Welcome God

Your life’s a journey from birth to death. You don’t know how long it will last, where it will take you or what will happen along the way. This is why it’s essential to welcome God to travel with you. God will nourish you every step, help you find your way when you’re lost and remove obstacles that get in your way. When you welcome this God who created all that exists and loves you as if you are the most important person ever created, you’ll end up at the exact destination you need to arrive.

Southeast District Churches Host Mobile Food Pantries for Hungry Communities

Southeast District Churches Host Mobile Food Pantries for Hungry Communities

Students from Monticello High School help to pack bags for distribution at the FUMC Monticello mobile food pantry on Oct. 26. Photo provided by Lori Fallon.

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

Three Southeast District churches recently worked to end childhood hunger in Arkansas by offering mobile food pantries in areas where there is a shortage of low-cost food options for the hungry.

First UMC Monticello, St. James UMC Pine Bluff, and First UMC Dumas partnered with the Arkansas Food Bank to host quarterly mobile food distributions in Arkansas, paid for by grants from Starbucks Coffee Company.

The mobile food pantries are set up at churches with tables, chairs, snacks and water for guests, allowing people to fellowship while others pick up a variety of food options.

In late October and early November, St. James Pine Bluff was able to serve 100 families with 25 volunteers, including church members and UAPB students.

First UMC Monticello served 100 families as well, with 60 families arriving to the church food pantry within the first 30 minutes of the doors being open.

“First United Methodist Church was contacted in August 2019 by Mary Lewis Dassinger, the project coordinator for 200,000 Reasons to fight childhood hunger, about an opportunity to be a mobile food distributor,” said the Rev. Lori Fallon, associate pastor at First UMC Monticello.

Fallon said Dassinger has been working with the Arkansas Food Bank and Southeast District Superintendent the Rev. Mark Norman to find ways to distribute more food in the district.

“On Friday, Oct. 25, we received our first truck full of food and in addition to the 10 adults, welcomed 25 Monticello High School student council members to help with the unloading,” Fallon said.

Volunteers from FUMC Monticello prepare to distribute food at their mobile food pantry on Oct. 26. Photo provided by Lori Fallon.

First UMC Dumas was able to serve 128 families with their distribution. Thirteen volunteers from the church assisted with the event, and they distributed almost all of the food from their pantry, including fresh chicken and produce.

Dassinger said the mobile food pantry was made possible only through grants and a strong partnership with the Arkansas Food Bank.

“Through a generous grant from the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, these and other churches in the Arkansas delta will be able to extend the impact by hosting more mobile food distributions,” Dassinger said.

Fallon said they plan to host another distribution in 2020 to continue the partnership with the Arkansas Food Bank and Starbucks.

“It was an incredible experience,” she said.

If your church is in the Arkansas delta and within a community with not enough access to low-cost food, contact Mary Lewis Dassinger at mdassinger@arumc.org for more information.

ARUMC, UMCOR Announce 2020 Disaster Response Academy

ARUMC, UMCOR Announce 2020 Disaster Response Academy

Disaster Response and Christian Aid Ministries partnered to build a home in Bergman after a Boone county tornado destroyed it. United Methodist volunteers are helping to finish the interior of the home. || Photo provided by Janice Mann

Christain Aid Ministries partners with the Arkansas Conference to build roofs for homes.

After a Hempstead County flash flood, Disaster Response worked to replace a home that was destroyed. Southwest District Coordinator Dan Rohrbaugh and a team from FUMC Hope helped build an access ramp for the home.

By Janice Mann

Disaster Response Coordinator

Arkansas Conference/UMCOR Disaster Response Academy
This conference-wide mega training event is for anyone wanting to help build capacity for Arkansas United Methodists’ response to disaster events. The academy focuses on being prepared to help because disasters don’t schedule appointments. Attendees will spend 12 p.m. Wednesday through 12 p.m. Saturday with UMCOR staff and consultants, conference leadership and others in training and discussion. We will dive deep into the areas that frame all disaster ministries while affirming or enhancing how our conference prepares for, responds to, and recovers from disasters.

What if disaster response is a way to transform the world for Jesus Christ? Central to the goal of this academy is our desire to grow and enhance the ministry of disaster response for the transformation of Arkansas and beyond. Come prepared to learn, to better understand how disaster response ministry works, and to make the work of our local churches, districts, and the conference in disaster response even better!

Your presence at Trinity UMC the last week in January is critical! Please register early at:
https://www.eiseverywhere.com/disasterresponseacademy

AR River Flood Update
The transition from relief to recovery has been daunting after the AR River Flood. There is a wide range of situations in the different areas affected along the river. Long Term Recovery Groups are up and working in the AR/OK River Valley area (six affected counties) and in Pulaski County. The other areas are on hold or struggling for various reasons. We have developed a Plan B and a Plan C to continue the recovery effort in those areas. Four United Methodist case managers are sharing two full-time positions to cover 3.5 of five affected areas. There are two additional case managers working in partnership with them to cover the other 1.5. Unmet needs are being identified and resources allocated to meet those needs through the case management process.

All this is made possible through donations to the conference and UMCOR after the flood. UMCOR has provided two grants after the flood to support the recovery efforts. Two additional grants were received by the Arkansas Conference as a trusted partner, one of which is designated for use in the four counties affected in Southeast AR. Current river flood recovery work projects include a rebuild in Perry and a replacement that needs access porches and steps in Houston. We are seeking volunteers to help with these two projects. As more projects are ready we will announce the volunteer needs through email and Facebook posts as well as conference communications.

Other Updates
A roof has been replaced on a home in Sebastian County after the tornado there back in the spring.

Two Boone County tornado home replacements have been built. We have had teams and partners working there. The Jefferson County tornado and Marion County tornado projects have closed with all identified needs met. Flash flooding has affected Crawford, Sebastian and Hempstead Counties since the River flood. One replacement home has been provided in Hempstead and there are three open cases in Crawford/Sebastian.

Current In-Conference projects:
Recovery efforts are ongoing after several disaster events across the state.
ECHO Village – construction of homes and facilities, Eureka Springs.

The Heart of the Matter

What’s going on when you judge someone? Is it them – or you? How about when you’re angry? Them – or you? Or when you become indignant because someone’s hurt you? Again, is it them or you? Sometimes, it’s them. But more often, it’s something going on in you that you don’t know how to deal with. But God does. God’s healing love strips away all the stuff in your life until you get to the heart of the matter. Sure, it’s a hard. But it’s also one of the greatest gifts God can give you.  

Really

Technology has improved your life tremendously. But it also has made it increasingly difficult to see the difference between what’s an illusion and what’s real. It is amazing how easy it can be to act as if the made-up digital image on your computer, phone or movie screen is real, and then turn around and act as if God who is the most real thing in life is not real at all. God is real. Jesus’ love is real. The Holy Spirit’s gift of new life is real. And that means you have hope that is real. Really.