FUMC Springdale Renovates 80-Year-Old Chapel for Modern Use

FUMC Springdale Renovates 80-Year-Old Chapel for Modern Use

The Chancel Choir led by the Rev. Danny Reding, Associate Pastor for Worship Ministries, performed for the Chapel dedication.. || Photo by Lori Krie

The trio of windows in the balcony of the chapel are original to the building. They were created by Jacoby Art Glass in St. Louis, Missouri.|| Photo by Lori Krie

Balcony view of the newly renovated space. The space is a combination of traditional and contemporary. Original flooring, lights, windows, and architectural features were saved. State-of-art lighting and sound were added. The pews were replaced with chairs so the space would be more versatile. The chancel was updated for contemporary service. || Photo by Lori Krie

Facilities Supervisor Dan Guido installs the original 1936 cornerstone into the new handicap accessible chapel entry. || Photo by Lori Krie

Renovation Committee Chairperson Mary Stockland spoke to the congregation during the dedication of the Chapel. || Photo by Lori Krie

In November, First United Methodist Church Springdale celebrated the opening of their newly renovated chapel. The project, according to Senior Pastor Andrew Thompson, began in the fall of 2017 with a fundraising campaign, and all of the money needed to fund the project was raised by the congregation.

The original chapel was built in 1936 and served as the main sanctuary of the church from 1936 to 1980. It is the oldest existing part of FUMC Springdale, but was left pretty much unused for almost 40 years.

The Chapel, as the church calls it, now holds the Cornerstone worship service. It seats 250 compared to the sanctuary’s 650 capacity, making it a more intimate worship experience.

Springdale First was also able to add an ADA-compliant ramp, making The Chapel handicap accessible for the first time in its history.

Pictures from the dedication ceremony held on Nov. 3, as well as shots of the interior of The Chapel, can be seen on the following pages.

New Executive Director for Hot Springs Nonprofit is Servant-Minded

New Executive Director for Hot Springs Nonprofit is Servant-Minded

Kim Carter is the new executive director of Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic in Hot Springs. She replaces Lynn Blankenship, who retired to move back to Oklahoma City to be closer to family. CCMC is a nonprofit organization that focuses on poverty reduction for under-resourced people in Hot Springs and Garland County. || Photo by Sam Pierce

By Sam Pierce

Featured Contributor

Kim Carter was happy where she was and was not looking for a new job.

“It was kind of serendipitous how I found this position,” she said. “I’ve been part of a camping retreat ministry in the United Methodist Church all my life, and I was serving as executive director at Camp Tanako.

“I was happy in my job.”

Carter was online looking at an advertisement she had placed, when she saw the ad for the executive-director position at Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic in Hot Springs.

“I immediately thought, ‘What a job that would be,’” she said. “I wasn’t looking to make a move, but the more I thought about it, the more it stirred around in my brain — I could say it was nothing less than the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me alone.”

Carter was hired at the beginning of October as the new executive director for CCMC. She replaces Lynn Blankenship, who retired to move back to Oklahoma City. Carter said Blankenship has a new grandbaby in the area, and she wanted to move back to be closer to family.

“I am incredibly thankful for the leadership of Lynn Blankenship,” Carter said. “Her vision and dedication have changed the lives of the underserved and marginalized in Hot Springs.”

Prior to her being hired at CCMC, Carter spent seven years as executive director at Camp Tanako, an extension ministry of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. She said her new job is way outside her comfort zone.

“I was in a job where I was comfortable, and I knew what I was doing and had lots of experience,” she said. “Now I’ve transitioned to a job where I have had a lot of learning to do, especially in terms of the medical side.

“CCMC has many spokes that spin out from it, but those spokes are what allow us to impact lives and allow us to collaborate with other agencies working in the same arena.”

According to its Facebook page, CCMC is a nonprofit organization that “exists to improve the physical, spiritual and social well-being of those who are underserved in the Hot Springs area.”

Carter said CCMC is governed by a board of directors and is supported by donations of individuals, congregations, businesses and foundations.

“When you live in poverty, you live from one crisis to the next, and it makes it difficult to plan ahead for the next thing to happen,” she said. “Many of the individuals who enter our classroom have no checking account and no plan for how they are going to pay their bills — [things that] many in the world take for granted.

“We work with people to help them plan ahead, learn how to budget, learn about debt-to-income ratio and how to start a checking account. … Amazing things happen when the community collaborates.”

Jack Porter, the board chair for CCMC, said Carter is “the perfect fit to continue the work of CCMC.”

“With her proven record of successfully leading another faith-based organization, Kim possessed the expertise, as well as the managerial and interpersonal skills, to lead our organization,” Porter said in a statement. “Her fresh insight, energy and creativity will ensure that the mission of CCMC will continue to have a meaningful impact within our community.”

