Blue Christmas Services Provide Hope & Healing

Blue Christmas Services Provide Hope & Healing

The holidays aren’t always a happy time for people. Many experience deep sorrow and discomfort during the season that is most often associated with joy.

Which is why many churches have chosen to offer a Blue Christmas Service (also known as a Longest Night Service or A Service of Hope & Remembrance) in addition to their traditional Advent and Christmas celebration services. These services allow those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, marital problems, financial insecurities or any other issue to feel comfort and reassurance that everything will be OK.

Arkansas United Methodist Churches that are hosting a Blue Christmas or Longest Night service can be found below, along with service times and locations.

 

Pulaski Heights UMC

4823 Woodlawn Dr, Little Rock, AR

Sunday, November 27, 3 p.m.

 

Conway First UMC

1610 Prince St, Conway, AR

In-person service: Wednesday, November 30, noon

Available to watch on Facebook: Wednesday, November 30, 5 p.m.

 

White Hall UMC

301 Church Dr, White Hall, AR

Thursday, December 1, 6:30 p.m.

 

Pinnacle View UMC

20100 Cantrell Rd, Little Rock, AR

Sunday, December 4, 10 a.m.

This service will be held during the usual Sunday service for “those who are blue, and for those who are not.” Therapy dogs will be available to provide comfort and hope.

Available for live-stream on Facebook and YouTube

 

Oakley Chapel UMC

203 South Promenade Blvd, Rogers, AR

Sunday, December 4, 5 p.m.

 

First UMC Fort Smith

200 N. 15th Street, Fort Smith, AR

Sunday, December 18, 5 p.m.

 

First UMC Mountain Home

605 W 6th St, Mountain Home, AR

Sunday, December 18, 5 p.m.

 

Oak Forest UMC in Little Rock

2415 Fair Park Blvd, Little Rock, AR

Sunday, December 18, 5 p.m.

 

Hazen First UMC & DeValls Bluff UMC

Virtual services will be offered via Facebook.

Wednesday, December 21, 8 a.m.

 

Sylvan Hills UMC

9921 Hwy 107, Sherwood, AR

Wednesday, December 21, 3 to 6 p.m.

 

Lakewood UMC – North Little Rock

1922 Topf Road, North Little Rock, AR

Wednesday, December 21, 5 p.m.

 

Beebe First UMC

302 N Main St, Beebe, AR

Wednesday, December 21 at 6 p.m.

 

Benton First UMC

200 N Market St, Benton, AR

Wednesday, December 21 at 6 p.m.

 

Clinton First UMC

167 Joe Bowling Rd, Clinton, AR

Wednesday, December 21, 6 p.m.

This service will also be live-streamed on Facebook.

 

Hot Springs First UMC

1100 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR

Wednesday, December 21 at 6 p.m.

 

First UMC Little Rock

723 Center St, Little Rock, AR

Wednesday, December 21, 6 p.m.

 

Cornerstone UMC – Jonesboro

1910 Disciple Dr, Jonesboro, AR

Wednesday, December 21, 6:30 p.m.

 

Jacksonville First UMC

308 W Main St, Jacksonville, AR

Wednesday, December 21, 6:30 p.m.

 

Lonoke First UMC

220 S Center St, Lonoke, AR

Wednesday, December 21, 7 p.m.

 

First UMC Rogers

307 W Elm St, Rogers, AR

Wednesday, December 21, 7 p.m.

 

If your Arkansas United Methodist Church is holding a Christmas service for hope and healing, please email day.davis@arumc.org with the information.

Proceedings of the Special Session of the Arkansas Conference – November 19, 2022

Proceedings

of the Special Session of the Arkansas Conference

November 19, 2022

Bishop Gary E. Mueller, Presiding

Rev. Dr. Candace Barron, Secretary

SATURDAY MORNING

The morning worship included song, prayer and a devotional from Psalm 130, given by Bishop Gary Mueller.

THE SPECIAL CALLED SESSION

The morning business session was called to order by Bishop Gary Mueller. He said the session will consider the following issue: The consideration of recommendations from the Conference Board of Trustees requesting ratification of Disaffiliation Agreements with various congregations of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, in accordance with 2553 of The 2016 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, and the Principles adopted at the 2021 Arkansas Annual Conference Session and Judicial Council Decision 1379.

Bishop Mueller introduced Bishop Jimmy Nunn of the Oklahoma Area Conference to be a second Bishop in attendance in case the presiding Bishop cannot preside due to medical or personal emergencies. Bishop Mueller called for “holy conferencing” in this session. He explained that according to Judicial Council rulings, the vote would be to ratify or not ratify the disaffiliation agreements the Board of Trustees have brought forward and nothing can be amended.  No other business can be taken according to the call of the Special Session according to the Book of Discipline which is the ruling document for this Session rather than only Robert’s Rules of Order.

