Building on the LegacyNew president, CEO of UMFA seeks to continue growth of Foundation

Building on the Legacy
New president, CEO of UMFA seeks to continue growth of Foundation

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

When I called to talk to the Rev. J. Wayne Clark – president and CEO of the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas – it was barely a week into his new position.

Knowing he hadn’t had much time to get used to the new job yet, I asked him how he was settling in any way.

“A bit chaotic!” Clark said with a laugh. “A lot of boxes, cluttered desks and meetings, But it’s good. It’s all very, very good.”

That’s how Clark seems to process change. Even if the world around him is moving fast and he’s venturing off into uncharted territory, he’s still as calm and charismatic as he always is.

It’s perhaps one of the many reasons he was selected to lead the Foundation after the unfortunate and unexpected passing of longtime President James B. Argue.

Argue, who took over leadership at UMFA in 1981, grew the Foundation’s assets from an initial investment of $67,000 to a value of more than $164 million at the time of his death in 2018. He was a legendary name in the Arkansas United Methodist Church and a man who touched the lives of countless people across the state.

The Foundation named Clark to the position in November, following an extensive search process that was administered by a committee made up of UMFA board members. UMFA Board of Director’s Chair Judge Beth Deere convened the committee.

Other members of the committee included Phil Hathcock, Mable Donaldson, Ginny Kurrus, Dewitt Smith, and Bert Kell.

But Clark’s journey to the Foundation wasn’t always his objective; although he had admired and respected the work of the Foundation – and served on the board of directors for many years – taking over as the CEO wasn’t initially on his mind.

Called to ministry

Born in 1962 in Dallas, Texas, Clark moved to Malvern, Arkansas with his family when he was five years old.

After graduating from Malvern High School, Clark went on to attend Hendrix College in the early ‘80s (class of 1984). It was there on the campus of Conway’s beautiful liberal arts college that Clark decided to answer his call to ministry.

“I had been really involved in the Methodist Church in Malvern, and I was actually the conference youth president at one time. So, I always thought I would be involved in some way with the church, but I never really thought I’d be called to be ordained in the church.”

That call to ministry led Clark from Hendrix back to his roots in Texas, where he enrolled in seminary at Perkins School of Theology.

Clark spent his seminary internship at Children’s Medical Center as a hospital chaplain for about a year and then spent 1987 to 1988 across the pond leading Methodist churches in the United Kingdom.

“Methodism started in England. I got to preach in the same churches, and from the same pulpits, that John Wesley preached from, and that’s something I’ll never forget,” Clark said.

Ministering to students

A group of Hendrix College students and Rev. Wayne Clark pose with church members after laying tile at a United Methodist church in Guatemala.

When Clark finally returned to the U.S., his first appointment was at Magnolia First UMC in 1989. Clark then served at Hawley Memorial UMC in Pine Bluff from 1992 to 1996 before returning to his alma mater in ‘96 to serve as the chaplain of Hendrix College.

“Like so many people that go to college and discern their calling, that was an important time in my life. And the opportunity came up for me to return to my college and get to serve a place that really impacted me.

“It was incredibly fulfilling to get to help others, not just those thinking about going into ministry, but anyone. It’s a major time in a young person’s life.”

During his time as a chaplain, Clark was able to minister to students at Hendrix, but in many ways, the students also changed his life.

“I was so influenced by the students and their energy, their new thoughts and their overall optimism about the world and the church.”

Before serving at Hendrix, Clark confessed that mission trips weren’t a huge part of his spiritual journey. But over time, as he was able to organize and attend mission trips around the world with students, serving others in foreign countries become his passion.

By the time he finished his service at Hendrix, Clark had participated in more than 25 mission trips, from places as close as Chicago to as far away as Siberia.

“I learned so much on those trips. Most of the time, I felt like I was the one being ministered to instead of the people that we were serving,” Clark said.

“People would say ‘go down and share the good news to those folks,’ and I would get down to Guatemala or wherever we were, and find that they were more spirited, religious people than any of us were!”

