Mt. Carmel Methodist Church Holds Historically-Accurate Candlelight Service

Mt. Carmel Methodist Church Holds Historically-Accurate Candlelight Service

By Sandra Turner

Recently retired clergy the Rev. Mary Hilliard — formerly at Asbury UMC Little Rock — is conducting a Christmas candlelight service at the former Mt. Carmel Methodist Church in Dallas County — located off of Highway 9 in Jacinto, Arkansas — on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019.

A fellowship hour will be held from 3 – 4 p.m. with the service beginning at 4 p.m. Rev. Hilliard is the granddaughter of a former Methodist minister at Mt. Carmel, the Rev. Lem Dedman, and wanted to hold a Christmas service reminiscent of one that our ancestors might have experienced.

Mt. Carmel was a church from 1879-1994 and when it closed, the conference deeded it over to the Mt. Carmel Homecoming and Preservation Association.

For more information, contact Sandra Turner at

President Tsutsui to Retire, Ellis Arnold Elected 12th President of Hendrix College

President Tsutsui to Retire, Ellis Arnold Elected 12th President of Hendrix College

W. Ellis Arnold III, the 12th President of Hendrix College

CONWAY, Ark. (November 21, 2019) — Hendrix College President and Professor of History Bill Tsutsui will retire in December and be on sabbatical this spring. The Hendrix Board of Trustees accepted Tsutsui’s retirement today and elected Senior Executive Vice President W. Ellis Arnold III the 12th President of Hendrix College.

Arnold will begin his tenure as the President of Hendrix College on December 31.

“I am honored and humbled for the opportunity to play a role in advancing the College as a national leader in engaged learning and the liberal arts,” said Arnold. “It is a privilege to work with the Hendrix community and alongside our dedicated faculty and staff and talented students. Together, we will lead the College confidently into the next decade, addressing our challenges, and seizing our opportunities with determination and optimism.”

A 1979 Hendrix graduate, Arnold received his juris doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and practiced law in Little Rock from 1982 to 1990. In 1990, he was approached by then-Hendrix President Dr. Joe B. Hatcher to serve as Vice President for Development and College Relations and lead the College’s church relations, communications, fundraising, and marketing, in addition to serving as General Counsel.

In November 1996, Arnold was named President of Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn., and later served as President and Head of School of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., from 2004 until 2008, when he returned to Hendrix. He served the College as Acting President on two occasions, in addition to his current role as Senior Executive Vice President, Dean of Advancement, and General Counsel. Under his leadership, the College’s current campaign has surpassed historic fundraising levels.

“Hendrix is very fortunate to have strong campus leaders who are committed to our students and to the College’s success. Ellis is a proven leader, and we are confident in his ability to lead a seamless transition and develop a comprehensive strategy to guide Hendrix moving forward,” said Albert Braunfisch, Chair of the Hendrix Board of Trustees. “Most importantly, we know that Ellis will inspire the Hendrix community and even further advance our well-earned reputation and historic traditions.”

“The Board is grateful to Bill for his leadership and the many milestones accomplished under the College’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan,” said Braunfisch. “These accomplishments will further distinguish Hendrix among the country’s leading liberal arts colleges in the years to come.”

During Tsutsui’s tenure, Hendrix was re-accredited by the Higher Learning Commission for 10 years; significantly increased access and affordability, as well as student diversity; launched the Hendrix Aspire and Murphy Scholars Programs, as well as innovative career preparation and campus well-being programs; completed the Dawkins Welcome Center; and will complete the Miller Creative Quad and Windgate Museum of Art in 2019-2020.

Before leading Hendrix, Tsutsui served as dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University from 2010 to 2014 and taught for 17 years at the University of Kansas.

“I am grateful to the Board of Trustees for the opportunity to serve this remarkable institution and special community,” said Tsutsui. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside everyone, from the faculty members who challenge and inspire our students to the folks who keep our students fed, safe, and well-prepared for life after Hendrix.

“While we live in one of the most intensely competitive eras in American higher education, the broad, rigorous, hands-on liberal arts education we offer at Hendrix has never been more critical,” Tsutsui said. “I look forward to seeing its continued progress and, because of those who are deeply passionate about and fiercely loyal to Hendrix, all can be confident in its long-term success.”

Ellis Arnold ’79 will be the first Hendrix College alumnus elected to President since 1958.

Southeast District Churches Host Mobile Food Pantries for Hungry Communities

Southeast District Churches Host Mobile Food Pantries for Hungry Communities

Students from Monticello High School help to pack bags for distribution at the FUMC Monticello mobile food pantry on Oct. 26. Photo provided by Lori Fallon.

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

Three Southeast District churches recently worked to end childhood hunger in Arkansas by offering mobile food pantries in areas where there is a shortage of low-cost food options for the hungry.

First UMC Monticello, St. James UMC Pine Bluff, and First UMC Dumas partnered with the Arkansas Food Bank to host quarterly mobile food distributions in Arkansas, paid for by grants from Starbucks Coffee Company.

The mobile food pantries are set up at churches with tables, chairs, snacks and water for guests, allowing people to fellowship while others pick up a variety of food options.

In late October and early November, St. James Pine Bluff was able to serve 100 families with 25 volunteers, including church members and UAPB students.

First UMC Monticello served 100 families as well, with 60 families arriving to the church food pantry within the first 30 minutes of the doors being open.

“First United Methodist Church was contacted in August 2019 by Mary Lewis Dassinger, the project coordinator for 200,000 Reasons to fight childhood hunger, about an opportunity to be a mobile food distributor,” said the Rev. Lori Fallon, associate pastor at First UMC Monticello.

Fallon said Dassinger has been working with the Arkansas Food Bank and Southeast District Superintendent the Rev. Mark Norman to find ways to distribute more food in the district.

“On Friday, Oct. 25, we received our first truck full of food and in addition to the 10 adults, welcomed 25 Monticello High School student council members to help with the unloading,” Fallon said.

Volunteers from FUMC Monticello prepare to distribute food at their mobile food pantry on Oct. 26. Photo provided by Lori Fallon.

First UMC Dumas was able to serve 128 families with their distribution. Thirteen volunteers from the church assisted with the event, and they distributed almost all of the food from their pantry, including fresh chicken and produce.

Dassinger said the mobile food pantry was made possible only through grants and a strong partnership with the Arkansas Food Bank.

“Through a generous grant from the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, these and other churches in the Arkansas delta will be able to extend the impact by hosting more mobile food distributions,” Dassinger said.

Fallon said they plan to host another distribution in 2020 to continue the partnership with the Arkansas Food Bank and Starbucks.

“It was an incredible experience,” she said.

If your church is in the Arkansas delta and within a community with not enough access to low-cost food, contact Mary Lewis Dassinger at for more information.

A Way Forward Update

November 8, 2019

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

As your bishop, I have tried to keep you informed, help you understand what the future might hold, and engage you in prayer and healthy Christian conversation about the huge divide that exists in our beloved Arkansas Conference concerning matters of human sexuality. These efforts will continue, as will my determination to act with as much fairness, compassion and integrity as I possibly can.

Two things have been foundational for me as I have done this. First, I choose to believe that all persons are acting from places of deep faith conviction. Second, I intend to shape our way forward in the Arkansas Conference so that as many congregations and pastors as possible will thrive as much as possible.

I have discovered time and again, however, that building on this foundation to find our way forward is no easy task in our deeply divided church. What is more, it seems to become increasingly difficult with each passing day. Two recent events illustrate this.

The Bishops of the Western Jurisdiction have issued a “Safe Harbor Declaration.” It is a statement of intention that formally articulates how they are going to address matters related to LGBTQIA+ persons. Their intent is to welcome and fully involve LGBTQIA+ individuals in the life of the United Methodist Church by marrying, ordaining and not following the process mandated by The Book of Discipline if any complaints are instituted.

At the same time, there is considerable conversation in the broader church, including among some bishops, concerning a “moratorium” on church trials. This essentially means pressure is being placed on bishops to refrain from processing formal complaints according to the church’s judicial process in ways that could lead to church trials.

When these two intentions are combined with the actions of annual conferences, statements of individual bishops and advocacy groups talking about the possibility of leaving, it should be abundantly clear the United Methodist Church already is fractured and broken, even as we remain structurally intact. Unless people of good will take proactive steps that transcend the legislative process, I fear we are headed to a General Conference in May 2020 in Minneapolis that will be even more painful than what occurred in February 2019 in St. Louis.

This is why I believe it is time to craft a consensus across the great divide in our church to develop a process that will allow multiple new expressions of Methodism to emerge. I am not certain what this might look like. But I think it is crucial for those who hold differing visions of the future to come together to explore new possibilities. This intentional action will help us avoid further fracturing. It will be a witness to the world about how a healthy and loving Body of Christ deals with real-life issues. And, perhaps most importantly, it will allow the Holy Spirit to use our present crisis as a means of reaching more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through multiple expressions of Methodism than we currently are. Just to be clear, this way of thinking is not new for me. It is why I articulated support for the Connectional Conference Plan prior to the 2019 Special Called General Conference.

In the meantime, I want to remind you again of how I will carry out my leadership role. I will continue to uphold the sacred vow I made when I was consecrated as a bishop to faithfully administer The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. This means I have no intention of “rushing to trials” because the hoped-for outcome in every complaint is to reach a just resolution if at all possible. It also means I will not ignore, intentionally slow down or stop the processing of any complaints.

It hurts my heart that in my 41st year of full-time ministry the church which awakened me to Jesus, embraced me, nurtured me and has given me the privilege of serving is broken and battered. But my faith in the resurrected Jesus means I know this is not the end of the story. Christian unity is alive and well, even if structural unity in the United Methodist Church is not.

Jesus’ disciples who disagree can still reach across the divide to talk and pray with each other. Congregations that have divergent theological understanding can still join together to feed the hungry and care for the poor in their communities. All of us can still pray that God’s will shall become just as real on earth as it is in heaven. And who knows? One day the Holy Spirit may once again bring us together in ways we cannot yet imagine.

As always, I look forward to talking and praying with you about our future regardless of your hopes and dreams, because who you are and what you hold in your heart matters to me.

Grace and peace,

Gary E. Mueller

Bishop Mueller Assigned to United Methodist Men Agency for 2020-2024 Quadrennium

During their recent gathering at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, the Council of Bishops announced assignments of bishops to board and agencies of The United Methodist Church for the 2020 – 2024 quadrennium.

Bishop Gary Mueller has been assigned to the board of the United Methodist Men, one of the 13 agencies of The United Methodist Church. Bishop Mueller will serve in the role along with Bishop Kasap Owen and Bishop Leonard Fairley.

According to a Council of Bishops’ press release, “UMC agencies provide resources and services that equip local congregations and provide a connection for ministry throughout the world. The agencies also provide essential services and ministries beyond the scope of individual local congregations and annual conferences.”

In his role, Bishop Mueller will share oversight on the board of UMM along with the agency’s board of directors, comprised of bothy laity and clergy, elected by jursidictions and central conferences.

More information on bishop’s assignments to boards and agencies can be found by reading the press release sent by the Council of Bishops.

Bishop Cynthia Harvey elected president of United Methodist Council of Bishops

Bishop Cynthia Harvey elected president of United Methodist Council of Bishops

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C.  – Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, the area bishop of Louisiana Conference, was today elected president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church during the bishops’ meeting at Lake Junaluska Assembly.

Also elected were:

  • President-Designate: Bishop Thomas Bickerton
  • Secretary: Bishop Tracy Malone
  • Executive Secretary: Bishop Bruce Ough
  • Ecumenical Officer: Bishop Sally Dyck
  • Past President: Bishop Ken Carter

The current officer holders are Bishop Carter, president; Bishop Harvey, president-designate; and Bishop Mande Muyombo as secretary. The new officers will take office at the end of the May 2020 General Conference.

Outgoing Secretary Bishop Mande Muyombo was elected chair of the Connectional Table Chair.

The executive secretary serves as the operations officer of the Council and works closely with the Secretary to monitor actions of the Council and Executive Committee. The ecumenical officer is responsible for relationships with other Churches and/or ecclesial bodies. Both serve four-year terms and take office on September 1, 2020. Bishop Marcus Matthews and Bishop B. Michael Watson are the current holders of the positions.


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