Experience New Cultures by Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at Your Church

Experience New Cultures by Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at Your Church

By Lupita Chavarria

Associate Pastor at St. Andrew, Geyer Springs UMC

Below is the Spanish version of the story. For the English version, scroll down to the bottom of the post.

En Estados Unidos celebramos el Mes de la Herencia Hispana-Latina para dedicar un mes completo a la celebración de la contribución que la cultura Latina hace a nuestro país, en este mes varios países de América Latina celebran su independencia(México, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica y Honduras) acto que los declara países independientes de España, y lo celebran de una manera muy especial y con ingredientes culturales propios, llamando así a Septiembre el “Mes de la Patria” donde cada país celebra su orgullo nacional de manera única, así mismo cada país le rinde homenaje a sus propios héroes que contribuyeron a su libertad como país.

Los países latinoamericanos celebran con música, baile, comida y desfiles de niños uniformados de las escuelas y las fuerzas armadas brindan hermosos desfiles militares, todo acompañado de un hermoso espectáculo de fuegos artificiales.

En México se celebra el “Grito de Independencia” la noche del 15 de Septiembre y el Día de la Independencia el día 16. Se celebra con música, fuegos artificiales, desfiles escolares y militares. La primera vez que se dio el Grito de Independencia fue el 16 de Septiembre de 1810, cuando Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla al grito de: “Viva México!” Mientras toca una campana y se ondea la bandera Mexicana. Hoy en día el “Grito de Independencia” lo dan los presidentes municipales, gobernadores, presidente de México y fuera de México los Cónsules o Diplomáticos, seguido de la celebración.

El 18 de septiembre de 1810, Chile declaró su independencia de España. Hoy Chile celebra esta fecha con una semana de “fiestas patrias” con desfiles, rodeos, competencias de baile y comidas especiales.

El 15 de septiembre de 1821, Centroamérica proclamó también su independencia de España. Allí nacieron El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica y Honduras. Celebran las Fiestas Patrias el día 14 y 15 con desfiles, reuniones y competencias deportivas, vestidos de colores nacionales, bailes y desfile. Además en Centroamérica celebran con el “Recorrido de la Antorcha” que va desde Guatemala hasta Costa Rica, unos corredores llevan la humeante antorcha a lo largo de la ruta y niños uniformados los esperan.

En Nicaragua las fiestas Centroamericanas inician desde el primer día de Septiembre, terminan con la lectura del Acta de Independencia el día 15 de Septiembre. Las escuelas compiten con rítmicas bandas en sus festivales a lo largo del país.

En la Iglesia Metodista Unida en Arkansas nos unimos a estas celebraciones y cada año celebramos la herencia hispana con nuestros hermanos y hermanas. Hemos celebrado por años en nuestras iglesias PHUMC, St. Luke, Amboy, St. Andrew, Geyer Springs y otras más.

Y como un año es muy largo para celebrar solo una vez, tenemos también las fiestas del “Dia de Reyes” (Enero 6) , “Cinco De Mayo” (Mayo 5), “Día de Muertos” (Noviembre 2) e incorporamos la cultura latina a nuestras celebraciones de Navidad.… Todas las celebraciones contienen deliciosa comida, música, danzas regionales con coloridos vestidos. La cultura Latina es rica en fiestas colores y sabores, celebrando juntos tenemos la oportunidad de unirnos culturalmente con todos nuestros hermanos.

No quiero pasar solo la información, sin la invitación… así que los invitamos a celebrar con nosotros: Septiembre 16 a las 5 pm St. Andrew UMC, Septiembre 18 a las 5 pm Geyer Springs UMC.

In the U.S., we celebrate Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 and dedicate a full month to the celebration of the contributions that Latin cultures have made to our country. In this month, several Latin American countries celebrate their independence (Mexico, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras), an act that declares them independent countries of Spain.

