A Special Calling

Kathy Conley

ARUMC Lay Leader

Are you listening? Really listening? I hope so because God is calling you to ministry and service. All of us are being called in some form or fashion every day. We all have been blessed with a special gift from God that is just for us. Discerning what that gift might be is a personal journey between us and our Creator.   

If you are like me, I call myself listening to God but I think most of the time, I am doing all the talking. I can almost see God’s head shaking back and forth and can hear the words, “I wish she would be quiet long enough for me to get a word in!” I have to keep reminding myself that I must intentionally listen for God’s still, small voice. Discovering the Spiritual gifts we have all been given is sometimes eye-opening and revealing but is always affirming. Every gift bears the same importance and every gift is needed in the church and in the local congregation. Don’t you love the way God planned life in the community of the church to be lived? Everyone is needed.  

We have a tendency to talk mostly about the call to ministry to be a pastor. We think the call only applies to the clergy. That is far from the truth. All are gifted. All are called. It’s just very important to discover where you are called. God needs the laity just as much as the clergy. We play an important role in the life of the church.  

For some laity, sharing the Word of the Lord is their gift. Preaching and teaching may be what is needed from them at this time and this place. Since the beginning of the Methodist movement, laity have been willing to extend themselves to a congregation and have stepped into pulpits as they are needed.  

For years, the Lay Speaker ministry served our churches well. We then moved to develop a more in-depth way to educate and equip those who felt the calling to fill a pulpit on most Sundays. We now have 3 ways for laity to live out this call of service.

The first is a Lay Servant. This is someone who responds to the call of God to serve in mission and ministry. These are laypersons called to live out their own discipleship as servants in leadership through ministries of leading, caring and communicating. They must take the Basic course of “Introduction to Lay Ministries” and also an “Advanced Lay Servant Ministries” course. These courses are offered in our Districts and some are online. You may be a Lay Servant and not fill a pulpit or be required to preach. But the training you receive will be useful in the local church in a variety of ways.  

The Certified Lay Speaker fills an immediate need for occasional pulpit supply. They may be called specifically to pulpit supply and serve by preaching the Word when requested by the pastor, District Superintendent, or Committee on Lay Servant Ministries. The courses they are required to take after the Basic requirements are “Be a Certified Lay Servant”, ‘‘Lay Speaker Track of Study” and 1 advanced course every 3 years. Again, these courses are offered in our Districts and online.  

The new Lay Ministry offering to our Conference is the Certified Lay Minister (click here for more information). This person fills an ongoing need for congregation leadership as part of a ministry team in a local congregation. They conduct worship, care for the congregation, develop new faith communities, preach the Word, lead small groups, establish outreach ministries, assist in program leadership and engage in specialized ministries after appropriate training. Their training entails the same courses as the Lay Servant and Certified Lay Speaker with 4 added Certified Lay Ministry modules that have been specifically designed to equip the Certified Lay Minister for their ministry. They will also be required to include 1 advanced course every 2 years. And again, our Districts provide the courses as well as the option to take some online courses.

These special Lay Ministers have been called and equipped by God for these purposes but recognize that their call is also for them to continue serving as Laypersons.  God may eventually call them into full-time ministry as clergy and they would then determine if they want to become a Local Pastor with continuing educational requirements, a Deacon, or an ordained Elder which would require a Seminary degree. Our faith tells us that this is very possible in God’s plans. That is why it is so important to keep listening to where God leads all of us to serve.  

The United Methodist Church has always recognized the historic call to ministry of all believers. These new Certified Lay Ministers will provide educated, equipped ministry to many small churches in our Conference. We currently have 55 Lay Servant Ministers. And a new class is now beginning their educational requirements and is ready to serve where needed. If you have a Lay Servant Minister in your church right now, support them fully and pray for them daily. And I would also like to ask everyone in our Conference to do the same. These persons are an important part in sharing the love of Jesus with the world. We honor you all and thank you for listening to the voice of our Lord and then in obedience to God’s blessing of leadership given to you, found a way to live that out in the world.   

For additional information on the Lay Servant Ministries program, see the ARUMC website here.

Inaugural SHINE-ola Shares the Light, Love of Arkansas Musicians with State’s Children, Families

If Arkansas has an abundance of anything these days, it’s sunshine in the summer. Arkansas singer-songwriter Jason Lee Hale and his band, The Personal Space Invaders, are taking advantage of the season by pairing summer’s long days with hot tunes from Arkansas musicians. This good time with good folks will benefit the state’s children who are abandoned, abused, neglected and struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues.

The inaugural SHINE-ola is a benefit concert, which will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. at South on Main at 1304 Main St. in downtown Little Rock on Thursday, July 14. SHINE-ola is a spin on Hale’s original song, “This is the Time to Shine,” which he wrote and performed for Methodist Family Health’s SHINE campaign. The bands and performers are contributing their time and talent to showcase the importance of mental health services for children and families in the state while helping Arkansans enjoy some homegrown music.

Proceeds from the concert will go to Methodist Family Health Foundation, which provides for necessities, therapeutic resources and other essentials for the Arkansas children and their families in the care of Methodist Family Health.

