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 IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For More Information, Contact:
KD Reep, 501-766-1260 or kdreep@hotmail.com

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 kdreep@hotmail.com. For more information about Oak Forest United Methodist Church, visit https://www.oakforestumc.com/. For more information about The Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, visit https://www.methodistfoundationar.org/.

Celebrating Laity Sunday

by Kathy Conley, Conference Lay Leader

It is with great joy that I greet you as your Conference Lay Leader. It is truly an honor for me to serve alongside each of the Laity of the Arkansas Conference. To say our Laity are continuing in their bold witness to the love and grace of Jesus to the world is a vast understatement. The way each of you step up and offer yourselves so generously to the church and all of God’s children in the world is truly inspiring.

Every year there is a special Sunday set aside to recognize the important ministry of the Laity. That special Sunday this year is October 16th. On that Sunday, churches are encouraged to celebrate the great influence the call of God to Lay People has on the church and the world. This call is not just for those called to be Clergy, but to everyone who seeks to serve the Lord. God pours God’s love and grace into the world through each of us. We all, Clergy and Laity, are Christ’s authentic presence in the world. Each of us have a “called” ministry and gifts to fulfill that ministry that will strengthen God’s Kingdom here on earth.

As we unselfishly plan for new believers and those who have stepped away from their faith, let us move aside to allow the Holy Spirit to rest among us. Let us fully envision the dreams of all the members of our church through the years and see those dreams becoming real and true through each of us. Let us continue to shine brightly…glowingly alive in the pure, agape love, believers understand and live as we praise our Lord and our Savior Jesus for the goodness bestowed on us and share that with all people.

Christianity is about living lives that point others to God. Let’s continue to carry out Jesus’ mission to show others the way to God as we live our lives as United Methodist Lay People. Jesus tells us that the world becomes different through us because of our love for Jesus, our hope in Him and our embracing of peace. My prayers go with each of you, dear faithful servants of our Lord. I pray that your hearts may be opened everyday with new vitality, new sharing, new wonders and a new completeness as we each continue “going on to perfection.”

Save the Date: United Methodist Men virtual gathering with Bishop Gary Mueller

The mission of the United Methodist Men is to support spiritual growth among men, helping men to mature as disciples as they encourage spiritual formation in others. The pathway toward this mission is a lifelong commitment to spiritual growth to maturity as Christ followers. Our spiritual formation is marked by spiritual reproduction, as our faith passes on in others.

Men wanting to be a part of this mission are expected to commit to daily Bible study and prayer. There are many resources on the General Commission on United Methodist Men website (gcumm.org) to help you in this journey. The newest resource released is United Men’s Ministry (unitedmensministry.com). This is an app-based program that has several components.

The “Live Bold” app is free to download on a smartphone and it contains a daily devotion with a link to a Bible reading. It also contains a prayer wall where you can submit prayers or let others know you are praying for them. There are stories that are longer than the daily devotions but relate to Christian principles.

Registering your congregation for United Men’s Ministry will get you a kit with step-by-step instructions for implementing the Adventure Men program. This program will help you build a ministry to men through small groups. The material for the small group studies is all available on the Adventure Men app that you can download. The studies are short-term so they do not require several months to complete. After you finish one study, suggestions are made and material is available to start another study.

There are many small congregations in Arkansas that may think they are too small for something like this. If this is the case, it is okay for multiple churches to work together to form multiple small groups. Christianity is a community activity not a solo journey and we can do more for Christ by walking alongside each other than any of us can do walking alone. So, do not feel like you have to do this alone.

There will be a Zoom meeting on September 13, at 6:30 pm to ask questions about this new ministry program. Bishop Gary Mueller will join us to share more information about the new materials and resources available to use in your church.

To register for this meeting, please go to https://arumc.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwkduyhrzkuHt082WzjB1j3EiAuGePBy8of.

Contact Clay McCastlain, Arkansas Conference UMM President, at clay.mccastlain@arumc.org with any questions you have or any help you need building your ministry to men.

Announcement of In-Person Annual Conference Session

Bishop Mueller, with concurrence of the District Superintendents and in accordance with ¶603.5 of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, has called a Special In-Person Session of the Arkansas Annual Conference to be held in Horner Hall at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Saturday, November 19, 2022 from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.

This special session has been called to deal with the following two issues, and is limited to dealing only with these two issues:

  1. The consideration of recommendations from the Conference Board of Trustees requesting ratification of Disaffiliation Agreements with various congregations of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, in accordance with ¶2553 of The 2016 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, the Principles adopted at the 2021 Arkansas Annual Conference Session and Judicial Council Decision 1379.
  2. If allowed by the Judicial Council’s upcoming decisions concerning Docket 0522-02, the consideration of legislation to adopt a standard process governing the use of ¶2548.2 for the transfer of churches from the Arkansas Conference to one of the Pan-Methodist denominations or another Evangelical Denomination that was deferred by the 2022 Arkansas Annual Conference to the first Special or Regular Annual Conference Session.

All current clergy members of the Arkansas Annual Conference, including appointed local pastors, are authorized to participate. Lay members authorized to participate are those lay members or alternates who were last seated at the June, 2022 Annual Conference Session as provided by ¶602.5 of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. Any lay member unable to attend because of death, serious illness or cessation of membership who cannot be replaced by an alternate to the June, 2022 Annual Conference Session may be replaced by a lay member duly elected by the charge conference.

UMC portion of Boy Scouts’ bankruptcy ruling approved

A 281-page ruling last Friday in the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) bankruptcy proceedings indicates that most of the reorganization plan meets the criteria of bankruptcy law and is constitutional. The ruling approves the United Methodist portion of the settlement, but there are several more matters the BSA must address for the plan to be confirmed.

“The United Methodist settlement sought to put the survivors first and the continuation of safe Scouting for present Scouts as high priorities,” said Bishop John Schol, who chairs the United Methodist leadership team created to support United Methodist chartering associations in the matter.

The United Methodist settlement includes a $30 million contribution to the $2.6 billion survivor settlement; a commitment to hear the experiences of survivors who participated in United Methodist-sponsored troops; a review of all Safe Sanctuaries policies in United Methodist congregations and annual conferences; and the publication of three articles in denominational communication resources about sexual abuse and how to keep young people safe.

The United Methodist settlement is the result of countless hours by the United Methodist legal team, the ad hoc committee, the leadership team, the staff of the General Commission of United Methodist Men and more than 200 annual conference leaders.

“It was a team effort, and everyone led faithfully and with a commitment to our Wesleyan values and principles,” said Schol. “I am also grateful for our leaders of Scout troops across United Methodism. In very challenging times, they are committed to lead safe Scouting and guide young people to grow in witness and citizenship.”

“I am confident that everyone working together with the BSA will be able to address the remaining issues so that survivors will be fairly compensated and one million young people will continue to participate in Scouting.”

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Media contact:
Diane Degnan presscenter@umcom.org
615.742.5406