UMC Judicial Council release October 2018 docket, includes constitutional review of three plans submitted by the Commission on a Way Forward

The UMC Judicial Council will review a request by the Council of Bishops on the constitutionality of three plans submitted by the Commission on a Way Forward in its October 2018 docket. The three plans — the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditionalist Plan — will be reviewed by the Judicial Council before the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference to determine whether any or all of the petitions meet constitutional requirements. This is not the final report on the three plans, and any or all plans are subject to changes if found to be unconstitutional according to the Judicial Council’s review. The declaratory decision request made by the COB, as well as the entire report on the three plans submitted by the Commission on a Way Forward, can be found by clicking the link below. Read the Report...

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Arkansas United Methodist newspaper of 138 years moves to digital format

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (July 13, 2018) – The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church announced at its Annual Conference last month that the Arkansas United Methodist newspaper will discontinue being printed following the July 2018 issue. The newspaper was first published in 1880, as the Arkansas Methodist by Rev. John W. Boswell of Morrilton, Arkansas. His intentions were to create an influential religious publication that also included national, state and world news, as well as “field” reporting from pastors, and railway schedules for those traveling to Annual Conferences. In 1891, it is reported that this publication issued more than 10,000 copies each week and preachers were expected to sell subscriptions. Over the years, the newspaper has featured an abundance of topics that consistently offered direct opinions and inspirational stories that have served to strengthen the faith of its readers. The Arkansas United Methodist will carry on, and beginning in August 2018, an all-digital, interactive magazine will make its entrance. “The decision to shift from a monthly newspaper to an online magazine has not been taken lightly,” said Amy Ezell, Director of the Conference Center for Communication. “Our goal is to use this publication as a ministry tool to equip disciples for Jesus Christ. The number of subscriptions for the print publication were dwindling and an overwhelming majority of our audience uses email to communicate. It was a natural choice to update to an interactive publication that can be easily shared and is mobile-friendly.” Caleb Hennington is serving as the Digital Content Editor and will manage the editing, layout, story gathering, and publication of the new online magazine. “I’m excited to be able to have the opportunity to share the stories of the amazing folks who live in our state, as well as the wonderful work that is being done by the Arkansas Conference,” stated Hennington. “I think people will be really pleased with how we are introducing some new features but also keeping several of the original covered topics from more than 100 years ago.” To subscribe to the new Arkansas United Methodist magazine, contact Amy Ezell at amy.ezell@arumc.org or Caleb Hennington at caleb.hennington@arumc.org for more details....

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UMC Bishops amend call for 2019 Special Session of General Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Council of Bishops (COB) has amended its call for the Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) to be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, in response to Judicial Council Decision 1360, which was handed down on May 25, 2018. The amended call issued by COB President Kenneth H. Carter notes that, “The purpose of this Special Session of the General Conference shall be limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based upon recommendations of the Council of the Bishops.” In the original call issued in April last year, the bishops stated that the purpose of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference is to be “limited to receiving and acting on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward.” Bishop Carter said the amended call in response to the Judicial Council decision is made “out of a great sense of caution and the desire to help delegates to the Special Session of General Conference 2019 do their best work.”  The amended call is consistent with the Council of Bishops’ collaboration with the Commission on a Way Forward over the past two years, in response to the church’s request for leadership by the 2016 General Conference.  Communication of the amended call is being shared by the General Commission on the General Conference through the heads of delegations and annual conference secretaries. “The Council of Bishops encourages the entire church in this season to hear the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:3, that we ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’,” said Bishop Carter in announcing the amended call. Click here to read the letter sent to the Heads of Delegations, Conference Secretaries, Secretary of the General Conference and the Chairperson of the Commission on the General Conference. ### Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga Director of Communications – Council of Bishops mmulenga@umc-cob.org 202-748-5172...

