December Edition of the Arkansas United Methodist

The December Edition of the Arkansas United Methodist is available for download now. Packed with stories, information, and including a powerful message from Bishop Gary Mueller‘s column titled: The Heart of Christmas. Download today...

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Bishops receive interim Way Forward report, elect new officers

WASHINGTON – The Council of Bishops (COB) met at Lake Junaluska in North Carolina last week to receive an interim report from the Commission on a Way Forward; elect new officers; and prepare for the 2019 Special Session of General Conference among other things. From the president’s address to giving feedback on the interim report of the Commission, the bishops stressed the importance of the mission of God, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus Christ in The United Methodist Church. Here are highlights of the COB meeting held from Nov. 5-10: Presidential address In his presidential address on Monday morning, COB President Bruce Ough challenged fellow bishops to be open to new ways that may be “off the map” as they received and discerned the interim report from the commission. Comparing the UMC bishops to the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark who were not daunted after finding their expected canoe way to the Pacific Ocean blocked by the Rocky Mountains, Bishop Ough called on the church to find new innovative ways to navigate the “issues of same-gender marriage, the ordination of LGBTQ persons, and the underlying issues of scriptural authority and biblical obedience.” Bishop Ough, who leads the Dakotas-Minnesota Area, reminded the bishops about the painful action the church took in creating the Central Jurisdiction at the merger of three Methodist-related denominations in 1939, which ended up segregating African-Americans. “Many historians would argue that the formation of jurisdictional conferences in the United States was a similar structural compromise that has perpetuated sectarianism and disconnect within The United Methodist Church,” Ough said. He cautioned: “And it is clear there is no way forward unless we are willing to rethink and redesign what a global United Methodist Church looks like.” The COB, which is made up of both active and retired bishops, offers oversight and leadership for the nearly 13 million United Methodists through the world. At the 2016 General Conference, the bishops were asked to find a way forward on the impasse regarding LGBTQ persons in the life of church. To help in this mandate from General Conference, the bishops appointed a 32-member commission that has met six times since January. The commission presented its interim report to the bishops at the Lake Junaluska meeting. “It will be our responsibility, and ours alone, to lead the adoption and acceptance of the recommendations,” Bishop Ough said. Read the Bishop’s Full Address Members of the Commission a Way Forward presented an interim report of sketches of three possible models but stressed the following: The Commission shared three sketches of models with the bishops, with the awareness that they are not restricted to these models and are open to learning, listening and improvement. It is likely that additional models or sketches may emerge as the process continues. The Commission did not express a preference of a model in order to best serve the bishops. The values highlighted in any one model also live within the fabric of other models. The values that are present in each model can be found in two important documents The Mission, Vision and Scope document; The Status Report of the Commission in July 2017 The sketches of the models One sketch of a model affirms the current Book of Discipline language and...

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Road tour aims to unwrap the true meaning of Christmas

People in search of a more meaningful Christmas will have an opportunity to connect with “The True Meaning of Christmas Tour,” coming to Little Rock on December 7. The United Methodist Church is hitting the road in 16 states this year to offer free hot cocoa, opportunities to lend a helping hand and an invitation to join with others to unwrap the true meaning of Christmas. “We want to offer our community a different type of gift: an opportunity to celebrate what Christmas is all about by engaging in service with neighbors, boosting joy and building relationships with others,” said the Rev. Richard Lancaster, superintendent of the Central District. “We are also extending an invitation to attend a place of worship or become part of a faith community.” A number of central Arkansas churches will host the come-and-go event in Little Rock at the Outlets of Little Rock, located at 11201 Bass Pro Dr., from Noon until 4 p.m. on December. An easy-to-find, bedecked tour truck will be the centerpiece of the festivities. The wholecommunity is invited. There will also be a collection of non-perishable food items for 200K Reasons to Fight Childhood Hunger, an Arkansas United Methodist initiative, benefiting local food banks. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2013 indicated that the activities that people least liked at Christmas time are the commercialism/materialism, money/expense, and shopping/crowds. What they most look forward to is spending time with family and friends (69%) and religious reflection/church (11%). “This tour is a unique way for the church to reach out to people who are experiencing loneliness or who want to give back to the community at this significant time of year,” said Dan Krause, chief executive of United Methodist Communications, which is coordinating the month-long expedition. “More than 500 volunteers from local United Methodist churches are partnering with us to make this a multi-state effort.” The True Meaning of Christmas tour will stop in 21 cities, December 2–24. Follow the tour online at UnwrapChristmas.org and #UnwrapChristmas. Watch for additional information on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter at ARKANSASUMC and...