Rev. Wayne Clark snaps a selfie with two children in Guatemala during a mission trip that he took while serving as the Hendrix College chaplain.

Clark said that through the mission trips, he learned that everyone has dignity and worth, no matter where they are from. Through serving in homeless shelters and soup kitchens in the U.S., he realized the homeless are treated as “less than” and are dehumanized on a regular basis.

“Most of these folks need money, food or shelter, but many times they’re also looking for a smile and recognition of their fellow humanity with you.”

One of Clark’s most memorable mission trips was a trip he took to Vietnam. On this trip, Clark and students built houses for people along the Mekong River, south of Ho Chi Minh City.

Because a language barrier existed between the 10 Hendrix students on the trip and the Vietnamese residents, a group of six Vietnamese college students met up with the group to act as translators.

“It was amazing to see because it wasn’t 10 American students and six Vietnamese students; it became 16 college kids. I mean, these students really bonded.”

Every day, the group would travel on a boat to get to the building site, and during these boat trips, the students exchanged different pieces of pop culture from their countries.

“I have this incredible image in my head of two of the students, one Vietnamese and one American, exchanging earbuds on the boat and telling each other about different music from their countries. They were saying things like ‘You need to listen to this!’ or ‘Check out this song!’ It was amazing to see.”

Hendrix to the Foundation

Although Clark’s many years spent serving the students of Hendrix as the chaplain made him well-rounded as a leader, it wasn’t the expertise that would have immediately identified him as a qualified candidate for the UMFA president’s position.

However, four years before landing the new job, Clark was asked by William M. Tsutsui – 11th president of Hendrix College – to leave his position as chaplain and take up a new role as the associate vice president for development. In this new position, Clark was responsible for fundraising, including managing the Hendrix Annual Fund, planned giving and major gifts, as well as providing leadership for Advancement Studies at Hendrix.

“When I was asked to lead this position, I said ‘I don’t know anything about raising money,’ and he [Tsutsui] said ‘Yeah you do, you just don’t realize you know it. Raising money is all about building relationships.’”

Rev. Wayne Clark and a Hendrix College student take a photo together after returning from a mission trip.

The new position wasn’t an easy one to take on at first, according to Clark. Much of the difficulty came from the disengagement from his daily visits with students and the new responsibilities associated with the job.

“I was having to focus on raising money and thinking strategically about how to get that money, so there was a learning curve for me. But I grew into that role and came to realize that position was truly a ministry as well.

“When you talk to people about something as important as their money, that becomes a sacred conversation as well. To have someone trust you with their money — that you’re going to do something good with it — takes a lot of faith.”

That trust is something that Clark recognizes is a reason former President Jim Argue was so effective at his job.

Serving on the board of the Foundation, Clark was able to see Argue’s kindness and leadership first hand. He admired the Foundation’s ability to manage money and the way they were able to disperse that money to churches and individuals who needed it to pursue the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

“I thought, ‘This is so cool. Maybe when I retire one day, I can have a part-time position helping the Foundation in some way.’”

After Jim Argue passed away, Clark’s feeling of wanting to help the Foundation part-time grew into a desire to put everything he had into a full-time leadership position.

After a lot of prayers, time to think, and discussions with his wife, Rynnett, Clark decided to throw his name into the hat of candidates.

“Going through the application and interview process, it made me realize that everything I’ve done is wrapped up into this Foundation. They work with the local church; I’ve been in the local church. They’re Conference-wide. They are trying to help people think about endowed gifts. And they’re giving money out to support churches.

“But I told them up front that if you’re looking for someone with legal or financial expertise, like a lawyer or CPA, then maybe I’m not your person,” Clark said.

Clark’s humility on financial know-how downplays the significant fundraising endeavors he was able to accomplish while at Hendrix.

During his tenure at Hendrix, Clark directed the planning grant that led to a $2 million grant from the Lilly Foundation to “develop programs to assist students in the theological exploration of vocation,” according to a Hendrix College press release from 2015.

He helped gather an additional $1.5 million grant to extend that original grant by three years.

