Tackling Clergy Debt: Applications Open for High-Impact Clergy Scholarship

NASHVILLE, Tenn., February 7, 2019 — Many people preparing for United Methodist ordination are daunted by the high price tag associated with their education, and mounting debt can be a barrier to answering God’s call to serve. The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, is continuing a proven scholarship and financial literacy program that not only eases the burden of educational debt for prospective clergy, but also helps them plot a stable financial future.

Working with Wespath Benefits and Investments, United Methodist annual conferences and foundations, and the 13 United Methodist seminaries and schools of theology, GBHEM is proud to renew the Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship for the third year in a row. The project is funded in part by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders.

The scholarship is designed to help entering United Methodist clergy avoid excessive educational loan debt, minimize financial stress and build financial acumen. In addition to receiving direct funding, scholarship awardees also must complete a financial wellness curriculum offered through EY Financial Planning Services. The training teaches long-term financial planning tactics, including ways to avoid debt and prepare for retirement.

“The financial literacy program has helped me particularly in regard to just talking about financial plans,” said Ian Bailey, a scholarship recipient and master of divinity student at Duke Divinity School. “My wife and I discuss finances frequently but getting a third party involved is always a blessing. Working with EY has helped my family to strategically construct a map for our financial goals. Just as well-thought-out travel plans aid us in enjoying ourselves in new places, the financial advisers provided for through the scholarship aid seminary students in enjoying the fruit of good stewardship.”

In a recent GBHEM study of recipients like Bailey, more than 90 percent reported that the scholarship had eased the financial burden of their educational pursuits and reduced their overall education debt. Participants’ responses indicate that collectively, they avoided $760,000 in additional debt that they would have incurred without the required financial wellness training.

These positive outcomes benefit not only individual clergy but the church as a whole. Many previous scholarship recipients reported that lowering their debt and increasing their financial literacy helped them to focus on their ministry.

GBHEM is now accepting applications for the 2019 scholarships. Applicants must be full-time master of divinity students attending one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries or schools of theology. They must also be certified candidates or pursuing certified candidacy for ministry (elder or deacon) in The United Methodist Church. Awards are based on merit, leadership capacity and financial need.

The application deadline is March 7. Individual award amounts range from $2,500 to $12,500 and recipients will be notified by July 2019. Applicants must create an account through International Tuition and Scholarship Services, Inc. Directions for account creation and application submission are available here.

For a full list of this scholarship’s funding partners, click here.

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.

Contact Information:
Katie Tait, Office of Marketing and Communications
Office: (615) 340-7382
Email: communications@gbhem.org

Give Back During the Lenten Season in the 10th Annual Get Up & Give Collection Drive

LITTLE ROCK, AR (Jan. 2, 2019) – With the holidays behind us and the 40 days of Lent just ahead, Methodist Family Health has a way for Arkansans to honor the Lenten season by contributing to our state’s children and families who are abandoned, abused, neglected and managing psychiatric, emotional, behavioral and spiritual issues.

The 10th Annual Get Up & Give collection project asks Arkansans to contribute necessities to the children and families in our care. The project is during the entire 40 days of Lent – Wed., Mar. 6 through Thurs., Apr. 18 – and both children and adults can participate by donating personal hygiene items, clothes, shoes, school supplies, bedding, funds and other necessities to the Methodist Counseling Clinic in their community.

“The mission of Methodist Family Health is to provide the best possible care to those who may need our help, and Arkansans, regardless of age, can help us accomplish this,” said Kelli Reep, director of communications at Methodist Family Health. “The Lenten season is usually thought of as a time to give up or fast from something in our lives, but it also can be a time to take on something that renews our spirit and connection to our neighbor. Get Up & Give is an easy to do this, and it makes a tremendous impact on the children and families we serve.

“Many of our kids are in the foster care system or have families with few monetary resources,” she said. “Providing them things like new underwear, deodorant, their own school supplies – even books and toys – demonstrates to them that someone they have never even met cares about their well-being.”

