Bishop Mueller Offers Churches Safe Guidelines for Ash WednesdayVirtual Ash Wednesday Service will take place on Feb. 17

Bishop Mueller Offers Churches Safe Guidelines for Ash Wednesday
Virtual Ash Wednesday Service will take place on Feb. 17

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

As we approach one year since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of our world and forced churches to rethink how we worshipped together, it’s important to remember that, even though encouraging news has been coming out lately about the fight against the virus, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.

With that in mind, Bishop Mueller is issuing reinforced guidance on how United Methodist Churches in Arkansas should participate in the upcoming Ash Wednesday holy day.

In order to continue to keep everyone safe from the virus, Bishop Mueller is recommending that local churches provide individual units of ashes for online, drive-through, or in-person Ash Wednesday Worship Services. However, no one – including the pastor – should impose ashes on anyone else. 

Individuals should administer their own ashes as the pastor offers the appropriate words of imposition, in order to reduce physical contact between the pastor and the person receiving ashes.

Additionally, everyone must wear masks correctly, maintain 6 feet of social distancing and wash hands frequently for every in-person gathering. 

Bishop Mueller will also be offering a special virtual Ash Wednesday service for clergy that will be streamed through Zoom.

“We have been separated by so much this past year it’s no wonder many of us are experiencing a deep sense of loneliness and isolation in our lives and our ministry,” Bishop Mueller said. “Those of us who are leaders – whether we are lay supply, local pastors, provisionals, elders, deacons or retired – can do nothing more important than gather together to worship so we discover anew that we are never alone.”

The service will take place at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17. To register for the service, visit

“I can think of no place I would rather be to begin this Lenten Season than with those of you who are my colleagues in ministry as we experience together the powerful reality, “From dust we have come and to dust we will return; repent and believe in the Gospel,’” Bishop Mueller said.

Deadline nears for communications ministry scholarship and fellowship

Deadline nears for communications ministry scholarship and fellowship

Photo by fan yang on Unsplash

Nashville, Tennessee – Persons interested in pursuing a career in religious communications are encouraged to explore education support offered by United Methodist Communications. Eligible parties have until March 15 to submit their applications for scholarship and fellowship consideration.

“We believe that it is vital to have professional communicators who reflect the diversity of the global United Methodist Church,” shares Gary Henderson, Chief Relationship Officer at United Methodist Communications. “Our fellowship and scholarship, named after communicators who exemplified excellence in communications ministry, provide critical training and experience for people interested in serving the church in this way.”

The agency’s annual education financial assistance options include:

The $6,000 Stoody-West Fellowship assists one United Methodist student in their post-graduate study at an accredited U.S. college or university who intends on pursuing a career in religious journalism. The purpose of the fellowship is to enhance the recipient’s professional competence through news writing for secular press, church press or church institutions in print, electronic and broadcast media formats.

The $2,500 Leonard M. Perryman Communications Scholarship for Racial Ethnic Minority Students is awarded to an ethnic minority United Methodist undergraduate pursuing religion journalism or mass communications at an accredited U.S. college or university. The scholarship promotes excellence in communication ministry through electronic and print journalism.

Applicants for both opportunities will be judged on five criteria:

  • Christian commitment and involvement in the life of the United Methodist Church
  • Academic achievement as revealed by transcripts, grade point averages and the required letters of reference
  • Journalistic experience and/or evidence of journalistic talent
  • Clarity of purpose in plans and goals for the future
  • Potential professional ability as a religion journalism

Competed details and application information is available on the Communications section on

For 80 years, United Methodist Communications and its predecessors have led the church in telling inspirational stories of God’s work in the world through The United Methodist Church, reaching new people, supporting local churches in vibrant communications ministry, equipping leaders and delivering messages of hope and healing. Assisting the next generation of communicators is an important way that the agency fulfills their mission.


About United Methodist Communications

As the communications agency for The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Communications seeks to increase awareness and visibility of the denomination in communities and nations around the globe. United Methodist Communications also offers services, tools, and resources for communications ministry. Learn how to support our work at

Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for FUMC Russellville’s Manna House Food Pantry

Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for FUMC Russellville’s Manna House Food Pantry

groundbreaking ceremony

By Chris Becnel

Director of Communications, FUMC Russellville

On Jan. 20, 2021, Manna House volunteers held a Dedication and Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Russellville First United Methodist Church Manna House Food Pantry. Current Manna House workers and other leaders key to Manna House’s past history were present for the ceremony. The Rev. Tony Griffin began with a Statement of Gratitude and prayer, and the Prayer of Dedication was spoken aloud by Manna House representatives. 

Following the dedication ceremony, Manna House Director Dan Meatheany introduced the new Manna House Building Committee members, Gary McElroy, Ragena Moore, Tom Peebles, Hugh Dorminy, and Robert Holeyfield. Ex-Officio members are Dan Meatheany and Terri Kulbeth. Some of the business partners included in the project are General Contractor, Jim Woker of EWI Constructors, Inc., and John Peel of Peel Law Firm, the attorney for the team. 

The Finish Subcommittee members, who are tasked with selecting paint colors and other finishing touches, are Kim Meatheany, Danny Tucker, and Sarah Peel. In attendance representing Help Network were Executive Director Sarah Bergner and Help Network Board President Candice Underwood.

After the dedication, Manna House Director Kim Meatheany instructed team members to break ground. “Today as a show of our faith and resolve to support those in the communities of Pope and Yell County who need a helping ‘hand up,’ we perform the time-honored ritual of ground-breaking.  Also, just as symbolic, with these shovels, we honor the American Farmer who turns the soil to grow the food that feeds us.  With this action, we grow a new Manna House and Help Network facility to serve people in need.” After her words, the crew used golden shovels to toss dirt to symbolically begin the process for the new construction.

Those in attendance at the ceremony were invited for one last tour of the inside of the original Manna House building which will be torn down to make room for a new, more efficient building so Manna House can continue to provide much-needed services to residents of Pope and Yell Counties. 

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.