Bishop Mueller introduced the Conference Secretary, Rev. Dr. Candace Barron. He gave a thank you to former Conference Secretary Clark Atkins for getting Rev. Dr. Barron ready to go for this special session.

Rev. Dr. Barron explained the Organization of the Conference, giving information about the Special Session, the Adoption of the Session Rules, the Designation of the Bar of the Conference and the Introduction of the Tellers. Each vote requires a simple majority of eligible members.

Rev. Scott Stewart, Mena FUMC, asked to amend the Session Rules in Amendment C, Sentence 1, to say “agreements” (plural). He also made a motion to amend the Session Rules Amendment C, Sentence 5, to vote on all the disaffiliation recommendations as a block vote.

One speech was made against the motion, one speech was made in favor of the motion.

Rev. Nathan Kilbourne, Jacksonville FUMC, made an amendment to Rev. Stewart’s motion, asking to vote on churches that have a 90 percent threshold or above to be voted on as a block. Those under the 90 percent threshold would be voted on individually.

Four speeches were given in favor and four speeches were given against the Kilbourne amendment.

Before any votes were taken, Todd Burris, Director and Treasurer of the Center for Administrative Services, gave the Voting Instructions. Due to wireless internet issues, the first votes were taken by hand.  (Later, when the internet was available, votes were counted by electronic ballot.)

The Kilbourne Amendment to the Stewart Amendment was APPROVED by a clear majority by a count of hands.

Calling the question of debating the Kilbourne Amendment was called. The vote was APPROVED by a two-thirds vote by a count of hands.

The  amended Session Rules were now under consideration. The question to vote on the Session Rules as amended with the 90 percent threshold was APPROVED by a two-thirds vote by a count of hands.

The Sessions Rules as amended were ADOPTED by a majority vote by a count of hands.

A review of the Disaffiliation Process was given by Ms. Michelle Ator, Conference Chancellor; Rev. Dr. Blake Bradford, Dean of the Appointive Cabinet; and Rev. Dr. Tony Griffin, Chair of the Conference Board of Trustees. The guidelines for the Discernment Process are available on the Arkansas Conference website at www.arumc.org.

The major steps in the Disaffiliation Process per Paragraph 2553 were reviewed and included, among other things, participation in a time of discernment  (an initial disaffiliation request, listening sessions, a straw poll); Local Church Decision (a church conference conducted pursuant to the requirements of The Discipline with ⅔ majority); the completion of an agreed proposed Disaffiliation Agreement with the Conference Board of Trustees, Ratification of the Disaffiliation Agreement by the Conference (by a simple majority vote; and the Completion of Disaffiliation, (completing all of the steps outlined in the agreement). Ms. Ator offered prayer for wisdom, love and peace to prevail during the process.  Rev. Dr. Bradford said the Appointive Cabinet adopted the leadership principles in this season of disaffiliation and discernment that included allowing churches to land where they may thrive in their disciple-making mission while protecting appropriate interests of the UMC, and bathing the process in prayer. He said the role of the District Superintendent is to steward the process with fairness, integrity and grace. Rev. Dr. Tony Griffin, chairman of the Conference Board of Trustees, added to this by explaining the role of the Trustees in this season of disaffiliation and discernment, which did not include a recommendation about how the Conference should vote, but included gathering information needed to complete or discontinue requests by disaffiliating churches based on the information presented by the churches, which has been and will continue to be an ongoing process until the final Disaffiliation Date. Weekly meetings have been held by the Board of Trustees to review folders of information received from churches in the disaffiliation and discernment process.

The Special Session was dismissed for lunch at 12:15 p.m.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

Bishop Gary Mueller called the Afternoon Business Session to order at 1:30 p.m. with the Call to Order. Rev. Dr. Ulysses Washington, Central District Superintendent, opened the session with prayer. The consideration of the Individual Church Recommendations was started.

TRUSTEES REPORT

Churches were initially organized for presentation based on the percentage of votes in favor of disaffiliation at the Church Conferences.  Per the adopted session rules, Rev. Dr. Tony Griffin, Chair of the Conference Board of Trustees, presented for a vote the disaffiliation agreements for churches 1 through 25 (those above the 90 percent threshold) on the agenda.

