Hang-Outs are In

Hang-Outs are In

Caroline Loftin

contributing writer

Pastors are typically thought of as welcoming fixtures in sanctuaries, beacons of faith offering guidance to a crowd of people. While this description is accurate, for some Arkansas pastors, it’s only half of it.

“Interacting with my congregation for one hour on Sunday mornings is not enough; occasionally attending ball games and community events is not enough,” said Rev. Amanda Smith of Centennial and Norphlet United Methodist.

Rather than hosting her Wednesday office hours at the church, Rev. Smith will be hanging out at Café 1981 in Norphlet starting on August 24. She invites locals and church members to join her for coffee or a milkshake and, most importantly, a genuine conversation.

“I’m constantly looking for ways to put myself where churches and un-churched people hang out,” Rev. Smith continued.

Rev. Michelle Morris held office hours at Topgolf to spend time with church members.

Rev. Michelle Morris of First United Methodist in Bentonville has found luck with a similar approach for more than four years.

“My goal initially was to provide a neutral place for people to meet me instead of having to pick offices,” said Rev. Morris of her decision to take her office hours out of the office and out to breakfast to meet with members of her former Fort Smith congregations.

“Some people were just more comfortable coming to see their pastor in a place other than the church office,” she continues.

She was thrilled to also encounter fellowship and ministry opportunities with other diners and restaurant staff, setting a tradition in motion that she would carry to her new congregation in Bentonville.

This summer, Rev. Morris bought a season pass for Topgolf and spent time with church members and other golfers there once a week.

“I have once again made connections with the staff, including praying with one who had a traumatic loss in her family the day before I was out there,” says Rev. Morris.

“These hours allow me both to show Christ’s love to a hurting and often forgotten population, and they allow me to grow in connection with my people,” she continues.

Rev. Morris plans to continue her project this fall in a local Bentonville coffee shop.

With First United Methodist Church Mountain View, Rev. John Michael’s ‘Free Prayer Station’ is a charming and thoughtful ministry in the small community.

“Since the towns I have served in don’t have coffee shops with indoor seating space, I tend to go to Hardee’s on Tuesday mornings to have some breakfast and then spend an hour or so having coffee with my sign on the table,” says Rev. Michael.

He sits with a sign reading ‘Free Prayer’ and simply waits to be approached. His goal is to offer spiritual support to anyone in his community who is willing to ask for it.

“It can be intimidating at first for a pastor to try it for the first time because they are putting themselves out there and becoming a bit vulnerable,” says Rev. Michael.

That vulnerability has paid off for Rev. Michael and his incredible example of the gospel.

“It led to relationships with people who would never darken the door of our local churches and may never have experienced the love of God otherwise,” he says.

Taco ‘Bout a Party

Taco ‘Bout a Party

Libby Doss Lloyd, APR

contributing writer

Fellowship. Community. We seek both. When we’re fortunate to find them, we embrace them.

The North Little Rock First United Methodist Church (NLRFUMC) did that when recently hosting their first-ever back-to-school event for the youth, their families, and those they had connected with through summer ministries.

The “Taco ‘Bout A Party” event, held on Sunday, August 7, followed the “Blessing of the Backpacks” morning worship service. Over 100 attendees feasted on a wide array of tacos, burritos, nachos, salsa…you name it, they had it!

One of the biggest hits was the dessert table. Correction: tables – plural! This youth-inspired addition was a friendly competition judged entirely by the youth and children.

No youth event is complete without games – ‘Taco Games’ to be exact. Tortilla Toss? Check. Congratulations to the winners!

The “Welcome Back to School” sign station for the church’s neighboring school, Indian Hills Elementary School, was extremely popular. Attendees took turns making signs that were used on the first day of school to greet the young students. Church members held signs wishing the students a wonderful year.

“This event was a great way to get everyone together after a summer of activities,” said Senior Pastor, Rev. Sara Bayles Charlton.

Throughout the summer months, the NLRFUMC hosted a Summer Reading Camp, Vacation Bible School, and a Youth Mission Trip. The fiesta-themed event was a creative way to build upon the church’s existing efforts and bring summer to a close while welcoming the new school year for the youth. It has provided a new opportunity to open the door for future ministries and outreach.

Charlton added, “As I personally reflected on the evening, I was reminded of how much people desire to be part of a community, to gather together, and now more than ever to have that strong sense of fellowship.”

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. – Matthew 18:20

Samantha Menley named Community Coordinator for 200k More Reasons

Samantha Menley named Community Coordinator for 200k More Reasons

Samantha Black Menley was recently named the new Community Coordinator for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church 200,000 More Reasons initiative. She is a recent graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service, where she received her Masters in Public Service.  

Samantha’s experience includes an internship with Heifer International where she helped create and facilitate a discussion around food insecurity for the 40 Under 40 Forum at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. She completed her Capstone with 200K More Reasons this past spring. 

Samantha received her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, where she was active in the A-State Wesley Foundation serving in a variety of roles including a year-long stint as Assistant Director. She was a founding student volunteer for the Bread of Life Mobile Food Pantry.

“I am so excited to accept the role as Community Coordinator for 200K More Reasons! I am thankful for the opportunity to connect with churches across the Conference and see first-hand the variety of ways congregations are answering the call of 200K More Reasons. I believe this position fulfills my calling as a public servant and a United Methodist. There’s nothing better than the United Methodist connection and I am looking forward to expanding my network to new friends and colleagues around Arkansas,” shared Menley. 

“My goal for this position is to equip churches with the resources and connections to expand their ministries to go beyond feeding and include literacy and family stability aspects. I am looking forward to walking alongside churches as they discover the best ways to further spread God’s love in their communities,” she added.

