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One of the exciting developments that occurred in 2019 was the launch of our online Congregation Resourcing System, also known as CouRSe. This system is the result of a visionary partnership between the Arkansas Conference and the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas (UMFA). CouRSe allows anyone in the state to log on and receive training for a variety of topics, from creating child-friendly worship services to discerning a new ministry for addressing hunger to training as a Lay Servant.
The system launched in early May with “Orientation to Annual Conference,” a course to help members to Annual Conference better understand the process. Then, at Annual Conference we launched seven topic-specific courses on such subjects as generational differences and intentional discipleship. There was also a step-by-step walkthrough for building a church Facebook or Instagram page. Following Annual Conference, we created a course around the material Dr. Greg Jones brought to us on the Heart of Methodism. That course, which is still available, can easily be used as a small group or Sunday school class study, something several of the courses could be used to do.
The initial courses gave us an opportunity to assess the possibilities of the system and to poll people on subjects that interest them. People are interested in engaging Scripture and studying through the system. The Arkansas clergywomen met that need this past month by providing a daily Advent devotional written by clergywomen and lay women from across the state. The course included video and text devotionals, including one in Spanish.
CouRSe students have also expressed a need for practical training. January includes the rollout of training courses in the major church committees: Administrative Council, Trustees, Finance, and SPRC. If you have been nominated to serve on these committees, taking these courses will help you better understand the work before you. You could take the course as an individual, or use a committee meeting to work through it together. Also in January, we will offer our first Zoom based live courses for the “Lay Servant Ministry Basic Course.” These will meet either Tuesday or Thursday evenings in January and February, and enrollment is limited to 12 for either session. If you have been interested in training as a lay servant, but have trouble attending the live courses, you can join us through CouRSe and make that next step in serving Christ.
Later in the year, we will offer a course on basics in General Conference, as well as an updated “Orientation to Annual Conference” course. We will also add courses to help people better utilize and understand the work of the UMFA. We will add more and more training in social media, communications, hospitality, financial planning, worship design, and other topics that will help make work in the church easier and more fulfilling.
CouRSe is free and open to anyone. To sign up, go to arumc.myabsorb.com. Once you have completed the signup, you can enroll in courses in the catalog. A great starter course can be found in the Featured Courses line: “Getting the Most Out of CouRSe.” Also, if you have any questions about the system, or you have ideas for content, send an email to email@example.com. CouRSe is overseen by the Center for Communication, due in large part to the media demands of creating courses, and organized by CouRSe Coordinator Michelle Morris.