It Doesn’t Take A Village to Help A Village

It Doesn’t Take A Village to Help A Village

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

This past month, I’ve had the privilege of hearing the stories of small churches doing big things.

In Emmet, Arkansas — a tiny community between Hope and Prescott — a small congregation at the Emmet United Methodist Church seeks to save their historic church building from collapsing under the weight of severe structural damage.

The congregation — made up of no more than 10 people on any given Sunday — needs hundreds of thousands of dollars to save their church, but they’ve already raised a quarter of what’s needed in less than a year. They are a dedicated group of faithful Methodists who are seeking to save a church that means so much to so many people.

East of Fayetteville, in rural Goshen, Arkansas, the Goshen United Methodist Church is serving their community in ways that even our largest Methodist churches have struggled to do.
With fewer than 50 regular attendees, the church has managed to open a 24/7 food pantry, a blessing box, a community garden, and a free health clinic. And they are still searching for more ways to give their time, energy and commodities to their community.

In the Bible, we see countless examples of God using individuals or a small group of people to carry out monumental, sometimes impossible, tasks.
Think about Joseph, David, Esther, and Jesus; what do these people have in common? They were seemingly ordinary people who God used in order to accomplish huge, life-changing, history-altering things.

In the Arkansas Conference, we have a lot of small, rural churches. These churches should not be forgotten in favor of churches with more people, more money, popular clergy, or more youth.

Our churches with 50 people can accomplish just as many amazing, outstanding things for the Lord as our churches with 500 people.

So when you’re reading the stories this month from Goshen and Emmet, and stories from our larger churches like Central Rogers and First Bentonville, remember that every one of them, no matter the size, can do big things.

It doesn’t take a village to help a village.

It Doesn’t Take A Village to Help A Village

When Communities Come Together

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

This past month has really gotten me thinking about the importance of community.

As many of you are aware, Arkansas was hit with a number of natural disasters in June: from the Arkansas River flooding that displaced thousands of people to heavy rains, high winds, and tornado damage that made an already bad situation even worse, this has been a rough time to be an Arkansan.

But despite all of the devastation that we faced in the state, I was encouraged and proud to see so many people step up, step out and ask their neighbors, “What do you need? I can help.”

Our Disaster Response team, led by Byron and Janice Mann, have been working hard since day one to assist communities affected by high flood waters. They’ve assembled volunteers from across the state who are willing to help “muck out” homes, save homeowners thousands of dollars, and try to get them back to a state of normality a little bit quicker.

Arkansans have given generously of their time and money, raising more than $15,000 so far for flood victims.

As Bishop Mueller highlighted in his Episcopal Address, we need to “double down” on our mission work. As we’ve seen this month, Arkansans are really taking that challenge to heart.

In this issue, we highlight the work that a team of volunteers began in Fort Smith, one of the hardest hit areas by the Arkansas River flood. Volunteers from Northwest Arkansas, as well as United Methodist Churches in the city, worked together to improve and rebuild the lives of their neighbors.

We also showcase the work of another volunteer mission group, the Ozark Mission Project. Every year, this group of youth and young adults travels to all corners of the state to repair homes, build wheelchair ramps for elderly and disabled Arkansans, and learn that working together to improve the lives of people in your community is one of the best ways to show the abundant love of Christ to the world.

There are other stories of community-building as well, such as the work that Alma and Kibler UMC are doing in their small town to building community events for the whole city, and the work of the Adona – Wye Mountain UMC home repair mission that makes homes safe for residents of their small community.

There are countless other examples of Arkansas Methodists doing good work in their own communities, and that makes me proud to be a part of this wonderful church.

I encourage you all to get out into your own communities, get to know your neighbors and be the hands and feet of Christ for anyone and everyone you can.

It Doesn’t Take A Village to Help A Village

One planet, one chance to get it right

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

I’ve been thinking a lot about our planet lately.

Not in a spacey kind of way, imagining the stars and planets and the endless wonder of the cosmos (although, that is something that takes up a lot of room in my brain as well).

When I think about the planet these days, it’s usually out of concern.

That’s likely because my wife and I are right in the middle of watching a new Netflix series called Our Planet. It’s a nature documentary, where each episode explores a different region and planetary environment, like jungles, deserts, or the ocean. But in addition to the usual facts about the animals and plant life that reside in these vastly different parts of the world, each episode also makes a point to show how quickly these places are changing; and not for the better.

Whether it’s the critically endangered species that are leaving us faster than we can save them or the climate that’s changing too quickly for plants, animals and even insects to adapt, one fact is unavoidable: our planet is dying, and it’s mostly our fault.

We are failing at being good stewards of the Earth.

Stewardship is actually something that’s deeply rooted in our Christian faith.

When God created Adam, one of the first things He entrusted to him was working and caring for the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15).

And why wouldn’t He? God was pleased with His creation. He wanted to make sure it was well tended. If you recall, the Bible mentions that when God created something, he took a second to step back, see what He had done, and remark that it was “good.”

God created everything to work together perfectly and mysteriously.

And one of the first things humankind chose to do was ruin it.

Recently, my wife and I have been trying to find ways that we can be better stewards of the Earth and slow down – perhaps even reverse – some of the long-lasting damage that we’ve done to our world.