Methodist Family Health asks that all items contributed through Get Up & Give are new. Monetary donations also can be contributed so specific items can be purchased to meet the needs of the Arkansas children and families in our care. Contributions can be delivered to the Methodist Family Health Counseling Clinic serving the community closest to the contributor beginning Mon., Apr. 22. Drop-off locations include:

Alma: 1209 Hwy 71N, Suite B, Alma, AR 72921; phone 479.632.1022
Batesville: 500 E. Main St., Suite 310, Batesville, AR 72501; phone 870.569.4890
Fayetteville: 74 W. Sunbridge Dr., Fayetteville, AR 72703; phone 479.582.5565
Heber Springs: 407 S. 7th St., Heber Springs, AR 72543; phone 501.365.3022
Hot Springs: 100 Ridgeway, Suite 5, Hot Springs, AR 71901; phone 501.318.6066
Jonesboro: 2239 S. Caraway, Suite M, Jonesboro, AR 72401; phone 870.910.3757
Little Rock: 1600 Aldersgate Road, Suite 100B, Little Rock, AR 72205; phone 501.537.3991
Magnolia: 621 E. North St., Magnolia, AR 71753; phone 870.234.0739

A complete list of items can be downloaded at https://www.methodistfamily.org/get-up-and-give.html. For more information, contact Kelli Reep at kreep@methodistfamily.org or 501-906-4210.

About Methodist Family Health
Founded in 1899 as the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage, Methodist Family Health is celebrating our 120th anniversary of providing 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 have psychiatric, emotional, behavioral and spiritual issues. Methodist Family Health has locations throughout the state, including the Methodist Behavioral Hospital, two residential treatment centers, eight therapeutic group homes, an emergency shelter, a day treatment program, eight counseling clinics, nine school-based counseling clinics, a grief center for children and their families, and the Arkansas Center for Addictions Research, Education and Services (Arkansas CARES).

For More Information, Contact:
Kelli Reep, kreep@methodistfamily.org

New Year’s Message from the Moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  As we turn to the new year and the approaching February meeting of the called Special Session of General Conference, the moderators would like to encourage delegates to the General Conference, as well as all spiritual leaders in The United Methodist Church, to read and consider the report of the Commission in its entirety. There are key values which ground the report which can be found in both the theological and missional statements included in the report and we commend this work to you for study and reflection. The report includes an important narrative that sets the context for understanding the three plans included in the report, legislation for three different plans, and four appendices.

Following the release of the Commission’s report in July, there have been focused conversations, articles, commentaries, and blogs in a variety of venues primarily about the One Church and Traditional plans.  We would like to remind the church that there are three serious plans included in the report.  The Commission on a Way Forward worked for more than a year on two of the plans – the One Church Plan and the Connectional Conference Plan. In consideration of the spiritual work and leadership of the Commission members, we encourage the church to wrestle seriously with the fact that God does make all things new and not set aside the Connectional Conference Plan as too complicated or too different. Instead, we invite the church to study and consider the Connectional Conference Plan, as well as the One Church Plan and the Traditional Plan, for what the Church might be able to learn from all that has been shared for consideration and discernment.

Additionally, we would invite the church to read the One Church Plan and the Traditional Plan alongside the Judicial Council ruling # 1366 on the constitutionality of these two Plans.  The Judicial Council could not rule on the Connectional Conference Plan because the plan itself calls for constitutional amendments while the other two plans do not call for constitutional amendments.  The Judicial Council rulings do not change any of the three plans, however, their rulings enable delegates to do their best work by helping delegates know where the plans potentially need to be amended and why.

Amid the reading and study of the entirety of the report and the judicial council rulings, we continue to invite you to daily prayer for each of the delegates and for the global United Methodist Church.  Prayer connects us with God, who loves us so much that God sent Jesus so that we all might have life through him.  Prayer also connects us across the denomination, no matter how geographically far or close we live from each other. God’s mission continues, and we can trust God to be God as we continue to pray for a new direction the triune God may have in store for The United Methodist Church.

