By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

The Arkansas Conference United Methodist Women will hold their 16th annual conference on Nov. 2, featuring speakers from the General Commission on Religion and Race, the Arkansas Birthing Project, and the national chapter of the United Methodist Women.

The conference will take place at 8:45 a.m. on Nov. 2 at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The featured speaker for the event is M. Garlinda Burton, Director of Resource Development for the General Commission on Religion and Race.

According to her bio, Burton “works with staff and constituents to develop devotional, educational, and worship resources to support laity and clergy and other church leaders in tearing down walls of racial, cultural and tribal divisions and to foster Christian community and social justice.”

Burton is a deaconess in the United Methodist Church and has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, producer and trainer regarding issues of intercultural competency, racial justice and gender justice.

In addition to the featured speaker, there will be two town hall events scheduled that will cover topics surrounding maternal mortality and the school-to-prison pipeline.

Alice Rogers-Johnson, a nurse practitioner specializing in pediatrics and women’s health and the president of the Arkansas Birthing Project, will speak on ending maternal mortality and calling on health care workers, lawmakers and advocates to fund more maternal mortality review committees.

According to data gathered by the United Methodist Women, “many women are unable to access proper health care prior to, throughout and after pregnancy” and the maternal mortality rate of African American women is three to four times higher than the rate of white women.

The second town hall will be presented by Brenda Gullett, Social Action Coordinator for the United Methodist Women. Gullett is a certified lay speaker and will address the criminalization of children and youth of color in the school system. According to a flyer for the event, there has been a 500% increase in incarceration in the United States in the last 40 years, and African American youth are three to six times more likely to be suspended than their white classmates.

For more information on the work of the United Methodist Women, visit https://arumc.org/our-ministries/united-methodist-women/ or contact Arkansas UMW President Cathy Blackwood at 479-640-7590, tree21958@gmail.com.