Clark also helped write a $500,000, five-year grant from the Lilly Foundation to set up a program for Clergy and Civic Engagement, as well as a $1 million gift to establish the Miller Center for Vocation Ethics and Calling at Hendrix.

These are no small tasks that Clark accomplished, and the members of the selection committee knew that his achievements at Hendrix uniquely qualified him for the position.

“In Wayne Clark, the Foundation is receiving a unique and valuable blend of gifts,” said Phil Hathcock, UMFA board member and member of the president & CEO selection committee. “He combines extensive development acumen and a deep love for the United Methodist Church. I am confident that he will lead us faithfully and well.”

Ginny Kurrus, another member of the committee, said that Clark’s experience as a clergy member in Arkansas and chaplain at Hendrix, combined with his experience in development, made him an outstanding candidate for the position at UMFA.

“His service on the UMFA Board has familiarized him with the history and past success of the Foundation, and his service on the Grants committee has allowed him to see some of the ways the Foundation is impacting the future of the United Methodist Church in Arkansas through efforts like the Seminary Scholarships,” Kurrus said.

“Wayne’s unique background fit well with what we were looking for in a new President and CEO.”

Going forward

Clark is hoping that his time at the Foundation will be spent building upon the accomplishments and legacy of the people that came before him.

Of the 45 United Methodist foundations across the U.S., the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas is the sixth largest, a significant accomplishment compared to the relatively small size of the Arkansas Annual Conference.

Rev. J. Wayne Clark, President and CEO of the UMFA, photographed in the new UMFA building in West Little Rock.

Clark is hoping to get more individuals to invest in their local churches; specifically, helping members know how to return a portion of their estate to their church in ways that will continue to support the church long after they are gone.

Clark said that he owes a lot of what he’s bringing to the position to Argue and the way he lived his incredible life.

“I’ve admired Jim since I was first ordained in 1986. I remember him speaking about the Foundation at every Annual Conference. And even back then, with all the other reports from ministries being given, I was always excited to hear what was going on at the Foundation.

“So, when Jim invited me to be on the board a few years ago, not to be too corny, but it was a ‘dream come true,’” Clark said with a laugh.

Clark said that Argue passed on sage advice and wisdom to him over the years, but one of the most important things he emphasized was the power of personal relationships.

“Jim reiterated to me time and time again that it’s all about relationships. It’s not going to happen overnight, and people aren’t going to invest one of their greatest assets in anything until they trust someone or believe in the purpose.”

It’s impossible to live up to the legacy of what Argue accomplished, and Clark knows that. He isn’t trying to become the next Jim Argue because no one could possibly be Jim except Jim.

For Clark, the primary goal is building up the Foundation and helping people around the Conference get the help they need to further the work of the Church in Arkansas.

“I want the Foundation to be known throughout the state; it has a wonderful reputation already, but not everyone knows we exist. I want to change that.”

Rev. Clark has lifetime of preparation for UMFA role

Rev. Clark has lifetime of preparation for UMFA role

By Haley Klein

United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas Contributor

Rev. J. Wayne Clark may have been born in Dallas, Texas, but his true roots are found in the Arkansas United Methodist Church. During his youth in Arkansas, Wayne was very active at First UMC, Malvern, Camp Tanako, and served in youth leadership roles as the President of the Annual Conference his senior year of high school.

While Wayne always felt the United Methodist church would be part of his life, he did not answer his call into ministry until college. His Methodism continued to grow stronger with his time at Methodist schools- Hendrix College and Southern Methodist University (‘SMU’). Through an extended internship at SMU, Wayne served two Methodist churches in the Halifax Circuit of the British Methodist system where he had the opportunity to preach in the same pulpits as John Wesley.

Wayne has gone on to pastor local churches in Arkansas, served as a college chaplain, and worked as a professional fundraiser for Hendrix College. These varied jobs within the United Methodist Church helped Wayne prepare for the role as President and CEO of the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas. The Foundation’s mission is to create and administer permanent charitable endowment funds to strengthen and expand the United Methodist ministry in Arkansas.