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Fill-a-bag ministries for local churches

FILL-A-BAG MINISTRIES Church members fill a reusable grocery bag once a month and bring it to church on a specific Sunday. All the items collected will be shared with a local food pantry or distribution ministry. 200K Reasons will supply them free of charge to churches worshipping 50 or fewer. Bags may be purchased at cost plus postage for churches worshipping more than 50 every Sunday. Get started feeding children and their families in only 5 easy steps:   Step 1.  CHOOSE A PARTNER: A local partner can be any church or organization that is providing food to children and their families as part of their feeding ministry or program: a food bank, food pantry or backpack program, or a food distribution service that includes children.   Step 2.  WORK OUT THE LOGISTICS: With your partner, determine if specific food items are needed for each collection and how to communicate this with your congregation. Arrange how the food collected will get to the distribution site.   Step 3.  COMMUNICATE YOUR COMMITMENT: Email Mary Lewis Dassinger at mdassinger@arumc.org and briefly state your commitment to support the agency with food collections as part of the 200K Reasons Initiative.   Step 4.  RECEIVING THE BAGS: Expect delivery within one month from the time we receive your information. If the bags wear out, we will replace them at no charge for churches worshipping fewer than 50.   Step 5.  KEEP US POSTED: Let us know how it is going and once a year we will ask you to find out from your partner agency how many children they think were served the past year.    ...

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THE ACADEMY FOR SPIRITUAL FORMATION

The Fibonacci numbers are Nature’s numbering system. They appear everywhere in Nature, from leaf arrangements in plants, to the pattern of the florets of a flower, the bracts of a pine cone, the eye of a hurricane, or the chambers of a nautilaus shell. They are applicable to the growth of every living thing, including a single cell, a grain of wheat, a hive of bees, and even all of humankind. Psalm 139 declares that we are fearfully and wonderfully made; indeed, as is all creation, to the glory of God. AR/LA/MS FIVE-DAY ACADEMY Featuring Pat Luna, Jerry Webber, & Elise Eslinger APRIL 15-20, 2018 Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center 1720 Ferncliff Road, Little Rock, Arkansas Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center is 1200 acres located just ten miles west of Little Rock. This Earth Care Award winning camp focuses on hospitality, sustainability, and outreach. All participants have available either private or shared rooms with private bathrooms, linens and towels. Delicious meals are provided and special diets are accomodated. What is a JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS? It is an ecumenical five-day retreat designed for clergy and laity. The purpose is to deepen one’s relationship with God through a daily rhythm of prayer, worship, study, and reflection. Each day will include teachings by gifted spiritual leaders, periods of silence and reflection, morning and evening prayer, Eucharist, and small group discussion. Time for rest and relaxation are also part of each day. OUR FACULTY PAT LUNA is the Retreat Leader for the Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation, a writer, speaker, teacher and consultant in the areas of spiritual formation, stewardship and fundraising. She is a delegate to General Conference and President of Compass Consultants. Pat says this about her focus for the Five-Day: “During our week together at the Academy we are going to unpack Howard Thurman’s seminal work for spiritual formation, Disciplines of the Spirit, and how five particular disciplines, Growth, Prayer, Commitment, Reconciliation and Suffering, can lead us to greater healing and wholeness.” ELISE ESLINGER is one of the foremost leaders, teachers, writers and consultants in Worship, Music and Spiritual Formation. Editor of the Upper Room Worshipbook and writer of many of the resources in the book, Elise will be leading our worship during this Five-Day Academy! JERRY WEBBER is the community pastor and spiritual director for the Center for Christian Spirituality at Chapelwood United Methodist Church in Houston. Jerry leads worship services in a contemplative style as well as classes and retreats and provides spiritual direction. He has taught at several Two-Year and Five-Day Academies for Spiritual Formation, and is a guide for all who seek to deepen their connection with God to live differently in relation to self, others and the created world. Jerry has titled his focus “Unfolding: Scripture, Stories and Poetry for Uncovering the Self in God.” We will explore ourselves, our relationship with God and our faith development as we unfold our true selves in God and our own belovedness. “The process of spiritual unfolding is the process of becoming who God created us to be.” REGISTER TODAY at http://academy.upperroom.org/events/34. Total cost for room, board, and tuition for a single room is $575 before 1/15/18 and $625 after 1/15/18. The cost for shared accommodations is $475 before 1/15/18 and $525 after 1/15/18. A $75 non-refundable deposit...

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