From the Pastor
Rev. Daniel Thueson
“So Jacob set up a sacred pillar, a stone pillar, at the place God spoke to him. He poured an offering of wine on it and then poured oil over it. Jacob named the place Bethel where God spoke to him.” - Genesis 35:14–15 CEB
Jacob spent much of his life on the run from his brother and surviving as the smartest man in the room. Only when he faces his fears does he meet his match. In fact, he faces the Great Fear, another name for God. In wrestling with God, he finally finds someone he can’t outwit or outlast. Yet, God blesses him.
One could argue this begins the point in his life where Jacob takes God seriously. By God’s direction, Jacob heads to Bethel and begins to worship God there. His whole family gets rid of their foreign gods, their family idols, and cleanses themselves before building an altar.
After building the altar, Jacob commemorates the place where he heard God speak to him by stacking stones into a pillar. This was where he had a defining experience with God. This served as a reminder to him, and to those who came later, of God’s presence. This was his marker of faith.
What are your markers of faith? What are things you have placed in your life that remind you of your experiences with God and help point others toward God?
While traveling in Germany and Italy this summer, Fran and I experienced numerous markers of faith. If you listened to or watched worship, you heard about Oberammergau, Assisi, and the Vatican. Yet, there were many, many more. Some were statues, others where buildings, plenty were churches.
From Munich to Innsbruck, from Oberammergau to Ettal, from Venice to Rome, we encountered faith marker after faith marker. It would take me hours and pages to share them all with you.
Nevertheless, one more that captured my imagination was Ettal. This medieval church and monastery was founded in 1328 as a place to train monks and knights, like the Teutonic Knights. While the knight’s foundation faded, the monk’s foundation flourished. Today, it continues to serve as a fully functional basilica, monastery, parish, and pilgrimage church. Its castle like design, massive size, and internal beauty were only part of what got my attention. It was also the church where Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famous theologian spy who wrote “The Cost of Discipleship,” often hid out until he was captured and executed by the Nazis. Ettal also happens to be the family church of where our very own Peter Peitz was raised!
When one visits and reflects, there is a sense of awe in how God has been and still is present in these places. These markers of faith help point us to those moments and into awareness of God’s grace.
Like Jacob, I have added rocks to pillars or cairns on some of my journeys. While I may never construct a monument or statue for Jesus, I still have markers of faith. Fran and I made a tradition of obtaining crosses from the places we visit reminding us of our adventures. The crosses themselves serve as markers of our faith and where we experienced God’s grace in new places. Furthermore, we hope that our presence, attitude, and friendship serve as similar markers of faith for the wonderful people we encounter on our journeys. If we can reflect the light and love of Jesus or help someone experience the grace of God, then we’ve left a marker of faith.
May you find and leave markers of faith for yourself and others in your journey of following Christ.
Grace and Peace,
605 Student Ministry
July has been another great month for our youth. We made our return from serving at OMP (watch the omp video here). Several youth and families took part in mini-golf. We went horseback riding, which was a first for some of our kids and to end the month, we went to “Loco Ropes” in Mountain View. The heat caused a couple of changes in events, but the alternatives allowed for great times and participation from our youth. We have a great youth group and I am proud of how well they represent our church. From OMP to horseback riding, I’ve consistently been pulled aside and told how polite our kids are. I look forward to our upcoming August events and encourage your and your youth to participate and appreciate all the blessings that come from the fellowship.
August 2: Family Bowling Night • 6:00pm
August 5: Drive in Movies • depart 7:30pm • $6
August 13: Back to School at the Pool • 5:00-7:00pm
August 14: Blessing of the Backpacks
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Facebook: FUMC Mountain Home Youth
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First Kidz Corner
It's been a great but hot summer so far! We are have had some fun events and have a couple left before school starts. It was a huge success and the kids had a blast! I wanted to remind you to be taking you flat Jesus wherever you go this summer. We saw some of His adventures with Pastor Daniel & Fran and we want to see yours too! So, if you post flat Jesus pics on social media, be sure to tag the church or use the hashtags #flatjesus and #fumcmh. If you didn't get a flat Jesus and would like one, just let me know and I will get you one.
Wednesday afternoon ministry will start back the Wenesday after Labor Day, September 7th, so make sure you go on the church website and register your child(ren).
