LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (March 20, 2020) – The impact of coronavirus has not only affected the ability of churches to gather together for Sunday worship and Bible study, but it has also put a strain on the money needed to operate our church buildings from week-to-week. That is why the Arkansas Conference announced today that, starting on March 22, a Month of Jubilee will take effect for the next four Sundays where churches will not be required to tithe on any income that they receive during this four-week-period.

The idea behind calling it a Month of Jubilee comes from Leviticus 25:8-12. In Leviticus, The Year of Jubilee began when the trumpet sounded on the Day of Atonement, every 50th year. During this special celebration, all persons were released from their debt and land that had been taken from them was restored once more.

This decision, initiated by Bishop Mueller and made in conjunction with the Arkansas Conference Council on Finance and Administration and the Center for Administrative Services, will relieve the stress placed on churches during this uncertain time.

“We are taking this step of faith because we understand the extreme financial pressure COVID-19 is placing upon local congregations and your ministry. The cessation of the tithe for four weeks is a tangible expression of our belief that ministry begins with the local church and the Annual Conference’s role is to support congregations in every way we can,” said Bishop Mueller. “I am grateful to the Arkansas Conference Council on Finance and Administration; Brittany Watson, President of CFA; and Todd Burris, Director of the Center for Administrative Services, for their leadership in enacting this bold initiative. Working together, the churches of the Arkansas Conference can flourish in proclaiming and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ during these difficult days and weeks.”

Todd Burris, the Director of the Center for Administrative Services, said that when Bishop Mueller asked him to work on this project, he immediately got to work with CFA to figure out how they were going to do this.

“Over the past year, the national conversation surrounding the United Methodist Church has been about division. This past week we’ve put our differences aside and focused on the health of each other and our Church,” Burris said. “It has been refreshing to see so many of us united in faith and action to help our churches and communities weather this crisis.”

For more information, please contact Todd Burris at tburris@arumc.org or by phone.