2019 Arkansas Annual Conference

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May 29-June 1, Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Officiating bishop: Gary E. Mueller

Guest speakers and memorable points or quotes by speakers:  
The Rev. Greg L. Jones, dean of the Duke Divinity School at Duke University. Jones focused his speech on reminding us about the rich tradition of mission work — reaching every person for Jesus. The speaker for this year’s ordination service was the Rev. Linda Harker, senior pastor of McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church in Norman, OK.

Main actions enacted by the conference: 

• The Arkansas Annual Conference elected 20 total delegates this year, eight to General Conference 2020, eight to South Central Jurisdictional Conference 2020, and two alternates.

• A resolution was presented that aimed to raise the vacation time to four weeks for all clergy, no matter the amount of years spent in the conference.  The resolution was noted to be non-binding — meaning that if it passed, no church or SPRC would be required to implement the policy — it was more of a way to encourage the increase in vacation time, not mandate it. Currently, most clergy are given two weeks of paid vacation for the first five years in the conference and four weeks after 10 years. The resolution passed.

• The final resolution presented, called for the immediate suspension of the United Methodist Church motto “Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors,” in light of the decision at General Conference 2019 to maintain the Book of Discipline’s current stance on human sexuality. This resolution was not calling for the permanent suspension of the motto, but only a temporary one and could be reinstated if the denominations stance on human sexuality were to change. This resolution failed to pass. 

Resolutions related to General Conference 2019: NONE

Resolutions related to General Conference 2020: NONE

Other resolutions adopted by the conference:
A non-binding resolution was adopted by the conference that would encourage the local church to increase vacation time for all clergy, no matter the amount of years spent in the conference.

Names of delegates for 2020 General Conference:
Clergy: Mark Norman, Michael Roberts, Lynn Kilbourne, Jessica Teegarden 
Laity: Karon Mann, Todd Burris, Miller Wilbourn, Elizabeth Fink

Was there a push at your conference to elect younger delegates? YES 

If so, how many delegates under 35 were elected and what are their names and ages? 
Lynn Kilbourne, Jessica Teegarden, Miller Wilbourn, Elizabeth Fink

Did the conference develop plans or policies that would allow churches to leave? NO

Did your bishop address church unity? YES

Number of clergy retired: 26

Membership stands at 124,869. Down 2% from the previous year. 

Worship attendance stands at 44,626. Down 2% from 2017.

Church school attendance stands at 22,044. Down 3% from the previous year.

Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2018 was 1,850. 14% down from 2017.

Adults and young adults in small groups for 2018: 30,450. Down from 2017: 5%.

Worshippers engaged in mission for 2018: 31,716. Down from 2017: Less than 1%.

— Amy Ezell, director of communication, Arkansas Conference

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