This past month has really gotten me thinking about the importance of community.
As many of you are aware, Arkansas was hit with a number of natural disasters in June: from the Arkansas River flooding that displaced thousands of people to heavy rains, high winds, and tornado damage that made an already bad situation even worse, this has been a rough time to be an Arkansan.
But despite all of the devastation that we faced in the state, I was encouraged and proud to see so many people step up, step out and ask their neighbors, “What do you need? I can help.”
Our Disaster Response team, led by Byron and Janice Mann, have been working hard since day one to assist communities affected by high flood waters. They’ve assembled volunteers from across the state who are willing to help “muck out” homes, save homeowners thousands of dollars, and try to get them back to a state of normality a little bit quicker.
Arkansans have given generously of their time and money, raising more than $15,000 so far for flood victims.
As Bishop Mueller highlighted in his Episcopal Address, we need to “double down” on our mission work. As we’ve seen this month, Arkansans are really taking that challenge to heart.
In this issue, we highlight the work that a team of volunteers began in Fort Smith, one of the hardest hit areas by the Arkansas River flood. Volunteers from Northwest Arkansas, as well as United Methodist Churches in the city, worked together to improve and rebuild the lives of their neighbors.
We also showcase the work of another volunteer mission group, the Ozark Mission Project. Every year, this group of youth and young adults travels to all corners of the state to repair homes, build wheelchair ramps for elderly and disabled Arkansans, and learn that working together to improve the lives of people in your community is one of the best ways to show the abundant love of Christ to the world.
There are other stories of community-building as well, such as the work that Alma and Kibler UMC are doing in their small town to building community events for the whole city, and the work of the Adona – Wye Mountain UMC home repair mission that makes homes safe for residents of their small community.
There are countless other examples of Arkansas Methodists doing good work in their own communities, and that makes me proud to be a part of this wonderful church.
I encourage you all to get out into your own communities, get to know your neighbors and be the hands and feet of Christ for anyone and everyone you can.