Mabee Foundation Awards $950,000 to Methodist Family Health$950,000 challenge grant will help fund the Mike Millar Spiritual Life Center in Little Rock

Mabee Foundation Awards $950,000 to Methodist Family Health
$950,000 challenge grant will help fund the Mike Millar Spiritual Life Center in Little Rock

mfh millar center

Methodist Family Health received $950,000 from the Mabee Foundation for the construction of the Mike Millar Spiritual Life Center.

LITTLE ROCK, AR (Jan. 19, 2021) – The Mabee Foundation recently awarded $950,000 to Methodist Family Health for construction of the Mike Millar Spiritual Life Center. The new center will replace the original chapel on Methodist Family Health’s oldest campus, the Methodist Children’s Home, in Little Rock.

This challenge grant to the Methodist Family Health Foundation for completion of the new center stipulates the nonprofit raise the total project cost of $4,256,175 by October 13, 2021. To date, Methodist Family Health Foundation has $809,000 left to raise.

“This center will include a chapel, multipurpose space, welcome center for the campus, and administrative space for our Methodist Children’s Home administrators,” said Carolyn McCone, CFRE, executive director of the Methodist Family Health Foundation. “We also will include an outdoor labyrinth, new landscaping and enhanced parking to compliment the center.”

Plans for the center include bible studies and spiritual services, such as communion, for the Arkansas children and families Methodist Family Health serves. United Methodist Church groups throughout the state and region generously and continually volunteer to serve at Methodist Family Health, providing worship experiences like music, devotionals, vacation bible school and other spirituality services, and with this new reverent space for worship and spiritual learning, those we serve will continue to connect with the community and feed their spirits in a place where they feel love, peace and hope for their futures.

“Even with our attempts at keeping it structurally repaired, the original chapel has deteriorated to a point where our children are without a dedicated place to worship,” McCone said. “Currently, our faith-based services must be held in our gym or in individual cottages. For some of our children, these services are their first experience for worship and a relationship with God.”

millar center interior

Millar Center interior

In addition to the chapel, the center will provide space for:

  • Methodist Family Health’s best first impression to families and visitors.
  • Training for directors and staff; and
  • Meetings for community partners such as neighborhood associations and community education.

McCone said the Methodist Family Health Foundation is seeking contributions from the community to meet the challenge grant’s requirement so the new center can begin construction. To make a tax-deductible donation, donors can:

  • Text SLC to 501-881-2258.
  • Visit and choose “MCH Renovation for chapel or other facility”.
  • Send a cash or check donation to Methodist Family Health Foundation, P.O. Box 56050, Little Rock, Arkansas 72215. Please note SLC on the memo line of your check.
  • Call 501-906-4201 to make a secure donation using your debit or credit card.
  • Contact Carolyn McCone, CFRE, executive director of the Methodist Family Health Foundation at or 501-906-4202 about naming opportunities, questions about the Mike Millar Spiritual Life Center capital campaign, or to make a one-time gift; arrange a yearly, quarterly, monthly or weekly pledge over the course of three years; a gift of stock or funds from an IRA; or any way that works best for you.


The Mabee Foundation was formed in 1948 by Missouri natives (and Oklahoma residents) John and Lottie Mabee. John, who did not complete high school, and Lottie were hard workers, innovative entrepreneurs, and shrewd investors. Starting with nothing, they built an impressive business and were gracious and generous as they shared their financial blessings with others through various forms of philanthropy. John and Lottie, who had no children, formed the Foundation in 1948 and ultimately both left the bulk of their estates to the Foundation.

Over time, the Foundation began to limit grants to ‘brick and mortar’ projects located in six states: Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. John and Lottie Mabee also desired others to give and crafted the foundation ‘challenge’ grants in such a way as to both require and inspire widespread public support. The forward-thinking policies and parameters of John and Lottie Mabee became the catalyst for the exponential raising of more funds from a broad pool of givers for Mabee Foundation grantees. As such, Mabee Foundation Challenge Grants have enabled many organizations to finish projects in a timely fashion and, in the process, to build their bases of support in such a way as to help insure the health of the organizations for the long-term.

The simplicity of the focus of the Mabee Foundation has allowed its grants to impact grantees in significant ways. Mabee Foundation-funded buildings dot the landscape of the six states in which the Foundation operates. Since its inception, the Mabee Foundation has grown to a value of over $1 billion and has made grants totaling over $1.2 billion. The generosity and commitment to wise philanthropy of John and Lottie Mabee continues to inspire others and to enrich the lives of many today, as it has for the last 60 years.


