Methodist Family Health Pursues Pen and Prayer Pals for Arkansas Children, Teenagers

Methodist Family Health Pursues Pen and Prayer Pals for Arkansas Children, Teenagers

Little Rock, AR (June 29, 2020) – After almost four months of social distancing and sheltering in place, the children, teenagers and families in our care at Methodist Family Health are in need of encouragement and human connection. If you or your kids are looking for a meaningful way to help others during this pandemic, you can make a connection with a child or teenager who is struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional or spiritual issues and become a pen and prayer pal.

Here’s how it works:

– Click on this link: https://forms.gle/jYSZYCG3n9Twp2hW7 then:

– Choose someone you would like to write. We have included in this Google form the initials, ages and genders of our participating clients to help you choose.

– Write the person a letter. Your letter can include things like encouragement, good news you have heard, a small story you thought was funny and would like to share, or a simple prayer filled with kindness. A little positivity can go a long way, and there are examples in the Google form if you are looking for inspiration.

– You can submit your letter using the Google form at this link – https://forms.gle/jYSZYCG3n9Twp2hW7 – or write a note and mail it to:

Prayer Pals
3505 Clearwell Road
Conway, AR 72034

Methodist Family Health is a statewide continuum of care serving Arkansas children and families struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues. Our mission is to provide the best possible care to those who may need our help, and with the help of Arkansas’s children and families looking for a simple project to do during the summer, we will be able to fulfil this mission by providing our clients the support they need.

For more information, contact Amy Shores, director of pastoral care, at AShores@MethodistFamily.org.

Special Fund Helps St. James Pine Bluff Reclaim Church PropertyMethodist Foundation Grant Awarded to Repurpose Existing Space into Kitchen, Dining Area

Special Fund Helps St. James Pine Bluff Reclaim Church Property
Methodist Foundation Grant Awarded to Repurpose Existing Space into Kitchen, Dining Area

PINE BLUFF, ARK. (June 18, 2020) – During the business session of the 2020 Arkansas Annual Conference, the voting members of the Conference approved a legislative proposal to use $550,000 in special funds to purchase the property of St. James UMC Pine Bluff from the Methodist Foundation for Arkansas and deed it back to the congregation at St. James.

The Arkansas Annual Conference, which took place on June 13 on the online video conferencing platform Zoom, voted 577 – 69 to use money from a special fund called the Connected in Christ Endowment Fund to help the St. James congregation reclaim its church property after it was voluntarily deeded it to the Methodist Foundation due to a financial crisis at the church.

“During this time of lament, to be able to share something of great joy is a blessing. To release the strain of debt and receive an additional grant for expansion is an expression of love for the community of Pine Bluff. We are grateful for the Methodist Foundation for Arkansas and Rev. Michael Roberts who made the motion,” shared Bishop Gary Mueller. “St. James United Methodist Church is going to be a vital hub of a worshiping community, with missional outreach and leadership development.” 

The legislation states, “there is a need for educational and leadership development opportunities for laity and clergy in the Delta, with a special emphasis on African-American leadership, that facilitate connections for faithful and fruitful ministry by connecting pastors together in peer learning and conversation, and connecting clergy and lay leadership together to discern God’s calling upon the church.”

It goes on to say, “the Arkansas Conference is at a critical juncture for addressing racism and strengthening Black United Methodist congregations and their leaders.”

The Rev. Natasha Murray, who will begin her new appointment as senior pastor at St. James in July, sees this as an opportunity to continue the vital work of the congregation in the community.

“I’m looking forward to helping continue the ministry at St. James in new and creative ways, especially in the face of COVID-19. This is more than a building, it provides hope for the future. It’s a mission post for the community, and I hope that it continues to be in ministry with college students, boys and girls clubs, and other important social justice issues that are so needed during this day and time.”

Additionally, the Methodist Foundation has committed $100,000 in grant funding to help the congregation transform an existing space into a new kitchen and dining area to better serve the community in Pine Bluff.

The Rev. Maxine Allen, the current senior pastor of St. James who will be leaving to take an appointment at St. Paul UMC in Maumelle, said she is thrilled that the Arkansas Conference has entrusted the congregation with this gift.

“The elimination of the debt from the congregation will allow it to achieve its goals of reaching men, women, boys, and girls for Jesus Christ to the glory of God.”

St. James UMC is a historically black United Methodist Church with a more than 150-year history in Arkansas. The Rev. Natasha Murray, current UAPB Wesley Director, will lead the church as senior pastor beginning July 1, 2020.

United Methodists Set to Unveil “Dismantling Racism” Initiative

United Methodists Set to Unveil “Dismantling Racism” Initiative

United Methodist Communications
Office of Public Information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2020

Nashville, Tennessee: United Methodist Church leaders will launch a plan of action to galvanize church members and others to actively stand against racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd and protests across the U.S.

The “Dismantling Racism: Pressing on to Freedom” initiative is a multi-level effort throughout the church to initiate a sustained and coordinated effort to dismantle racism and promote collective action to work toward racial justice. The church-wide effort will kick off on June 19, 2020, to coincide with Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S. An announcement from members of the United Methodist Council of Bishops will be broadcast at 11:00 am CT on UMC.org/EndRacism and Facebook.

Participating in the event will be Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of the Louisiana Episcopal Area, president of the Council of Bishops and the first Hispanic woman to hold that post, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi of the Pittsburgh Episcopal Area, Bishop Bruce Ough of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area, Bishop Gregory Palmer of the Ohio West Episcopal Area, and Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the New York Episcopal Area.

“Words are great, words are important – but action is really important,” said Bishop Harvey. “Pick up your pen, pick up your voice, pick up your feet, and do something.”