Churches above the 90 percent threshold: Amity, Asbury Magnolia, Bellefonte, Bethesda Campground, Bland Chapel, Bruce Memorial, Dalark, Delight, Hebron-Carlisle, Hinton, Holly Springs-Sparkman, Holly Springs-Texarkana, Kibler, Mount Zion-Lonoke, Parker’s Chapel, Saint John-Hope, Saint Mark-El Dorado, Saint Paul-El Dorado, Sparkman, theJourney, Washington, Westside, Heritage-Van Buren, Mountainside, and Alma.

Three speeches were given in favor and three speeches were given against ratification of the motion for disaffiliation of the 25 churches in question.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreements between the Board of Trustees and the 25 local churches above the 90 percent threshold was APPROVED by a vote by a count of hands.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Grace United Methodist Church-Conway was APPROVED by a count of hands.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Smyrna UMC was APPROVED by a count of hands.

Three speeches were given in favor and three speeches were given against ratification in response to the disaffiliation agreement for Mount Tabor-Cabot.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Mount Tabor-Cabot was APPROVED by a standing vote count of 323 in favor and 252 against.

Three speeches were given in favor and three speeches were given against ratification in response to the disaffiliation agreement for Saint Paul-Searcy.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Saint Paul-Searcy was APPROVED by a vote by a standing vote count of 337 in favor and 245 against.

One speech was given in favor and no speeches were given against ratification in response to the disaffiliation agreement for Heber Springs First UMC.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Heber Springs First UMC was APPROVED by a count of hands.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Stuttgart First UMC was APPROVED by a count of hands.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Piney Grove UMC was APPROVED by a count of hands.

Three speeches were given in favor and three speeches were given against ratification in response to the disaffiliation agreement of Cabot UMC.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Cabot UMC was NOT RATIFIED by an electronic vote count of 296 in favor and 310 against.

The session was adjourned for a 15-minute break at 3:30 p.m. Rev. Jennie Williams of Elm Springs UMC re-opened the session at 3:50 p.m. with a prayer.

A request was made to do a standing vote for the previous motion on the disaffiliation proposal of Cabot UMC. Bishop Mueller, as chair of the session, said he is convinced of the integrity of the previous electronic vote count. A motion was made to appeal that decision of the chair. Three speeches were given in favor and three speeches were given against the appeal to the ruling of the chair.

The motion to appeal the decision of the chair upholding the electronic vote WAS DEFEATED by a hand count. The electronic vote of Cabot UMC was upheld.

A motion was made that all further votes, given the availability of the internet at that time, be made electronically. The motion was APPROVED by a hand vote.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Siloam Springs UMC was APPROVED by an electronic vote, 418 in favor and 173 against.

One speech was given in favor in response to the disaffiliation agreement of Christ-Texarkana UMC.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Christ-Texarkana UMC was APPROVED by an electronic vote, 461 in favor and 127 against.

Three speeches were given in favor and three speeches were given against ratification in response to the disaffiliation agreement of Fordyce First UMC.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Fordyce First UMC was APPROVED by an electronic vote, 327 in favor and 264 against.

Three speeches were given in favor and three speeches were given against ratification in response to the disaffiliation agreement of Searcy First UMC.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Searcy First UMC was NOT RATIFIED by an electronic vote, 287 in favor and 305 against.

Three speeches were given in favor and three speeches were given against ratification in response to the disaffiliation agreement of Jonesboro First UMC.

The motion to ratify the disaffiliation agreement between the Board of Trustees and Jonesboro First UMC was NOT RATIFIED by an electronic vote, 254 in favor and 335 against.

Rev. Dr. Candace Barron announced that Katelyn Hiatt, executive director of Mount Eagle Retreat Center, is having surgery and asked for prayers.

The session was on a five-minute standing adjournment at 5:15 p.m. for preparation for a Service of Communion.

The Special Session was adjourned by Bishop Mueller at 6 p.m.

Hendrix Reaches Historic Campaign Goal
College surpasses $150 million goal for A Time to Lead

CONWAY, Ark. (November 17, 2022) — Hendrix College has successfully reached its $150 million fundraising goal for A Time to Lead, the largest campaign in its 146-year history. With $150.46 million in gifts and pledges raised to date, the College has surpassed the campaign’s goal a year ahead of its December 2023 deadline.

“We are so grateful to Hendrix alumni, donors, and friends for their enthusiastic endorsement and generous support of the priorities of this campaign,” said Hendrix College President Ellis Arnold. “Our success is a direct reflection of their strong belief in the mission of Hendrix and their love for the character, spirit, and traditions of the College.”

Watch the video announcement.

The $150 million goal for A Time to Lead included $30 million for the Hendrix Annual Fund, $84 million for the Hendrix endowment, and $36 million for capital projects.