When we moved to Central Arkansas, we were happy to see that Little Rock already had a residential recycling program. That made it easy for us to recycle our plastic and cardboard waste rather than sending it to the landfill.

We’ve also recently gotten into composting our food waste; it’s like recycling but with more science and more smells!

When we’re out shopping for home goods, we try to buy products that are organic, free from harmful chemicals, made from recycled material or can be easily recycled after we’ve used it.

These are small things, but they make a big difference when it comes to protecting the planet.

I recently read an article from The New York Times that made my heart sink. It was a new 1,500-page report from the United Nations that said more than 1 million species of plants and animals are in danger of extinction unless we do something about it now.

One million species.

I don’t want to think about a world that’s not going to be safe for my children or my children’s children. I don’t want to lose the forests, rivers, and oceans that I’ve had the privilege of experiencing firsthand and fallen in love with. I don’t want to lose these beautiful creatures – handcrafted from the mind of our Creator – to climate change, deforestation, and poaching.

I’m doing all that I can to make sure that doesn’t happen. I’m praying that people who have the power to make the changes we need to save the planet take heed and do the tough work that needs to be done.

I encourage you all to pray for our planet and do your own research into ways to protect it.

We only have one planet. Let’s make it count by caring for the creation entrusted to us.

It Doesn’t Take A Village to Help A Village

Pray for our Church, Pray for our Delegates

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

The Arkansas Annual Conference is this month; and I’m pleased to say that this year, I’ll actually know what’s going on!

As many of you know, my first week as the Digital Content Editor for the Conference was the same week as the Conference’s annual gathering in Hot Springs, Arkansas; the Super Bowl for Arkansas Methodists.

I was “baptized by fire” that week, as many people have pointed out to me (and so was my colleague, Day Davis, who started at the Conference office a day after I did!)

But this year, I’m excited for Annual Conference. I’m prepared for the job I need to do. I know where I need to be, and I also know what’s at stake for our Conference and our Church.

Like every Annual Conference, we will be discussing the business of the Conference, like petitions and resolutions. We’ll also be worshiping together in song, learning together from some fantastic speakers, and witnessing together the ordination of many future clergy leaders at the Ordination Service on Friday night – one of my favorite experiences from last year’s Conference.

This year is a little bit different, though. In addition to our regular work, we’ll also be electing clergy and lay delegates to both the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the 2020 South Central Jurisdictional Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.

As many of you know — because it’s almost impossible not to know it — General Conference 2019 was a significant event in our Church whose outcome received national and international attention across the world.

The lay and clergy delegates – more than 800 of them from the U.S., Africa, Eurasia, and The Philippines – were tasked with making a massive decision that shaped our Church’s future. The delegates elected at this year’s Annual Conference will also serve as critical decision makers for the future of the United Methodist Church.

We are blessed to have a large pool of faithful Arkansas United Methodists to choose from at this year’s Conference – nearly 80 people have entered their name for consideration. Four lay delegates and four clergy delegates, along with alternates, will be chosen by the voting body of the Conference to attend the 2020 General Conference, and the same number of lay and clergy delegates will also be selected for the 2020 South Central Jurisdictional Conference.

My advice for all of us as we enter into the vital work of the Annual Conference this year is simple: pray.

Pray for our delegates, pray for the ones who will be voting for our delegates, pray for our Conference leaders, and pray for our bishop.

These are essential, life-changing decisions that we make at Annual Conference. Pray that God’s will be done and that we can continue making disciples of Jesus Christ that will transform the world.

It Doesn’t Take A Village to Help A Village

A time, and a season, for everything

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

Like many wonderful things in life, there are two sides to every coin. Spring is no exception.

On the one hand, I love the warmer weather. I love hearing the sounds of birds singing again, and the vibrant green growth popping up all over Arkansas on once bare and cold trees.

On the other hand: allergies. As soon as I start seeing flowers, you can bet that I’m going to start sneezing, getting headaches, and continuously rubbing my itchy eyes.

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth; it’s certainly a stunning reminder of the beauty of God’s creation.

The Bible speaks on this two-sided coin in Ecclesiastes, in the much-quoted first eight verses of chapter three – if you can’t remember the scripture, sing The Byrds’ classic anti-war song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” to yourself.

King Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, uses chapter three to present contrasts between things like weeping and laughing, silence and speaking, loving and hating, and war and peace. According to Solomon, there is a time for everything in life; a season for every activity under heaven.

One thing to note about these verses is that Solomon does not decide on whether these different items are good or bad; he merely presents them as everyday occurrences that almost everyone will face.

I think that’s important to remember as we enter different stages in life.

Although we may face hardship, even dismay, the good news is that tough times don’t last forever. Even though the sun goes down at night, you can always count on it to rise again in the morning. When trees lose their leaves in the fall, they are reborn in the spring.

And when life is too tough to bear, and we feel like we can’t go on anymore, remember that things will get better. They have to. There’s another side to that coin and a new season to experience.

So, I’ll get through my itchy eyes and my runny nose, and you’ll get through whatever you’re facing in life as well.

For everything there is a season, and seasons always change.