These cultures celebrate independence in their own very special ways and with their own cultural ingredients, calling September the “Month of the Homeland.” Each country pays honor or tribute to its own heroes who contributed to their freedom as a country.

Latin American countries celebrate with music, dancing, food and parades of uniformed children from schools, and the armed forces provide beautiful military parades, all accompanied by a beautiful fireworks show.

In Mexico, the “Grito de Independencia” is celebrated on the night of Sept. 15 and Independence Day on Sept. 16. It is celebrated with music, fireworks, school and military parades.

The first “Grito de Independencia” was given on Sept. 16, 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla shouted: “Long live Mexico!” while ringing a bell and waving the Mexican flag. Today the “Grito de Independencia” is given by the mayors, governors, president of Mexico and outside Mexico, the Consuls or Diplomats, followed by a celebration.

On Sept. 18, 1810, Chile declared its independence from Spain. Today Chile celebrates this date with a week of “national holidays” with parades, rodeos, dance competitions and special meals.

On Sept. 15, 1821, Central America also proclaimed its independence from Spain. These countries were El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras. They celebrate the National Holidays on the 14 and 15 with parades, meetings and sports competitions, dresses of national colors, dances and a parade.

Also in Central America they celebrate with the “Torch Tour” that runs from Guatemala to Costa Rica. Runners carry the smoking torch along the route and uniformed children await them. In Nicaragua, the Central American festivities begin from the first day of September and end with the reading of the Act of Independence on Sept. 15. Schools compete with rhythmic bands at their festivals throughout the country.

In the United Methodist Church in Arkansas, we join these celebrations and each year we celebrate Hispanic heritage with our brothers and sisters. For years, churches in the Central District have celebrated Hispanic heritage, including Pulaski Heights UMC, St. Luke Campus of PHUMC, Amboy UMC, St. Andrew UMC, Geyer Springs UMC and more.

And since a year is too long to wait to celebrate Hispanic culture, we also have the “Dia de Reyes” (“The Three Kings” on Jan. 6), “Cinco De Mayo” (May 5), “Día de Muertos” (“The Day of the Death” on Nov. 2) and we incorporate the Latin culture in our Christmas celebrations.

All celebrations contain delicious food, music, and regional dances with colorful dresses. Latin culture is rich in color and flavors; celebrating together, we have the opportunity to unite culturally with all our brothers and sisters.

For all of our Methodist churches in Arkansas who want to organize and celebrate the Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month, here are some ideas:

Incorporate traditional Hispanic music into your service, like: El Son de la Negra, Jarabe Tapatio, De Colores.
Serve delicious food like: Tamales, Guacamole, Tacos, Tostadas, Tortas
Decorate with Latino decorations in your church. You can find these in Latino stores in your area.
Play traditional games like Loteria and Toma Todo.

If you need help planning your Hispanic Heritage celebration, I am happy to help! Please contact the Rev. Lupita Chavarria at chavarrialupita@gmail.com. I also invite you to celebrate with us, 5 p.m. on Sept. 16 at St. Andrew UMC, and 5 p.m. on Sept. 18 at Geyer Springs UMC. We will have a celebration of Hispanic and Latin culture, with games, food, dancing and more!

A Cool Drink for a Hot DayAvery Hampton raises money for food pantry through lemonade, baked goods

A Cool Drink for a Hot Day
Avery Hampton raises money for food pantry through lemonade, baked goods

By Sam Pierce

Featured Contributor

Avery Hampton was awarded the Good Deed Award by the American Legion Auxiliary Brown-Wright Unit for her work raising money to fight hunger in her community. || Photo courtesy of Bayou Meto UMC

Every Sunday at Bayou Meto United Methodist Church, which is located about 19 miles south of Stuttgart, Avery Hampton helps distribute the bulletins and turns on the lights. Anything that needs to be done and an eight-year-old can do, she does.

