Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church Opposes Arkansas Ballot Issue 4

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (Oct. 17, 2018) – Since its beginning, the Methodist Church has spoken out against gambling.

As the social principles of the United Methodist Church states, “Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, destructive of good government and good stewardship. As an act of faith and concern, Christians should abstain from gambling and should strive to minister to those victimized by the practice…” (¶ 163, The Book of Discipline 2016).

Gambling depends on undermining hope and replacing it with a belief in luck as the pathway to success and happiness. Bishop Gary Mueller, along with The Board of Church and Society of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, stands against Issue 4.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. 1 Timothy 6:10, NRSV


Media Contact:
Amy White Ezell

Methodist Family Health celebrates opening of new, state-of-the-art residential treatment center for youth

The front of the new residential treatment center at Methodist Family Health’s United Methodist Children’s Home campus.

On Oct. 16 — only one year after breaking ground on its newest building — Methodist Family Health invited professionals and residents from around Arkansas to attend the dedication ceremony of its state-of-the-art psychiatric treatment center.

The highly modernized residential treatment center is the newest building on Methodist Family Health’s United Methodist Children’s Home campus in Little Rock, Arkansas, the oldest campus within Methodist Family Health.

The brand-new building will replace the services of was previously offered by five individual buildings on campus — three housing units, a school and a gym. According to a press release from Methodist Family Health, the two-story, 33,625-square-foot structure is more efficient than the previous buildings and provides better services to Arkansas children, family and staff.

The building was originally scheduled to open in January 2019, but because of good weather and a dedicated construction team, clients and staff moved into the center in September 2018.

“Most importantly at this campus, Methodist Family Health is a more therapeutic and much safer environment for our clients, their families and our professionals,” said Andy Altom, president and CEO of Methodist Family Health in a press release provided to the Arkansas United Methodist. “The facilities we had for which this new facility is replacing helped us provide quality and compassionate psychiatric and behavioral health care, but this new psychiatric residential treatment center improves how we continue to deliver that care while serving children and families.”

During the dedication ceremony, Bishop Gary Mueller of the Arkansas Conference delivered a blessing and prayer for the new facility and encouraged those who work for Methodist Family Health to continue the good work of caring for Arkansas youth who are in need of psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual care.

Attendees were then given a tour of the facilities, observing the dining, outdoor rec and living room areas.

For more on Methodist Family Health, visit their website at More info about the psychiatric treatment facility can be acquired by contacting Kelli Reep, director of communications at Methodist Family Health, at

2018 Conference Journal Now Available

The 2018 Journal for the Arkansas Annual Conference has arrived and is viewable through a digital format right now on the Conference website.

The Journal contains essential information regarding various business matters conducted at Annual Conference, including appointments, annual reports from Conference centers, connectional reports, a directory of United Methodist churches and personnel, memorials, statistics from the Conference, and more.

To view the 2018 Arkansas Annual Conference Journal, click here. Information on ordering physical print copies of the Journal will follow in the coming weeks.

Single legislative committee to allow for full delegate participation

St. Simons Island, Ga.: Meeting October 4-5, 2018 in St. Simons Island, Ga., the Commission on the General Conference adopted a plan for the legislative structure of the Special Session of the 2019 General Conference.

The Commission on the General Conference has determined by a unanimous vote that there will be only one legislative committee—to which all delegates will be assigned—for the Special Session of the 2019 General Conference. All legislation deemed in harmony with the call will be assigned to that committee.

“Our goal was to establish a framework that enables the body of delegates to do the best work possible,” said Duncan McMillan, chairperson of the Commission on the General Conference. “We believe that the model selected by the Commission allows for the most transparency, fairness, best use of time and allows the full participation of delegates in the entire process.”

The decision was made after careful consideration of different legislative structures to determine how to facilitate the work of the legislative body within the allotted three days. According to the Plan of Organization for the General Conference, petitions may not simply be considered in a plenary session. All properly submitted petitions and reports must be assigned to a legislative committee.

The Commission on the General Conference has the responsibility for setting the number of legislative committees in consultation with the Business Manager and the Secretary of the General Conference (par. 511.4f).

