A Message from Bishop Gary Mueller

Brothers and Sisters, Greetings in the name of our risen Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ! We live in perilous times that are frightening to many of us. Terrorism, gun violence, extreme poverty and the threat of nuclear confrontation fill the headlines of social media, television and newspapers on a daily basis. In the midst of this, there increasingly are other headlines that point to the rising torrents of hate being broadcast by neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups. As followers of Jesus Christ, we do not have the option of pretending that we can do nothing as this is taking place. We must respond. First, we must let God’s love in Jesus Christ shape all of our responses. We have received the gift of salvation that transforms us from the inside out. This means that hate-in-kind is not an appropriate response. Love is. We are called to exercise the spiritual discipline of bold love even when we are righteously angry. Second, we must speak the truth about something that is fundamentally a spiritual issue. We cannot shy away from making it clear that the recent rise of groups like those that gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia is intolerable. Their vision of life is radically opposite of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because hatred, venom, racism and violence are radically opposite of the way our Lord lived and died. Sin must be called sin. But even as we speak this truth, we do so knowing we, too, are sinners. Third, we must have conversations as brothers and sisters in Christ around racism and the rising tide of violence. They will be painful because it is always difficult to address our own feelings, uncertainties and questions. But it must happen. Fourth, we must begin to build bridges in our world that bring about the reconciliation that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:18, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (NIV) Media, government and educational establishments cannot accomplish this work. It is the work of the Church of Jesus Christ that we must embrace with humility and hope. Sometimes events like those that occurred in Charlottesville seem completely unrelated to you. They are not because you have embraced the salvation Jesus gives you, you are his disciple and you have answered, “Yes!” to the following questions: On behalf of the whole Church, I ask you: Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin? Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves? Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races? According to the grace given to you, will you remain faithful members of Christ’s holy Church and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world? Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. He invites us not only to live every moment of our lives in his hope, but also to share it with the world. I know the people of The United Methodist Church in...

read more

Danielle Williams Named Director of The Center for Communication

Danielle Williams has accepted the position of Director for the newly created Center for Communication in the Arkansas Annual Conference. Bishop Gary Mueller commented, “Communicating with congregations, enabling congregations to connect with their mission field and implementing strategic ways to share the Good News of Jesus’ love with ‘nones, dones and never-have-beens’ is essential as the Arkansas Annual Conference carries out our trajectory of creating vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world. I am excited to welcome Danielle, because she is uniquely gifted and called to lead us in the exciting task of communicating in a technological world. She has an educational background in communications, the experience of leading an annual conference communication team, and a desire for sharing God’s grace. I believe the experience and qualities she brings to this position will enable us to act with passion and excellence.” Danielle is an Arkansas native who graduated from Hendrix College in International Relations and Global Studies. She also earned two Master’s degrees from Seton Hall University; one in Strategic Communications and a second in Diplomacy and International Relations. She worked with several annual conference campaigns raising money for “Imagine No Malaria” and has served as Director of Communication for the Northwest Texas Annual Conference. Danielle was First Reserve Lay Delegate to the 2016 General Conference, has served as a member of the Texas Methodist Foundation President’s Advisory Council and has won awards for excellence in communication. In talking about her new work that begins November 1, Danielle states, “I am elated to have the opportunity to do the work I love in my home conference. After nearly a decade of serving in communication and development roles for The United Methodist Church in 5 conferences, I have been surrounded by amazing mentors, talented colleagues, and passionate leaders. These remarkable individuals have made me a stronger disciple. I am so thankful for the people who are serving the church and I am eager to meet the incredible people God has placed in the Arkansas Conference!”     ...

read more

Visit VitalDisciples.org

VitalDisciples.org is the place to find the next steps for congregations seeking to become more vital in accountable discipleship, faith sharing, stewardship and 200,000 Reasons to fight childhood hunger in Arkansas.  Visit vitaldisciples.org and download the plenary workbook from Annual Conference to start the journey toward...

read more

United Methodists: Faith in Action through 200K Reasons

When the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1784, the preachers in Baltimore decided that their task was to “reform the Continent and to spread scriptural Holiness over these Lands” (“Reexaming the Public/Private Split” in Perspectives on American Methodism, Jean Miller Schmidt). Since our beginning, Methodists have been those who’ve overstepped the boundaries between “private and public.” It is in our DNA as Methodists to do something about the problems we find around us. We don’t sit inside the church; we go out to be the church to a world that needs us. When I was selected to sit on the Bishop’s Extended Cabinet, we were reminded to consider that Methodist DNA. How do we as United Methodists stand out as Christians? As United Methodists in Arkansas, we began to see some of the common problems in our communities and it became very clear that childhood hunger in our state has gone on too long. While the national average of childhood hunger is 1 in 5 kids, in Arkansas it is 1 in 4. When kids don’t eat, they don’t have the brainpower to learn, they miss school because they are sick, and they fall behind in the classroom. Childhood hunger goes beyond a meal or two; it leaves that child without the resources to grow and develop into a healthy and thriving member of our community. Since the beginning of the 200,000 Reasons Childhood Hunger Initiative in 2014, I have witnessed the impact many of our Arkansas United Methodist churches are making through feeding ministries in their communities. In 2014, the state had around 200,000 hungry kids; today we have about 176,000 children in Arkansas who are food insecure. I know that if we work together as the connectional church we are, we can make a big difference in helping Arkansas children. Even though we are making an impact toward eliminating childhood hunger, it is the stories of transformation that have inspired me. I shared some of those stories during the 200K Reasons Vital! Plenary at Annual Conference. At Dover UMC, one teacher in the congregation felt a tug to care for hungry school kids in the summer which led to 14 kids getting confirmed in the church. White Memorial UMC decided to have snacks for kids when they got off the bus from school and then those kids started coming to church. Trumann UMC had access to land to start a community garden and today they are providing a homeless shelter through the church. And with the help of several churches in the community, Sheridan UMC is providing over 6,000 meals this summer to hungry kids. These churches are getting outside the doors, opening their eyes to the needs, and inviting people to be a part of the church family. And through this relationship, everyone is changed. When the disciples asked Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, Chapter 25, “When did we see you hungry and give you something to eat?,” and Jesus said, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you have done it unto me.” The Risen Christ is present when we get out into the mission field, when we meet our neighbors, and find a way to know them. Being involved in a transformational 200K...

read more

Bryant, Pottsville UMC receive One Matters Award

The One Matters Discipleship Award was created in 2015 with the purpose of lifting up churches who have in recent years moved from no baptisms and professions of faith into positive numbers as they began to focus on intentional discipleship. The 2017 Arkansas Conference recipient of the award was Pottsville United Methodist Church, led by the Rev. Millie Bryant. The church was recognized for having close to 40 percent of their congregation participating regularly in small groups. The church reaches their neighbors by providing a home-cooked meal for individuals that come to the food pantry for food boxes. Bryant said several of those visitors have begun attending worship and a small group. One of the newest avenues of connection is the “Bible 101” class which has appealed to those who feel they are not well-versed in the Bible and want to learn in an intentional, non-threatening environment. Bryant gave all the credit to the congregation saying they were “hard-working, love their community and love each other.” “The mission of Discipleship Ministries is to challenge and support local church and annual conference leaders for the task of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” said the Rev. Bob Crossman, Discipleship Ministries’ Path1 Strategist for the South Central Jurisdiction and a retired elder in the Arkansas Conference. “We do this by offering resources, consulting training and networking in our ministries areas: Leadership Ministries, Young People’s Ministries, Path 1 (or New Church Starts), The Upper Room, Discipleship Resources and Discipleship Resources...

read more