Faith UMC Exceeds Collectober Goal

Faith UMC Exceeds Collectober Goal

Day Davis

Content Engagement Specialist

For 45 years, United Methodist Churches in Arkansas have participated in Ingathering, a 200,000 More Reasons state-wide service event to replenish disaster relief supplies and feed the hungry. This year’s Ingathering included a month-long collection event, entitled Collectober, during which churches and districts were given a challenge to “one-up” themselves by collecting more disaster kits and food than last year.

During the month of October, Faith United Methodist Church in Fort Smith collected canned food items that will be used in Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes for students at Morrison Elementary School. In 2021, Faith UMC collected $775 for their “Bucks for Books” campaign, which purchased 152 books. So their goal for this year’s collection event was to one-up themselves by collecting 153 items of food.

The Faith UMC community far surpassed just “one-upping” themselves – they more than tripled last year’s collection. They received 524 donated items, totaling 484 pounds of food!


Ingathering will be held on November 12 at the Arkansas Food Bank in Little Rock. Learn more about this year’s event here.

Sardis UMC Creates Special Treats for Local NICU

Sardis UMC Creates Special Treats for Local NICU

Bauxite, AR (October 18, 2022) – A baby’s first Halloween costume is often an exciting and adorable rite of passage for new parents. Families with babies in neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs, they might not normally have the chance to celebrate. These times can be deeply painful and exhausting for parents, no matter the season, but this year they may have a little Halloween treat.

To lift the spirits of hardworking staff and worried parents, Sardis United Methodist Church has taken on costuming the NICU babies at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock that treats patients across the state. Last year, when Cheryl Kindervater saw photos of the Baptist NICU babies dressed up as little ghosts or ballerinas, her heart melted.

She heard from her friend, a NICU nurse at the hospital, that the average number of hospitalized infants who are preterm or have health conditions is around 50 at any time. The costumes were a task formerly performed by already busy nurses, and Kindervater took this opportunity to lift a weight from their shoulders. “Everybody in healthcare is stretched to the limit,” said Kindervater, a member of Sardis UMC and leader of the costume ministry.

Last month she rallied her congregation to help create a total of 53 costumes to send to the hospital in time for the holiday. The entire youth group even spent an evening cutting felt, gluing pom poms, and fashioning tiny pirate eye patches. Many babies in the NICU are intubated or attached to several monitors at once, posing a challenge for any clothing. The idea with these costumes is that they are made in one layer of soft, non-irritating material to lay over the top of the baby, leaving their lifesaving interventions undisturbed. “It’s just to give the parents a sense of normalcy and put a smile on their faces,” Kindervater said. This Halloween, even the tiniest trick-or-treaters and their sweet families won’t miss out on the fun. Sardis UMC hopes to continue this tradition for years to come.

*STORY UPDATE: Tiny Princess

On October 25, Karen Guinn, Sardis UMC administrator and a member of the baby Halloween costume ministry team, saw on her Facebook page a photo of a baby in a princess costume from the Baptist NICU in Little Rock.  The mom who posted the photo of her daughter shared her gratitude for this sweet costume and that it “made her day so bright after 80 long days in the unit.” She had no idea that it had been made by the hands of people from the church that her father attends, that has also been praying for Mom and baby for months.

“God knew the perfect little princess that needed this costume. I love how God orchestrated this so perfectly,” shared Guinn.


Sardis United Methodist Church is located in Southeast Saline County in Arkansas and is considered part of the Little Rock metropolitan statistical area.

Rev. Greg Burks is the senior pastor.

Small Church Serves in a Big Way

Small Church Serves in a Big Way

Fighting food insecurity is a year-round effort embraced by many United Methodist churches. The Arkansas conference’s month-long collection endeavor, affectionately dubbed ‘Collectober,’ encourages churches to gather food and disaster kits to supply those in need and concludes with the Ingathering event in November. To nurture this month’s ministry, we recognize previous seasons of giving led by churches in our conference.

Summers are a particularly difficult time for kids facing food insecurity without the benefit of school breakfasts and lunches. To fill in these gaps and keep young people fed during the break, the small congregation of Concord United Methodist Church in Concord, Arkansas, stepped up to the plate.

Over ten weeks this summer, Concord UMC members assisted their local school district’s childcare center in feeding children from six weeks to twelve years. With the help of a $2,000 grant from 200,000 More Reasons, an initiative supporting feeding and literacy ministries, the church was able to provide a total of 300 meals as well as weekly book selections to send home with the kids in attendance. Meal bags were packed at the church, delivered to the center, and then distributed by the center’s staff each week.

At the conclusion of the program, additional food was delivered to the Child Care Center to be used for filling food backpacks as needed during the current school year. Therefore, not only were the goals met in accordance with their grant, but they were also able to address the additional needs of food-insecure children well past the summer months.

“We are a tiny church with an average weekly attendance of around 10-15, so it was a pretty big challenge to undertake a project of this nature,” said Karen Cooper, a church member.