“Methodist Family Health has been helping Arkansans since 1899 when they began as the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage,” said Hale. “In the more than 120 years since they were founded, Methodist Family Health has become a complete continuum of care for children who are struggling with mental health, behavioral and emotional issues. I had no idea of all the ways Methodist Family Health helps in the community, and it’s my honor as well as the performers on this slate to work with them any way we can.”

For tickets, call South on Main at 501-244-9660 or purchase at the door on Thursday, July 14. For more information about SHINE-ola or Methodist Family Health, please visit https://www.facebook.com/events/724715675623859?ref=newsfeed.

WHO: Jason Lee Hale and The Personal Space Invaders; The Mark Simpson Trio featuring Jure Baloh and Dave Hoffpauir; Cliff and Susan; Texas Rikki D; The Brian Nahlen Band; Griffin and Friends; Mark Currey; Paul Tull; Cherise Martini and The Peacekeepers; Billy Jeter and The Shine Eye Band; Monsterboy Lives; South on Main; Methodist Family Health

WHAT: Inaugural SHINE-ola, polished musical performances benefiting Methodist Family Health

WHEN: Thursday, July 14, 2022, 6-10 p.m.

WHERE: South on Main, 1304 Main St. Little Rock, Arkansas 72202

HOW: $7 cover. Purchase at South on Main by calling 501-244-9660 or at the door on July 14


About Methodist Family Health

Founded in 1899 as the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage, Methodist Family Health’s mission is to provide 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 abandoned, abused, neglected and struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues. Methodist Family Health has locations throughout the state, including the Methodist Behavioral Hospital in Maumelle, psychiatric residential treatment centers, therapeutic group homes, a therapeutic 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).

Online Ministry with No Bounds

Online Ministry with No Bounds

Amy Ezell

Director, Center for Communication

The hymn “Go ye, go ye, into the world, and make disciples of all the nations” can be energetically sung when your online services are, indeed, reaching persons across the globe.

Rev. Peaches Smith, pastor of Haven United Methodist Church in Hot Springs, is aware of views from different states for their online services. But she also has viewers from across the globe.

Rev. Smith’s daughter, Katie, met China-based Flora in an Amazon review. When Flora told Katie that her parents were sick, Katie said her mother was a pastor and would pray for her parents. Flora began watching church services weekly from November 2020 until May 2022 when she had to travel to see her parents, and, due to spotty internet, she can’t watch as much, but she still checks in as she can.

“Your mom is a person I feel like I can reach out and touch,” Flora told Katie.

Rev. Smith also has viewers from a non-United Methodist Church in Magori, Kenya. Rev. Smith said that Ben Ouma began watching their church services online and commenting.” The church gathers around cell phones to watch Haven’s services.

“They send me pictures of them sitting on the floor, watching our services,” she said.

Rev. Smith said the services are not live-streamed; they’re recorded, then posted. “Depending on the services, sometimes we film on location,” she said. Locations have included Petit Jean Mountain, as well as Lake DeGray, depending on the sermon topic.

Being a global pastor continues to teach Rev. Smith that nothing is impossible for God. “Eight years ago, I became a widow,” she said. “Eight years ago, I never would have seen myself completing a year of seminary, and I am now entering my third year serving as a pastor. I am learning the plans God has for you are nothing I would have planned, but God has equipped me. The main part is, I have to be obedient.”

Ben Few Encampment Dates Announced

The 2022 encampment of Ben Few Campground will be held July 15-24. The campground, established in 1898, is located near Princeton, AR, in Dallas County.

Rev. Brad Moore, pastor at Clinton UMC, will be the evangelist. Sarah King from Harmony Baptist Church in El Dorado will serve as music director. Kathleen Dockery will return as a pianist and Tim Williams will be the youth director.

Services begin each evening at 7:30 p.m. with mid-day services at 11 a.m. Classes for adults, youth, and children are held Monday – Friday at 9 a.m.

For RV hookup reservations or more information, you may call Charlotte Harrison at 501-425-7843 or Tim Williams at 870-313-2011.

Called Special Session Announced

Announcement of Online Annual Conference Session

November 21, 2022

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 Session of the Arkansas Annual Conference to be held online on Monday, November 21, 2022 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. This special session will be limited to the consideration of resolutions coming 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. 

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 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 2022 Annual Conference Session may be replaced by a duly elected lay member to the 2023 Annual Conference Session.

Save these Future Dates!

If the Judicial Council’s upcoming decisions concerning Docket 0522-02 allows 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, a separate Special Session of the Arkansas Annual Conference will be held in person at Saint James United Methodist Church in Little Rock on Saturday, November 19, 2022 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. This special session, if called, will be limited to the consideration of legislation to adopt a standard process governing the use of ¶2548.2 that was deferred by the 2022 Arkansas Annual Conference to the first Special or Regular Annual Conference Session following the Judicial Council’s decision concerning Docket 0522-02.

An additional special online session of the Arkansas Annual Conference to deal with disaffiliation resolutions using ¶2553 and transfers using ¶2548.2 if so approved at the November 19 Special Session has been set for Monday, March 13, 6:00 pm. A final decision on the scope of this conference will be made at a later time.