“She knows where everyone sits and if they aren’t there when she is passing out the bulletins, she places them in their seats, waiting for them,” senior pastor the Rev. Nan Nelson said. “She is a little girl who wants to help.”

The church is relatively small, with just 48 members, and Hampton is the only young person who attends regularly.

“She’s an only child, her dad is a big farmer and her mom is very involved in the church,” Nelson said. “She tags along with her mom and she is of that age that wants to help and do a lot of things.”

Recently, Hampton — along with some help from her mom, Rhonda, and other members of the church — helped raise more than $1,200 by selling lemonade and baked goods. The money will be used to purchase food, supplies and what Nelson called “snack packs” for some of the children in the area. The second lemonade stand was held on July 20.

“I saw quite a few people from church there,” Nelson said. “We are a small church, averaging around 20 to 22 people, but they were all participating in one way or another.

“When I got there, there were lots of farmers from all around the area, sitting there, drinking lemonade and eating cupcakes, cookies or whatever was there.”

The snack packs include coloring books and crayons and healthy snacks when children are with their parents at the Sharing and Caring Food Pantry, she said. The snack packs include teddy graham crackers and juice boxes.

“Last year, Avery raised almost $700,” Nelson said. “Her money went towards the backpack program and help at the food pantry.”

The stand was located in the middle of nowhere, but it was in a central location for everybody that lives in that area, Nelson said.

The money she raised for the backpack program at DeWitt Elementary School allowed her to help fill 40 backpacks and purchase gift cards to give out to students who were in need of new shoes. In June, Hampton was awarded the Good Deed Award by the American Legion Auxiliary Brown-Wright Unit.

“I like to give people food that don’t have much,” Hampton said. “I saw grown-ups helping and I wanted to help.”

Nelson said within two weeks of the lemonade stand, members of the church started packing the items for the kids and she said the process took about 20 minutes, thanks in large part to Hampton’s leadership.

“Avery was there guiding, stapling and packaging,” Nelson said. “Everybody was pitching in. There were about 12 women there and I do believe Avery inspires them because they all want to do it, too.

“… I know everybody participated in the baked goods.”

Hampton said she looks up to her dad, Sloan, because “he always does the right thing.” She said she wanted to make a lemonade stand because farmers get so hot in the summer, and it cools them off.

“Her lemonade was really good,” Nelson said. “And word of mouth in the small community helped it spread so quickly – everybody wanted to be a part of it.”

Nelson has been the minister at Bayou Meto UMC for a little over a year; coming to the church after wanting to be at a smaller appointment. She said she already knew a lot of the people, so it was really nice and an easy transition for her.

“By helping her mother and the ladies of the church, Avery realized there was a need for more items in the area,” Nelson said. “She saw how the pantry didn’t have enough to give out to everyone and some of the kids, she knew from school.

“She has been to the pantry more than once and she noticed that the kids didn’t always get something. She asked permission to do it – it wasn’t her mother’s idea – it was completely her idea.”

Nelson said when she arrived at the lemonade stand this year, there were 12 pickup trucks parked next to it and “they were all there to participate.”

“It was something cool to drink and something sweet to eat,” she said. “It was held along a highway, where the church used to be, and they gave her permission to host a lemonade stand on the front steps.”

Hampton attends St. John’s Lutheran School in Stuttgart and volunteers as an acolyte for the church. She is going to play in a community softball league this fall and she also participates in other activities outside of the church.

“I think it is unusual,” Nelson said. “There are no other children or youth in our church, but she is exposed to the places where people are in need and she wants to help.”

Shaped by Jesus

Shaped by Jesus

By Gary E. Mueller

Bishop of the Arkansas Annual Conference

Then the disciples gave the (fish and loves) to the crowds. 20 Everyone ate until they were full, and they filled twelve baskets with the leftovers. 21 About five thousand men plus women and children had eaten. (Matthew 28:19-20 CEV)

The mission of the United Methodist Church is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for God’s transformation of the world.” But if you are going to make disciples of Jesus Christ who transform lives, communities and the world, you first have to be a disciple who has been transformed yourself!

