By Sam Pierce

Featured Contributor

The biggest goal for the organizers of the annual Professional Administrators of the United Methodist Connectional Structure is for it to be used as a networking opportunity for administrators all across Arkansas. 

“To realize, that they are not alone in their job,” AR PAUMCS president Kathy Bracke said. “We are pretty cut off in our job because we are all at separate churches, so this is a chance to network and talk to people who are doing the same job you do.

“So that you are not sitting in your office, and not having anybody that you can pick up a phone and say, I’ve got this problem, how do you solve it, do you have the same type of problem?’”

Bracke said it is really useful as an administrator to have that resource. 

This year’s conference is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 26, at St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock. Tickets are $10 a person. You do not have to be a member of PAUMCS to attend. This gathering is open to church administrators, administrative assistants, secretaries, and financial secretaries. 

“It helps you put a face with a name,” Bracke said. “You can see somebody face-to-face, so you don’t feel awkward calling them on the phone to ask a stupid question. It really helps us.

“In my own case, I can then picture the person and pick up the phone and tell them I have this issue. It does encourage them to be a little more connected through this meeting.”

Bracke, who is an administrator at Christ of the Hills United Methodist Church in Hot Springs Village, said they also group everybody together with those who have a similar church and worship attendance so that someone with a church of 30 in worship won’t be seated with someone who has 900 in worship.

“Because you won’t have the same problems,” Bracke said. “Hopefully, by doing that, they will connect a little more with somebody more their size.

“It really is just an opportunity for all these administrators to get together and compare notes and not feel like we are so alone and cut off in our jobs.”

The Arkansas chapter of PAUMCS was formed in 2006 with the first meeting taking place in 2007. Bracke said they have approximately 50 members and currently eight members are “Certified United Methodist Secretaries,” which requires a week-long class in Nashville, Tennessee. At the last national meeting in Nashville, the Arkansas chapter had 13 people attend, which was the largest number from any chapter in the United States, other than Texas. The next national meeting, which is held once a year, will be held in Kansas City.

“We are really trying to grow our membership this year and we are trying to do more advertising,” Bracke said. “I am thrilled that the conference has picked it up; hopefully, we will get a bigger turnout.”

Kay Kotan, the director of the Center for Vitality in the Arkansas Conference, will serve as the keynote speaker this year. Bracke said Kotan has years of experience revitalizing congregations throughout the United States and has helped establish new church starts within and outside of central Pennsylvania. 

She is the author of numerous books and workbooks on the subject of creating vital congregations. 

“Basically, we want to get our group to see they are performing a ministry too, that it is not just a job,” Bracke said. “We are the person that everybody comes to with a problem because sometimes they just want to vent their problems of the day and a lot of times, the administrators are the ones to do that with.”

Bracke has been a member of PAUMCS since 2010 and she has seen the annual PAUMCS conference grow from about 30 to 40 guests to as high as 80.

For more information on the event, or to register for it, email Bracke at kathy.bracke@arumc.org.