Founded in 1899 as the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage, Methodist Family Health provides the best possible care to those who may need our help. A statewide continuum of care, Methodist Family Health each year serves thousands of Arkansas children and their families who are abused, abandoned, neglected and struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues. Methodist Family Health has locations throughout the state, including the Methodist Behavioral Hospital, two residential treatment centers, therapeutic group homes, a day treatment program, outpatient counseling clinics, school-based counseling clinics, a grief center for children and their families, and the Arkansas Center for Addictions Research, Education and Services (Arkansas CARES).

Too Many Books? Give Them a New Home Through the Literacy Initiative

Too Many Books? Give Them a New Home Through the Literacy Initiative


By Rev. Sam Meadors

Community Coordinator, The Delta Project - 200K More Reasons

Take a moment and locate the closest book to you right now. Maybe it’s on the bookshelf behind you. Perhaps it is in your bag. If you’re an e-book fan, it could even be in your pocket. I’d venture a guess that, if you’re like me, there is a book within 10 feet of you at any time during the day.

Now, you probably know this about me, but I am a pastor. Like many pastors, I have books upon books. Despite giving some to church libraries along the way, my books continue to accumulate. In fact, the time you most hear about a pastor’s books is when they move, in which case they may pack more than 20 boxes with books to send to their next office.

Despite the numerous books that sit on many of our shelves and fill many of our church libraries, access to books is a real problem in our communities.

Unfortunately, access to books, like access to many other resources, is limited based on economic status. It is estimated that 61% of low-income families do not own any children’s books. Still, studies have shown that having books in the home is twice as important an indicator of later academic achievement as parental education level.

Take another look at that book closest to you. It carries a bit more weight now, doesn’t it?

Starting now, 200K More Reasons is challenging Arkansas United Methodists to donate 35,588 books to build the personal libraries of low-income children in Arkansas.

Why such a specific number? There are 35,588 third graders in Arkansas. And third grade is when students move from learning to read, to reading to learn. Imagine what kind of possibilities could spring from an additional 35,000 books in the hands of students in Arkansas.

Churches can begin by collecting new and gently used books from their congregations, Sunday School classes, youth groups, or children’s ministries. While our number comes from the number of third-graders in the state, donated books can be for children or youth of any age.

Make sure to take pictures of your congregation in action. Tag us on social media telling us the number of books you collected. We’ll add that number to our count and will report our total at Annual Conference. Use the hashtag #givingbooksforlove so we can share your story.

Finally, make a plan to distribute books to kids. You can partner with a teacher, a specific grade, or even an entire school. Teachers in your congregation might be willing to help get you connected. You can also locate a little free library in your community using the map on their website and donate there.

Another way to distribute books is to connect your book collection to your feeding ministry. Offer books to take home during food pantry hours. Incorporate books into the weekend feeding backpacks given to local schools. Where churches are already doing so much for children, let us continue to do even more.

We long for every child to have access to books in their home. Access to books improves literacy and literacy improves academic potential.

But there’s more to it than that. We want students to know that we care about them. We want them to understand that they are loved. That we hope they might reach their God-given potential.

Be on the lookout for more information coming soon about how you and your church can get involved in the 200K More Reasons Literacy Initiative!

Cheerleading Vaccines is the Wesleyan Way

Cheerleading Vaccines is the Wesleyan Way


By Rev. Chase Green

Senior Pastor, Primrose United Methodist Church, Keo UMC

What an honor it was to be in the last class ever taught by the Rev. Dr. John Farthing at Hendrix College, John Wesley and Methodism. It was in that very class I first learned of John Wesley’s ministry of healthcare to the sick and the poor.

One of the books I love from that class, and still refer to, is the incredible work of Richard P. Heitzenrater, The Elusive Mr. Wesley. Heitzenrater shares John Wesley’s fascination with health, remedies, and the cure of diseases. Wesley’s obsession even led him to view an autopsy once. He would connect with physicians to gain knowledge on the subject of diseases. This is what led him to eventually aid the Methodist Societies to open health clinics. These were designed to aid the poor, who were unable to afford healthcare, or were too often taken advantage of. It is thought that Wesley was the instigator behind the first free medical clinics in England.

John Wesley even came up with his own remedies for various symptoms of illness — do yourself a favor and Google these for a good laugh. The point is, that in our Wesleyan DNA, is the concern for the sick and the poor, and helping to bring health to those who are ill.

This focus followed throughout American Methodism’s rise as our ancestors in the faith opened up health clinics, hospitals, and championed the call of Christ to “heal the sick.” Throughout our connection, there are numerous health clinics connected to United Methodist congregations, or at least sharing in funds to support nonprofit health clinics in their communities. How proud are we in our own Annual Conference of Methodist Family Health, championing mental healthcare for our children and youth.

