Obituary – Rev. James Leon Wilson

Rev. James Leon Wilson
October 26, 1923 – September 25, 2022

James Leon Wilson, age 98, of Forrest City, died Sunday, September 25, 2022, at his home in Forrest City.

Rev. Wilson was born October 26, 1923, in Jonesboro, and was the son of Herbert and Pauline Wilkerson Wilson. He attended Jonesboro High School and graduated in 1941. During his high school years, he worked at Butler Shoe Shop. After graduation, he worked in Blytheville, Arkansas, and later went to Connecticut where he worked in the Groton Submarine Base in New London, building submarines.

In early 1943, he was inducted into the army and placed in the 295th Salvage and Repair Unit, using his skills as a shoe repairman. After basic training, and training in the desert of California, his company was shipped overseas to Europe. The repair units were bombed out early in their landing on foreign soil and he was placed in the regular army. This led to his experience of hand to hand battle and later in the Battle of the Bulge.

Returning home from the war, he moved to Blytheville, Arkansas, where he met Mary Jo Hill. She was to become his bride in January of 1949. He joined the Masonic Order in 1954, and enjoyed sixty-eight years as a Mason. He reached the rank of 33 Degree Mason and was active until his death. He served as Worshipful Master in Earle and Forrest City. He enjoyed the Eastern Star and was Worthy Patron several times in his lifetime.

He was called to preach and he entered the ministry of the United Methodist Church. During his 43 years as a pastor, he served in the following churches: Stanford-Warren’s Chapel in Tennessee; Yarbro-Promised Land; Springdale; Fort Smith; Earle; Trumann; Paragould; Marked Tree; Harrison; Newport; and Levy. He retired in 1989, but continued to serve in Wheatley and Salem until he finally retired the second time and moved to Forrest City.

During his years as a pastor, he received his education: a Bachelor of Arts from Arkansas State College, and The Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt.

During his time, four children were born to Mary Jo and Leon; Cindy, and husband, Tony, Phareta, James, and Jo Alice, and husband, Greg. In 1993, Mary Jo and Leon moved to Forrest City, where for 29 years, they lived happily until Leon’s death. In departing this life, he leaves his wife, nine grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren, five nieces, two nephews, and a host of friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, a son, one sister, and three brothers.

The celebration of his life will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Forrest City, 10:00 A.M, Wednesday, with burial in Elmwood Cemetery in Blytheville. Visitation will be 5:00 till 7:00 P.M., Tuesday, at Stevens Funeral Home, with Stevens Funeral Home in charge of arrangements. Memorials are to be made to the First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 66, Forrest City, Arkansas, 72336 or a charity of one’s choice. You may log on to for the online registry.

Something Good from the Pandemic

Something Good from the Pandemic

Joe Whalen

contributing writer

When the pandemic temporarily halted in-person worship, weddings, and funerals, churches were left wondering how they could continue to provide a connection with their congregations. Many found it through streaming worship services online.

However, the same equipment used for streaming worship has found another usage in the streaming of funerals. This new usage seems to have found a permanent place in the life of those churches who can provide that service to the loved ones of a departed member of their congregation.

When asked his opinion of the use of his church’s streaming capabilities for funerals. Rev. Zach Roberts of First United Methodist Church in Blytheville responded, “There’s no question that, in my experience, the pandemic prompted the streaming of funerals and the increased use of social media to care for those in mourning.Having said that, the positive feedback we have received from streaming funerals has proven that this is an important ministry tool that we will use in the future, covid concerns or none.”

Rev. Dr.Michelle Morris at First United Methodist Church in Bentonville echoes these thoughts adding, “Streaming in general is an outgrowth of the pandemic.Most churches weren’t doing that for regular worship, much less streaming funerals, before March 2020.”