August 2: Family Bowling • 6:00-8:00pm
August 13: Back to School at the Pool • 5:00-7:00pm
August 14: Blessing of the backpacks • both services
Enjoy the rest of your summer and don't forget to let flat Jesus in on the fun!
Join FirstKidz on Social Media!
Use the links above or search:
Facebook: "First Kidz" or search our username: @fumcmhfirstkidz
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Children & Youth Event
Children, youth, and their families are invited to come bowling at Driftwood Lanes on Tuesday, August 2nd from 6:00-8:00pm. Make sure and wear or bring socks for renting shoes.
August 5th Youth Event
We will be taking the youth to Kenda Drive-in in Marshall on Friday August 5th. We will depart at 7:30pm. The cost is $6 per person.
New Sermon Series Begins August 7th
Soundtracks fill our lives. What’s the soundtrack to your life? Like in the movies, soundtracks can change the mood, can signal a direction change, can bring you to tears or fill you with excitement. What would your life be like if the soundtrack of your life was orchestrated by God?
Back To School at the Pool
Church-wide Event • August 13th
Join us Saturday August 13th at the City Pool from 5:00 to 7:00 for Back to School at the Pool! There will be food, fun, fellowship and of course swimming. This is a church-wide event. All are welcome! You won't want to miss it! See you there!
Blessing of the Backpacks
Sunday, August 14th
Before school starts back, we would like to bless not only the backpacks of the students, but also the students themselves and the educators. Sunday, August 14th we will be doing the blessing of the backpacks at each service. All students and teachers are encouraged to bring their backpacks/bags to worship that day to be blessed. Each student & teacher will recieve a backpack tag to place on their backpack as a reminder of God’s presence with them at school and the prayers of their church family. We will pray over the students and educators and ask God to equip them with all they need for a wonderful 2022/23 school year.
Monday, August 15th at 6:00pm
At First United Methodist Church, we want to be a chuch that expresses our love of God and others through radical hospitality. Hospitality is creating an environment of love, acceptance, support, comfort, and care for members, guests, and friends in order to enhance their worship experience, encourage fellowship and help build our church community.
Every one of us is in the hospitality ministry whether we are a volunteer or not, whether we are a member or not. Each one of us represents our church and has an effect on how visitors and newcomers view us. If you want to know more about how you can practice radical hopitality, please join us.
If you currently serve in any of the following areas or would like to, please attend this training. It is essential that we are all on the same page with how we show radical hospitality.
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Technology has become integral to church ministry. From the sound operators to the video operators to the computer operators, our Tech team is an imporatant part of how we experience worship. Whether it is in person, online, on television or on the radio, it takes a team of volunteers to make sure we see and hear the pastor as he preaches, the chancel choir, the handbells or the praise team as they make beautiful music, or the visual aids that help to get the gospel point across in a meaningful way.
Volunteers are essential for this important part of ministry. I know tech can seem overwhelming to some, but many of these volunteer positions are much more simple than you might think. If you feel led to serve, but prefer to do something a little more "behind the scenes", this might be just the thing for you.
Whether you attend contemporary or traditional worship, your help is wanted. Contact Laura if you are interested in serving on the Tech Team or would like more information.
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Baxter County Fair is August 24-27. First United Methodist Church will have an indoor booth this year and we are looking for volunteers to man the booth in shifts. If you would like to sign up for a shift or several shifts, please call the church office or email Kathy Davis.
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Save Your Can Tabs!
Tabs Benefit Hackler Intermediate School
With the start of the new school year coming up this month, it's a good time to remind everyone about our can tab collection program. Many Hackler Intermediate School students in need look forward to the help you give by collecting can tabs for recycling. The money received from the recycling center helps school personal purchase supplies for the student in need such as food, school supplies, tooth brushes, haircuts and occasionally lunches. Please keep your can tabs from, fruit, vegetables, soda, dog or cat food, etc. and bring them to the church office.
from Debby Bodenhamer
The 2022 Arkansas Annual Conference opened on June 2, at the Hot Springs Convention Center in Hot Springs.
Bishop Gary Mueller welcomed those gathered and immediately referenced the tension and uncertainty concerning this year’s Annual Conference. He told of a shirt he had seen that said, “Stay Calm and Trust the Holy Spirit.” He echoed that all will be well, and we will be amazed at what happens when Jesus is “in the house.”
