The Rev. Melanie Laureen Tubbs is ordained as an elder in full connection during the 2021 Arkansas Annual Conference.

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

The 2021 Arkansas Annual Conference commenced its first-ever hybrid event today, June 2, 2021, with clergy and lay members from around the Conference joining together for the first time since May 2019.

The Conference was held this year as a hybrid event to better protect members and visitors from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Although many in our Conference have received vaccinations for COVID-19, Conference leadership decided it was safer to give people the option to either attend in-person at Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs, Arkansas, or virtually through Zoom in the comfort of their homes or offices.

bishop mueller

Bishop Gary Mueller preaches a message during the ordination service.

Business Session

The first business session of the Conference consisted of mostly procedural votes. Members were given the opportunity to test out their voting devices both in-person and online through Zoom polling. The Annual Conference agenda, as well as the Session Rules, were voted on and both passed by wide margins. The Session Rules were written this year to account for the new hybrid model, and allow for the business of the Conference to proceed both in-person and online.

Members also voted to ratify the business of Annual Conference 2020, which took place entirely online through Zoom. That vote passed by a wide margin as well.

A video greeting from the host city’s churches was also shown, which you can view below.

Due to technical issues with the Zoom video conferencing software that was out of the Annual Conference tech team’s control, the afternoon business session was postponed to later in the week. Important agenda items, including reports from 200,000 More Reasons, Dismantling Racism, the Youth Address, and the Laity Address, will be given either Thursday, June 3 or Friday, June 4. Bishop Mueller’s Episcopal Address will be Thursday morning after morning worship.

Ordination Service

During the Ordination Service, four clergy members were ordained as full elders, and one clergy member was ordained as a deacon in full membership. the Revs. Judy Casbeer Hall, Roy Elizabeth Kelley, Andrew James Suite, and Melanie Laureen Tubbs were ordained as full elders. The Rev. George Hull was ordained as a full deacon.

ordained and commissioned members

Ordained and commissioned elders and deacons sing a hymn together during the ordination service.

Those commissioned as elders were the Revs. Walt Garrett, Hyeong Kwon Jung (Paul), and Ryan Spurlock. Lindsey Nicole Russell was commissioned as a deacon.

Morning worship will start at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning. If you are watching from home, be sure to tune into the day’s events on our YouTube page.