However, it’s important to remember that if your church is not already streaming its worship services and wants to begin to do so as well as provide funeral support for its members the choice of equipment can be daunting. Marc Moss, who provides the audio-visual support at Lakewood UMC in North Little Rock cautions, “Just because ‘everybody’ uses certain equipment or software or cameras or whatever is not a reason to purchase [that] equipment or adopt certain methods. There are many ways to put some video up on the internet but you must do some homework to devise a way to deliver your message affordably and within parameters as far as complexity/expandability/personnel.”

Rev. RoyBeth Kelley, the senior pastor at Lakewood UMC, indicated that she liked streaming funerals because it gave friends and family who live at a distance a way to attend the funeral when doing so in-person might otherwise work a hardship on them. Additionally, the ability to provide the family a recording of the funeral itself is something that she has found appeals to people who have lost a loved one.While we can all agree that the pandemic has been something that we could have done without, at least something good has come out of it.

Streaming funerals is something that we can now provide to families that have lost a loved one. This serves to bring them, as well as friends of the departed, closer together in a time of loss. Even when they cannot attend the funeral in person, technology now gives them the opportunity to attend online.

Village UMC Mobile Food Pantry

Village UMC Mobile Food Pantry

Caroline Loftin

contributing writer

At the beginning of the pandemic, many of the weekly ministries of Village United Methodist Church in Hot Springs Village were disrupted. The community was encouraged to isolate and Village UMC’s congregation began seeking opportunities to help others remotely.

17% of Arkansans were struggling with food insecurity already, but during the spread of COVID-19, the small community of Mt. Pine – just up the road from Hot Springs Village, showed 30% of its citizens were experiencing hunger.

Partnering with Mt. Pine schools, Village UMC established a food drive in March of 2020, with large food donation bins located at the main entrance of the church. They also made weekly deliveries to the school’s pantry, keeping it stocked with canned goods, cereal, and pasta to supplement the already up-and-running program. To date, over 48,000 pounds of food have been shared through this effort.

But Village UMC’s ministry didn’t stop there. Led by Pastor Chris Hemund, the church began to imagine new depths of service in the Mt. Pine community and beyond. That’s where their new mobile food pantry mission was born.

“It could help us effectively get more food out into the community and neighborhoods of our mission field,” said Pastor Hemund.

The vision begins with Mt. Pine, and in time will expand to include the Jessieville and Ft. Lake communities.

Through the generous bequest of longtime Village UMC member Mona Galloway, the new Galloway Memorial Mobile Food Pantry was approved by the Village UMC Leadership Team and brought to life. Two coordinators stepped up to lead this work, and in the first week more than 80 volunteers signed up to assist. The trustees designated a room to house the food pantry, installed shelving, and purchased a trailer.

Food is purchased in bulk at Project HOPE and brought to the church pantry where it is sorted, checked, and shelved in preparation for the next team to come in and bag items. Each sack holds 25 food items and currently costs $14.28 to fill. The mobile food pantry is equipped to serve 100 families each month. On distribution day, a team of volunteers load the bags into the trailer and head out.

Village UMC invited sister church New Salem United Methodist Church, located in Mt. Pine, to partner in serving neighbors. New Salem volunteers staff the distribution event. Not only is food shared, but spiritual connections are being made.

“Together we are answering the call to care for our community with heart, mind, body, and soul,” said Pastor Hemund.

Matthew 25 Food Pantry Receives $10,000 Grant to Provide Toilet Paper, Personal Incontinence Products
The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas Grants Funds for Oak Forest United Methodist Church’s Mission to Purchase, Distribute Personal Hygiene Care Items to Neighbors in Need


For More Information, Contact:
KD Reep, 501-766-1260 or

LITTLE ROCK, AR (Sept. 22, 2022) – It was an unusual request, but one which would mean the difference in mobility and quality of life. Oak Forest United Methodist Church in Little Rock recently sought funds from The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas to purchase $10,000 worth of toilet paper and personal incontinence products to provide to community members utilizing the church’s Matthew 25 Food Pantry. The grant request was approved, and the pantry will now provide these items as needed.