Carter graduated from Lakeside High School in 1986. She earned an undergraduate degree in special education from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in 1990 and a master’s degree in early-childhood special education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1993.

Carter and her husband, Terry, spent 13 years as foster parents, adopting their son, Cameron, in 2008. Carter said Cameron has significant disabilities, including fetal alcohol syndrome, reactive attachment disorder, autism and “all types of issues that come with early-childhood trauma,” she said.

“Our family was a foster family for 13 years, and we fostered 54 children and adopted one,” Carter said. “We encountered, firsthand, generational poverty, and we saw the impact that poverty had. … We never planned on adopting, but I was always passionate about school-age children, infants and toddlers with disabilities, and I saw the effects [of fetal alcohol syndrome], even before Cameron.”

Carter said one of the things that drew her to CCMC was its initiative to reduce generational poverty in the community through the organization’s Bridges Out of Poverty framework.

“The more I learned about this framework, the lens through which I viewed so much of my time with impoverished families was altered,” she said. “I look forward to collaborating with other community agencies and individuals to continue our mission of reducing generational poverty and serving others.”

CCMC will host a Chocolate Festival, which benefits the mission of CCMC, on Feb. 2 at the Embassy Suites in Hot Springs. General-admission tickets are $20 per person, and VIP tickets are $50. Tickets may be purchased online at ccmchs.org or at CCMC, 133 Arbor St. For more information, call (501) 318-1153 or email sculbreth@ccmchs.com.

“Bridges is the framework in which everything else is built,” Carter said. “… We really want to start working with employers and businesses in the area because there is a workforce shortage. Hiring good people and stable employees is a tough thing to do, and the turnover cost is about $5,000 every time they hire a new employee. … It benefits our community when our businesses and industries do well.”

Julie Smith, who serves as the board president of Camp Tanako and has known Carter since they were both in the fourth grade, said Carter is a “glad-hearted servant for sure.”

“She is always happy about what she is doing,” Smith said. “She was wonderful to have worked for us, and we will miss her, but we wish her nothing but the best. … There is no doubt in my mind she will do well.

“I know her organizational and administrative abilities are certainly perfect for that job.”

When Carter told Smith she was considering leaving Camp Tanako, Smith said, “You aren’t really changing jobs, just changing mission fields.”

“I think her faith will play a very strong role in this position,” Smith said. “I don’t think you would be able to do something like this without it. It will be what brings you through. She has the heart to understand the needs of the community and the people — she is just the perfect person for it.

“We will be at a loss at Tanako, but we will make it work for us, too.”

Geoff Fielder will serve as the interim executive director at the camp. He has worked with Carter for about four years. Smith said he is going to step in and keep everything running smoothly until a new director is hired.

“We already have some very capable candidates, and I look for that to be filled very quickly,” Smith said. “It will definitely be business as usual; we plan not to miss a beat.”

Carter’s dad, Terry Everett, was the director of Camp Tanako for 34 years before he died in 2010. A few months after he died, Carter was asked to serve on the board of trustees for the camp — a position she thought was a nod to her dad.

“But two years later, they had a changeover from the new director, and there was no one on the board who knew how to run the camp,” Carter said. “When someone asked me if I was going to apply for the position, I said, ‘Heavens, no.’ I knew what this lifestyle looks like and the immense responsibility it takes.

“I never thought I would have applied for that job. Without a doubt, both of these positions that I have come into were not things I foresaw on the horizon for myself. I never thought I would be sitting here today — it wasn’t in my plan to look for a new job.”

Methodist Thrift Shop Raises More Than $1 Million in 10 Years

Methodist Thrift Shop Raises More Than $1 Million in 10 Years

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

For more than 70 years, the Clinton United Methodist Church’s Thrift Shop has been serving the mountain community of Clinton, Arkansas with low-cost goods and generous grants that are given back to their neighbors in need.

The thrift shop, which was started and is currently maintained by the church’s United Methodist Women chapter, has served multiple generations of families in Clinton.

“The shop started out in a log cabin and then moved closer to town in an old cheese factory. Then, in 1973, they bought their own building in downtown Clinton,” said Ida Holt, the Thrift Shop manager and member of Clinton UMC. “In 2005, we moved to our current location, which is at 570 Griggs St.”

Holt’s husband, Dell, is an Army veteran, and she said after moving to Clinton in the early 2000s, she was asked to come help with the Clinton Thrift Shop because of her experience running similar stores for the UMW at various Army bases throughout her life.

“They were looking at moving into a new building because they had run out of room at their old one,” Holt said. “We actually had a church member donate the land where the building was constructed. And we went from 800 square feet to 3,200 square feet in the new building.”

Everything that is sold at the Methodist Thrift Shop is donated by people from around the town. Donors drop off their items at the shop during the week and the team of more than 20 volunteers at the Thrift Shop sort through the donations on Mondays.

