Conference Hopes to Launch Leaders Forward in Vision, Action

Conference Hopes to Launch Leaders Forward in Vision, Action

Arkansas Launch 2.0 attendees (L to R): Rev. J. Wayne Clark, Emily Autry, Rev. Patti Butler, Kay Kotan, Rev. Jana Green, Rev. Roy Beth Kelley, Trevor Hardcastle, Rev. Natasha Murray, Rev. Annie Lankford, Rev. Andrea Cummings, David Martin, Rev. Will Choate, Rev. JJ Whitney, Rev. DeeDee Autry, Rev. David Freeman, Rev. Lynn Kilbourne, Rev. Brittany Watson, Michelle Moore, Rev Mary Jane Cole, Rev. Mackey Yokem. (Not pictured: Rev. Eva Englert-Jessen, Rev. Haley Jones, Rev. Ronnie Miller-Yow, Rev. Katie Pearce, Rev. Susan Ledbetter, and Bishop Gary Mueller.)

By Haley Walker-Klein

UMFA Contributor

The city of Little Rock played host to more than 80 attendees at the Launch 2.0 experience in early October. Launch 2.0 is the second step of the Courageous Leadership Imperative (CLI), the brainchild of the late Jim Argue, past President and CEO of The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, and Tom Locke, President of the Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF). With support from the Lilly Endowment, TMF’s Leadership Ministry team offers the CLI, a learning network for courageous leaders.

The first Launch conference, version 1.0, was held last year in St. Louis and offered a large group experience designed to create a network for dynamic leaders, expand imagination for what’s possible, and embolden courage during times of change. The Launch 1.0 program was attended by 130 clergy members, including nine from Arkansas.

“When the organizers set out to plan Launch 2.0, they had learned from pastors that it would be helpful to have some of their team from their church with them,” said the Rev. Lynn Kilbourne, senior pastor at FUMC North Little Rock and Launch 2.0 Design Team Leader. “Launch 2.0 participants were encouraged to bring two other people from their church with them. Ideally, the ‘triads’ would have a dreamer, influencer, and implementer. I was excited to bring two folks from my church with me- Rev. Annie Lankford, our Associate Pastor; and David Martin, Lay Leader.”

“We Are Curio”- a design-centered innovation group from Florida- led the triads through their four-step innovation process called “IEDA.” The four steps of IEDA are: Immerse, Expand, Design, Act, explained Kilbourne, “having my team together for the event allowed us to better ground our visioning and work with IEDA. It wasn’t just an exercise in visioning, our time at Launch 2.0 has laid the groundwork for visioning that can happen in our local church. Together we learned that courageous leadership includes risky ideas and projects like transforming spaces and creating new ministries, but it also includes the work of creating a shared vision for a congregation.”

“It was inspiring to learn from courageous leaders from Little Rock, including Skip Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, and Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, a higher education administrator and philanthropist, said Kilbourne. “We were able to hear the exciting ministries happening in other churches, and be reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us to be courageous in our leadership and ministries.” The Arkansas Conference Launch 2.0 attendees will meet in early November to discuss their program’s next steps.

Foundation Awarded $20,000 Grant for Clergy, Congregation Financial Literacy Program

By Haley Walker Klein

United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas Contributor

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas was awarded a $20,000 grant for training aimed at increasing financial literacy for Arkansas United Methodist clergy and congregations. The grant was awarded by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church (doing business as Wespath Benefits and Investments) as part of its work with the National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders, an initiative of Lilly Endowment Inc.

“We learned through Foundation research that one of the weakest areas of pastoral ministry is financial stewardship interpretation and leadership,” said the Rev. Mackey Yokem, UMFA’s Director of Leadership Ministries and Grant Administration. “Our discussions with clergy revealed deep insecurity about financial issues. Our program’s goal is to provide greater knowledge about fiscal matters for our pastors for both personal use and the ability to offer congregational leadership.”

The Clergy and Congregation Financial Literacy Program will provide a faith-based stewardship syllabus in partnership with Wespath Benefits and Investments. Wespath, the largest faith-based pension fund in the United States, oversees the retirement and welfare benefits of United Methodist clergy members. The curriculum will target two selected cohorts over two years and will focus on topics such as interpreting stewardship theology, church finance 101, debt reduction processes, and preparing for retirement.

In addition to the $20,000 grant, the Foundation will contribute an additional $40,500 in funds to cover program expenses. “With the development of this program, we hope to help achieve the mission and vision of local congregations around Arkansas,” said Yokem. “We are committed to providing meaningful training experiences that benefit our pastors.”

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas manages $170 million in endowment funds and other charitable assets that benefit local churches and other United Methodist ministries. The UMFA is one of the largest United Methodist Foundations in the country. Founded in 1963, it is responsible for over 800 funds that support United Methodist ministries.

Williams Named 2019 Fuller Few Scholarship Winner

By Haley Walker Klein

UMFA Contributor

Leah Williams, 2019 recipient of The Allen Asbury and Roberta Fuller Few Scholarship

A Texas family established a seminary scholarship with The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas to honor loved ones who have pastored in our state. The Allen Asbury and Roberta Fuller Few Memorial Scholarship “awards funds to Arkansas students attending United Methodist seminaries and who desire to answer a call to ordained ministry within the United Methodist Church.” Leah Williams of Bella Vista has been named as this year’s recipient. 

