The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas Welcomes Eight New Members to the Board of Directors

Eight new members recently were elected to the UMFA Board of Directors, including Rev. Bruce Bennett of Texarkana; Debra H. Fiser, M.D., of Little Rock; Pam Harris of North Little Rock; Rev. Phil Hathcock of Maumelle; Rev. Lynn Kilbourne of Conway; Rev. Jim Polk of Arkadelphia; Steve Shults of Little Rock; and Dewitt Smith of Bella Vista.  

“We are excited to welcome these incoming board members,” said Jim Argue, Jr., UMFA President and CEO. “Our organization is dedicated to creating endowments that enhance United Methodist ministries, and a major key to our success is an active, engaged board of directors who provide leadership that strengthens our United Methodist connection.”  

Rev. Bruce Bennett grew up in El Dorado where he was a member of First United Methodist Church.  Since 2009 he has served First UMC, Texarkana, and previously pastored First UMC, Sheridan, for 15 years. He served on the Arkansas Conference Committee on Episcopacy, Arkansas Conference Committee on Nominations and currently serves as a Circuit Elder. Rev. Bennett is a graduate of Hendrix College, Asbury Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary.  

Dr. Debra Fiser returned to teaching and research in Pediatrics in 2013 after serving as UAMS Vice Chancellor and Dean of the College of Medicine. She joined the faculty in the UAMS Department of Pediatrics in 1981 where she served as Chief of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and as Director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH). In 1995, she was appointed Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UAMS and Chief of Pediatrics at ACH. Dr. Fiser is a member of the Church Council at St. James UMC, Little Rock.   

Pam Harris is a lifelong Methodist who previously served on the UMFA Board. Although she was born in Chicago, her Arkansas roots trace back to her grandparents; and in 1992 she became a permanent resident. Harris has held accounting and human resources positions in state and Federal government. She has served as a member of the Conference Board of Pension and in a number of capacities at Wesley Chapel UMC, Little Rock. Harris is a certified lay servant.

Rev. Phil Hathcock serves as Interim Pastor at Trinity UMC in Little Rock. He retired in 2013 after 41 years as a Pastor in Arkansas. A native of Fayetteville, he graduated from the University of Arkansas and the Divinity School at Duke University. His previous appointments include long-term service at Siloam Springs and First UMC, Conway. He served as Superintendent of the Central District and Director of Connectional Ministries and Assistant to the Bishop. A returning UMFA board member, Rev. Hathcock has chaired the Board of Ordained Ministry, the Council on Professional Ministries and the Order of Elders.

Rev. Lynn Kilbourne, Associate Pastor at First UMC, Conway, will begin a new appointment in July as the Senior Pastor of First UMC, North Little Rock. She serves as the 2016 Clergywomen Convener and on the Episcopacy Committee, the Steele Hendrix Awards Nominating Committee and the Annual Conference Planning Team. After graduating from Henderson State University and the Divinity School at Duke University, she served as Associate Pastor at First UMC, Bryant. Rev. Kilbourne is a UMFA Seminary Scholar.

Rev. Jim Polk recently was named Director of Connectional Ministries and Assistant to the Bishop for the Arkansas Conference effective in July, and he will serve as an ex officio member of the UMFA Board of Directors. He has been Senior Pastor of First UMC Arkadelphia since 2013 and previously served in El Dorado, Nashville, Primrose, Dermott and Camden. A native of Magnolia, he graduated from Hendrix College and Asbury Theological Seminary. He has chaired both the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) and the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and represented CFA on the Conference Vision Team.

Steve Shults grew up in St. Paul UMC in Little Rock and has been a member of First UMC, Little Rock, for 30 years. He served a recent stint on the Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations Committee and participates in the Stewpot ministry. Shults is a lawyer with the firm of Shults & Brown, LLP in Little Rock where his practice involves commercial litigation, other business and civil matters and pro bono activities. His civic involvement has included public education, hunger relief, political candidates and causes, and the Old State House Museum. Shults is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.

A returning board member and former board chair, Dewitt Smith has served for many years as a Lay Delegate to the Arkansas Annual Conference and is currently the Lay Leader at Oakley Chapel UMC, Rogers. His career in commercial real estate includes land development, construction, sales and leasing, asset and property management, financial analysis, financing and structuring complex investments. He serves on the boards of directors for the Washington Regional Medical Foundation and Mount Sequoyah Assembly (current chairman). Smith is a Commissioner for the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.  

“In the past few years, we have strategically implemented three-year terms for our board members,” said Argue. “Some of these eight incoming board members are returning to serve for another term after being off the board for a few years, and others are joining our board for the first time. We believe this process is positive for the future of the Foundation.”