The shop is only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the rest of the time is spent sorting through donations and deciding whether an item can be sold in the shop. None of the volunteers, including Holt, are paid workers; everything they do is because of a desire to help out their community.

Most adult clothing items sell for $2. Children’s clothing, which is the biggest seller, sells for less than $2 apiece. Larger items, like furniture or appliances, are priced fairly. Heavier clothes, like jackets or coats, are sold for a slightly higher price than other clothing items.

At the end of the year, anything not sold at the Thrift Shop is donated to Soul Food Cafe Mission, a shelter and food bank in Conway, Arkansas, and some items are recycled. Nothing donated is wasted.

Holt said that all of the money made at the shop is given back to the community in the form of grants or relief kits, and despite selling their goods for an extremely low cost, the Thrift Shop has made enough money throughout the years to give back significant grants to the Clinton community.

“One of our favorite sayings is ‘We make treasure out of trash,” Holt said.

If you look at the money that they’ve been able to give back, that saying rings especially true for the people of Clinton.

In the first 10 years that Holt was managing the shop, they were able to put about $1 million in grant money back into the community.

The Rev. George Odell, pastor at Clinton UMC, said one of the latest grants was $10,000 given to the Clinton High School band to help pay for new musical instruments.

“If you know music, then you know that equipment is not inexpensive. The grant provided by the Thrift Shop really helped out the band program to buy that much-needed equipment,” Odell said.

They have also assisted other organizations around town, such as the Van Buren County Sheriff’s office. The Thrift Shop was able to buy and train a drug-detection dog for the Sheriff’s office as well as pay for the officer’s training.

Other beneficiaries over the years have included the local hospital, Ozark Health Specialty Clinic, for new medical equipment and furnishings for a new trauma room; local food pantries and food banks; a nursing home; and the Van Buren County Public Library, where they were able to assist the library with increasing the literacy rates in the county.

Holt estimates that the Thrift Shop has been able to give to more than 40 different organizations over the years, and their average grant-giving is between $30,000 – $40,000 per year.

“Our main goal is mission work within Van Buren County. We’re a very poor county and the need is always there. We’ve gone through so many natural disasters in the last 15 years, from tornadoes to flooding, and we want the shop to be open for anyone that needs help during rough times.”

That’s also why the Thrift Shop has worked over the years to provide burnout kits to families who’ve lost everything in a house fire.

Burnout kits are kits that have essential items in them and are given to families who have a verified home loss due to a fire.

“The kits will have everything from dishes and silverware to clothing and bedsheets in them. We always try to keep those available at all times in the back room of the Thrift Shop,” Odell said.

Holt said that the shop provides kits, as well as gift certificates to the shop, to families who have lost their clothing and other items due to a disaster.

“The people who have lost everything are the ones that truly need our help.”

In addition to clothing and other items, the Thrift Shop has worked closely with some of the area food banks to provide meals for hungry families in the area.

Odell said that each year around Thanksgiving, the Thrift Shop donates cash to help the local food banks buy meals. The Food Bank in Choctaw, the largest food bank in the county, uses the money donated by the Thrift Shop to buy chicken breasts which are then distributed to anyone who is needing a hot, fresh meal for the holidays.

According to Odell, the Thrift Shop has made a major impact on Clinton and Van Buren County for the almost half-century that it’s been open.

“This has been a vital ministry for all of Van Buren County,” Odell said. “It’s amazing what they’ve done.”

The Thrift Shop is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you’d like to donate, please bring your gently used items to the Thrift Shop at 570 Griggs St., Clinton, AR anytime during the week.

Zimbabwe Theology Student Visits Little Rock

Zimbabwe Theology Student Visits Little Rock

By Franklin C. Walker

Member at Wesley Chapel UMC, Little Rock

Portia Kuzanga

Portia Kuzanga — a Zimbabwe Theology student studying at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina — was in Little Rock visiting friends that help support her stay in America. In Zimbabwe, Portia served as a pastor in the Zimbabwe Annual Conference and has taken time off to expand her education in America.

Portia was appointed pastor of a church at the age of 19 and served for approximately 12 years. Seeing that her Bishops were educated in the United States, she was determined to reach an equal or greater height. She applied online to schools in the U.S. and was accepted at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri. She enrolled there in a four-year bachelor’s program. She received a 50% scholarship, worked at a local United Methodist Church and received help from area missionaries willing to help. Portia completed the program in three years.

After completing her undergraduate work with honors, Portia applied to schools to work on her master’s degree. Duke University gave her an opportunity and she was able to complete her master’s degree at Duke. She is presently enrolled in a pre-Ph.D. program at Duke that she hopes to complete in May.

