Lilly Endowment Invests $1M in Philander Smith College to Strengthen Ministries in Black and Small Churches

Lilly Endowment Invests $1M in Philander Smith College to Strengthen Ministries in Black and Small Churches

By Carmen Bradford

Philander Smith College

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (Dec. 21, 2020) – Philander Smith College is excited to be the recipient of funds totaling $1,049,130 to help establish the Strengthening Ministries in Black and Small Churches in Central Arkansas program. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.

Earlier in the year, the College received a $50,000 award from Lilly Endowment to support the development of the Thriving In Ministry grant submission. That planning grant, combined with the full grant award of $999,130, represents a total $1,049,130 investment in PSC’s effort to strengthen the pastors serving small churches in Arkansas and nearby states.

Thriving in Ministry seeks to help pastors develop meaningful relationships with wise colleagues who can help guide them through key leadership challenges, especially during transitions in their ministerial careers. The initiative builds upon recent studies that have examined the importance of colleagues and mentors who help pastors face and overcome common professional challenges. These studies include research from the Endowment-funded Flourishing in Ministry project.

“Philander Smith College has a legacy of developing clergy who have become leaders and mentors to generations of ministers and pastors,” said PSC President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. “Our alumni have broken barriers, published extensively in the field of religious studies, and blazed spiritual trails for a new cohort of preachers and scholars. Funding from Lilly Endowment will help us to continue building upon this sacred foundation,” he continued.

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for Religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. Promising efforts in this initiative, including the Philander Smith College program, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

Phillip L. Pointer, Sr will be the Project Director for the new program, and the Rev. Ronnie Miller-Yow will be Assistant Project Director.

The grant period at Philander Smith College will run from December 2020 through December 2025.

Windgate Foundation Awards $859,000 Visual and Performing Arts Grant to Philander Smith College

Windgate Foundation Awards $859,000 Visual and Performing Arts Grant to Philander Smith College

philander grant

By Carmen Bradford

Philander Smith College

Philander Smith College is pleased to announce that the Windgate Foundation of Little Rock, Arkansas, will fund a new Visual and Performing Arts Program and Visual Arts Scholarships with a $859,000 grant to be paid over the next three years, starting June 1, 2021.

“Because the arts help sustain the human spirit and are an essential cultural touchstone, we are deeply appreciative of this gift from the Windgate Foundation that will support our desire to nurture the creativity of our students. In turn, we believe that the College will be greater positioned to enrich the artistic community of our city, our state, and beyond,” said PSC President Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., Ph.D.

In response, Windgate Foundation Executive Director Patricia Forgy remarked that, “Windgate Foundation is pleased to partner with Philander Smith College as they expand their degree offerings for students to include visual art. This is a great step forward for the College and will benefit the entire community with future outreach and collaboration opportunities.”  Providing institutional support for visual arts and scholarships in higher education is one of the core areas of focus for the foundation which has funded multiple grants at Philander Smith College.

The Visual and Performing Arts Program will offer courses in applied digital media and graphic design, various studio arts, animation and photography classes, among others. Scholarship support will be available to those seeking to enroll in the program. Students who complete the program will be eligible for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in the Visual and Performing Arts. 

“Generous gifts from partners like the Windgate Foundation greatly help Philander Smith College continue to meet the needs and interests of our scholars. Providing training and instilling an appreciation for the role of the arts anchors a well-rounded educational experience,” said Charles King, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Philander Smith College.

“We look forward to working with community partners to develop an academic program and a consortium of Black artists with whom we can partner to help our students achieve a level of success in their artistic pursuits that will be unparalleled in the south and second to none among Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America,” said Shannon M. Clowney Johnson, Assistant Professor and Director of the PSC McKinley Newton Honors Academy. 

The mission of Philander Smith College is to graduate academically accomplished students, grounded as advocates for social justice, determined to change the world for the better. 