“Together, in less than 24 months, we have significantly increased the College’s endowment, the engine that will drive the future success of this institution,” Arnold said. “We have also completed renovations of two historic residence halls (Martin and Veasey Halls), which opened to students this fall, along with numerous campus improvements and new programs that will enhance the academic and campus life experience of future generations of Hendrix students for years to come.”

Today’s announcement comes just two years after Hendrix received a $15 million gift from the Windgate Foundation, the largest outright gift in the College’s history, and expanded its previous $110 million campaign goal to $150 million after surpassing the original goal a year ahead of schedule.

The success of A Time to Lead builds on a period of positive forward momentum for Hendrix, Arnold said.

This fall, Hendrix College saw an increase in both total and new student enrollment for the third consecutive year. After receiving a record 2,801 applications for fall 2022, Hendrix welcomed 375 new students to campus in August, a 13% increase compared to a year ago. This year’s new student enrollment is the highest in seven years at Hendrix, with students from 23 states and multiple foreign countries. After Census Day (Wednesday, September 7, 2022, the 10th day of fall semester classes), the College’s total enrollment increased by 2% to 1,144 students from the 2021-22 academic year.

Hendrix College was recognized nationally for innovation and undergraduate teaching in this year’s U.S. News & World Report 2023 Best Colleges rankings. In addition to appearing on a list of Best National Liberal Arts Colleges, Hendrix is #23 in Most Innovative Schools (an increase of 13 places from last year) and #55 in the Best Undergraduate Teaching (an increase of nine places from last year). In addition to the U.S. News & World Report 2023 Best Colleges rankings, Hendrix is featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2023The Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly’s 2022 College Guide. Niche.com cites Hendrix among the 2023 Best Colleges in America, and College Consensus cites Hendrix in numerous categories, including Best National Liberal Arts Colleges, Best Private Colleges, Best Small Colleges, and 50 Underrated Colleges Doing Great Things.

“Our campaign success, enrollment growth, and growing national recognition speaks not only to the overall quality and value of the academic program at Hendrix, but also to the distinctiveness of our approach to engaged learning and how well Hendrix prepares students for successful careers and lives after they graduate,” Arnold said. “Students are drawn to Hendrix for the opportunity to learn and grow in a community that is devoted to teaching and mentoring undergraduate students and will prepare them for success after graduation.

“In every sense, the progress of Hendrix over the past two and half years would not be possible without the commitment, dedication, and shared sense of purpose among our alumni, Board of Trustees, donors, faculty, and staff to provide the very best experience for our students,” he said.

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 www.hendrix.edu.

Bishop appoints Rev. John Fleming to First United Methodist Church in Springdale

Bishop appoints Rev. John Fleming to First United Methodist Church in Springdale

Bishop Gary Mueller announced today that he has appointed Rev. John Fleming to First United Methodist Church in Springdale as the Senior Pastor.

For the past three and half years, Rev. Fleming has served as the Northeast District Superintendent and Chief Mission Strategist and has served on the Cabinet and Appointive Cabinet of the Arkansas Annual Conference.

“I am grateful for the time spent with John serving on the Cabinet and Appointive Cabinet. Having served through some of the most difficult years in ministry, including the COVID pandemic and disaffiliation processes, John has been a gracious leader and has led with a heart of peace,” shared Bishop Gary Mueller. “He will be a blessing to Springdale First United Methodist Church and the entire community of Springdale.”

“I learned so much in the past three and a half years about clergy, laity, and the church. One of those lessons is that the church is stronger than a pandemic and that nothing can keep us from worshiping and serving our mighty God. Clergy and laity working together made the church stronger than ever. This is a lesson I know, is still true. I know that I will experience that at First United Methodist in Springdale.”

Rev. John Fleming will begin his appointment in Springdale, effective January 1, 2023.

An Advent Prayer by Carole Baker

An Advent Prayer by Carole Baker

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

 

Prayer:

Generous God,

We come to you with wonder knowing that through Jesus Christ you take us from our poor and ordinary state to becoming rich beyond compare.  Forgive us when we lose sight of the abundance we have through the greatest gift of all, your Son and our Savior.

Amen.

Prayer by Carole Baker, Northwest District Associate Lay Leader

An Advent Prayer by Carole Baker

An Advent Prayer by Helen Emerson

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7

 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I come to you as a humble servant asking that you hear my fervent prayer for this joyous and festival season of Advent.

Give me peace and the strength to have the trust in you that Mary had as she awaited the birth of Jesus.

Lord be with me this season and help my heart to be opened to the ways Jesus is at work in my life.

I pray for humility this season and all year.

Jesus lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer by Helen Emerson, Southeast District Lay Leader