush, pastor of Good Faith Carr and Redfield UMCs, “as well as reminders of things that are easy to forget about making ministry truly vital.”

Many of the ideas presented had immediate practical application back home in local churches.

“I learned that 67 percent of people are visual learners and that people retain information 400 percent better when the information is accompanied with a visual image,” said the Rev. Deanna McCormack, pastor of Timothy and St. Mark UMCs, both in Camden. “I was reminded that we can provide visual images without screens, and that projecting text on a screen does not count as a visual image.

“I was also reminded of the power of metaphor—that if I can connect an abstract idea to a concrete item, then that everyday item, such as bread and wine, becomes a constant reminder of the Gospel,” she said. “These things are more present in my mind now when I plan and prepare for worship.”