200th Anniversary of Methodism in Arkansas

October 14, 2017 The Past Is Our Future Bishop Gary E. Mueller   This year marks the 200th anniversary of the erection of the first Methodist church building in Arkansas.   I have spent time reading about the history of early Methodism in Arkansas. It is a remarkable account. It includes people like William Patterson, Lorenzo Dow, Thomas Lasley, Jesse Walker, John Henry, Eli Lindsey and, of course, probably the most famous and important individual involved in the establishment of Methodism in Arkansas: William Stephenson. It involves a plethora of conferences, districts and circuits that kept changing, morphing and being renamed. And it includes places like Flat Creek, Mount Moriah and, of course, Henry’s Chapel.   A contemporaneous unattributed comment made by someone in Northeast Arkansas sums up the spirit of these early Methodists, “If you hear something lumberin’ through the canebrake, it’s either a bear or a Methodist preacher, and either one’s bound to be hungry!”   We have a remarkable history. Yet this is not all surprising because it is exactly what you would expect from people of faith. In fact, it goes back as far as Abram and Sarai, as is evident in these words found in Genesis 12, Genesis 12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation,     and I will bless you; I will make your name great,     and you will be a blessing.[a] 3 I will bless those who bless you,     and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth     will be blessed through you.”[b] 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.   God gave Abram and Sarai the clear purpose of being parents of a great nation that would be a blessing to all peoples on the earth. God gave early Methodist preachers and laypersons in Arkansas the responsibility to bring people to Jesus Christ through spreading scriptural holiness and reforming the continent. God sent Abram and Sarai into the wilderness, not certain where they were going or what would happen along the way. God – and bishops and presiding elders – sent early Methodist preachers and laity into the unchartered wilderness to spread the Gospel. God challenged Abram and Sarai to trust enough to go. God challenged early Methodists to trust God enough to go, even when they knew it might put their lives in danger.   I am in awe of the early Methodists. They went to people wherever they were. They brought people to Christ. They discipled them through classes and bands. They started congregations. They built churches. They founded schools. They erected hospitals. They began institutions to help widows and orphans. They addressed injustices; even if was far too often far too slow.   That legacy continues today. We still have 653 churches, Methodist – LeBonheur Hospital, Philander Smith College, Hendrix College, Camp Aldersgate, Wesley foundations, Mt. Eagle, Camp Tanako, Methodist Family Health, amazing local church outreach, and on and on and on.   But something...

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Vital! A Message from Bishop Gary E. Mueller

In 2017, “Vital!” promises to be the word that calls United Methodists to transformation, not just during Annual Conference gathering June 18-21, but all year long.  While there’s no magical checklist to follow to create vital congregations, there are some things churches can do in 2017 to become more vital. Watch this New Year’s video from Bishop Mueller to learn...

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