So what does it mean to be a transformed disciple? While Methodist people love arguing about this, it really comes down to something pretty simple. Transformed disciples are shaped by Jesus.

One of the most helpful accounts about how Jesus wants to shape us as his disciples is found in a somewhat unexpected passage of Scripture, Matthew 14:13-21. While it is best known as “The Feeding of the 5,000”, it is better described as “Way More Than Enough Food for a Whole Lot More Than 5,000 People!”

Here are the ways it shows you how Jesus wants to shape you so you can thrive through him.

Follow Jesus with everything you’ve got because he’s all you’ve got. The disciples run after Jesus because they want to be fed by him. They won’t let anything stop them, including stopping to make provisions for eating or sleeping. In fact, they are so enthusiastic they beat him to the other side. Ultimately, Jesus is all you have. You have to seek him, follow him and ask him to feed you.

Lead with compassion. Jesus has traveled to the other side of the water because he desperately needs some “me time” with God. When the crowds that have followed him meet him there, he immediately sets aside his personal agenda and begins healing people in body, mind and spirit. Jesus’ followers always lead with compassion. Compassion is not a liberal thing or a conservative thing. It comes from God’s heart, and you are called to share what Jesus has showered on you. If hard choices have to be made, it’s always in the context of the compassion you already have shared.

See life the way Jesus sees it. The disciples are concerned that it’s late and no one has any food. They beg Jesus to send the crowds away because they see through the eyes of scarcity. Jesus tells them to feed the people because he sees through the eyes of God’s abundance. You are called by Jesus to avoid the trap of seeing life the way it seems. Instead, you are given the privilege of seeing how the reign of God already is real all around you.

Do what Jesus tells you, especially when it’s risky, scary or outside your comfort zone. The disciples have questions, doubts and probably are wondering if Jesus has lost his mind. Yet they take the food he gives them in spite of their doubts and pass it out anyway. This may be the most challenging thing you do, especially when everyone else is telling you what you should do. But it’s essential, and it’s always a privilege.

Expect God to do the unexpected. When the disciples have finished passing out the food, they pick up the leftovers only to discover there is more food then they began with! While you live in the real world, you also live in God’s world where the unexpected miracle is really just another everyday event!

Being shaped by Jesus is an everyday practice. Some days will be easier than others. But most painful situations can be opportunities for Jesus to so shape you from the inside-out that you literally become a new person. Of course, you’ll never be perfect, but you will be more and more perfect in love. And that’s always the bottom line for Jesus!

OMP 101

OMP 101

OMP 101 is an annual event organized by the Ozark Mission Project that lets youth, grades 5 and 6, learn the ways that OMP helps communities in need. Kids learn how to use power tools, build simple wooden structures, and have fun in the process. Check out some of the photos of this year’s OMP 101, held at St. Paul UMC in Little Rock.

OMP 101 is not only a time for learning and serving, it’s also a time for fun and games! Before the week’s events begin, campers get to play some fun team building games. These games are meant to teach kids how to work together as a team. In the photo above, teams line up in two lines across from each other. One side throws a marshmallow to their teammate, who tries to catch it in a small plastic cup. || Photos by Caleb Hennington

Volunteers with OMP taught kids about some of the tools that are used to build and repair houses, ramps and more. While at OMP, kids will learn valuable skills that will help them get a head-start if they decide to volunteer with OMP in the future. A volunteer from the Society of St. Andrew also taught kids how to cut mesh rope to make into bags for gleaning. Gleaning is the process of gathering food together, which the Society of St. Andrew does for groups like the Food Bank and others. || Photos by Caleb Hennington

Messy Church Helps All Ages Feel the Love of God

Messy Church Helps All Ages Feel the Love of God

By Melinda Shunk

Children's Ministry Coordinator

A young lady plays with some homemade slime during a Messy Church event at Sardis UMC. || Photo Provided by Melinda Shunk

It is the dog days of summer! Vacation Bible School is done. It is not quite time for promotion Sunday. Families seem to be hit and miss on Sunday due to traveling for summer vacation. Travel teams are finishing up those last summer games. Kids are at Tanako for a week of camp! What does a Children’s Minister do to reach out to those that may never come to church or know that one even exists in their neighborhood?