Perhaps the largest health initiative of the last few decades of our United Methodist Church was Imagine No Malaria. This campaign, able to be coordinated due to United Methodist health clinics throughout Africa and our sister churches across that land, has truly made an incredible difference. Four million mosquito nets were provided, 61 facilities renovated, 2.1 million people treated, tens of millions of dollars given, and together with global partners, helped save the lives of 6.1 million people since 2001. We made an impact on global health through our united efforts.

We all know of the devastation the COVID-19 virus has had in our nation and around the world. As of this writing, there have been more than 300,000 deaths in the U.S. due to the virus. Projections are that over the next month or month-and-a-half we could add another 100,000 deaths. This is undoubtedly the biggest health crisis of our lifetimes. In harsh irony, this also comes at a time when the “Anti-Vax Movement,” those opposing and refusing vaccines, is gaining traction. Those who know the horrors of Polio and many other diseases vaccines have helped to eradicate or suppress, know of how vital vaccines are and how many lives they have saved or healed.

Clergy brothers and sisters and dear, servant-hearted laity throughout our connection, let us cheerlead the COVID-19 vaccines in our churches. We must be of one voice to advocate for vaccines. We cannot allow politics or conspiracy theories to get in the way of life-saving vaccines. From our pulpits and in the pews, we must alert those in our congregations of the truth that United Methodist beliefs are not incompatible with science. Let us share that we have our Wesleyan roots in healthcare and the cure of diseases. Yes, we should certainly lift up for everyone to consult with their own doctor, and we do not want to come across as medical experts, but pastors especially have a sacred duty to usher in facts and use our authority to educate and advocate for the healing of the body, mind, and soul of those in our congregations.

Recently, the head of the National Institute of Health, Francis Collins, was interviewed in a piece advocating for churches to be vocal, transparent, and educational to encouraging folks to take the vaccine. Collins, even expresses that clergy taking video of themselves receiving the vaccine would be helpful in clearing up some doubters.

We as the People Called Methodists must raise our voices for truth, health, and cherish the mission of Mr. Wesley to give aid to those who are ill. Let us rally together, use our God-given minds, and once again take up the charge of working to eradicate disease.

Mount Eagle Retreat Center Announces Katelyn Hiatt as New Executive Director

Mount Eagle Retreat Center Announces Katelyn Hiatt as New Executive Director

katelyn hiatt

Katelyn Hiatt, Executive Director of Mount Eagle Retreat Center

The Mount Eagle Board of Directors is pleased to announce Katelyn Hiatt as our new Executive Director to the Mount Eagle Retreat Center.

Kaitlyn and her family come to us from Waco, Texas. She is currently working on her Spiritual Direction Certification, has a Master of Arts in Higher Education and Student Development, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She has experience writing and facilitating large federal grants, being responsible for large groups of high-risk students and their programming including their spiritual life through McLennan Community College, and directing all aspects of Residence Hall life. She has experience through professional presentations and course work in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Economic Sustainability, and Multicultural, Career, and Group Counseling.

We believe that Katelyn has the basic skill set to manage and grow Mount Eagle. She is a very deep thinker who considers all sides before making a decision. Katelyn Is well organized, detail-oriented, and God-Centered. 

Katelyn’s husband, Dan, is a mission-minded horse wrangler and organic farmer with a passion for creation care and networking with churches. He has an M. Div. in Biblical Studies and Theology, and a B.A. in Religion/ Philosophy and Biblical Literature. The Hiatt’s have a young family, 6-year-old Dirk and 9-year-old Asher.  

The Hiatts are all very excited to be moving to Mount Eagle in March. Please join us in welcoming them to the Arkansas Conference.   

hiatt family

Hiatt Family

What Does It Mean to Have a Special Needs Ministry?Part 2 of 3 in a new series on making your church disability friendly

What Does It Mean to Have a Special Needs Ministry?
Part 2 of 3 in a new series on making your church disability friendly


By Rev. Stephen Waggoner

Chair of the ARUMC Disability Concerns Committee

“Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” Acts 4:32-35 (NRSV)

Is the dream for your congregation to be a faith community that loves each other and takes care of each other?  Acts 4: 32-35 describes a congregation in which no one had any unmet needs.  Fred Craddock, long time Preaching Professor at Emory, noted that there are only two ways to achieve this kind of church: either don’t allow anyone in your congregation with needs (exclude by intention or neglect) or, better still, to meet the needs.  

