People of Faith: June 3, 2016

United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas names new board members

Bruce Bennett

Bruce Bennett

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas board of directors on May 4 elected eight new members: the Rev. Bruce Bennett of Texarkana; Debra H. Fiser, M.D., of Little Rock; Pam Harris of North Little Rock; the Rev. Phil Hathcock of Maumelle; the Rev. Lynn Kilbourne of Conway; the Rev. Jim Polk of Little Rock; Steve Shults of Little Rock; and Dewitt Smith of Bella Vista. The foundation manages $131 million in endowment funds and other charitable assets that benefit local churches and other United Methodist ministries in the state.

“We are excited to welcome these incoming board members,” said Jim Argue, Jr., UMFA president and CEO. “Our organization is dedicated to creating endowments that enhance United Methodist ministries, and a major key to our success is an active, engaged board of directors who provide leadership that strengthens our United Methodist connection.”

Debra Fiser

Debra Fiser

Bennett grew up in El Dorado, where he was a member of First United Methodist Church. Since 2009 he has served First UMC Texarkana, and he previously pastored for 15 years at First UMC Sheridan. He served on the Arkansas Conference Committee on Episcopacy, Arkansas Conference Committee on Nominations and currently serves as a circuit elder. He is a graduate of Hendrix College, Asbury Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Fiser returned to teaching and research in pediatrics in 2013 after serving as UAMS vice chancellor and dean of the College of Medicine. She joined the faculty in the UAMS Department of Pediatrics in 1981, where she served as chief of pediatric critical care medicine and as director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH). In 1995, she was appointed chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UAMS and chief of pediatrics at ACH. She is a member of the church council at St. James UMC Little Rock.

Pam Harris

Pam Harris

Harris is a lifelong Methodist who has previously served on the UMFA board. Although she was born in Chicago, her Arkansas roots trace back to her grandparents, and in 1992 she became a permanent resident. Harris has held accounting and human resources positions in state and federal government. A certified Lay Servant, she has served as a member of the Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits and in a number of capacities at Wesley Chapel UMC Little Rock.

Hathcock serves as interim pastor at Trinity UMC Little Rock. He retired in 2013 after 41 years as a pastor in Arkansas. A native of Fayetteville, he graduated from the University of Arkansas and Duke Divinity School. His previous appointments include long-term service at Siloam Springs and First UMC Conway. He served as superintendent of the Central District, then as director of connectional ministries and assistant to the bishop. A returning UMFA board member, Hathcock has chaired the Board of Ordained Ministry, the Council on Professional Ministries and the Order of Elders.

Phil Hathcock

Phil Hathcock

Kilbourne, associate pastor at First UMC Conway, will begin a new appointment in July as the senior pastor of First UMC North Little Rock. She serves as the 2016 clergywomen convener and on the Episcopacy Committee, the Steel-Hendrix Awards Nominating Committee and the Annual Conference Planning Team. After graduating from Henderson State University and Duke Divinity School, she served as associate pastor at First UMC Bryant. She is a UMFA Seminary Scholar.

Lynn Kilbourne

Lynn Kilbourne

Polk recently was named assistant to the bishop for the Arkansas Conference effective in July, and he will serve as an ex-officio member of the UMFA board. He has been senior pastor of First UMC Arkadelphia since 2013 and previously served in El Dorado, Nashville, Primrose, Dermott and Camden. A native of Magnolia, he graduated from Hendrix College and Asbury Theological Seminary. He has chaired both the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) and the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, and represented CFA on the Conference Vision Team.

Jim Polk

Jim Polk

Shults grew up in St. Paul UMC Little Rock, and has been a member of First UMC Little Rock for 30 years. He served a recent stint on the Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations Committee and participates in the Stewpot ministry. Shults is a lawyer with the firm of Shults & Brown, LLP, where his practice involves commercial litigation, other business and civil matters and pro bono activities. His civic involvement has included public education, hunger relief, political candidates and causes and the Old State House Museum. He is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.

Steve Shults

Steve Shults

A returning board member and former board chair, Smith has served for many years as a lay member of the Arkansas Annual Conference, and is currently the lay leader at Oakley Chapel UMC Rogers. His career in commercial real estate includes land development, construction, sales and leasing, asset and property management, financial analysis, financing and structuring complex investments. He serves on the board of directors for the Washington Regional Medical Foundation and currently chairs the board of Mount Sequoyah Retreat and Conference Center. Smith is a commissioner for the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.

Dewitt Smith

Dewitt Smith

Founded in 1963 and responsible for more than 750 funds that support United Methodist ministries, UMFA is one of the largest United Methodist Foundations in the country.