Obituary – Mary Agnes Powell

mary agnes powell

Mary Agnes Powell, 90, of Cabot, passed away Tuesday, December 15, 2020. She was born May 13, 1930 in Lonoke County to the late Dock and Prude Davis Elmore. Mary was a member of Oakland United Methodist Church in Holland, Arkansas, where she was the music director for many years. She was also a member of Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church, which was her husband’s home church. He was born and raised in that church and loved it so much.  In addition to her parents, Mary was preceded in death by her loving husband, William Bert Powell and a brother, Kenneth Elmore.

Mary is survived by her daughter, Dianna Hill and husband, Raymond of Forrest City, Arkansas; two grandsons, Duke Hill and his wife, DaShaune and Mike Hill; two great-grandchildren, Claire Williams and her husband, Cody and Hunter Hill; one great great-grandchild, Kamryn Hill and a very special friend, Vickie Hicks.

Graveside services will be 10:00 a.m., Friday, December 18, 2020 at Mount Carmel Cemetery with Raymond Hill officiating.  Arrangements by Thomas Funeral Service, 501-941-7888. 

Replacing Masks of Hate with Masks of Love

Replacing Masks of Hate with Masks of Love

By Rev. Rashim Merriwether

Special Assistant to the Bishop on Ethnic Concerns and Initiatives

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”

James Baldwin

As we embrace this advent season, we are called to reflect on what 2020 has meant to us all. The year 2020 has called humanity to look honestly and earnestly at itself. To face the realities of the world we live in. The events of this year have caused the world to remove the window dressings which have painted a false narrative to embedded systems of racism, which have existed for over 400 years in this country, and even longer in others. 

This year has exposed those inaccuracies and has begun to fill in the blanks of our existence. Some as outlined in Isabel Wilkerson’s book “Caste,” are finally recognizing that they are part of a long-running play. Each person has been assigned a costume, character, and position on the stage. I would also add, a mask to wear.

James Baldwin wrote, “Love takes off the masks that we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” How prophetic the words are to the times we live in today. Facing a reality that the masks we wear are in many cases not chosen, but inherited or assigned. It has become the bane of our existence, moving people within preset measures, within a preset system, making us participants in this global condition. 

The mask is an anchor for some, allowing access to entitlement without admitting guilt, responsibility, or the complicit behavior necessary to assure the perpetuation of the racist systems, which made their entitlement possible. Others find themselves forced to wear the mask of survivalist, conformist, or unwilling, unknowing sacrifices to guarantee or assure the validity that systemic and systematic racism is as real today as in 1619, when the first slaves arrived in Point Comfort, Virginia. This year has challenged us to examine the mask we wear and remember the words of Jesus:

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.”  (John 15:13-13)

These words affirm that there should be a spirit of love working in each of us. And it is that same love which should move us into action, to remove the masks of fear, entitlement, hatred, oppression, injustice, and replace them with actions of brotherly love. 

As this year comes to a close we are quickened in our spirit, knowing that regardless of what 2020 might have brought, how it might have challenged us, this is not our fate, not our character or the mask we must wear. 

“For to us a child is born, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders… he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Receives National Honor for High Performance

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Receives National Honor for High Performance

methodist le bonheur

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s Germantown Hospital was recently recognized as a Top Teaching Hospital, an award given by The Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization that works to ensure healthcare quality and safety.

The honor is only given to hospitals the demonstrate the highest level of healthcare in very specific criteria, including hospital infection rates, practices for safer surgery, maternity care, and preventing medical errors.

More than 2,200 hospitals across the United States were considered for the award, and Le Bonheur was recognized as the only hospital in Tennessee to receive the honor. In total, 48 hospitals were selected as Top Teaching Hospitals.

In a press release published by Methodist Le Bonheur, CEO Michael Ugwueke said the hospital was delighted to receive the award from The Leapfrog Group.

“We are honored to receive this competitive award that truly recognizes our unwavering commitment to provide our patients with the safest and highest quality care,” Ugwueke said.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is a historically Methodist hospital founded more than 100 years ago by John M. Sherard, Sr, a  farmer and Methodist Church layperson from the North Mississippi Conference. Since 1918, the hospital has been serving the Mississippi Delta region of Eastern Arkansas, West Tennessee, and Northern Missippi with quality healthcare.

For more information on The Leapfrog Group award, read the press release on Methodist Le Bonheur’s website.