Bishops David Yemba and Sandra Steiner Ball
Moderators, The Commission on a Way Forward


Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga mmulenga@umc-cob.org 202-748-5172

Council of Bishops’ letter to the global LGBTQ community

To the People of the United Methodist Church:

Grace and Peace to you in these days of Christmas, and at the conclusion of a calendar year.

At the fall meeting of the Council of Bishops at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, bishops approved a motion to send a pastoral letter to the Global LGBTQ community. A writing team, composed of a bishop from each central conference and jurisdiction, completed this task, on behalf of the Council. The letter follows.

We share this letter with you as an expression of our desire to strengthen the body of Christ. We confess our participation in the harm we have done to one another and to the LGBTQ community. In offering this letter we bear witness to the light of Jesus Christ, which enlightens everyone and is coming into the world (John 1: 9). And we pray that in the days ahead we will, with him, grow and become strong, that we will be filled with wisdom, and that the favor of God will rest upon us (Luke 2: 40).

The peace of the Lord,
+Ken Carter
Resident Bishop, Florida Conference President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church


Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

Friday, December 28, 2018

To our Global LGBTQ Kin in Christ,

The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church recognizes the ways in which the convening of the Special Session of General Conference creates a time and space of harm for you and members of your family. To be the focus of attention, discussion and debate is hurtful.

Demeaning and dehumanizing comments and attacks on LGBTQ persons in conversations related to the upcoming February Conference are a great tragedy and do violence to hearts, minds, and spirits. When you suffer, the whole body of Christ suffers. Together, we need to work to resist hate, violence, and oppression of persons. In these attitudes and actions, great harm is done throughout the community, to the offended and the offender.

As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12: We cannot say to a part of the body, “I have no need of you.” We belong to each other. In our Baptism, we are incorporated into the Church, the body of Christ, and made one in Christ. The Church pledges to every baptized member: ‘“Your joy, your pain, your gain, your loss, are ours, for you are one of us.”’ (The UMC Book of Worship, pg. 83). Our Book of Discipline clearly states that all people are of sacred worth.

As leaders of the church, we are brokenhearted by conversations that dishonor, objectify and dehumanize. We confess, as Bishops of The United Methodist Church and as we attempt to honor our convictions, that our actions and words have not always been life-giving or honoring of the LGBTQ community. Amid our sorrow, we seek to learn and grow in grace. To that end, we commit ourselves to helping people who disagree with each other to have conversations that include, honor, and respect people with different convictions. We are a diverse group of leaders—conservative, centrist, progressive—however, we are unified in our commitment to work together in ways that will give you and all God’s children strength, comfort and hope for better and more merciful tomorrows.

As the Special Session of General Conference approaches, we pray that the Holy Spirit will draw us together. May we see the image of God in one another, treat one another with tenderness, and love one another fiercely. Bearing Christ’s love in these ways, we pray to be God’s faithful witnesses.

The Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church


Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops The United Methodist Church


United Methodist News names three Arkansans as influential Christians of 2018

United Methodists this past year marked the passing of multiple trailblazing women, a Holocaust survivor, a world-changing evangelist and a Bible popularizer. Here are 17 remembrances, listed in order of date of death. This list includes two deaths late last year.

Jean Weaver Stevens Stockton
Jean Weaver Stevens Stockton, the daughter of a Baptist pastor and wife of a United Methodist bishop, was frequently on the move — and she had a gift for movement.

She accompanied her husband of 64 years, Bishop Thomas Barber Stockton, as he took on pastoral appointments across North Carolina and served as episcopal leader of the Virginia Conference from 1988 to 1996.

She also loved to dance, and as a graduate student, she supported her husband in seminary by teaching dance classes. For Stockton, dancing was an act of Christian devotion. She was a pioneer in liturgical dance, bringing inspiration to worship services and teaching the sacred art to others. She also was an accomplished Bible teacher.