Concord UMC may be tiny, but its efforts were mighty. Record keeping, purchasing, packing, and delivery of the backpacks were quite a load for the few members able to volunteer. Upon each delivery, they were thanked profusely and assured of their gratitude for any extra help. Near the end of the summer, staff at the center mentioned to volunteers that parents said the program had been a lifesaver for their family.

“In our minds, that alone made all the hard work worth every minute and every penny,” Cooper said.

Vilonia Feeding and Literacy Ministry Touches Young Lives Outside of School

Vilonia Feeding and Literacy Ministry Touches Young Lives Outside of School

Fighting food insecurity is a year-round effort embraced by the United Methodist Churches in Arkansas. The Arkansas Conference’s month-long collection endeavor, affectionately dubbed ‘Collectober,’ encourages churches to gather food and disaster kits to supply those in need at the Ingathering event in November. To nurture this month’s ministry, we recognize previous seasons of giving led by churches in our conference.

Summers are particularly difficult for kids facing food insecurity without the benefit of school breakfasts and lunches. To fill in these gaps and keep young people fed during the break, Vilonia United Methodist Church rose to the challenge.

With the help of a $2,000 grant from 200,000 More Reasons and ultimately The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas, Vilonia UMC could distribute substantial food bags to at least 20 children and young people each week during the summer.

Over 11 weeks, Vilonia UMC volunteers picked up local children on Wednesday evenings and brought them into the church for a hot meal, Bible study, and reading practice. Upon departure, all participants were supplied with two bags of food to take home and any books of their choosing.

The grant also helped them purchase 200 books for all different reading levels. These were given to the children throughout the summer to read on Wednesday nights and take home with them. There are still books on hand at the church that they will continue to encourage young readers to select and keep for their personal library. The remaining funds were used toward the food given weekly.

Food is bought in bulk from Sam’s Club and packed by volunteers. Even some children receiving the bags find joy in helping pack them. The program has survived on donations from the congregation in the past, some giving monthly and a significant boost from the Christmas Eve offering allocated for the ministry. With this grant, their reach soared further than ever.

The work has not only proven beneficial to the kids, but to the adult volunteers as well. Congregation members are proud to assist with cooking, teaching, or reading to a child. There is an incredible reward in providing necessities to young people that unfold in our spiritual lives and in the progress made by the next generation.

Rev. Lauren Delano is the pastor of Vilaonia UMC.

“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” – Isaiah 58:10

St. Paul UMC, Little Rock Celebrates Renovation

St. Paul UMC, Little Rock Celebrates Renovation

On September 18, St. Paul United Methodist Church in Little Rock celebrated the re-opening of their renovated Richard Fellowship Hall and Ruth Wilson Room, which sustained huge amounts of water damage during the beginning of the pandemic.

It was a grand celebration that brought together church members and the community.

Something Good from the Pandemic

Something Good from the Pandemic

Joe Whalen

contributing writer

When the pandemic temporarily halted in-person worship, weddings, and funerals, churches were left wondering how they could continue to provide a connection with their congregations. Many found it through streaming worship services online.

However, the same equipment used for streaming worship has found another usage in the streaming of funerals. This new usage seems to have found a permanent place in the life of those churches who can provide that service to the loved ones of a departed member of their congregation.

When asked his opinion of the use of his church’s streaming capabilities for funerals. Rev. Zach Roberts of First United Methodist Church in Blytheville responded, “There’s no question that, in my experience, the pandemic prompted the streaming of funerals and the increased use of social media to care for those in mourning.Having said that, the positive feedback we have received from streaming funerals has proven that this is an important ministry tool that we will use in the future, covid concerns or none.”

Rev. Dr.Michelle Morris at First United Methodist Church in Bentonville echoes these thoughts adding, “Streaming in general is an outgrowth of the pandemic.Most churches weren’t doing that for regular worship, much less streaming funerals, before March 2020.”

However, it’s important to remember that if your church is not already streaming its worship services and wants to begin to do so as well as provide funeral support for its members the choice of equipment can be daunting. Marc Moss, who provides the audio-visual support at Lakewood UMC in North Little Rock cautions, “Just because ‘everybody’ uses certain equipment or software or cameras or whatever is not a reason to purchase [that] equipment or adopt certain methods. There are many ways to put some video up on the internet but you must do some homework to devise a way to deliver your message affordably and within parameters as far as complexity/expandability/personnel.”

Rev. RoyBeth Kelley, the senior pastor at Lakewood UMC, indicated that she liked streaming funerals because it gave friends and family who live at a distance a way to attend the funeral when doing so in-person might otherwise work a hardship on them. Additionally, the ability to provide the family a recording of the funeral itself is something that she has found appeals to people who have lost a loved one.While we can all agree that the pandemic has been something that we could have done without, at least something good has come out of it.

Streaming funerals is something that we can now provide to families that have lost a loved one. This serves to bring them, as well as friends of the departed, closer together in a time of loss. Even when they cannot attend the funeral in person, technology now gives them the opportunity to attend online.