A day of prayer and worship will follow on June 24, 2020, with an online service to be broadcast at noon CT on UMC.org/EndRacism and Facebook. There will also be a denominational virtual town hall event on July 1.

Regional and local worship events and town hall meetings involving community partners will subsequently take place, either online or in keeping with social distancing protocols.

United Methodist Communications has launched a national advertising campaign on social media and news websites across the U.S., as well as digital billboards in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Houston, and Louisville. The ads direct viewers to a website, UMC.org/EndRacism, where they can find resources to help them learn more and take action.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops has asked all United Methodists to join in prayer at 8:46 a.m. and p.m. for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time the officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck, for at least the next 30 days.

Advocacy and worship resources will seek to equip leaders, members, and the public to join in this important racial relations work. To encourage wide participation, a variety of materials will be made available in English, Korean, Spanish, French, and Portuguese translations.

The denomination has a long-standing history of advocating for justice. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church recognize racism as a sin and commit to challenging unjust systems of power and access. Additional information and resources are available online at UMC.org/EndRacism.

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About The United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church has more than 13 million members globally in 45,000+ local churches and is in mission in more than 136 countries. Our mission is making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our tagline “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” embraces who we are and how we seek to put our faith in action. Learn more at UMC.org.

Media contact:
Diane Degnan presscenter@umcom.org
615.742.5406 (o) 615.483.1765 (c)

Statement from Bishop Mueller and ARUMC Cabinet

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Over the last week, there has been a collective outcry for racial justice from our Cabinet, conference and district staff, clergy and lay leaders, local church members and friends of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Our Christian faith compels us to denounce the harm that has been caused by the sin of individual and systemic racism. As well, we pledge that we will engage in the long term work of addressing it – individually, as a Cabinet, and as the Arkansas Annual Conference.

Led by Bishop Gary Mueller, we will be issuing a plan of action for listening, learning and living, to equip all of us to stand for the dismantling of racism. This action will be comprehensive and, more importantly, sustained. We will unveil details about this initiative during Annual Conference on June 13. However, this is all of our work. We hope you will share ideas that you think will be helpful.

To our beloved black clergy and members:

We HEAR YOU.
We SEE YOU.
We LOVE YOU.
We WILL BE BETTER FOR YOU.

In the name of Christ Jesus,

Bishop Gary Mueller
Jim Polk
Karon Mann
Todd Burris
Amy Ezell
Blake Bradford
Stephen Coburn
John Fleming
JJ Galloway
Mark Norman
Ann Ferris

The Latest Church Reopening Guidance from Bishop Mueller (05/29/2020)

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Arkansas Conference:

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

I give thanks to God for all the ways laity and clergy have continued to proclaim the Gospel, reach out to those in your congregation who are isolated, feed hungry people and help those who are struggling because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Like you, I have noticed that Covid-19 has become a political issue in recent days. This saddens me greatly. Now is not the time for people of faith to argue about political perspectives. It is the time for us to focus on keeping people safe. Yet doing so is no simple task. On the one hand, the virus still has the capability of surging and killing thousands more. On the other hand, more than 40 million people have lost jobs and are rightly deeply concerned about the welfare of their families. Those of us who love Jesus have a wonderful opportunity to work together to responsibly address both of these tragedies.

Here is my latest guidance concerning the safe reopening of your church.

  1. Governor Hutchinson has indicated he is delaying the start of Phase 2 reopening because we have reached a second peak in the number of Covid-19 cases that can still go even higher. I agree with the Governor’s action. Therefore, I highly recommend delaying the beginning of ARUMC Stage 2 – which allows 50 or fewer people to gather utilizing the Governor’s May 4 safety guidance for places of worship – from the middle of June until at least June 28. I will keep you updated in the coming weeks.
  2. It is imperative that you treat Governor Hutchinson’s May 4 Guidance as a directive that must be followed, regardless of when your church initiates any in-person gatherings of any size. This is non-negotiable – for me and for the State of Arkansas – because unsafe in-person gatherings literally put people’s lives at risk.
  3. Your church must involve your Board of Trustees in any decisions about reopening any in-person gatherings. Additionally, you must inform your District Superintendent about your plans for safely reopening prior to publicizing any in-person gatherings.

We will be dealing with the impact of Covid-19 for a long time. I know you are weary and, at times, overwhelmed. Take good care of yourself. Do no harm. Treat each other with extravagant grace. And pray. Together, we will get through this.

Grace and peace,

Gary E. Mueller
Bishop

Statement by Bishop Gary E. Mueller Regarding Churches Being Classified as “Essential”

A little less than an hour ago, President Trump declared that he deems churches and houses of worship ‘essential’. He called on governors to allow them to reopen this weekend. The President’s statement changes nothing about the guidance I have offered up to this point. We are in the process of reopening, but must do it carefully and in stages so no more lives are lost.

I have provided a timeline of dates that I highly urge you to follow, especially since we have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in Arkansas in the past week. I also have indicated that I expect all United Methodist Churches to treat Governor Hutchinson’s excellent guidance that he issued on May 4 as a directive. This means that any churches opening at any time must be able to fully comply with this guidance. If they cannot do so, it is not time to open yet. If someone tests positive for COVID and has attended any event in any church, that congregation needs to cease in-person activities until it can safely do so again.

The Arkansas Annual Conference has excellent resources available on the Conference Website at arumc.org/covid19. It provides new updates and webinars on a weekly basis. What is more, in partnership with the Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, the Conference is making PPE masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant available to every church early in June. It is a difficult time. But I have great hope for the future because Arkansan United Methodists are people of deep faith, who will continue to make disciples for Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped and sent to transform lives, communities and the world.