The Presbytery of Arkansas resources and serves as the governing body for the churches in the northern two-thirds of the State of Arkansas. We have over 10,000 members that live from the Mississippi Delta to the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. Our members are native Arkansans and people who have moved to our area from all over the world..
We are the fourth largest Presbytery in the Synod of the Sun and consistently support the work of the Synod and the General Assembly through our money and the work of people from our Presbytery. The Presbytery is divided into four regions that bring people together for education, fellowship, and service. Each region has a representative on the Coordinating Team.
We have three Presbytery meetings a year. One of those is held at one of the two Presbyterian colleges/universities located within the bounds of the Presbytery. The churches are invited to send a Youth Delegate to that meeting to advise the Presbytery on some of its votes and to learn about the working of the Presbyterian system. Our Presbytery has close relationships with the institutions of higher learning and with Vera Lloyd Children’s Home and Family Services.
We have a Coordinating Team that is the visioning arm of the Presbytery. The Team also is charged with doing the “necessary and urgent” work of Presbytery in between the regular meetings. Carrying out the policies and will of the Presbytery is a staff of six people consisting of a full-time General Presbyter and five part-time employees: a Stated Clerk, a Builder, a Connector, a Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and an Administrator. Hired by the Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center Board is the Director of the nationally recognized Presbytery of Arkansas Camp and Conference Center, Ferncliff.
The Presbytery of Arkansas is one of the few presbyteries in the denomination that supports the Presbyterian Women with a line-item in the annual budget. The Presbytery supports the ministers and educators within our bounds, offering opportunities to come together for learning and fellowship as well as connecting with them through social media. The Presbytery has a contract with Wellspring Counseling Center that provides six free counseling sessions for active ministers, CREs, educators and their families. Each year the ministers and educators of the Presbytery are given two free nights for rest and relaxation at Ferncliff.
One support of our small churches comes in the form of a strong Commissioned Ruling Elder (CRE) program. CREs are trained (two-year program) and encouraged to serve in our smaller churches. We are also advocating the use of larger parishes so that a team of minister-CRE-seminarian can serve a group of small churches. Our Future of the Church Ministry Area is working hard to celebrate and to support our small congregations.
Our Presbytery actively reaches out in ministries of compassion and justice toward others. Our members were instrumental in founding the Arkansas Rice Depot, now merged with the Arkansas Foodbank, a vital ministry serving hungry Arkansas’ children, families, and seniors. Our Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center has been nationally recognized for offering healing camping experiences for survivors of school violence, as well as interfaith camps bringing together Jewish, Muslim, and Christian youth, plus camps for special needs children. As supporters of Solar Under the Sun, a ministry bringing electricity to God’s children in underdeveloped nations, we send groups to serve and experience Christian fellowship in Central America. Through these efforts, our presbytery shares the message of Christ, both corporately and in addition to all the many ministries offering Christ’s love to neighbors in need done through the work of our congregations.
We have a close relationship with the Presbyterian Church of Honduras. Presbytery wide mission trips to Honduras are held annually. Projects there involve working with the Hondurans to improve the quality of life and help families stay together and care for one another. We also support the work of the presbytery of Honduras through theological education, leadership training, financial support of pastors and their families, and scholarships that enable Honduran youth to finish high school.
Our youth program is one of the strongest programs of the Presbytery. The Youth A-Team sponsors junior high and senior high gatherings throughout the year. Special trips are taken to Montreat, Mo-Ranch, and other events. The Presbytery also is involved in campus ministry in different locations across the state and helps support the campus minister at United Campus Ministries at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center is a covenant partner of the Presbytery. Ferncliff began as a summer camp for children and youth, and now runs tons of overnight and day camp programs (as well as partnering with churches for Camp-2-You programs)! Year-round, Ferncliff hosts church retreats, meetings, and youth group events as well as Presbytery Youthquakes. Ferncliff is also home to a nature preschool, disaster assistance center and the Sharing the Goods ministry that helps local churches and non-profits save money so they can focus more on their mission. We are a healthy and forward-looking Presbytery that is connected to our churches and to the other governing bodies of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Presbyterians affirm that God comes to us with grace and love in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose for us so that we might have eternal and abundant life in him.