Daily Digest – Saturday, June 1
One resolution passes, one fails on the final day of Annual Conference

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

On a day that’s typically on the lighter side for business, the Arkansas Annual Conference had to modify the agenda at the last minute to fit a few necessary business items into the last day of Conference.

The first resolution of the day was presented by the Rev. Katie Pearce and proposed a raise in the amount of weeks that clergy are afforded for vacation time. Currently, most clergy are given two weeks of paid vacation for the first five years in the conference and four weeks after 10 years.

The Rev. Katie Pearce makes the case for a resolution that would increase clergy vacation time.

The resolution aimed to raise the vacation time to four weeks for all clergy, no matter the amount of years spent in the Conference.

The resolution was noted to be non-binding — meaning that if it passed, no church or SPRC would be required to implement the policy — but Pearce noted that it was more of a way to encourage the increase in vacation time, not mandate it.

The Rev. Chase Green, senior pastor of Primrose United Methodist Church, in a speech in favor of the resolution noted that while attending Wesley Theological Seminary, he learned that self-care and soul-care are essential for a healthy pastor and a healthy congregation.

A few others, speaking against the resolution, said that this kind of policy is already in place in many SPRC’s, but laity and clergy need to learn to work together to make sure it gets implemented.

After taking a vote on the resolution, the increase in paid vacation time for clergy was adopted.

The second resolution of the Conference was submitted by a group of Central District pastors and laity, and called for the immediate suspension of the United Methodist Church motto “Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors,” in light of the decision at General Conference 2019 to maintain the Book of Discipline’s current stance on human sexuality.

Kyle Forehand of Pulaski Heights UMC noted that this resolution is not calling for the permanent suspension of the motto, but only a temporary one and could be reinstated if the denominations stance on human sexuality were to change.

Others, such as the Rev. Clayton Bulice of Hazel Edwards Memorial UMC, said that the adoption of this resolution is unnecessary since his church and many others in the Arkansas Conference still follow the idea behind “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.”

Still others shared personal stories of family members and friends who have felt hurt after the adoption of The Traditional Plan at General Conference.

The Rev. Angie Gage, senior pastor of Cherokee Village UMC, said she has a 25-year-old daughter who is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Her daugher has been to churches where she has been snubbed because of who she is, and therefore she supports suspending the motto.

After a vote, the resolution failed to pass, 201 (37.85%) in favor to 330 (62.15%) opposed.

The Arkansas Chapter of The Methodist Federation for Social Action presented the Lucy Foster Award to Harold Hughes of Quapaw Quarter UMC.

From left to right: Harold Hughes, recipient of the Lucy Foster Award, Bishop Gary Mueller, and Carol Roddy.

The Lucy Foster Award is given to one Arkansas United Methodist each year who demonstrates a concern and care for social justice in their communities. The award was presented by Kyle Forehand, who is the great-grandson of the awards namesake.

After a contentious introduction the day before to a proposed $3.2 million purchase for a new church start in Centerton, the body of voters at the Conference were given a change to ask questions about the deal and raise any concerns they had.

The new church start is located at a soccer complex near the middle of town. The 45-acre plot of land is made up of multiple soccer fields and an indoor practice facility that will be converted into the new building for The Vine Church.

Arkansas voting members raised concerns about the facilities proximity to another fairly new United Methodist Church in Centerton, Living Waters UMC.

Todd Burris (left) and Stephen Coburn (right) explain the new church start and land purchase in Centerton, Arkansas.

The new church will be about two miles away from Living Waters.

The Rev. Stephen Coburn, Northwest District Superintendent, and Conference Treasurer Todd Burris answered questions related to the land purchase, and assured the body that a written report from the Board of Trustees will be sent to members of the Conference sometime after the conclusion of this year’s event.

After the Rev. Rodney Steel made a motion to vote on approving the purchase of the Centerton property, the motion passed by a slim margin, 52.01% in favor and 47.99% opposed.Due to a lack of time left in the agenda, the reading of this year’s appointments was shortened but those interested will be able to read the full list of 2019 appointments on the Conference website at a later date.

Daily Digest – Friday, May 31Final Delegate Elections, Youth Address, and the Ordination Service

Daily Digest – Friday, May 31
Final Delegate Elections, Youth Address, and the Ordination Service

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

Final Delegate Elections

The South Central Jurisdictional Conference delegation, as well as alternates, were completed during today’s business sessions. After several rounds of voting, the final ballot was lay ballot number 16.

Asa Whitaker, who was a delegate to both General Conference 2016 and the special session of General Conference in February 2019, was the final delegate to reach enough votes to join the delegation.

Brandon Bates of First UMC Little Rock was elected on lay ballot number 10.

