PHUMC clergy, lay members, and other members of PHUMC involved in Conference ministry and mission gathered in Hot Springs for two and a half days to attend to the business of the Arkansas Annual Conference and worship with our theme of “Reset, Repair, Renew.” Rev. McMurray did a splendid job of coordinating and managing many of the worship services for the Conference. Brook Sanchez-Hobbs and Trenton Teegarden along with several other musicians led us in music and prayer. Michael McMurray assisted with technical presentations. Quin Clark led the Conference in our group prayer. Michelle Moore, Developer of Clergy Recruitment, reported on the work in the Culture of Call ministry area as well as two other Conference items. Mary Lewis Dassinger, 200,000 More Reasons Project Coordinator, discussed the implications of food insecurity on Arkansas children. Karon Mann presented the Episcopacy Committee report. But most outstanding of all was the presentation of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award given to Rev. Kathleen McMurray in her work to reach out to young people in Little Rock. The Harry Denman Evangelism Award is given out every year to two individuals, a youth and an adult recipient, who exemplify what it means to be a disciple in their own communities.
We were treated to two sessions led by Jason Moore, a nationally known speaker and author of “collaborative worship design and guest readiness.” He encouraged attendees to continue “both” in-house “and” on-line worship experiences. He noted that many churches found alternative ways to reach people during the pandemic and that church as many of us know it, will not be the same. We must continue to reshape our worship services to ensure that all people, whether sitting in the pews, at home, on a beach, on in the mountaintops feel welcome, included, and inspired to be God’s people.
As many may be aware due to local news coverage, two issues came before the Conference. One issue was to decide a motion regarding a way for churches to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church and allow such churches to join the Global Methodist Church. Although an alternative motion was proposed, as both concerned a paragraph currently under decision by the Methodist Judicial Council, a motion to defer voting was presented. After ample discussion the motion to defer ultimately prevailed by a vote of 57.6% for and 42.4% against. The second issue surrounded a resolution “to request the Congressional Delegation from Arkansas to act on Responsible Fire-Arm Legislation.” The sponsor, Rev. Andrew Kjorlaug, remarked that “[i]t is past time for the church to speak to the least, the last and the lost.” Among those speaking for passage of the resolution were two youth who spoke passionately and eloquently telling the audience of the fears they face daily when going to school. After debate by both sides, the resolution passed 75% to 25%.
Thank you once again for allowing me to attend the Annual Conference. It is a position that I have come to enjoy, even though it can be stressful as I see our “united” church becoming divided. Until next time, reshape your vision, reset your mind, repair what is broken and renew your passion for Christ. – Lay Member, Sylvia Borchert