In the Acts church, as any had need, the others in the church would work together to meet the need.  In a time of quarantine, social unrest, and economic uncertainty many of our models of ministry find themselves unable to adapt.  Many of the ways in which we have traditionally met needs now don’t work or are not possible.

In the secular world of the United States over the last couple of decades, great effort has been made in the area of defining, identifying, and developing strategies to work with people who are identified as being disabled.  The Church also has been engaged in this well-meaning agenda item with mixed results.  The changes in our culture and ways of relating due to COVID-19 have highlighted the limits of the concept of disability which focuses first on identified diagnosis and then designs a plan to meet that need.

In our country, meeting needs revolves first around a specific diagnosis that carries with it financial considerations, then matching the individual with pre-developed programs and services, and finally plugging them into these services.  All of these services are expensive and, whether provided through schools or government programs, notably Medicaid and Medicare, are dependent upon a formal diagnosis because of the monetary implications.  If one’s needs don’t fit into the programs available, then too bad!

The church, and in particular the United Methodist Church of the post-depression era, has typically pursued a parallel course. Government programs and ministries look eerily similar and develop in much the same way. A group of people, the target population, is identified and a program is developed to be delivered to them. It is no accident that the Methodists were developing and building hospitals, retirement homes, and orphanages at the same time the government was building insane asylums, nursing homes, and facilities for those with mental deficiencies and similar institutions. Often these were even done in “partnership” to speed along the process.

This process of institutionalization meant that people were seen purely as receivers of services and had the effect of removing them from society as a whole. In the early 1980’s the movement to reverse this process started what has continued to be a slow process of moving people back into community settings. In this historical process of the government dominating service delivery, the United Methodist Church seems to have lost the ability to discern and meet the needs of special needs populations. Ministry with special needs became seen as simply a specialized, self-contained program that stands apart from the real church in a building out back.

From 2015 to 2017, I conducted a study of ministry with developmental disabilities in the Arkansas Conference and was astounded at the number of ministry leaders who were unable to describe how their congregation had a ministry with developmental disabilities. All of our congregations recognize that we have seniors with mobility issues and working to accommodate for their needs with special visitation and outreach to this group, but for many ministry leaders, if there was not a specialized, stand-alone program for the developmentally disabled, then ministry with this population simply did not exist. Most could not name even one person with special needs (other than seniors) in their congregation. 

Part of the problem is that we have been trained to think of ministry as a program(s) rather than a posture. If a person with special needs is part of the life and ministry of your congregation, then you have a ministry with special needs persons.

Every congregation includes persons with special needs whether special medical conditions, advanced age, developmental disabilities, and far too many other needs to list here. There are many among us with special needs, specifically developmental disabilities, behavioral disorders, and medical conditions, and we are not even aware of it. But why do our congregations include these people with special needs and yet we do not believe that we have such a ministry? I believe that much of the issue is that we have lost our understanding of the church as a community of faith in which we take care of each other and think of ourselves more as a religious service provider that delivers services to clients much as the local school district or human services office.

But the church is not the government and our calling is not to be of the secular world but to be the new testament community as exemplified in Acts. The question arises: what is a disability and what are the special needs we should be addressing? 

When the Conference Disability Committee began meeting in 2019, one of the first projects was to define the ministry for which the committee should be advocating. The language in the 2016 Discipline, the committee agreed, is now somewhat dated. Even the title, “disability,” is really dated and the more accurate term, “special needs,” refers to the reality that each of us are created by God. Due to our unique characteristics and life experiences, we each bring a different set of gifts which means that we all have some sort of special need but also strengths. 

The term disability presumes that there is such a thing as normal and that those not meeting that definition are therefore not. As the church, our beginning point is not need but creativeness. The church should be about first identifying each person’s gifts and how they contribute to the church as a whole and then identifying needs.  If your congregation includes those with special needs, then you are engaged in a special needs ministry.  The real issue is, how effectively are you meeting these needs?

About the author

Dr. Stephen Waggoner makes his home in Wilburn, Arkansas with his wife Angel who has worked with people with developmental disabilities for 28 years.  They have four children including one with autism.  Stephen holds degrees from Arkansas Tech University, University of Arkansas Little Rock, Duke Divinity School, and Asbury Theological Seminary.  His dissertation, “No Such Thing as Normal: An Exploratory Study of Ministry with Persons With a Developmental Disability in the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church” was completed in 2017.  Stephen is an Elder in the Arkansas Conference, a part-time pastor, and a full-time Director of Human Resources at the Community School of Cleburne County which serves children and adults with developmental disabilities both in clinical and supportive living settings.