“I’m honored to be serving on the Arkansas Conference Delegation for the next four years as we prepare to interview and elect people who are discerning calls to serve as bishops,” Bates said. “With another General Conference on the horizon, even with tension and uncertainty that we humans have created, I have hope that we will be able to hear God and join in the work around the world that God is already doing. I pray that we will humbly walk with God as we act justly and love mercy.”

The Rev. Hammett Evans, senior pastor of First UMC Monticello, felt joy after seeing that he had been elected during the ninth round of clergy ballots.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of such a diverse and gifted delegation. It’s a real honor to serve our Annual Conference as we pursue a future with hope for all of God’s children,” Evans said.

The final delegation can be found below:

General Conference 2020

Clergy: Mark Norman, Michael Roberts, Lynn Kilbourne, Jessica Teegarden.

Laity: Karon Mann, Todd Burris, Miller Wilbourn, Elizabeth Fink.

 

South Central Jurisdictional Conference 2020

Clergy: Natasha Murray, Rebekah Miles, Hammett Evans, Katie Pearce.

Laity: Regina Norwood, Sarah Argue, Brandon Bates, Brian Swain.

 

Alternates

Clergy: Pam Estes, Lauren DeLano

Laity: Amy Forbus, Asa Whitaker

General Conference delegates will travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 5 – 15, 2020, and South Central Jurisdictional Conference delegates will travel to The Woodlands, Texas, July 15 – 18, 2020.

Youth Address

ACCYM President John Mark Mathis delivers the Youth Address at Arkansas Annual Conference 2019. | Photo by Stephen Gideon

ACCYM President John Mark Mathis delivered the Youth Address to assembled body today.

Mathis focused his speech on the importance of making sure congregations include more youth into the work of the church.

He also talked about his own experience and self-doubt taking over as ACCYM president.

Mathis said he felt unworthy to take the role at first, but remembers what a former youth president told him: “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.”

Later, Mathis addressed the results of General Conference, and how it is not just an issue that affects the current generation; it also affects the future leadership of the church and everyone in between.

He finished by encouraging older generations to change the culture of hate that he feels is currently in the UMC due to the decision on human sexuality at General Conference 2019. Greg Jones Reports

Reports

More reports were given today from various missions, conference centers, and educational institutions.

Mary Lewis Dassinger, Project Coordinator of 200,000 Reasons to End Childhood Hunger, encourage everyone at Annual Conference to involve their churches in the good work of 200,000 Reasons.

“Since starting the project five years ago, more than 500 churches in Arkansas have started a 200,000 Reasons mission at their church,” Dassinger said. 

Bishop Mueller added that although that number is amazing progress from where they started, more can still be done.

“100% of churches, regardless of size, can get involved in this work,” Mueller said.

For more information on 200,000 Reasons, contact Mary Lewis Dassinger at mdassinger@arumc.org. You can also check out the 200,000 Reasons class on CouRSe, the Conference’s new online learning management system. Enroll in CoRSe by visiting arumc.myabsorb.com.

Richard Hearne of the Lydia Patterson Institute also gave a report on the school, which services junior high and high school students living on the U.S. – Mexico border.

“This year, 81 students graduated from the Lydia Patterson Institute, and 100% of those students are enrolled to go to college in the fall, many at United Methodist institutions,” Hearne said.

He also praised the Arkansas Annual Conference for the ongoing campaign to raise money for the school’s new chapel, which the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas has committed to matching every dollar donated up to $250,000.

A few awards were also given today, including three Harry Denman Evangelism Awards. These awards went to the Rev. Casey Turner of First UMC Jonesboro, Zach Schrick, and Shannon Mecum.

According to The Foundation for Evangelism website, the award “honors United Methodists in each annual conference whose exceptional ministry of evangelism – expressed in Word (what), Sign (why), and Deed (how) – brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Michael McSwain of the General Board of Discipleship also awarded the One Matters Discipleship Award to members of North Pulaski United Methodist Church.

Ordination Service

The Rev. Linda Harker, senior pastor of McFarlin United Methodist Church in Norman, Oklahoma, led the Friday night Ordination Service for the 2019 ordinands and provisional members.

The 2019 ordinands are: Katye Chambers, James Kjorlaug, Gary L. Maskell, Rashim M. Merriwether Sr., Corey A. Tyson Read, and Judy Wills Rudd The provisional members are: Jesse C. James, Shawn Michael Gustin and Roy Elizabeth Kelley.Pictures from the service are featured below.

The business session will finish up today. The Lucy Foster Award presentation, the CF&A report, the Board of Trustees report, as well as two resolutions are scheduled for the final day, June 1, of Annual Conference.