Bishop Gary Mueller shared, “I am grateful to welcome Samantha Menley to the Arkansas Conference staff and we are grateful for the experience and passion she brings to this ministry.”

Samantha is a cradle United Methodist and grew up in Fort Smith and is still a member of Cavanaugh UMC, where she stays active with their online worship and ministries.

Watching Seeds Grow

Watching Seeds Grow

Day Davis

ARUMC Content Engagement Specialist

Matthew 13:32 says, “It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree so that the birds come and perch on its branches.”

The First United Methodist Church of Maumelle has done just that with its Backpack Ministry – planted a small seed and watched it grow.

Volunteers help pack food at FUMC Maumelle

The Backpack Ministry began in the fall of 2017 with a mission to provide weekend meals to local food-insecure students who rely heavily on the school cafeteria.

“We knew that we had kids and families in our community that were struggling with a basic need, and we wanted to help,” said Kayla Tullos, Director of Children’s Ministry at FUMC Maumelle.

The ministry was initially providing 25 students at one school with meals each weekend during the school year. Under Kayla’s management, the Backpack Ministry currently provides 278 students at seven schools with weekend meals.

From January to March of this year, the church delivered 3,380 meals to local schools through the ministry.

“We are reaching kids and families in our community who struggle with food insecurity. We are also reaching those involved in helping within our local schools,” Kayla said. “We rely heavily on the counselors at the school. They are the contact point for us. They access the needs and make sure the children receive the bags each week.”

Each bag includes applesauce, peanut butter crackers, fruit bars, fruit cups, oatmeal, and a self-contained meal, such as ramen or mac and cheese. Kayla said it was important to her that the food be nutritious, filling, and easily prepared by a child.

“It is a blessing every week to know that on Thursday the bags are going to be delivered and all I have to do is call for my students on Friday afternoon and hand them out,” said Laura Turner, the counselor at Pine Forest Elementary School.

In honor of 2020 National School Counseling Week, school counselor Laura Turner awards Certificates of Appreciation to Karla Tullos and FUMC Maumelle for providing weekend food bags and so much more for our students. Credit: Pine Forest Elementary School

“Weekend meals were also provided during the summer vacation months,” said Jo Johnson, a volunteer with the church’s commissions committee. “During the Covid-19 pandemic, however, the program expanded rapidly to meet an increased need for meals in our community.”

Jo said the ministry fosters a sense of camaraderie and commitment for its volunteers while addressing and meeting a community need.

When the Backpack Ministry started, there were three to four volunteers, but currently, there are fourteen to sixteen volunteers who help regularly. Students of all ages, the church’s in-house day school, scout groups, and many community members also volunteer their time when available. Volunteers pick up the supplies and package them at the church before distributing them to local schools.

You can visit their website to learn more about FUMC Maumelle’s Backpack Ministry or other ministry and volunteer opportunities.

Obituary – Jake Mosby

Jake Mosby
September 26, 1929 – August 21, 2022

Jake Mosby Jr., 92, of Hazen, Arkansas, passed away on August 21, 2022 at the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Jake Mosby Jr. was born on September 26, 1929 to Jake and Delphia Mosby at Hall’s Crossing (between Hazen and DeValls Bluff, Arkansas). Jake Mosby Jr. completed the 5th grade at Wiley Public School, DeValls Bluff, Arkansas before having to leave school to become the breadwinner for his Family.

Jake Mosby was an upstanding member of the Hazen community. His work history includes working as a Tire Changing Technician at Proctor Tire Company; being a self-employed farmer (farming approximately 1,000 acres of soybeans, wheat, and rice); and working as an independent contractor who built homes, a Church, and an apartment complex (Yopp Street Apartments) in Hazen, Arkansas. Jake Mosby’s community involvements included co-founding Boy Scout Troop 408, his appointment as a Hazen City Councilman, his appointment as a City Constable, and serving as Deacon at Meredith Memorial Church of God in Christ.

In 1952, Jake Mosby Jr. met the love of his life, Frances Marie Jones in Carlisle, Arkansas.  Jake and Frances Mosby went on to have five children, Jarvis Mosby – deceased (Marion), Roy Mosby (Gladys), Ronnie Mosby (Bernadette), Jeffrey Mosby (Roshonda), and Delphia Mosby. Jake and Frances Mosby were married for “69 happy years.”

Jake Mosby Jr. was predeceased in death by his father, Jake Mosby Sr.; mother, Delphia Mosby; five brothers, John Mosby, Leroy Mosby, Charles Mosby, Jeffrow Mosby, and Bobby Mosby; five sisters, Frances Mae Mosby, Betty Mosby, Dorothy Mosby, Emma Banks, and Joann Willis. He is survived by two sisters, Olivia Moore, and Bernice Kimbrough; and one brother, Jimmy Mosby. He is also survived by loving grandchildren, relatives, and friends.

Public viewing will be held at Colonial Southern Funeral Home, 216 N. Court Street, Carlisle, Arkansas, on September 1, 2022 at 6:00 PM.

Home-going service will be held at the Carlisle Civic Center, 215 S. Court Street, Carlisle, Arkansas, on September 2, 2022. Public viewing will be 10:00 – 11:00 am. Mr. Mosby’s Celebration Service will begin at 11:00 am.

Flowers may be sent to Colonial Funeral Home, 216 N. Court Street, Carlisle, Arkansas. Cards, gifts, etc., can be sent to Attn: Mosby Family, 6060 Silver Oak Drive, Sherwood, Arkansas, 72120-6500.