UMC Bishops call for justice in wake of Ahmaud Arbery’s death

UMC Bishops call for justice in wake of Ahmaud Arbery’s death

WASHINGTON, D. C. –  The Bishops of The United Methodist Church are calling for justice and the eradication of racism and white supremacy in the aftermath of the killing of an unarmed Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Brunswick, Georgia.

In a statement released today and signed by Council of Bishops President Cynthia Fierro Harvey, the leaders of the church joined the General Commission on Religion and Race and the General Board of Church and Society in condemning this senseless killing and racism and white supremacy in every form.

“Racism is real and it must no longer exist in our communities. The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the disparities in our system that have been fed by racism in cities across America,” the statement reads.   

Noting that the list of innocent Black lives who have been killed grows each day, the bishops said it was time for “The United Methodist Church to take a stand and to join our prayers and our actions and denounce our complicity. It is time for us to reclaim The United Methodist Social Principles that name racism as sin and states that it is antithetical to the gospel itself.” 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM THE COUNCIL OF BISHOPS

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Childcare Guidelines for Reopening

To all Weekday Childcare Directors and Pastors,

On behalf of Bishop Mueller and the Arkansas Conference Cabinet, I am writing to you who demonstrate a great love for children and their families, to you who understand deeply the importance of weekday childcare services for your community, to you who struggle daily with difficult and weighty decisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Weeks ago many of you made the difficult decision to close and a few of you made the difficult decision to remain open.  All of you have done your best in trying times, and for that I am grateful.

For those of you whose weekday childcare ministry is currently closed, it is now time – indeed, it is past time – to begin the even more difficult task of deciding how and when to reopen.  While we cannot make these decisions for you, we do offer the following guidelines that I hope you will read and follow carefully.  They are strict and demanding, but the precious children in your care deserve nothing less, and I am confident that your own love for them will demand even more.

May God bless each of you in your work so that you in turn may be a blessing to the families and children who have placed themselves in your care.  If you have questions, concerns or suggestions related to these guidelines, feel free to contact me.  If I am not able to help I will find someone who can.  Thank you for your ministry!

Yours in Christ,
Jim Polk, Assistant to the Bishop

Weekday Childcare Guidelines for Reopening

  • All church weekday childcare programs are encouraged to follow the latest guidance of the bishop and cabinet on how and when churches and church ministries can safely begin to reopen. Note that this guidance relies heavily on Governor Hutchinson’s and the Arkansas Department of Health’s Guidance for Places of Worship issued on May 4.
  • Weekday childcare programs are encouraged to follow the bishop’s recommendation and not reopen before June 1. If you can safely and responsibly keep children and staff in groups of 10 or fewer persons, and follow all CDC Childcare Guidelines, you may be ready to reopen when ARUMC Stage 1 begins for Arkansas, currently scheduled for May 31.
  • Start preparing now! Your weekday childcare board or advisory committee should work closely with the church’s pastor, Re-Launch Team and trustees to develop a responsible plan for reopening.  Remember that all such plans are the responsibility not only of the weekday childcare board but also of the church Board of Trustees, who have the responsibility for managing liability and for making sure that all church facilities are used in a safe and responsible manner.
  • In order to reopen, your weekday childcare board or advisory committee must:
    1. develop a plan showing how they will implement the latest COVID-19 Child Care Guidance from the Department of Health and follow the latest CDC guidelines for sanitation, safety, size, and social distancing;
    2. check with their insurance provider to help determine areas of possible liability exposure.
    3. develop guidelines and procedures for deep cleaning and regular sanitizing of all space used by the weekday childcare program prior to re-opening;
    4. demonstrate the ability of the weekday childcare program to implement the plan; and
    5. have the plan reviewed and approved by the church trustees and pastor before reopening.
  • CDC and Department of Health Guidelines are strict. If you do not feel confident of your ability to open safely, don’t!  If you are not confident of your ability to obtain the proper cleaning and health supplies, wait!  Even if you do feel prepared, consider opening in stages to give all weekday childcare staff, parents and children time to learn the new protocol.
  • Once a date is set for reopening, please inform your District Superintendent.
Doing Children’s Ministry DifferentlyVacation Bible School and Summer Activities

Doing Children’s Ministry Differently
Vacation Bible School and Summer Activities

By Melinda Shunk

Children's Ministry Coordinator

Like all ministry in the days of COVID-19, we have to do things differently when ministering to children. Vacation Bible School will look very different than the traditional “hands-on” approach in years past. 