Leah is currently a student at Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. She successfully completed three semesters at The Divinity School at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina before relocating to Northwest Arkansas.  Leah is an excellent student and anticipates completing her Master of Divinity degree from Gammon following the fall 2020 semester.  

The Allen Asbury and Roberta Fuller Few Memorial Scholarship will provide for her tuition and fees for the remainder of the 2019 academic year and all of 2020.  Leah currently is on the Pastoral Staff at First United Methodist Church in Bentonville, Arkansas and is already serving with distinction in that community. Leah promises to be one of the most effective pastors in Arkansas Methodism and this connection will help her succeed and have a stronger influence in the world.

“I believe in my strength as novice, fierce theologian,” said Leah. “Through the strength of the Lord, I am able to motivate others, preach directly to souls, and create connectedness.  The Allen Asbury and Roberta Fuller Few Memorial Scholarship will enable me to continue my education in which I will then return my learnings to my community.” 

Donors like the Fuller Few family provide dividends for future generations and offer great hope for the building of God’s Kingdom. Through generous support like theirs, The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas is able to put their faith to work supporting students like Leah in her pursuit of a seminary education.  

To learn more about giving in support of seminary students, visit The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas’ website at or call 501-664-8632. 

UMFA Grant Aids Camp Tanako

UMFA Grant Aids Camp Tanako

By Haley Klein

United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas Contributor

Kim Carter recently found herself in dire need of a new truck. Carter, Executive Director of Camp Tanako, was forced to haul away the camp’s 1992 Chevy S-10 work truck. “The truck, nicknamed ‘Lil’ Blue, would be able to tell some stories if it could talk,” said Carter. “The camp staff used it for everything, including hauling trash and helping with the major upkeep our grounds required. We have generations of Tanako campers with memories of Lil’ Blue.”

Camp Tanako, located on Lake Catherine near Hot Springs, provides children, youth, and adults with outdoor experiences to grow in their faith through nature. The extensive Tanako facilities include camping and cabin areas, a conference center, and chapel, all which create opportunities to encounter the Holy Spirit in a beautiful setting.

After the old truck finally gave out, Camp Tanako staff contacted supporters in hopes of locating a reliable vehicle. “We were busy preparing for summer camp [when the truck died] and resorted to using personal vehicles,” Carter said. “We were moving trash around in a Honda CR-V. It was not a fun experience.”

The Rev. Mackey Yokem, Director of Leadership Ministries and Grant Administration for The United Methodist Foundation, heard about the camp’s need and encouraged them to apply for a grant offered by the Foundation. “Camp Tanako serves a unique role in the development of young disciples in our Annual Conference,” said Yokem. “The Foundation supports the work done by the Tanako Board, staff, and volunteers in creating an Outdoor Ministry that leads our young people to an appreciation of God at work in the world.” The Foundation’s Grant Committee awarded Camp Tanako funding to cover the full price of a new truck.

“We are just overwhelmed by this gift and the Foundation’s continued support,” said Carter. “Without this truck, we would not be able to operate our ministry.”

Camp Tanako’s grant was made possible through financial gifts invested with the Foundation. For more information about The United Methodist Foundation and how you can support grant ministries, visit or call 501-664-8632.

UMFA Hosts Endowment Seminar

By Haley Klein

United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas Contributor

L to R- Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston, Houston, Tx; Rev. J. Wayne Clark president of UMFA; Rev. Dr. Michael Roberts, First UMC, Conway; Rev. Sieg Johnson and Dale Brubaker, Christ of the Hills, Hot Springs Village; Jim Kimzey, First UMC, Malvern; John Gibson, First UMC, Morrilton, and Patti Cox of First UMC, Ft. Smith attended the endowment seminar.

On April 30, clergy and laity gathered in the Lusk Training Center of the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas to hear from UMFA staff and Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston, retired pastor from St. Paul’s UM Church, Houston, Texas. The seminar focused on endowment fund creation, growth, and management. An endowment fund is a financial asset in which the original gift is never spent but invested, and the income is used for a specific purpose. “An endowment fund can enhance the ministry of your church from gifts that last in perpetuity. In a time when operating budgets are limited, endowments provide a steady stream of income to offset operations, and go beyond the budget,” said UMFA Vice President of Development Janet Marshall.

“Constant reminders to church members about the endowments at your church is key to their growth,” said Rev. Bankston. St. Paul’s foundation grew from $2 million to $20 million during his 19 years as pastor.

Jim Kimzey from FUMC, Malvern attended the seminar. “We have an Endowment Committee which has been very much reactive rather than proactive in the past few years. Fortunately, our Sr. Pastor, Bruce Bennett, feels strongly about the need and advantages of an endowment program. The information provided during the UMFA’s Endowment Seminar will be of value as we prepare our plans for a renewed endowment and planned giving program at FUMC Malvern. “

The mission of the UMFA is to create and administer permanent charitable endowment funds to help strengthen and grow United Methodist ministries in Arkansas. Rev. J. Wayne Clark UMFA president added, “This seminar was provided to share information with local churches so they understand how the Foundation can partner with them in making a difference for ministry.”

To learn more about endowments and your local church, please contact Janet Marshall at or 501.664.8632.