In the Episcopal Address Bishop Mueller said we must take a leap of faith right over all the things we have wanted to focus on. “We must see beyond ourselves and see what God is doing. It takes work – discernment, acts of humility and listening to what God really wants. It takes a leap of faith to see people other than you as being valid, to set aside your own agenda.” Paul told the Corinthian church that they were a broken church, but they could find a way forward in unity by taking exactly that kind of leap. “The same thing will work for us.”
Wednesday afternoon was devoted to honoring those who are being commissioned and ordained into ministry. Answering the call into Christ’s priesthood included Chase Burns and Lyn Poplin, ordination as elder; Ryan Bacchus, Virginia Brown, Annie Lankford, and Timothy Rushing, commission as provisional members preparing for ordained ministry as elders; and Edna Hargraves, recognition of orders from a sister denomination. This special worship included words from Bishop Mueller and a Service of Holy Communion.
Day two of the Annual Conference opened with powerful spoken word through the art of poetry given by Lo Alaman, Houston-based minister and creative poet, along with music and prayers presented by the conference’s House Praise Band
During the business session, the Laity Address was given by Kathy Conley, Arkansas Conference Lay Leader, who appeared along with the Board of Laity. She told the Conference that these board members seek to be the voice of the Laity in the Conference and in the world. She emphasized living a life based in faithfulness. God is writing God’s story through us, and every day we get to live out this story in the world. “We are serving as the author of our story and God’s story… Be the light to a hurting world and to love like God loves.”
Carole Blanks, Conference Director of the Committee on Lay Servant Ministries, reported that there are 55 total Certified Lay Ministers in the Arkansas Conference. Bishop Mueller thanked Kathy and Carole, saying this ministry is not only the ministry of the present but the ministry of the future.
As the business session continued Rev. Jim Polk, Assistant to the Bishop & Director of Connectional Ministries, gave an update on the results of the agreement with the United Methodist Church and the Boy Scouts of America.
Kim Anderson gave a report on a review policy, recommending a broad and comprehensive approach in providing safety for children, youth and vulnerable adults in our care. Kim clarified that this will be the policy and standard for district and conference events, and that individual churches will be encouraged to use it as a model for their individual churches. Motions to adopt the Safe Gathering policy and the creation of a permanent Safe Gathering committee were both adopted.
Rev. Pam Estes, Chairperson of BOM gave a report on the workings of the committee. The Book of Discipline outlines the work of this committee, and what it means to be ordained.
A celebration in recognition of the Arkansas United Methodist Church Retirees was held to end the morning’s activities 18 full elders and local pastors retired this year. Bishop Mueller offered words of appreciation, reminding the retirees of the first time they remembered hearing their call, and that they had served faithfully. “God’s not finished with you yet. God still has a call on your life. Once God calls you, God’s not going to let go. You have touched lives in ways you have known and ways you will never know. The Holy Spirit uses you in ways you would not expect, cannot see, and are sometimes contrary to how you see all things work.”
The afternoon session began with worship in memory of those (pastors and spouses) who have joined the Church Triumphant. The Conference remembered the following Saints: Rev. Charles O. Walthall, Mrs. Mildred Whitehurst, Mrs. Carol Anne Stone, Mrs. Jeanne Burroughs, Rev. Jerry Eubanks, Mr. Kim Burns, Rev. Patty Soward, Rev. James R. Bell, Rev. John O. Alston, Rev. Ben Jordan, Rev. Thomas MacMahon, Mrs. Norma Hansford, Rev. Edward E. Wyers, Rev. John F. Walker, Rev. Jerry Joe Nichols, Rev. DuBois Pettis, Rev. Edward Matthews, Rev. Garren E. Hagemeier, Rev. William “Bill” Steele, Rev. Ellis Lloyd Posey Jr., Mrs. Rozella Dublin, Mrs. R. Elizabeth Workman, Rev. Thomas Dellinger, Rev. Andy Newbill, Rev. Lowell Eaton, Mrs. Carolyn Harmon, Mrs. Patricia Wilkerson, Rev. Victor E. Green, Mrs. Mary Sue Tanner, Mrs. Marion Jane Laird Baker, Rev. Charles T. Thompson Jr.
Following worship, the business session began with a motion that legislation be adopted pursuant to P2548.2, as shown in the Pre-Conference Journal, which would outline a second standard process governing requests from local congregations to graciously separate from the Arkansas Annual Conference of the UMC and join the Global Methodist Church or other denomination. It was moved to defer consideration of this resolution until after the Judicial Conference rules on the use of P2548.2. The issue would be considered at the next called special session or regularly scheduled meeting of the Annual Conference. Following discussion both against and in favor of the deferment, the motion was approved. Currently we have 35 churches somewhere in the process trying to disaffiliate from the UMC.
Next, Bishop James Edward Swanson Sr., presiding Bishop of the Mississippi Episcopal Area, gave a powerful message in the early evening worship session for Thursday. Bishop Swanson spoke on the theme of “Living By Faith.” Bishop Swanson is the first African American Bishop of the Mississippi Conference in the United Methodist Church.
Bishop Swanson based his sermon on the book of Habakkuk and said that before you can understand the prophecy, you must understand the prophet. To this prophet, it seemed like the wicked were winning or prospering all of the time. This book is really talking about how you understand your right relationship with God, and that God is the sum total of your life. The true message of Habakkuk is that the righteous person will live by his or her faithfulness. Habakkuk is not afraid to wrestle even with his own understanding of God. “Have you ever had God surprise you? God will surprise you. Sometimes your enemy becomes your best friend, and your best friend becomes your enemy because it’s God’s plan, not your plan.”
The spirit-filled worship service was blessed by a closing altar call that brought many to the area in front of the stage. Bishop Swanson and Bishop Mueller both presided at this time and all were sent forth with the charge to “Quit talking about what the church is doing, and get up and do something!” by Bishop Swanson.
A resolution that had been introduced on Thursday was brought to the floor Friday morning during the business session. Titled, “Resolution Formally Requesting the Congressional Delegation from Arkansas to Act on Responsible Fire-Arm Legislation.” The resolution was adopted by the body as presented, to call upon the Congressional Delegation from the State of Arkansas to support and act upon Responsible Fire-Arm legislation.
Other reports given such as the Nominations Report, which includes I (Debby Bodenhamer) will be serving on the District Committee of Ordained Ministry. This committee is responsible for support of clergy and lay supply pastors that serve local churches and in extension ministries. We ask hard questions about calling and the practice of ministry. We look at the whole person who is wanting to continue on in becoming ordained or serve the church in other capacities. I also served as a voting delegate for our district.
The 2022 Arkansas Annual Conference concluded with worship that included setting of appointments and sending forth for the upcoming year.
"Many little people in many small places undertaking many modest actions can transform the world." African proverb
More information on the events, worship, and business session of 2022 ARUMC Annual Conference can be found here:
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Conference Information & Disaffiliation Update
Many of our congregation are aware of the internal conflict within our beloved United Methodist Church denomination regarding the issues surrounding human sexuality. In the April newsletter, we included a brief history at the core of the issue and a process of disaffiliation for those congregations who cannot be in ministry with those whom they disagree with. That information may be found here. https://fumcmh.org/newsletters/36/display
Since then, several groups and people (not associated with FUMCMH) have expressed passionate opinions about the UMC, favorable and otherwise. There is a lot of disinformation out there, much of it is unkind and uncharitable. Therefore, Bishop Gary Mueller, bishop of the Arkansas UMC, has published an update as follows:
An Update on the Disaffiliation Process from the Appointive Cabinet of the Arkansas Conference
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
¶ 2553 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church was adopted by the 2019 Called General Conference as a means for congregations to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church until December 31, 2023, for reasons of conscience concerning human sexuality. The General Council on Finance and Administration, Judicial Council, and 2021 Session of the Arkansas Annual Conference each shaped the way it might be utilized by our congregations. Those of us who are part of the Appointive Cabinet, in consultation with the Director of Administrative Services and the Conference Chancellor, designed the specific steps of the process that can be used by a congregation to discover God’s will for its future.
During a series of late winter and early spring meetings with clergy and laity, Bishop Mueller highlighted four things about this process. First, the majority of congregations and individual United Methodists in Arkansas, regardless of whether they are traditional, moderate, centrist, or progressive, will choose to remain in the denomination. Second, it is essential for the entire annual conference to embrace a heart of peace and not a heart of war, and to respect the decisions that congregations and individuals make. Third, it is important to help congregations land where God is leading them as quickly and easily as possible while protecting the legitimate interests of the United Methodist Church. Fourth, a minimum three-month discernment process will be used by congregations exploring the possibility of disaffiliation prior to any vote. While pastors have every right to express their opinion, this time of intentional prayer, study, reflection, listening to God, and conversation that allows all individuals the opportunity to voice their questions and opinions is the work of church members and will be led by laity.
Those of us tasked with superintending have encountered a steep learning curve as we have worked with churches in the past couple of months. We want to share some of what we have learned and how it will impact the process moving forward.
First, our assumption that the majority of Arkansas United Methodist Churches will remain in the denomination at this time has proved to be true for progressives, centrists, moderates, and traditionalists. Fewer than 10% of our churches have formally entered the process to possibly consider disaffiliation.
Second, we have experienced time and again how painful this process can be for congregations and individuals. We are grateful for the many laity and clergy who are embracing hearts of peace. At the same time, we are concerned that some are choosing to display hearts of war. If you have any doubt about why we are concerned, a quick survey of social media will make it abundantly clear.
Third, we honestly expected that laity would lead the congregation in a time of deep and prayerful discernment. While this certainly is happening in the vast majority of our churches, there are a few instances where the actions of pastors and congregations are contrary to our expectations.
Quite frankly, this caught us off guard. We have entered into conversations with these congregations and individuals, and are hopeful about the outcome. We also have revised the documents guiding the discernment process. This includes explicitly detailing expectations about the pastor’s role, providing additional details about the discernment process that must be agreed to before the Appointive Cabinet will approve a congregation’s discernment process, and making it clear that the District Superintendent will not certify the completion of a congregation’s discernment process if he or she does not believe it has been fair and open, which is a requirement before a Church Conference can be called to vote on disaffiliation. You can find all of the revised materials here.
These clarifications will apply to all congregations beginning the process, but will also be implemented as soon as possible in those congregations that already are involved in the process. Your District Superintendent will work with you to ensure as smooth a transition as possible on a church-by-church basis. These detailed clarifications are not intended to make disaffiliation more difficult. Rather, they simply are to ensure that the process reflects our original intention of enabling churches to discern God’s will for their future.
Fourth, we want to remind you that a church is not disaffiliated until it completes the standard Disaffiliation Agreement adopted by the Arkansas Conference Board of Trustees and the Annual Conference votes to ratify the congregation’s vote. Lay and clergy members of the Annual Conference ultimately make the final determination. While this may be a perfunctory act in most cases since congregations are following the principles previously adopted by the Annual Conference, those voting always have the right to vote their conscience in every situation.
We believe It is in the most challenging of times that we have the greatest opportunity to witness to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Another way of saying this is, “Never waste a crisis!” This is something all of us can do together. Let’s embrace a heart of peace and, even more importantly, demonstrate it through your words, posts on social media and actions. Let’s assume the best about others and respect their decisions. And let’s always keep the main thing the main thing – making disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped and sent to transform lives, communities and the world.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Final note from Pastor Daniel:
On July 31st, one of our sister churches, FUMC Jonesboro voted to disaffiliate by a vote of 944-412, a passing margin of 69%. There are already reports challenging the process. To be candid, their process has been strife-filled and an example of how not to conduct the process. My heart breaks for this church. Please be in prayer for them and any other church pursuing this process.
A few people in our community have asked where is FUMC Mountain Home in this process?
At our most recent Administrative Council meeting, we heard from board members and leadership within the church, many on differing sides of the theological-political spectrum, yet who love Jesus and are faithful members of First United Methodist Church. The consensus was, even those who disagree on this issue, we love each other, we are better together, and we do not want to jeopardize our unity as a church or the body of Christ. Therefore, we have no interest in the disaffiliation process.
We as a church have intentionally created a strong family-like bond with a loving atmosphere through the diversity of our church. Even people on opposite ends of the political-theological spectrum express their desire to remain in ministry with each other including those with different opinions on the subjects. Truly, there is more than enough room at the table of Jesus for all of us and I believe we are better together.
In addition, when I was ordained, I took a vow to uphold and teach the doctrines and discipline of the UMC. As your pastor, I will continue to uphold my vow. If anyone has questions, I am willing to discuss them further in person or with your Sunday School class.
Grace and peace,
Memorials & Honorariums
BACKPACK FOOD 4 KIDS
Prayers After Loss:
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