Mission u moves more than 200 to spiritual and social action

Participants of all ages attend Mission u, and they joined together to help assemble snack items that will fill backpacks of school-age children served by the Arkansas Food Bank. COURTESY PHOTOS

Participants of all ages attend Mission u, and they joined together to help assemble snack items that will fill backpacks of school-age children served by the Arkansas Food Bank.
COURTESY PHOTOS

By Doni and Fred Martin
Special Contributors

Calling it an opportunity for “learning together for the transformation of the world,” Mission u dean Rosemary Kirby welcomed 204 persons to Arkansas Conference Mission u 2016, held July 27-30 at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville.

With roots dating to 1941 when annual study meetings were held in various districts in the state, Mission u (until a few years ago called School of Christian Mission) this summer celebrated 75 continuous years of providing studies centered on mission and serving others.

Mission u is sponsored through the cooperative efforts of United Methodist Women, the Conference Board of Global Ministries and the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas.

“It is my prayer that every person attending Mission u 2016 will enjoy the fellowship, learning experience, and Christian atmosphere and leave here transformed to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world,” Kirby said.

The planning team of more than 40 dedicated workers developed a shared statement to expand upon the event’s theme, “Learning Together for the Transformation of the World”:

“As followers of Jesus Christ, we hold fast to God’s intention to bring hope and wholeness to the world. We know that our mission with God is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Mission education helps us maintain our connections. We know that God wants us to use our heads, our hearts, and our hands in serving the world. We will study together, learning more because of one another. Here we shall determine how to work in local and global missions so that others may know the Savior we serve with joy.”

Elementary-age students made terrariums as part of the “God’s Extravagant Garden” climate justice study at Mission u 2016.

Elementary-age students made terrariums as part of the “God’s Extravagant Garden” climate justice study at Mission u 2016.

As participants arrived Wednesday afternoon, many brought bags and boxes filled with food from their homes and United Methodist Women units around the state for the Arkansas Food Bank. Youth and children sorted 415 bags for the Food Bank’s backpack program, 52 boxes and 11 miscellaneous boxes filled with snacks for distribution to hungry Arkansans. According to information shared by registrar Beth Cobb, there were 39 persons attending Mission u for the first time; 16 clergy; and 48 children and youth.

This year’s Spiritual Growth Study, “The Bible and Human Sexuality: Claiming God’s Good Gift” was led by the Rev. Russ Breshears (Hot Springs), the Rev. Pam Estes (Magnolia), the Rev. Nathan Mattox (Tulsa, OK), Danita Waller-Paige (Little Rock), the Rev. Carissa Rodgers (Little Rock) and the Rev. Vida Williams (Little Rock).

Instructors for “Climate Justice: Call to Hope and Action” were Lu Harding (retired UMC deacon), Gretchen Hicks (Little Rock), John S. Hill (Washington, D.C.) and Scharmel Roussel (Little Rock).

Laura Palmer (Russellville) led “Latin America: People and Faith.”

Muriel Schrepfer, the assistant dean for children and youth, guided children and youth leaders in focusing on “God’s Extravagant Garden” and “Joining Voices for Climate Justice.” Leaders included Amanda Baltz, Blayne Schrepfer, Pat Hoerth, Jennifer Fox, Jessica Butler, Reagan Martin and Aric Conrad.

Morning Praise coordinator Pam Moore helped everyone start each day with an early worship that even included bagpipe music by Korley Martin, as everyone joined in singing “Amazing Grace.”

Throughout the event, music director Lynn Baker was assisted by pianist Julia Frost.

Dates have not been confirmed for Mission u 2017, but it will once again be held at the University of the Ozarks. Celia Wadsworth will serve as dean, the Rev. Maxine Allen will be assistant dean and LaDonna Busby will handle registration. Many who have served on the 2016 planning team will return in their same capacity next year.

The 2017 studies will include “A Covenantal Community (Part 1),” “The Missionary Conferences of the United Methodist Church” and “Climate Justice: Call to Hope and Action” (a repeat from 2016). Mission u is open to women and men, children and youth, laity and clergy—anyone who wishes to learn more about living out the mission of the United Methodist Church in our current world context.