Daily Digest – Thursday, June 22, Raise a Hallelujah!

Worship on Thursday opened with Every Praise is to Our God by the band made up of clergy and laity throughout the Conference. 

Bishop Merrill said we have sung louder than the unbelief this morning. We began our work again this morning, and she called to the mic Mattie Roe, chairperson of Council on Youth Ministries, who gave the Laity and Youth Address. This year, the Council worked together to restore connections lost during the pandemic. It was a challenge; however, the Council preserved and completed the business of its charge. For the first time in three years, the Council was able to put on Refuge 2022. A highlight was the newspaper fashion show. 

In March, the Council held Veritas in northwest Arkansas. The phrase, “Be Where Your Feet Are,” reminded students to use the present moment for the glory of God. 

Please save the dates for Refuge 2023 on November 10-12 and Veritas 2024 in February 23-25. 

Kathy Conley gave the laity address by beginning with, “Today, love will reign.” Kathy introduced the Board of Laity and thanked them for their courageous leadership. The Board is available to resource you and help you grow in your faith. It is also a shoulder for you to lean on. Your Board of Laity seeks to be your voice in the annual conference. 

Teresa Bolin led us in growing in the spirit. Her single goal is to simplify what is spiritual direction. We are in a season of questions, and sometimes it feels like we are alone as we try to find our way. She invited us to relax for a few moments then reminded us that spiritual direction is as important as therapy and self-care, but different from them. This is about the invitation to relationship with a companion that holds exclusive and sacred space with God. Encouraging people to listen to and follow God is the goal of spiritual direction. She then led us in a centering prayer.

Guidelines of Centering Prayer (as stated by Thomas Keating, founder of the Contemplative Outreach Network)

  • Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
  • Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
  • When engaged with your thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
  • At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. 

We serve a God through which everything is possible.

First Business Session on Thursday Includes Spiritual Direction, Institution Reports

Bishop Merrill opened the first business session of the day by inviting Conference Secretary Candace Barron to make announcements. Rev. Barron spoke about a program to combat substance abuse disorders. This is a partnership with the Clinton Foundation. NARCAN will be available over the counter in November. Rev. Barron encouraged everyone to start this important work of combating substance abuse in Arkansas.

Bishop Merrill then invited Renee Dillard with Methodist Le Bonheur to give the first of the institution reports, which begin on page 69 and end on page 94. For complete reports, visit the preconference journal at https://arumc.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/PCJ-2023.pdf

The following reports were given:

  • Trustees Report
  • Equitable Compensation
  • Board of Pensions
  • Board of Higher Education
  • Commission on the Status and Roll of Women
  • United Women in Faith
  • The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas

Rev. Judy Rudd, Conference parliamentarian, shared a prayer concern about Justice Robin Wynn, who served on the supreme court of Arkansas. He served as chancellor for Arkansas Conference and is an Arkansas United Methodist. He passed into the church triumphant last night about 11 p.m.

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