She died Nov. 11, 2017, at 87, but the United Methodist Council of Bishops celebrated her legacy at a memorial service this year. Retired Bishop Ray W. Chamberlain Jr. said her Baptist father, who disapproved of dancing, never saw his daughter perform. However, many others did.

“Jean Stockton danced to the glory of God thousands of times all over the world,” Chamberlain said. “She was still dancing in her mid-80s.”

Jadwiga Bogucka-Regulska
Jadwiga Bogucka-Regulska, a faithful and committed United Methodist, was one of the last survivors of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp. She died on Dec. 19, 2017, in Warsaw, Poland, at the age of 92.

On Aug. 12, 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising, she and her mother were arrested and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau along with about 4,000 other women and children. Bogucka-Regulska joined the Methodist Church just after World War II. She was a member of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Warsaw for decades and served as secretary at the headquarters of The United Methodist Church in Poland from 1959 to 1983.

“She was always ready to encourage others to follow Christ,” said the Rev. Andrzej Malicki, superintendent of The United Methodist Church in Poland. “She was always ready to help others even when she herself needed some help.”

Billy Graham
The world-renowned evangelist offered counsel to U.S. presidents and drew countless people to Christian discipleship through his televised revival crusades. Throughout his public ministry, Billy Graham transcended denominational boundaries.

United Methodists were among those who worked closely with the lifelong Baptist in his evangelism efforts. The United Methodist Association of Evangelists gave one of its first Philip Awards to Graham in 1976. Graham also was a close friend of the late Harry Denman, one of Methodism’s best-known lay evangelists.

Graham died Feb. 21 at his North Carolina home, of natural causes, his family reported. He was 99.

“No voice or message in the past half century has been more powerful and faithful in pointing clearly to Christ,” said the Rev. Eddie Fox, retired leader of World Evangelism for the World Methodist Council and one of many United Methodists who knew Graham.

“He spoke in the plain language of the common person and at the same time was at home with presidents and world leaders.”

The Rev. Homer Noley
The Rev. Homer Noley, a member of the Choctaw Nation, blazed a trail for Native American ministries in The United Methodist Church. The founder of the National United Methodist Native American Center died March 2 in Oklahoma City at age 85.

For nearly 40 years, Noley worked for the inclusion of Native Americans at all levels of the denomination. His book “First White Frost,” which documented the activities of Methodist missionaries with Native Americans from the 1600s to the modern day, continues to be a resource for churches.

He also co-wrote “A Native American Theology,” known as the first book to articulate a comprehensive and systemic Christian theology through a Native American point of view.

“Among the many gifts of the Rev. Noley was his passion for the inclusion and recognition of what Native Americans have to offer to the whole church,” said the Rev. David Wilson, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference superintendent.

Bishop L. Bevel “Bev” Jones III
Bishop L. Bevel “Bev” Jones III loved to talk to people across the church and across denominations. His love of conversation often made him late for annual conference worship.

He was gregarious but also principled. In 1957, he and some fellow white ministers in Atlanta called for racial reconciliation as resistance to school desegregation mounted across the South — an act still remembered in the city and beyond.

During his ministry, he led large North Georgia Conference churches in LaGrange (where he also taught at United Methodist-affiliated LaGrange College), Atlanta, Decatur and Athens. Jones found time to do weekly broadcasts on Atlanta radio, and regularly wrote for the Wesleyan Christian Advocate, the North Georgia Conference newspaper. Elected to the episcopacy by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 1984, Jones for the next 12 years led the Western North Carolina Conference.

Jones died March 6, at age 91, of complications from dementia.

“He used himself up with his passion for Christ and his faith in God and his love of people — those three things,” said the Rev. David Bevel Jones, his son.

Zell Miller
A governor and senator who counted presidents among his friends, Zell Miller knew his way around the halls of U.S. power. However, friends remembered him more simply as a “Methodist and Marine,” The Associated Press reported.