Well, I’ll tell you what an eight-year veteran of Children’s Ministry like Jessica Butler of Sardis United Methodist Church would do: she gets messy!

Two years ago, Jessica came across the book Messy Church by Lucy Moore and Jane Ledbetter. Messy Church is a combination of a lot of things you may already have and do at your church, but it is combined to become a multigenerational outreach blend of fun, shared experience, worship and food into one unique time of day. See, I told you it was everything you already do in ministry, just blended together!

Jessica made a fun social media graphic called Mess-tival. She blasted it around town as well as went old school and put some posters in community establishments. She made sure to have members she knew would be at the event share the Mess-tival invite publicly for all who may want to join in the fun.

Then with the help of Karen Guinn, they dug out tables and old supplies from every event they had over the last year. They set up a slime station, a tinkering station, water play station, and a few more tables all staffed with youth helpers. Overall the supplies cost little to nothing, but she did purchase plastic table cloths when she set the tables up outside to help with easy clean-up at the end.

On a hot July evening, Jessica welcomed in a few faces she knew and a lot of new faces from the community. Parents didn’t think of dropping off their kids as they did for VBS or Sunday school. Parents and grandparents knew it was a time for all of them to have Messy Church.

As families arrived, they were offered snacks and drinks at tables together. Once she gave them 20-30 minutes to all arrive and have a snack, she shared a short lesson. She shared that life can be messy. Sometimes messy means bad and sometimes messy can be good. No matter what Jesus loves messy people!

In fact, Jesus loves to take messy people and make something beautiful from the mess. She then shared some scripture and closed in prayer. From there, she walked them to the tables set up outside for the families to go make a mess. Parents and grandparents shared experiences with the children as they moved around to each table set up for their mess.

The casual, light-hearted environment gave way to conversation. Jessica was able to move around to the different groups to have caring conversations. One family said they never go to church but they could get into this kind of church! Some grandparents shared that they had their grandchildren for the week and thought this was something they could all do together when they saw the Mess-tival invite. Church members who were used to dropping off their kids for events asked when the next Mess-tival would be held.

As of now, this was Jessica’s second Mess-tival. She had thought of it as a supplemental outreach for those slower times in the church schedule. However, she says due to its success, she would love to start doing more for her community. Messy Church helps all ages hear God’s words of love and literally feel God’s love through each other as they have a messy experience together.

Messy Church is a great way to do something different at your church, and get both parents and children involved. || Photos Provided by Melinda Shunk

Saving HistoryEmmet United Methodist Church is in Danger of Collapsing. Its Congregation is Trying to Save the Building and Their Town’s History

Saving History
Emmet United Methodist Church is in Danger of Collapsing. Its Congregation is Trying to Save the Building and Their Town’s History

Members of Emmet UMC. From left to right: Charles Trexler, Steve Halliwill, Dianne Halliwill, John Mohon, and the Rev. Wayne Chambers. || Photo by Caleb Hennington

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

On a long and remote stretch of U.S. Route 67 South, situated at the halfway point between Prescott and Hope, sits the small railroad town of Emmet, Arkansas.

Emmet looks like any other small town in Arkansas: quiet and sleepy, with hints of its former heyday as a railroad junction and agricultural town speckled throughout the community of about 500. The day I came into town, a young man on a camouflaged ATV was driving through his neighborhood, the only moving vehicle anywhere in sight.

