By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

Each February, Black History Month is celebrated throughout the United States as a way to remember the amazing contributions and achievements of black Americans and other people of African descent throughout history.

Throughout February, we are celebrating the groundbreaking achievements of black Americans in the Arkansas United Methodist Church.

This week, our focus is on a lady whose name many people in the Arkansas Conference might not recognize: the Rev. Elma Joyce Harris-Scott.

The reason that Harris-Scott’s name isn’t well known in Arkansas is that although she was ordained in our conference, she was never given an appointment here.

But her significance in our conference’s history cannot be understated; Rev. Harris-Scott was the first black woman to be ordained in the Arkansas Conference.

Harris-Scott is a graduate of Philander Smith College. She was ordained in 1980 in the former North Arkansas Conference as a deacon — This was during the former 2-step ordination process. Before 1996, deacons were considered provisional elders and did not serve separate roles as we know deacons and elders do today.

Harris-Scott was never given an appointment in Arkansas, and according to Two Centuries of Methodism in Arkansas 1800-2000 by Nancy Britton, she was “considered unappointable and transferred to the Kansas East Conference shortly after her ordination.

She served numerous churches throughout Kansas and retired in the Great Plains Conference in 2016.

Although we do not have much info on Rev. Elma Joyce Harris-Scott, it is important to remember the “firsts” in our conference, and preserve and reflect on our history.

If you have more info on Rev. Elma Joyce Harris-Scott or personal stories you wish to share, please email

We celebrate the contributions of black Americans every year in February, but the immeasurable improvements to our society that black Americans have gifted the world should be honored each and every day.