Miller, who served as Georgia’s governor from 1991 to 1999 and U.S. senator from 2000 to 2005, was a Democrat with an independent streak. He famously crossed party lines to support the re-election of fellow United Methodist, President George W. Bush.

Miller died March 23 at the age of 86. Three former U.S. presidents — Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — spoke at his funeral at Peachtree United Methodist Church.

“His life is a testament to all that is good, and all that is possible, in this country we love,” Bush said in his eulogy. “He lived out the Marine Corps creed, Semper Fidelis — always faithful — faithful to our country, faithful to his family, faithful to his faith.”

The Rev. Barbara Harper
Rows and rows of female clergy sat together at the funeral of the Rev. Barbara Harper to bear witness to the legacy of the trailblazing United Methodist pastor.

Harper, who died March 30 at age 71, was the first woman district superintendent in the North Alabama Conference. Today, the conference is led by a woman, Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett.

Harper told the Birmingham News in 1994 that nobody told her she could be a pastor and nobody told her she couldn’t. When her husband, Mike, was completing a doctoral program at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, Harper decided also to take classes at the United Methodist seminary.

“She paved the way and opened the door and did it in a very grace-filled way,” said the Rev. Sally Allocca told AL.com. Alloca is senior pastor of East Lake United Methodist Church in Birmingham. “She did not claim to be anything beyond humble.”

The Rev. James Cone
The Rev. James H. Cone, a leader in developing black liberation theology, helped Christians read Scripture in a different way. He championed racial justice and advanced an interpretation of the Christian Gospel that elevated the voices of the oppressed.

Ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Cone had United Methodist ties. He graduated from United Methodist-related Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, and what is now Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

To the New York Times, he described the theology he taught as combining the views of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. He was still a distinguished professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York at the time of his death on April 28 at age 79.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops, which was meeting when Cone died, sent a letter to Union celebrating his legacy.

“There are those who enter a field of study and contribute to it, enhance what has already been offered, or expand a particular aspect of the work,” wrote Bishop R. Ough, the bishops’ immediate past president. “And, then there are those who enter a discipline and thoroughly forge an entirely new pedagogical stream. That is the gift and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Cone.”

James B. “Jim” Argue Jr.
Jim Argue, the son of a United Methodist pastor, left his mark on Arkansas governance and his beloved United Methodist Church. He died May 3 after a recent diagnosis of kidney cancer.

As a member of the Arkansas legislature for 18 years, Argue led reforms to the state’s education system. After the state Supreme Court ruled that the state didn’t adequately fund schools, Argue — then chair of the Senate Education Committee — headed the state’s effort to change school standards and funding. In 2005, the Democrat was chosen the Senate’s president pro tempore.

He not only was a steward of state resources but also the church’s. During his 37-year tenure as president of the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, the foundation assets grew from $67,000 to $164 million. Those funds support United Methodist ministry.

He also served on the board of the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination’s finance agency. In 2017, United Methodist-related Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, named him a distinguished alumnus. The Arkansas foundation decided to name its new headquarters in his honor.

“Jim spent most of his life as a servant encouraging others’ desire to provide resources necessary to live into their potential for service to God,” says the foundation’s plaque dedicating the building. “Though his physical presence has ended, the differences he made — all focused on creating the world he believed God intends for us — will continue forever.”

A. James Armstrong
A. James Armstrong gained national prominence as an anti-war and civil rights activist, an ecumenical leader and a preacher whose commitment to Christ was admired even by some who disagreed with his political views.

He followed his father and grandfather into Methodist ministry and at 43, became the youngest episcopal leader elected at the time. He went on to help bring the explosive 1973 standoff at Wounded Knee, between American Indian Movement leaders and the federal government, to a nonviolent conclusion.

But his standing as a bishop and a national leader came to an abrupt end in November 1983, when Armstrong resigned as president of the National Council of Churches. He cited exhaustion and a heavy workload. He also admitted to an affair. He quickly resigned his position as bishop of the Indiana Episcopal Area, and the then South Indiana Conference revoked his clergy credentials.