“It was the first time we had received a request like this,” said Rev. Mackey Yokem, director of leadership ministries for The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas. “When we met with the food pantry volunteers and Rev. Jeanne Williams, who is the pastor at Oak Forest, we were able to get a better understanding of how the funds would make a difference to their neighbors utilizing the food pantry.”

Oak Forest United Methodist Church is located on Fair Park Blvd. in the University District of midtown Little Rock. The neighbors visiting the pantry twice each month include elderly Arkansans raising their grandchildren, people on a fixed income after retirement, and single parents. The people served by the Matthew 25 Food Pantry would inquire about toilet paper and personal incontinence products as well as feminine hygiene products and other personal hygiene items. The church began collecting and distributing toilet paper and personal incontinence items during the COVID-19 pandemic and learned what an impact it made on those who received them.

“We have one person in particular who has been helped by these donations,” said Deborah Keene, director of the Matthew 25 Food Bank and member of Oak Forest United Methodist Church. “She is a retired teacher, and she comes to us supplement her groceries. She asked if we might have these items as they allow her to go to her church and volunteer. On her income, she must choose to purchase these items, which are expensive, and do without other necessities, or not purchase them and stay home. To work all your adult life then have to make decisions such as these should not be something anyone should have to consider. If we can provide her these things, she can maintain some personal dignity and live her life in retirement the way she chooses.”

Matthew 25 Food Pantry serves an average of 58 families (comprised of 185 individuals) per month. Most of these families are elderly couples or individuals who are raising grandchildren. These funds will purchase toilet paper and personal incontinence products so the families who utilize the food pantry for food can use their budgets to purchase food for their families that the food pantry cannot provide. Their budgets not spent on these items also can be utilized for medicine, utilities, clothing, school supplies and any other necessity they may have. Of the $10,000 grant, $8,115.36 will purchase toilet paper and $1,884.64 will purchase personal incontinence products. The average American family uses 32 rolls of toilet paper per month, which the food pantry will provide, and the number of personal incontinence items will be purchased and distributed based on need. The cost of tax will be covered by donations in the food pantry’s checking account.  On July 31, 2023, this project will conclude, and Matthew 25 Food Pantry will provide the status of the ministry, the use of this grant’s funds and the results achieved.

For more information about Matthew 25 Food Pantry, contact KD Reep at For more information about Oak Forest United Methodist Church, visit For more information about The Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, visit

J.D. Walt to Preach All Services on Nov. 6 at St. James UMC

Little Rock, Ark. (August 22, 2022) – Reverend J.D. Walt will preach at all services at St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock on November 6, 2022. Reverend Walt will speak on “Band Meetings — Wesleyan Community and Renewal” at the 8:30 am, 9:30 am and 11 am services at 321 Pleasant Valley Drive, Little Rock, AR  72211.

Reverend John David (J.D.) Walt is the Founder and President (a.k.a. The Sower-in-Chief) of Seedbed, Inc. (founded 2012) whose mission is to gather, connect and resource the people of God to sow for a great awakening.  Seedbed, a non-denominational ministry, publishes a full complement of awakening and disciple-making resources, hosts the annual NewRoom Conference which has grown from an attendance of 200 to approaching 3,000 over the past eight years, and connects leaders of all sorts, lay and clergy, in the work of sowing for the awakening throughout the world. He writes every day for The Seedbed Daily Text, a devotional followed by tens of thousands of readers.  He is a licensed attorney in the state of Arkansas and an ordained elder in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The FISER-CHRISTIE ENDOWMENT was established in 2013 in memory of Dr. Paul Martin Fiser and Rev. James and Marie Christie to support an annual lectureship at St. James United Methodist Church focused on the missions of the church.  The purpose of the Paul Martin Fiser, M.D. – Rev. James and Marie Christie Endowed Missions Lectureship Series is to educate and engage the congregation in the missions of the church. The focus of the 2022 Lectureship Weekend will be as follows:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.”

Matthew 28:18-20


St. James United Methodist Church’s mission is to know Jesus Christ and make him known. The senior pastor is Reverend Ben Crismon.