Wayne feels very blessed and honored to serve the Church in this capacity and hopes to see the Foundation grow in every sense of the word. By building on the work of the Foundation’s current staff and the late Jim Argue, Wayne is excited to share the expansive services and ministries of the Foundation with pastors, churches, and laity. “Through this work,” said Wayne, “we hope to see an increase in the number of ministries around the state as we grow and continue our work of making disciples for Jesus Christ and strengthening Arkansas Methodism.”

UMFA’s New DigsFoundation celebrates opening of new headquarters in West Little Rock

UMFA’s New Digs
Foundation celebrates opening of new headquarters in West Little Rock

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

In late November 2018, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas finally moved into their brand new building in West Little Rock.

The new UMFA headquarters – located at 601 Wellington Village Rd. – will serve as the base of operations for the foundation, which manages $165 million in endowment funds and other charitable assets that benefit local Arkansas churches and United Methodist ministries.

The new building is a big improvement over their previous location at 5300 Evergreen Dr., both in terms of square footage and amenities.

The more than 10,000 square-foot building is almost four times as large as the previous headquarters, and features more meeting spaces, a larger reception area, a new training room that seats up to 70 guests, and extra office space to fit new hires if the Foundation chooses to expand its employee numbers in the future.

The Foundation will have its building dedication and open house from 3 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 24. Email or call 501-664-8632 by Jan. 18 if you plan to attend.

A wall in the new UMFA building showcases the numerous Faith Funds articles that have run in the Arkansas United Methodist newspaper and magazine over the years. Photo by Stephen Gideon


The Lusk Training Center — named for John and Becki Lusk of El Dorado who made a $1 million gift to fund the building — is one of the new additions to the UMFA headquarters. This room will be used for training courses, as well as a place to host seminars and other events. It’s furnished with the latest technology, including “power towers” in the floor, which allow guests to plug in their electronic devices for charging. Each tower can charge up to six devices. The room seats around 70 people.
Photo by Stephen Gideon


The main entrance to the new UMFA building showcases a beautiful metal church steeple, reminiscent of many of the United Methodist Churches of old. The quiet space at the waiting area is open and inviting, encouraging calmness and reflection.
Photo by Stephen Gideon


From left to right: Clarence Trice, Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer; Janet Marshall, Vice President of Development; Mackey Yokem, Grants Administrator; and Kristin Hartman, Account Manager.
Photo by Stephen Gideon


One of the many meeting rooms located throughout the building.
Photo by Stephen Gideon


A memorial dedicated to James B. Argue Jr., president of UMFA for more than 35 years, hangs on the wall so visitors can read about his legacy.
Photo by Stephen Gideon


The James B. Argue, Jr. Stewardship Center, the official name of the UMFA building, is named after Jim Argue, who served as the CEO of UMFA for more than 35 years. Argue passed away in May 2018 due to health complications.
Photo by Stephen Gideon


An old sign from the original UMFA building sits inside the new building as a reminder of the journey the foundation has taken since its beginning in 1963.
Photo by Stephen Gideon


The reception area of the new UMFA building.
Photo by Stephen Gideon

Get benefits of gift annuities now, help the church down the road

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas’ gift annuities can be a powerful giving tool, especially for seniors on fixed incomes. They offer attractive rates of return on invested funds as an alternative to CDs or savings accounts.

“Gift annuities provide a guaranteed lifetime income that can continue to a surviving spouse,” said Janet Marshall, UMFA Vice President of Development. “They also provide an immediate income tax deduction, and part of the annual income from the gift annuity is tax-free.” Gift annuities are also extremely safe; the Foundation’s obligation to make required annuity payments is backed by all of the Foundation’s own assets.”

In addition, gift annuities provide the security of either immediate payments or larger payments deferred to a future date. They can be established with a gift of cash or appreciated stock. Annuity payments can be made monthly, quarterly, twice a year, or annually. Annuity payment amounts depend upon the donor’s age, whether it is a one-life or two-life agreement, and the amount of the gift.