Traditionally, legislative committees have been assigned petitions related to certain Disciplinary paragraphs or topics. Because the special session is limited in scope, this structure would not allow for the consideration of plans as a whole. The Commission also considered the possibility of dividing into committees that would consider all petitions that are similar in nature or related to a particular plan. The model that was selected by the Commission, however, would allow all delegates to be a part of the entire process and to be equally informed and involved.

The process and schedule established for the legislative gathering provides that Saturday, February 23 will be designated for prayer and preparation, with the culmination of Praying Our Way Forward, a worship service and education and training. Each day of the special session will begin with worship, and worship will also be woven throughout the three days.

The first official day of the session, Sunday, February 24, will be dedicated to organizational and administrative matters, the report from the Commission on a Way Forward and plenary discussion of the various plans to discern the direction the conference wants to pursue.

On Monday, February 25, the body would go into legislative committee to consider, amend and vote on petitions. The chair of the committee will be elected by the delegates from a pool of delegates who have been trained and served as committee chairs in 2016. As required by Par. 507.10, all proper petitions submitted to the General Conference would be voted on in the legislative committee.

On Tuesday, February 26, the body would go back into plenary session for final voting, considering future directions and closing worship. All petitions approved by a legislative committee must have a vote by the plenary session.

Commission members also had the opportunity to try out a new device to be used both for voting and speaker recognition during the special session.

The device utilizes smartcard technology, which makes it impossible to vote more than once. Each delegate will have their own smartcard, which can be used in any device. The color screen gives users easy-to-understand prompts directing them what to do, as well as to show them how they voted, when their vote has been received and when they have made a request to speak.

“We believe this device will make voting more secure, and make the process of requesting to speak or make a motion go more smoothly,” said Sara Hotchkiss, Business Manager of the General Conference.

In other business, the Commission voted to have two offerings during the Special Session: an offering traditionally held for pages and marshals and another for UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief).


Media contact:
Diane Degnan
615.742.5406(o) 615.483.1765 (c)

Center for Calling and Christian Leadership at Hendrix Hires Program Coordinator

Eva Englert-Jessen, Program Coordinator for the Center for Calling and Christian Leadership at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.

CONWAY, Ark. (October 3, 2018) – Eva Englert-Jessen ’12 has begun work as the program coordinator for the Center for Calling and Christian Leadership at Hendrix College, part of the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling.

This grant-funded position, made possible by the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas (UMFA), will help the Center create programs for young United Methodists (ages 12 and up) to explore and discern their calls to lay and ordained ministry and church leadership; and will support young clergy in sustaining their calls to ministry through civic engagement retreats and intentional mentoring relationships. The grant will also provide funds for events, travel, and additional program support.

After graduating from Hendrix, Englert-Jessen went on to Boston University School of Theology, earning a Master of Divinity degree in 2017. A native of Dallas, where she most recently served as a chaplain at Methodist Health System, she is a candidate for ordination as a deacon in the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

While in Boston, Englert-Jessen lived and worked in the Life Together Community, gaining practical ministry and leadership development experience focused on social justice. Her calling leads her toward supporting and creating spaces for the church (broadly defined) to be a source of personal and social transformation, including guiding communities to discern personally and collectively where they feel deeply called.

“It’s exciting to return to the environment that shaped so much of my own call to ministry,” she said. “I’m passionate about doing work that supports students at Hendrix and across Arkansas in discerning who they are in community.”

“The Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling has always had a vital program of ministry exploration for Hendrix students. With the Foundation’s gift, we want to make those opportunities and intentional mentoring available across Arkansas,” said the Rev. J.J. Whitney ’96, chaplain of the College. “Continuing the Hendrix College tradition of being a space that mentors young adults for ministry, the Center will give us resources to reach across the state and provide opportunities for youth and young adults to discern a call to ministry and leadership within the church.”

The Center for Calling and Christian Leadership seeks to mentor young persons from the beginnings of discerning a call to ministry and throughout the vocational discernment process to professional church leadership. It will offer programming in a variety of areas, including worship leadership, shadowing, orientation to ministry, spiritual formation, peer support, internships, and service-learning opportunities.

“The work of the Center to help young people discern their call to ministry is exciting and encouraging,” said Michelle Moore ’06, developer of clergy recruitment and youth and young adult coordinator for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. “The Center’s efforts will strengthen the church for decades to come.”

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit

Judicial Council hearings to be accessible via livestream

The United Methodist Judicial Council will partner with United Methodist Communications to livestream oral hearings held during the Council’s fall meeting at the Placid Hotel in Zürich, Switzerland.

All of the oral hearings will take place on October 23, beginning at 8:30 a.m. CEST (Central European Summer Time) – which is six hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. The hearings will be open to the public and broadcast on the denomination’s website,, as well as via Facebook at Hearings will remain available on the website throughout the month to make it convenient to watch despite time zone differences and will also be archived at

More information about the docket for the meeting, which takes place October 23-26, 2018, is available online. Only Dockets 1, 12 and 13 involve oral hearings. Docket 12 hearings will be divided into three sections corresponding to the three plans coming from the Commission on a Way Forward, with a break between each. This will give an opportunity for comments and questions to be raised separately for each plan.

The schedule for oral hearings is as follows:

Docket No. 1018-12
IN RE: Petition for Declaratory Decision from the Council of Bishops regarding the constitutionality of three sets of legislative petitions known as the One Church Plan, Connectional Conference Plan, and Traditional Plan.

8:30 – 9:40 AM CEST (Part I: One Church Plan) 
Petitioner: Council of Bishops – Bishop Kenneth Carter, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, William Waddell, Esq. (20 minutes)
Respondent: Rev. Tom Berlin, (10 minutes)
Supporting Amicus: Thomas Starnes, Esq. (10 minutes)
Opposing Amicus: Rev. Keith Boyette, Esq. (10 minutes)
Questions from Judicial Council members (20 minutes)

10:00 – 11:00 AM CEST (Part II: Connectional Conference Plan)
Petitioner: Council of Bishops) – Bishop Kenneth Carter, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, William Waddell, Esq. (20 minutes)
Respondent: Patricia Miller (10 minutes)
Supporting Amicus: Rev. Keith Boyette, Esq. (10 minutes)
Questions from Judicial Council members (20 minutes)

11:20 AM – 12:30 PM CEST (Part III: Traditional Plan)
Petitioner: Council of Bishops – Bishop Kenneth Carter, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, William Waddell, Esq. (20 minutes)
Respondent: Rev. Thomas Lambrecht (20 minutes)
Opposing Amicus: Thomas Starnes, Esq. (10 minutes)
Questions from Judicial Council members (20 minutes)

Docket No. 1018-13
IN RE: Petition for Declaratory Decision from the Commission on the General Conference regarding the meaning, application, and effect of ¶¶ 13, 14, 15, 34, 35, 36, and 511 of The Book of Discipline 2016 in relation to a violation of the General Conference Rules of Order.

2:00 – 3:00 PM CEST
Petitioner: Commission on the General Conference – Stephanie Henry, Audun Westad, Rev. Gary Graves, Sara Hotchkiss (20 minutes)
Respondent: Council of Bishops – Bishop Kenneth Carter, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, William Waddell, Esq. (20 minutes)
Questions from Judicial Council members (20 minutes)

Docket No. 1018-1
IN RE: Petition for Declaratory Decision from the Council of Bishops regarding the constitutionality, meaning, application, and effect of ¶¶ 2718.3 and 2718.4 of The Book of Discipline 2016.

3:30 – 4:50 pm CEST
Petitioner: Council of Bishops — Bishop Kenneth Carter, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, William Waddell, Esq. (20 minutes)
Respondents: Rev. Robert Zilhaver (20 minutes)
Rev. Kimberly Reisman (20 minutes)
Questions from Judicial Council members (20 minutes)

Decisions of the Judicial Council will be posted on the website 12 to 72 hours after the conclusion of the meeting on Friday at noon.


About the Judicial Council
The Judicial Council, the highest judicial body or “court” of The United Methodist Church, meets twice a year to determine whether actions of the denomination’s official bodies conform to church law, either on appeal of lower rulings or through requests for declaratory decisions. The nine-member council is elected by the General Conference.

About United Methodist Communications
As the communications agency for The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Communications seeks to increase awareness and visibility of the denomination in communities and nations around the globe. United Methodist Communications also offers services, tools, products and resources for communications ministry.

Media contact:
Diane Degnan
615.742.5406 (o)
615.483.1765 (c)