LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (June 10, 2014) – Clergy and lay
people from six congregations recently attended the Large Church Initiative Conference
at Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church in Atlanta. Representatives from First
UMC in Conway, First UMC in Russellville, Central UMC in Fayetteville, Trinity
UMC in Little Rock, First UMC in Springdale and First UMC in Jonesboro participated.
Rev. Roy Smith, Senior Pastor at First UMC in
Russellville, said his biggest takeaways from the meeting were messages about
extraordinary hospitality exemplified by the host church. He thought the
conference speakers, some United Methodist and some from other faith
traditions, showed a real desire to help participants use the gifts they are
given to make disciples for Jesus Christ.
“Our meals were in a tent in the church parking lot,
and it was wonderful to sit with leaders from large congregations throughout Arkansas
to interact and discuss what we learned at the plenary sessions and workshops. We
talked about how to integrate what we learned there into our local churches,”
said Rev. Smith. “I appreciate that the United Methodist Foundation made it possible
for all of us to attend.”
Methodist Large Church Initiative (LCI) serves churches with 1,000 or
more members and/or with an average attendance of 350 or more in worship. It
provides opportunities for pastors, staff and congregational leaders to
exchange ideas, learn new leadership skills and develop ideas through
discussion, study and networking. LCI is a partnership between the General Board of Discipleship and the Large
Church Initiative Committee.
The Foundation manages $130 million in endowment funds
and other charitable assets that benefit local churches and other United
Methodist ministries. UMFA is one of the largest United Methodist Foundations
in the country. Founded in 1963, UMFA is responsible for over 650 funds that
support United Methodist ministries.