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Mission u preps for week filled with growth, social impact, fun

For those wanting to grow deeper in their faith and learn more about important issues currently impacting society, Mission u: Learning Together is the perfect place to be. Mission u 2018 takes place on July 25 – 28 at the University of Ozarks campus in Clarksville, Arkansas. It is a cooperative school supported by the Arkansas Conference Board of Global Ministries, the Arkansas Conference United Methodist Women and the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas. Rev. Maxine Alline is Mission u’s Dean, and Beth Cobb is the Assistant Dean. Muriel Schrepfer is the Assistant Dean of Children & Youth. The 4-day event will help participants grow in their understanding of the mission of the church through the current world context. Mission u is open to both members and non-members of the United Methodist Women and will cover topics from three different themes: spiritual growth, social issues, and geographic studies, as well as studies for children and youth. For the adults, there will be three mission studies: Seeking Health and Wholeness, a study exploring the ways God has called us to live in covenantal relationship with all of creation; What About Our Money? A Faith Response, a study exploring how we relate to money within the context of our faith; and Missionary Conferences of the United Methodist Church in the United States, which tells the story of three missionary conferences — Alaska United Methodist Conference, Red Bird Missionary Conference, and the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference — and how they add to the richness of the United Methodist connection in the U.S. Children and youth will cover two topics: Youth Study: Is It Just Money? Our Dollars, God’s Economy, and Children’s Study: Money Matters.  Mission u have also selected a mission project for 2018. This year, Mission u will support the River Valley Shelter for Battered Women and Children in Russellville, Arkansas. The shelter provides a temporary, secure and confidential shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children. The shelter operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. Mission u is asking all attendees to bring essential items in new, original packaging to Mission u. A list of eligible items can be found on Mission u’s website here. Any donations for the mission project, including tips raised by the youth for carrying luggage, will go toward the River Valey Shelter mission project this year. For questions about this mission project, please contact Carolyn Schumacher at rncshoe@comcast.net. Other events at Mission u include worship and singing, interest groups that will focus on a current issue, audiovisual presentations, and fellowship events. For questions related to Mission u, including what you need to know about housing while attending, visit their website and fill out a contact form. You can also email armissionu@gmail.com or call 870-365-2962 for more info. You can also visit their Facebook page by following this...

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Bishop Gary Mueller’s 2018 Episcopal Address

Our theme for this conference is “Pathways to Hope.” When I was thinking of what to say, it became obvious that I had to talk about hope. And when you are going to talk about hope, the most natural thing in the world is to go find some. And I did. And it didn’t take long to find it. Because, Arkansas Annual Conference, you are amazing. Look at these signs of hope: Our annual conference ministry with youth; the Ozark Mission Project; local pastors who talk powerfully about their call to ministry; the incredible growth at Philander Smith College and the amazing quality of education at Hendrix; the many local churches that take mission trips, locally and globally; our Disaster Response and Volunteers in Mission network; the 200,000 Reasons Childhood Hunger initiative involving more and more congregations and making a bigger and bigger difference in the lives of children in Arkansas; more women clergy in larger churches; innovative ministry like that occurring at Canvas Community Church; babies being baptized, youth coming to faith, adults making professions of faith in Christ; the work of the United Methodist Foundation and on and on and on. But you know it doesn’t matter how long a list of hopeful things I come up with, the fact of the matter is the world is struggling, the Church is struggling, and many of you are struggling. We live in this time where we are a people of hope and yet we see the pain of the reality around us. We live in tension with each other, and we have to address that before we can find our true hope. I will share with you what I wish I could say to you. And then I will tell you the reality of what I feel I must say to you. I wish I could tell you that we have settled issues around human sexuality and everybody is happy. But the reality of what I must say to you is that the Way Forward is still going to be a confusing journey, with an uncertain ending. I wish I could tell you we are turning the corner in becoming a more vital annual conference – but the reality of what I must say to you is that we continue to experience decline in spite of all your hard work: the Bishop‘s mission plan; our emphasis on every congregation “Growing-by-One” in worship attendance, professions of faith, small groups and outreach into the mission field; the cabinet’s commitment to making mission field appointments; the work of our Center for Vitality on our “vital” emphasis this past year; all the money the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas has invested; the Arkansas Tithe Initiative; and the Bishop’s Ordinands’ Retreats. I wish I could tell you that spiritual revival has taken hold and has truly made a difference. But the reality of what I must say to you is we are far more focused on survival than revival, being comfortable than being ready to sacrifice for Jesus and having things the way we think they should be rather than getting serious about doing God’s Will. I wish I could tell you that we have absolute clarity and commitment about who we are and what we are doing. But the reality of what...

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