God is going to give you just the grace you need in just the way you need at just the time you need. It may not be what you think you want, but God knows it’s what you need. It may not come in the way you want, but God knows it’s the way you need. It may not show up at the time you want, but God knows exactly when you need it. Your job is to pay attention, discover just how much God loves you and experience how much God’s grace will be a day-changer.
By Rev. Rashim Merriwether
Special Assistant to the Bishop on Ethnic Concerns and Initiatives
“We can disagree and still love each other…unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist”
On February 12, 1968, 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike regarding sub-standard working conditions and higher pay. On March 29 of that same year, thousands of people marched in a protest led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, carrying signs which simply read…” I AM A MAN.” Although the context and issue of this strike have been generalized as “union talk,” the placards worn by the countless men of the Memphis sanitation community speak to some deeper foundational inequalities, and disparities that existed then and still exist today.
Since March 29, 2021, I have watched the court proceedings unfold in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer charged in the death of George Floyd. I have watched this process reopen a box filled with pain, anger, anxiety, expectation, and frustration which many of us people of color have been burdened with carrying for so long. With each new event, each new death, each un-inclusive act, the weight of that box gets heavier and heavier to carry. Sadly, like most issues of injustice, the burden has been placed unfairly on the backs of the victim to carry.
As I process and reflect on what my eyes have seen, and my ears have heard, I find that same box getting heavier. As the witnesses testify, the jurors listen, the news agencies report, and people debate on technicalities, I am reminded of the black and white picture, which sits on the window sill of my office. It is there as a reminder to look deeper, understand deeper, know deeper, what are the real issues that exist. Just like the man in the photo, taken during that March 29, 1968 sanitation worker’s protest, there are deeper issues here, written in large, plain, clearly legible words…I AM A MAN.
As emotions run high, and communities embrace a verdict, understand that there are deeper issues that are represented in this trial. James Baldwin wrote, “We can disagree and still love each other…unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” Regardless of the verdict the deeper issue remains and will continue to exist, as long as people refuse to go deeper. So, I will continue looking at the picture on my window sill, keeping my reality in check, I would only amend the placard to read…I AM HUMAN.
You look in the mirror. You probably cringe at how you look, regardless of your age. You think about your life and all you’ve been through. You see someone who has made mistakes and done things you knew were wrong. You also see someone who has done amazing things and made a powerful difference. And you wonder what’s ahead for you this day. But look a little closer and you will see who you really are – a child of God. And that’s the image you should hold onto tightly when you walk away from the mirror and take on your day. Because that’s the most important thing about you.
The 2021 Ordinands and Provisional Members will be ordained and commissioned at this year’s Annual Conference. Read about this year’s candidates below, and make plans to attend this year’s Ordination Service, either in-person or online, at the 2021 Arkansas Annual Conference, June 2-4 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Elder, Full Membership
Judy Casbeer Hall
New Blaine, Arkansas
Speech Communication/Journalism, University of Houston
Master of Divinity, Phillips Theological Seminary
Roy Elizabeth Kelley
B.A. in English, Arkansas Tech University
Juris Doctorate, University of Arkansas School of Law
Master of Divinity, United Theological Seminary
Fort Smith First UMC
Andrew James Suite
Bachelor’s, Ball State University
Master of Divinity, Asbury Theological Seminary
Salem UMC, Conway
Melanie Laureen Tubbs
Bachelor of Arts, Arkansas Tech University
Master of Liberal Arts, Arkansas Tech University
Master of Divinity, Iliff School of Theology
Augusta/Bald Knob UMCs
Deacon, Full Membership
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Dip. Th. from the Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland
Th.M. from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, New Jersey
Penney Memorial Church and Penney Retirement Community, Penney Farms, Florida
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science from U.S. Air Force Academy
Master of Divinity, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University
Associate Pastor, FUMC Benton
Hyeong Kwon Jung (Paul)
Hwasun, South Korea
Bachelor of Theology, Mokwon University
Master of Theology, Mokwon University
Master of Practical Theology, Oral Roberts University
Doctor of Ministry, Oral Roberts University
Arkansas Korean Mission UMC
Bachelor of Arts in English, University of Arkansas at Monticello
Master of Divinity, Memphis Theological Seminary
Osceola United Methodist Church
Lindsey Nicole Russell
Bachelor of Art in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology with minor in Religious Studies, The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
Graduating May 22, 2021 with M.A. Intercultural Studies with emphasis in Church Planting from Asbury Theological Seminary
Central UMC – Rogers
By Rev. Angie Gage
Cherokee, Chairperson of the Arkansas CONAM
The history of the Indigenous Peoples in our United States began long before the settlers first arrived. In 1988, the United Methodist Church realized the importance of remembering the history and presence of Native Americans, as well as the support that is needed within our Native American congregations and ministries throughout the U.S. At the General Conference in 1988, a new Special Sunday was added. That Special Sunday was and still is Native American Ministries Sunday. It is usually celebrated on the third Sunday of Easter but congregations are given the freedom to change that as needed.
People may not understand the importance of this Sunday to those of us who are Native American which includes the Native Hawaiians and Native Alaskans. However, the recognition of our existence is significant to us. It is an acknowledgment of our presence and our contributions, not only to our country but to God through the United Methodist Church.
Many from my family arrived in Arkansas ahead of the forced evacuation referred to as the Trail of Tears. My ancestors, known as the Old Settlers, were promised fertile land in this area as an act of trade and good faith, the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The land was not fertile. However, my ancestors made the most of a bad situation and began the long history of hiding behind the “farmer’s tan” look to not be known as Cherokee. It would become second nature in my family to know who we were but claim to be something other than Cherokee. I come from a long line of proud Cherokee people, including a Peace Chief who died on a tragic mission into Mexico. Along the Trail of Tears, I find parts of my family history in names on signs and stops some would have made.
My family was some of the lucky ones. Families forced to move in 1838 experienced loss that was unbelievable. The acts against Native Americans did not end there. In fact, they continued into the 20th Century, which is surprising to many. Children were being taken away from Native families and forced to be enculturated into a “white way” of life. Children were told that their language was evil, their worship was evil, and their traditions were evil. They were taken from their families, all too often, by a church group. Many atrocities continued against the Native People. The Indian Health Services which was a U.S. Government program, performed sterilizations on Native women to reduce the population. In 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act passed at the close of The 95th United States Congress. Today, there are still cases of forced child removals ending up in court cases.
As one who has had to regain her identity, it is helpful to know that within my faith tradition, we are proud to claim that the 5.2 million Native Americans in the United States are not to be hidden and discarded. I am proud to know that our church recognizes that we are here and wants to contribute to the continuance of Native American churches.
Through giving on Native American Ministries Sunday, our local churches help to provide scholarships to Native American students for their seminary education. The giving supports vital ministries and churches in the Native American communities. Giving on Native American Ministries Sunday gives hope to children and youth, hope for a brighter future in impoverished communities, and a voice to those who have felt voiceless for years. Native American Ministries Sunday gives us an opportunity as the children of God to show that reconciliation for wrongs that happened in the past can happen. Half of the gifts given on Native American Ministries Sunday stays right here in our Conference for the work of the Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM). While the last year has slowed down the work of all aspects of the church, we are still here and working on continued educational opportunities in our Conference and a resource to be published by 2022. We thank you for your continued support of our Native American Christians throughout Arkansas and the United States. If you want to know more about how you can help beyond this Special Sunday, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.