Still, it’s for his guidance as a mentor and his work for justice that a number of United Methodists most remember Armstrong, who died July 17 at age 93.

“He was committed to developing leaders,” Dakotas-Minnesota Area Bishop Bruce Ough said. “He always was watching and looking for places where he could not only identify but then empower pastors and lay leadership to take on significant tasks.”

Mary Catherine Dean
If you have referenced the United Methodist Book of Discipline or Book of Resolutions in recent years, you can thank Mary Catherine Dean.

As associate publisher at the United Methodist Publishing House, she oversaw the publication of these books of denominational policy and social teachings. She also oversaw the publication of worship resources, Christian curriculum as well as the Advance Daily Christian Advocate and Daily Christian Advocate, which contain the legislation and proceedings of General Conference.

Dean, an ardent Catholic, joined the staff of publishing house in 1983 and served as editor of scores of Abingdon Press authors including James W. Moore, who wrote “Yes, Lord, I Have Sinned” and other best sellers. She retired Jan. 26 this year but continued to help guide the new United Methodist Hymnal project. She died of cancer July 23 at the age of 65.

“Mary Catherine’s incisive humor, expansive intellect, uncommon competence, capacity for loyalty and easy kindness were expressed in her outstanding professionalism, love for our ministry, respect for her colleagues and full-hearted servant’s spirit,” said Neil Alexander, the Publishing House’s president and publisher emeritus.

The Rev. Grace E. Huck
The Rev. Grace E. Huck, who died Aug. 12 at age 102, was a true pioneer who grew up on the open plains and attended a one-room school. From that little schoolhouse on the prairie, Huck grew to be another kind of pioneer — one of the first women to become a full member of a United Methodist annual conference.

Huck was among the 27 women accepted in the Methodist Church with full clergy rights in 1956.

She served as pastor in churches throughout the Dakotas Conference. She also served as a missionary in the Philippines, where she taught and became the dean of students at Harris Memorial College. A three-story women’s dormitory at the college, which trains deaconesses, is named in her honor.

Her book “God’s Amazing Grace” chronicles her life experiences.

“Pastor Grace was MY pastor,” wrote the Rev. Scott McKirdy, who serves Spearfish United Methodist Church, which hosted Huck’s funeral. “She was also the pastor of thousands across the face of the globe and across the span of time. I love all the people who have had the privilege of knowing that Grace was their pastor, but today I am very specifically thankful that she was MINE.”

The Rev. Eugene Peterson
The Rev. Eugene H. Peterson, with “The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language”, brought Scripture to new audiences and helped longtime Bible readers see familiar passages with fresh eyes.

In Peterson’s paraphrase of John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”

The scholar and pastor, who died Oct. 22 at 85, went back to the Hebrew and Greek to do his own paraphrase with the aim of being both colloquial and free of cliché. He also penned more than 30 other books that have influenced Christians well beyond his home Presbyterian Church (USA).

“I think he devoted his whole life to ensuring that the Bible remained the living word of God rather than an object,” said the Rev. Anna Petrin, assistant professor of worship and chapel elder at United Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary.

“The Bible in Eugene Peterson’s eyes was always a source of revelation, of transformation and of life.”

Mary Ann Hunt
Mary Ann Hunt, wife of the late United Methodist Bishop Earl G. Hunt Jr., passed away Nov. 10 at the age of 98.

The Tennessee native taught in elementary schools in Johnson City, Tennessee; Decatur, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee, during her husband’s early ministry. Active in women and youth ministries, she also directed the first junior camp for the Holston Conference.

In 1957, she joined her husband when he became president of United Methodist-related Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia. She also joined him through his multiple moves as bishop, starting in 1964.