Most importantly, gift annuities allow faithful stewards to create a future gift to the United Methodist Church, a gift that can continue the work of the Kingdom after their lifetimes.

The Foundation provides a free, personalized, confidential analysis regarding a gift annuity to interested church members who contact Janet at or call 501-664-8632. Using the analysis, church members can easily determine how their gift annuity would work, what their guaranteed lifetime income would equal, and how much they could immediately deduct on their next State and Federal income tax returns.

Rev. J. Wayne Clark named United Methodist Foundation president & CEO

Rev. J. Wayne Clark, UMFA president & CEO

LITTLE ROCK, AR (Nov. 2, 2018)  — Rev. J. Wayne Clark, Associate Vice President for Development and Dean of the Chapel at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas has been named President and CEO of The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas and will begin his new role in January 2019.

“I am excited for the opportunity to serve The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas in this capacity,” said Clark, who has been a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2015. “Since beginning my ministry in Arkansas, I have had a strong admiration for the Foundation’s work. Being on the board has given me even more insight into the many positive ways that the Foundation is making an impact on Arkansas Methodism.”

“The Directors of The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas are delighted to welcome Wayne [Clark] as the Foundation’s President and CEO,” said the UMFA Board of Director’s chair, the Honorable Beth Deere. “Wayne has deep roots in Arkansas United Methodism and brings a wealth of experience in development and administration from his twenty-two years at Hendrix College. Wayne’s warmth, enthusiasm, and humor will ensure that the Foundation continues to fulfill its mission of creating and administering permanent charitable endowment funds to strengthen and grow United Methodist Ministries in Arkansas,” said Deere. “Wayne is the right person to lead the Foundation at this important time in the life of the United Methodist Church.”

Clark served as Hendrix College Chaplin for 18 years before joining the Office of Advancement in 2015 to lead the college’s Annual Fund, major gifts and planned giving efforts.  “I have learned that philanthropy is so much bigger than simply giving money. It’s about an individual’s purpose in life and legacy,” he said. “I feel very privileged to be part of this sacred relationship, and I look forward to serving the Foundation in this same way.”

Clark, a native of Malvern, AR and a 1984 Hendrix College graduate, received his master’s degree from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, in 1989. Since 2012, he has served as Director of the Arkansas Conference Course of Study through SMU and the Perkins School of Theology. Before returning to Hendrix College in 1996, he served as chaplain for Children’s Medical Center’s Hematology, Oncology and Neurology Departments in Dallas; as minister of Halifax Methodist Circuit in Halifax, England; and associate minister of Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas. He has served Arkansas United Methodist Churches in Magnolia and Pine Bluff.

As the Associate Vice President of Development and Dean of the Chapel for Hendrix College, Clark successfully directed the planning that led to a $2 million grant from The Lilly Foundation to develop programs to assist students in the “theological exploration of vocation.” During the five-years, he successfully helped secure an additional $1.5 million to extend the original grant three years. Clark effectively worked to secure a $1 million gift to continue the work and programming of the Lilly Foundation to be named the Miller Center for Vocation Ethics and Calling. He was instrumental in writing and receiving a $500,000 five-year grant from The Lilly Foundation to establish a program for Clergy and Civic Engagement and in securing a $50,000 gift to endow the John and Marjem Gill Preaching Workshop.

Clark follows another Hendrix alumnus, the late James (Jim) B. Argue, Jr., who led the Foundation until his death in May. Argue joined the Foundation in 1981 and with his vision and direction, helped it become one of the largest United Methodist Foundations in the country. “Under Jim’s leadership, the Foundation grew not only financially but also in the scope of its ministries,” said Clark. “It’s an honor to continue his legacy on behalf of Arkansas and the Church.”

About The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas
Founded in 1963, The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas is responsible for over 800 funds. It manages $165 million in endowment funds and other charitable assets that benefit local churches and United Methodist ministries. The Foundation provided over $5.5 million in grants and distributions to Arkansas United Methodist ministries for programs and services in 2017. Visit to learn more.

About Hendrix College
A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College. Its academic quality and value have established Hendrix as s fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit