I suspect I’m like you because I cannot get the massacre in Uvalde out of my mind. And as I have been thinking, grieving, getting angry and praying about it, I have also listened to the national conversation that involves everything from explaining to blaming to condemning to justifying. Quite frankly, the only conclusion I can reach is that we have lost our minds because we cannot do what should be the easiest thing in the world to do – agree on what matters most. Of course, there are many considerations that need to be taken into account because it is a very complex matter. But all Christians – regardless of theological perspective – should agree on our priority because Jesus already has made that priority abundantly clear. It’s the children. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matthew 19:14 NIV).” So at a time when all of us are trying to figure out what we do to end the pandemic of gun violence, there is one thing we can do right now. We can come together in one voice and keep talking to our friends, neighbors, co-worker and political leaders until protecting our children becomes the starting point this nation embraces for ending this abomination.
The Arkansas Conference has a new missionary to call their own! In February, through collaboration with Global Ministries, a draft was held to find the perfect fit. The missionary draft allows conferences to draft (or select) new and under-supported missionaries to partner with. Our commitment is to make new connections in our conference by offering this missionary to those churches and individuals looking for new missionary relationships.
As your Arkansas Conference Secretary Global Ministries, I have selected Ellyn Dubberly, currently serving in El Salvador as an English as a Second Language teacher at Colegio Metodista, the first and only Methodist School in El Salvador. With a focus on Children’s Ministries, she serves 500 students from Pre-K through High School. Ellyn also serves as the Coordinator of Christian Education for the Evangelical Methodist Church in El Salvador where she trains and equips Sunday School teachers at all 13 Methodist Churches.
Violence and corruption run deep in El Salvador which has a huge impact on Salvadoran youth. Ellyn believes a good education is one way to work towards a safer future. It’s a way of providing young people the tools they need to have a life different from one of violence and corruption.
Arkansas Conference Secretary Global Ministries
Manchester UMC, a small rural congregation located 8 miles east of Arkadelphia, has issued a “Ukraine Challenge” for the local churches of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church.
During a recent men’s group meeting, Manchester UMC member John Haltom recommended creating a challenge after the group determined it would develop a fundraiser for Ukraine during the July 2022- June 2023 conference year.
“We are a small church trying to do big things,” according to Holtom, at age 73, Holtom has been a lifelong member of Manchester UMC.
Manchester UMC plans to offer a chill supper, a crawfish boil, and an ice cream social with the purpose to enjoy Christian Fellowship and help our neighbors in Ukraine.
In addition, Manchester will donate $1,000.00 from the general fund to the Advance Special through UMCOR for the people of Ukraine.
Les Kent, the men’s group leader, shared, “If rural churches, midsize churches, and large churches will accept this challenge, the Arkansas Conference of the UMC can do great things for the people of Ukraine. We pray that all congregations will accept the Ukraine Challenge!”
“Many of us watch the war in Ukraine night after night and feel helpless,” said Rev. Dr. Russ Breshears, pastor of Manchester UMC. “The Manchester Ukraine Challenge allows churches of all sizes in the Arkansas Conference to make a real difference. Just as in Acts 2, we are asking each congregation to make a donation, according to its ability, to the Ukraine Advance through UMCOR.”
The link to give directly to UMCOR may be found here: https://umcmission.org/advance-project/982450/
When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
On Sunday, May 1, Rev. Amanda Smith, pastor of Norphlet United Methodist Church, had the honor of officiating the wedding of Robert Jackson, 89, to Mary Linda Darden, 77.
“They had actually been married some 60 years before,” Rev. Smith said. Mary Linda’s father arranged for Mary Linda and Robert, a former local pastor in Union County, to be married when Mary Linda was about 20 years old. However, they divorced several years later.
Rev. Smith explained Mary Linda married again, however, Robert did not. Before Mary Linda’s second husband passed away several years ago, he asked Robert as a friend to help take care of her.
A few months ago, Rev. Smith took Mary Linda to see Robert in the hospital. As friends, the couple ran errands together and spent most of their time together, Rev. Smith commented. “Robert had asked Mary Linda several times [before] to marry him, but she always said no.” However, in the hospital room, Robert asked again. This time, Mary Linda agreed.
The couple had no children and no close family local. “The [Norphlet] church family is really their family,” Rev. Smith said. Congregation members arranged the small ceremony, putting together flowers for the boutonniere and bouquet, refreshments for the reception following, bought a dress for Mary Linda to wear, and two close friends stood as best man and matron of honor. Because the couple’s favorite restaurant is Burger King, congregation members donated Burger King gift cards as wedding presents.
Robert is hard of hearing, so Rev. Smith printed questions on cardstock for him to read and answer the vows.
During worship each Sunday, the congregation members are invited to share joys and concerns. Every week, Mary Linda says it is a joy to be in the house of the Lord. Rev. Smith said Mary Linda is extremely faithful with her prayers, and Robert tithes weekly. “Even when we are older, we are never used up. Sometimes we think it’s someone else’s turn, but even at the end, we have so much to offer.”
Members of the St. Paul UMC Little Rock family shared ice cream sundaes of their own design as well as a long-awaited fellowship on Saturday, May, 14.
The purpose of the event was to spend time together again after the long hiatus with well-known church family members and get to know new members. At The Neighborhood Place on their campus at 2223 Durwood Road, several ice cream flavors were available as well as toppings of every variety.
While the happy folks were enjoying their sundaes, they were also busy trying to identify the pictures placed on their backs as they arrived. (Oh, the trick was to only ask yes-or-no questions of all the others in attendance who could, of course, see the pictures on everyone’s back except their own!) Elvis Presley, Moses, Princess Diana, the White House, a video drone, and former U.S. Presidents were only a few of the challenges.
There was an abundance of laughter, ice cream, and JOY!