Unless you were visiting family or happened to live in the town, no one would blame you for passing through without stopping and exploring.

But just across the railroad tracks, in a quiet area of town, sits a little piece of Methodist history; one that is in serious danger of being lost to time and erosion.

The Emmet United Methodist Church, 209 S. Walnut St., is an odd little church building. The church was first organized in 1855. The building where the church now sits was constructed in either 1917 or 1918, according to documents provided by the National Register of Historic Places, and features design elements that seem out-of-place for a small, Southern church.

Rather than having a gorgeous steeple that reaches high into the sky or intricate castle-like towers that are common among many Methodist church buildings in the Conference, the Emmet church is a one-story square brick building with stark white columns that greet you as you approach the entrance to the sanctuary.

The entrance is affixed to a corner of the building rather than a side, creating an extra wall on the exterior that gives it a pentagonal, rather than a box, shape. It more closely resembles a former county government building or a post office than a church.

According to John Mohon, a member of Emmet, the church’s interior layout is based on the Akron-style church, and the outside of the church resembles the Colonial Revival style. As far as Mohon and the other members of Emmet know, this is the only Akron-style church in the Arkansas Conference. It certainly stands out among churches in the South.

Akron-style churches originated in Akron, Ohio and are identified by the unique layout of the sanctuary. They were popular in the late 19th century into the early 20th century but started fading out of style around World War I. The stage and pulpit are centered in a corner of the building, with curved pews that arch out and to the back of the sanctuary. On either side of the pews are sliding panels that resemble garage doors. These doors were used to expand the seating in the sanctuary if more pews were needed.

Emmet UMC has both the curved pews and the wooden sliding doors, making it a classic example of an Akron-style church.

But as the church enters into a new century, it is beginning to show its age in ways that could seriously damage its future viability.

On the back right corner of the building, the foundation that has supported the church for more than 100 years is beginning to buckle and risks collapsing if repairs aren’t made to it soon.

Dianne Halliwill, a member of Emmet whose family has been attending the church for decades, said the congregants began to realize the church was in need of serious repairs more than a decade ago.

In 2009, a team of people at Emmet worked to get the church listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They were successful in getting the designation that same year, but although being on the Register gives merit to the church’s historical value, it gives no guarantee of grant money for repairs or protection from deterioration. That task has been left up to the members of Emmet.

Years went by before any action was taken to repair the church; people in Emmet didn’t quite know what to do to save it.

In 2018, Charles Trexler, who travels from Magnolia every Sunday to attend church in Emmet, began speaking with the newly appointed pastor of Emmet, the Rev. Wayne Chambers, on a way to secure funding for the repairs.

They had heard that another church in Arkansas on the National Register of Historic Places, Hamburg First United Methodist Church, had written up a proposal and applied for a grant from The Department of Arkansas Heritage to make similar repairs to their church building.

They called up Gary Clements, an architect at Clements & Associates in North Little Rock who had surveyed the Hamburg church, and asked him to come by and survey their church as well. Once the survey was completed, a proposal was written and submitted to the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Chambers said they were one of 44 buildings in Arkansas in 2019 to receive a grant.

The downspout from the roof of the building has also rusted and fallen apart. || Photo by Caleb Hennington

Underneath the church, beams that are more than a century old are beginning to rot due to water and termite damage. || Photo Provided by Charles Trexler

The brick on the backside of the church is beginning to bow out due to damage to the beams supporting the church. || Photo by Caleb Hennington

“I attribute that highly to God because there were many things that could have prevented us from getting this grant,” Chambers said.

Trexler estimates that repairs for the building’s foundation, as well as replacing part of the damaged roof and repointing the original brick masonry, will cost around $200,000.

To date, the church has been able to raise $15,500 through fundraising and donations which was matched by a grant of $31,000 from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, a division of The Department of Arkansas Heritage, bringing the total to around $46,500. But in order to receive grant money from the state of Arkansas, the church has to first raise money.