On her winter break, she decided to travel to Little Rock to visit one of those friends that helped out in Missouri but has moved to Little Rock. While in Little Rock, a reception was held for Portia at the home of Franklin and Faye Wilkins Walker. Several members of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church attended, including Pastor Ronnie Miller Yow. Friends of the Walkers and relatives from as far away as Pine Bluff and Newport also attended.

On Sunday, Portia attended Sunday School and Church services at Wesley Chapel. She was able to share her story of how she grew up an orphan, losing her mother at 12 years old to HIV Aids and never meeting her father. The congregation, family, and friends were very warm and welcoming to Portia and her two children, Nigel, 14, and Virginia, 8. Portia shared with me that her Spirit had been rekindled by the love and support shown to her and her children while they visited Little Rock. Portia would like to complete her Ph.D. in Theology.

Seniors Day Out Gets Older Citizens Up and About

Seniors Day Out Gets Older Citizens Up and About

By Sam Pierce

Featured Contributor

The older we get, the more we convert back to our younger selves. At least, that’s the thought behind the Seniors Day Out program at Trinity United Methodist Church in Little Rock.

“It is the little things that make them happy,” said volunteer Jenny Sweatland. “They really enjoy Christmas and Santa Claus. We bring in a Santa and everybody brings a gift, and Santa gives each one a gift — we also do a group picture.”

Sweatland has been a volunteer for Seniors Day Out for about seven years. But this is the first year that the program has been held at Trinity UMC.

“It is a program that was formally held for many years at Camp Aldersgate in Little Rock, but they discontinued it,” said Tisha Gribble, the head organizer for Seniors Day Out. “I knew about the program, and I recruited some of my friends to be volunteers.

“It is a volunteer-driven program with people who were involved at the camp, but the church is providing the facility and all the incidentals.”

Every Thursday, the church hosts the social event that features speakers, BINGO, bean-bag baseball and other activities. Sweatland serves as the programs’ activities director.

“It has been very beneficial,” she said. “We have some seniors that this is the only time they go anywhere during the week.

“They don’t have very close family so their big day out is with the Senior Day Out program or going down to the Dollar General. I have seen a lot of happiness coming with us once a week.”

“…Trinity was good enough to open their arms and allow us to meet in their building,” Sweatland said. “It just brings me a lot of joy.”

Sweatland manages all of the functions, including making sure the breakfast is ready.

“I’m doing their activities for the day, whether it be crafts or volleyball or bean bag baseball,” Sweatland said. “I am the one that makes sure they are moving and not just sitting.

“I just make sure it all comes together in a day’s time. It is a lot of work, but it is very enjoyable, but I spoil them like I would spoil a baby.”

The program has eight dedicated volunteers that are there on a rotating basis every Thursday to help provide social interaction.

“I am a little more vested because it has been a good first for my dad,” Gribble said. “My dad has Alzheimer’s, and even though he is okay to be by himself, this is getting him in front of other people.

“He really enjoys bean bag baseball; he has really gotten into it.”

Gribble’s dad, Joe, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease for a few years now, but she said the weekly program has been “really good for him.”

“It wears him out,” she said. “He will come home and take a nap. But just to interact with other people, because normally it is just me and my mom, has been beneficial.

“He gets to be around people that he doesn’t know.”

Gribble said one of the things that they do is bring in different speakers. She said a member of Trinity UMC recently spoke to the group.

“Her daughter recently passed away, but it was an organ donor, and she said her organs helped like 50 people, I believe,” Gribble said. “So we try to have some educational and formal things, but we try to have fun, too.”

The program partners with CareLink and Gribble said they provide the meal and transportation. For the senior citizens, the meal is free, but there is a suggested donation of $3 if you are 60 and older.

“We’ve got people in rural areas that do not go out, but are still living on their own,” Sweatland said. “They just don’t get out and get about. This brings them to a group together and it gives them an outing out of the house and they don’t get depressed.

“They look forward to this every week.”

Gribble said they usually open about 8:30 or 9 a.m. and serve coffee. There is usually a craft, activities or board games. She said they have about 25 to 30 people in attendance each week.

“I would love to have more people,” Sweatland said. “On average we have about 26 to 30, which is a good little group, but I would love to have more.

“I would love for us to grow.”

Gribble said part of the reason they haven’t seen a lot of growth is they haven’t actively tried to recruit.

“This is our first kind of go at it, so we are still working the kinks out a little bit as well,” she said. “Once we get our flow going, we will begin to actively recruit, but we haven’t gone to retirement centers or anything of that nature.

“It is open to anybody. All the have to do is call the church by 10 a.m. on Tuesday to let us know they are coming, so I get the meal count to CareLink.”

“I would love to see more participants, but it is going to be on us to recruit,” Gribble said. “We want to get this first semester under our belts, and then in the new year, reach out to different centers.

“We want it to continue and CareLink is interested in it continuing. It is another site for them to serve. After the first of the year, that’s what my focus is going to be.”