People of Faith: April 7, 2017

Melissa Sanders

Sanders named financial controller for ARUMC Center for Administrative Services

A 25-year employee has been selected for the new role of financial controller in the Arkansas Conference Center for Administrative Services.

Melissa Sanders has most recently served as office manager and Conference statistician, coordinating registration for Annual Conference, assisting with yearly audits, providing statistical analysis as well as calculation, entry and reporting of the Conference tithe and district apportionment payments. For her first 11 years with the United Methodists of Arkansas, she worked in the communications department, handling the financials and the mailing list for the Arkansas United Methodist.

Sanders’ new position was created as part of a departmental reorganization following the retirement of assistant treasurer Diane Denham.

“Melissa has earned the praise and support of everyone she has worked with in the Conference for the last 25 years,” said Todd Burris, Conference treasurer and director of the Center for Administrative Services. “This new role brings opportunities for her skills and knowledge to provide even greater benefit for the Conference.”

Arkansas Conference elder honored as part of USAF-Europe Religious Support Team of the Year

Capt. Ronald Feeser and SSgt. Cedric Johnson

The Religious Support Team of the 496th Air Base Squadron recently received a top honor from its higher headquarters. Air Force Chaplain Capt. Ronald Feeser, an elder in the Arkansas Conference, and Staff Sergeant Cedric Johnson were recognized as the United States Air Forces-Europe Religious Support Team of the Year for 2016.

As the sole Air Force ministry team at Morón Air Base, Feeser and Johnson provide religious, spiritual and resiliency support to nearly 3,500 U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and Spanish personnel at a geographically separated unit in southern Spain.

They provide this support through a variety of programs, including focused outreach to Airmen work centers, Airmen dinners, mentoring events and worship services. They also serve as the primary advisors to Squadron leadership on potential mission impact of religion, as well as the religious, ethical and moral health of the unit.

They are also developing a unique Airmen and Family Ministry Center that will serve the needs of Airmen and their dependents at Morón. The center will provide support to the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of all members. This summer, SSgt. Johnson will continue serve as the NCOIC of Chapel Operations while Chaplain Feeser will be transitioning to a new assignment with the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

Arkansas UMs among Living Legend Award recipients at Philander Smith College

Philander Smith College’s 10th Annual Living Legends Banquet, held Feb. 23, 2017, included four United Methodists of Arkansas in the list of honorees: Lynda Byrd, the Rev. Jimmy Mosby, Lorraine Mosby and Frances O. “Freddie” Nixon.

Lynda Byrd

Byrd, a native Arkansan and alumna of Philander Smith College, spent several years in education, then more than 20 years with Southwestern Bell Telephone and SBC (now AT&T), but her most challenging and rewarding career was with the General Board of Global Ministries, the mission agency of the United Methodist Church. Byrd served there as director of Communities of Shalom, working with interfaith partners in economic development, asset-based community development, strengthening multicultural relationships and effecting systemic change. She designed and developed training to embrace differences in community composition, as well as cultural, economic and racial differences; the training reached more than 400 teams in 37 states, Ghana, West Africa and Zimbabwe. In addition, her collaboration with three other Philander Smith alumni and colleagues (Edward Moultrie, Brenda Norwood and the late Dr. William T. Carter) helped secure a $6 million grant to the college through the Kendall Fund.

In retirement she has served as president of the Blue Bird Auxiliary, a volunteer organization supporting four Methodist Hospital facilities in the San Antonio. She also volunteers with Haven for Hope, where her work focuses on forming partnerships with faith communities across the city to accompany the previously homeless in assimilating into the community with confidence and dignity.

Jimmy Mosby

The Rev. Jimmy Mosby is a native of Hazen and graduated from Philander Smith College with a BA in elementary education. He also attended UA Little Rock, graduating from the University of Arkansas Fayetteville with a Master’s degree in Public School Administration, spent 31 years working in the Little Rock School District and became the first African-American from Arkansas elected president of the Student Arkansas Education Association. After discerning a call to ordained ministry, he graduated from Memphis Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. Now a retired elder in the Arkansas Conference, he has served as an associate pastor of Wesley Chapel UMC Little Rock, associate chaplain of Philander Smith College, and as pastor of Newport’s Emory Chapel and Umsted Memorial UMCs, White Memorial UMC Little Rock and Levy UMC North Little Rock.

He is married to fellow award recipient Lorraine Mosby, and they have three children who graduated from Philander Smith College; a total of 17 of their family members have attended and graduated from Philander Smith College.

Lorraine Mosby

Lorraine Mosby, a native of Carlisle and a Philander Smith College alumna, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in guidance counseling from UA Little Rock. She retired from the Little Rock School District after serving more than 35 years as a teacher and counselor, working at seven different campuses and being selected as Educator of the Year at several schools. As a member of Henderson UMC Little Rock, she serves in the United Methodist Women and the Seekers Sunday school class. She is also active in the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and the Philander Smith College Alumni Association.

Nixon was born in Little Rock and grew up in McGehee. A graduate of Hendrix College, she is married to the Rev. Victor H. Nixon, and they have one daughter. Nixon served on the staff of Bill Clinton during his tenure as Arkansas attorney general and his first term as governor. When Dr. Grant Shockley was president of Philander Smith College, she served first as director of church relations and then as director of development. During this time, the apportionment for Philander Smith College was adopted by the Little Rock and North Arkansas Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church. While living in Batesville, she served as director of campus ministry at Arkansas College, now Lyon College, and then as national volunteer coordinator for Heifer International.

Freddie Nixon

Now retired, Nixon sings in the choir at Pulaski Heights UMC Little Rock and is active in United Methodist Women. She is a former Camp Aldersgate board member and president. For the past 10 years, she has served on the Perkins School of Theology board and for the past six years, the board of the United Methodist Theological Seminary in Moscow, Russia. She also serves on the President’s Advisory Board for the seminary, as well as the boards of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Shepherd’s Hope and the Fred Darragh Foundation.

Other Living Legend honorees included Dr. Frances R. Harris, Sen. Linda Pondexter Chesterfield, the Hon. Mary Louise Williams, Tarai Rolle, Teresa Young and Marcel Jagne-Shaw.