“Whatever we raise, the state can match that amount twice. But even though we’re on the National Register of Historic Places, we can’t receive any grants unless we raise money,” Chambers said.

Steve Halliwill, Dianne’s husband, said that when spending the grant money, they also have to use it in a way that repairs the building as close as possible to its original design.

“That includes the foundation, brickwork, lights, everything,” Steve said. “We can’t just go buy some lumber and sheetrock and get it fixed on a budget.”

Inside the sanctuary is a stained glass window of Susannah Wesley, mother of Charles and John Wesley. The windows bears a marker that reads “Loving Memory to our brother John P. Boyd. Sister Dollie Boyd Chism.” || Photo by Caleb Hennington

One of the first parts of the building that will be replaced is the foundation. Underneath the church, termites and water damage have eroded many of the beams that support the church’s structure.

After the foundation is fixed, the roof, downspout, and some interior work will need to be repaired, including the fragile stained glass windows on the walls.

The church has an average weekly attendance of eight, 11 on a good Sunday. Even though the faithful members of Emmet are generous with their time and money, there’s only so much they are able to raise on their own.

The good news is that Emmet can reapply for the grant every year, as long as they continue to raise money.

Much of the interior of the church remains intact and showcases the beauty and thought that went into every detail of its design.

Inside the sanctuary, the beautiful stained glass windows tell the story of not only the gospel of Jesus Christ and John Wesley — the founder of Methodism — but also the many families who have loved and raised their families there.

Names like Garland, Boyd, McSwain, and others adorn the bottoms of the stained glass that were created in honor of these families.

There’s also a stained glass image dedicated to Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley — a unique addition that’s not unheard of but certainly uncommon among Methodist churches.

Inside the sanctuary is a stained glass window of Susannah Wesley, mother of Charles and John Wesley. The windows bears a marker that reads “Loving Memory to our brother John P. Boyd. Sister Dollie Boyd Chism.” || Photo by Caleb Hennington

Most of the windows on the exterior of the church feature uncommon yellow-tinted windows, like the one seen in the picture above. When the sun shines through the windows, it gives it a golden glow, no matter what time of the day it is. || Photo by Caleb Hennington

The brick that was used to build the exterior of the building can even be traced back from current members of the church to past members; Dianne Halliwill’s family, the Boyds, were sharecroppers in the early 1900s. The Boyds harvested and traded their grain to a brick masonry in Hope that needed food for their mules, leading to a partnership that allowed the church to acquire bricks for their church building.

There are deep ties to Emmet UMC that continue to push the Halliwills, Mohon, Trexler, Chambers, and others to preserve their church.

“If we don’t do anything to the church, we know that it will collapse. And then there won’t be a church here anymore,” Dianne said. “And once you lose a church in a small town like this, you lose part of your town as well.”

At this point in their fundraising, the members of Emmet have realized it will be very difficult to raise the money they need on their own.

A tattered and worn guest book greets visitors at the entrance to the church. || Photo by Caleb Hennington

The church’s sliding wooden doors, pictured above, are a unique feature of the Akron-style church. These doors were used to expand the seating in the sanctuary if needed. || Photo by Caleb Hennington

Photo by Caleb Hennington

With so many expenses required to get the building back to the way it was and the small size of the church membership, they are now reaching out to their United Methodist Church family to help them out.

“Whatever anyone could give would be very much appreciated,” Dianne said.

If you would like to make a donation to the church for their building repair fund, you can mail it to Emmet United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 22, Emmet, AR 71835.

For Dianne, Emmet UMC is part of her life story. It’s worth it to save the building in which she grew up and spent countless Sundays in the pews of that unique, Akron-style sanctuary.

“When I’m sitting in the church on a Sunday morning and the light is shining through the stained glass and filling the room, that’s what reminds me that this church is important. Because those names on that stained glass are my family and many other people’s family as well. This church is home to me.”