Vacation Bible School is a spiritual milestone for kids and it should not be skipped. We are called to be connectional. We are called to make disciples who make disciples. COVID-19 has not taken that call away. We can still answer the call to serve our youngest members; It just has to look different this year.

Several publishing houses have gone to digital uploads to send out to families. Some churches are writing and creating their very own curriculum that is relevant to the times we’re in and a community mission. All are wonderful resources for VBS planning teams in a time when we are limited to what we can create together.

In true Wesleyan fashion, small groups can continue to happen. John and Charles Wesley figured out how to create small groups in a time where they had limited material and great physical distance. Interaction in a small group is what makes VBS a spiritual milestone. Questions are asked, conversations pondered, connections are made, and giggles erupt in VBS small groups. 

We can still create those moments. We can follow our spiritual heritage and do the same with the newfound availability of church members utilizing technology. You may have never helped with VBS before but you may now get a call from your VBS director asking you to Zoom conference or Facetime with 3-5 kids from your church. 

I pray that you jump at this opportunity to spend 30 minutes of your day for one week in this way. Listen to your kids’ thoughts on a Bible story, ask them why they like the song they learned, and pray with them about the concerns on their hearts. 

When we get to come back together as a church, you will have young church members that God will have used to make beautiful spiritual connections for all of you.

Obituary – Rev. Hardy Peacock

Obituary – Rev. Hardy Peacock

Hardy Preston Peacock, 77, of Little Rock, Arkansas formerly of Dumas, passed away Sunday, May 3, 2020 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Born June 26, 1942 in Shreveport, Louisiana, the son of the late Jesse Thomas Peacock, Jr. and Mary Pearce Peacock.

Hardy graduated from University of Arkansas where he and his wife Kathryn met in the Razorback band and traveled during the football championship era from 1964 to 1966. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1967 to 1969 attaining the rank of Sergeant. Returning to the Dumas Area he owned Pittman-Witherington Oil Company in Dumas and Cleveland County Oil in Rison. He was a past president of Arkansas Oil Marketers Association and past Vice President of the Petroleum Marketer Association of America.

Hardy was member of First United Methodist Church of Dumas. As a lifelong Methodist, Hardy served as a lay speaker and became the local pastor serving at Andrews Chapel, Mount Pleasant “Campground”, Rock Springs and Wilmar congregations. He was a former member of Jaycees, Lions Club, a founding member of Dumas Area Arts Center and board member of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. He loved singing and acting in theater productions in Dumas, Pine Bluff and Little Rock. Former Dumas Man of the Year and Ding Dong Daddy, He also wrote humorous articles for The Canopy trade magazine and annually participated in Tuba Christmas. He was generous, loving and a forgiving spirit who shared his wit and humor at the drop of a hat–even if he had to “drop the hat”.

Survivors are his wife, Kathryn Peacock of Little Rock, Arkansas and daughter, Pearce Peacock of Little Rock, Arkansas, sister, Mary Jo Tucker and brother, Tommy (Betty Claire) Peacock all of Dumas, Arkansas.

Honorary pallbearers are Dalton Coleman, Robert Myles, Warren Parker, Paul Peacock, John Staudinger, and Johnny Tillman. Due to the current health guidelines, a private graveside service will be held with Dr. Tandy Hanson officiating. Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, 230 Court Street, Dumas, Arkansas 71639. Arrangements by Griffin Funeral Home, Dumas, Ark.

Arkansas Conference Distributes Grant Monies for Communications in Partnership with the Methodist Foundation for Arkansas

Due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Arkansas, many churches moved to an online or limited in-person format to continue worshiping together and sharing the message of Jesus Christ. To assist with this effort, the Methodist Foundation for Arkansas generously gave a grant to Arkansas United Methodist Churches with the intention of keeping congregations connected during the outbreak. With this grant, the Conference was able to provide 52 charges with 6 months of Zoom Pro, 22 charges with funds for printed materials and postage, 14 charges with funds for mileage, and 56 charges with Mevo cameras; for a total of over $30,000 in funds distributed across the state. “We are excited to see we received the Mevo grant and look forward to seeing how to utilize this new tool for ministry,” said Rev. Allen Crum of White Hall UMC, one of the recipients of the grant. We are incredibly thankful for the Foundation’s gift and their dedication to supporting local churches across the state of Arkansas in these times.