The bishop would go on to lead conferences in the Charlotte Area in North Carolina, the Nashville Area in Tennessee and the Florida Area, before retiring in 1988. He then served as president of the Foundation for Evangelism in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, with Mary Ann Hunt by his side.

Retired Bishop Lawrence McCleskey, who helped officiate at her memorial service, recalled how she was always willing to open the family’s home — especially to African-American visitors who often found no other welcoming accommodations in the South. She also made a point of providing support to district superintendents’ wives and McCleskey’s mother, who moved into the same retirement community as the Hunts.

“She took it on herself to be a support person, a friend,” McCleskey said. “That was a role she relished.”

Betty Bumpers
Betty Lou Flanagan Bumpers, known for her efforts to promote childhood immunization and world peace, died Nov. 23 at her home from complications related to dementia and a broken hip. The United Methodist was 93.

After Dale Bumpers, her husband, became Arkansas governor, the new first lady took on the task that first made her famous. She organized an effort to increase childhood immunization rates in the state, which were among the lowest in the country at that time. Based on the effort’s success, she began speaking to other governors’ wives about increasing immunization levels.

One of those state first ladies was Rosalynn Carter. After Dale Bumpers was elected a U.S. senator in 1974 and Jimmy Carter was elected President in 1976, the two friends took their immunization campaign to the national stage. The women later teamed up to create the nonprofit group, Every Child By Two, now called Vaccinate Your Family.

In 1982, Bumpers and other congressional wives founded Peace Links to help American women former friendships with women in the Soviet Union based on shared concern for their families. Bumpers also served on the boards of many other organizations, including the U.S. Institute of Peace, the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation and United Methodist-related Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.

“Betty Bumpers was more than a friend to me. She was an inspiration,” wrote Rosalynn Carter in note read at Bumpers’ memorial service at First United Methodist Church in Little Rock.

“For more than 40 years, I have admired her steadfast determination to ensure that America’s children are safe from vaccine-preventable diseases. Betty did more than any other person in this country to prevent unnecessary suffering of children from diseases like measles, mumps and diphtheria.”

June Willson
United Methodists far beyond June Willson’s home South Carolina Conference claim her as a mentor and inspiration in their faith development.

Willson’s ministry with the youth in local churches and ultimately with the South Carolina Conference spanned more than four decades. She died Dec. 2 at age 73 after a long battle with a degenerative disease.

Willson took her passion for youth ministry to the conference level in 1980. She served as youth coordinator for the conference’s council on ministries (now connectional ministries) from 1980 to 1993, when she became associate director for youth and age-level ministries. She retired in 2008, having served also as a congregational specialist.

Today, adults across The United Methodist Church speak of Willson as a shepherd, friend and second mom. Some also call “Mrs. June” a troublemaker.

“She created holy trouble at every turn — calling the church to be better and throwing open as many doors as she could for young people around our state,” Johannah Myers told the South Carolina Conference. Myers, a former intern with Willson, is now director of Christian formation at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Greenville.

“She drew in kids from large churches and small ones, from big cities and rural towns, and gave them all the opportunity to lead.”

Elizabeth B. “Betty” Bauder Gundlach
Betty Gundlach served The United Methodist Church at all levels from local congregations to the denomination’s highest court.

Gundlach, who died at age 91 on Dec. 7 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, was among one of the first women elected to the United Methodist Judicial Council. She served on the church court for 16 years before stepping down in 1992.

In addition to her church service, she was a wife, mother and civic leader. In 1948, a year before graduation, she married fellow University of Buffalo Law School classmate George K. Gundlach. Together they moved to Springville, New York, where she served eight years as police justice for the village, hearing cases involving traffic, noise violations and other local issues. The couple, who had three daughters, were married for 63 years before her husband’s death in 2011.

“She made significant contributions in discussions in the council and wrote very good draft opinions,” said Sally Curtis AsKew, who served with Gundlach on the Judicial Council from 1988 to 1992.

Gundlach’s daughter Mary Ross added: “She took seriously her faith and acting justly. She was quite the role model for many.”