Since 1963, the mission of The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas has been to create and administer permanent charitable endowment funds to strengthen and expand Methodist ministries in Arkansas. By offering financial resources, we empower Arkansas Methodist churches, individuals, and organizations to make a difference in the lives of others.
The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas began in 1963 with a group of Methodists who had a vision for the ongoing support of the church in Arkansas (formerly The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas). They wanted to create a plan that would fund the needs of Methodist ministries in Arkansas forever.
Inspired by their initial work, Jim Argue, Jr., then-President and CEO, joined the Foundation in 1981 when assets were $100,000. He began in a borrowed office with donated tools. Still, he steadily built the Foundation's assets through relationships with Methodists who wanted their support of the church to last beyond their lifetimes.
Generations of donors have made The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas a beneficiary of their planned and outright gifts, building the total assets to over $190 million in 2020. Today the Foundation is one of the largest in the U.S. We manage over 800 accounts, have a nine-person staff, and are supported by a network of consultants and advisors who assist us in audit, investments, legal affairs, and technology.
The Foundation makes grants in areas of clergy and lay leadership, hunger, children's ministries, seminary scholarships, outdoor ministries, and much more.
Throughout its history, The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas has remained focused on our founding members' vision as we help Methodists from around our state create charitable endowments that will enhance Methodist ministries for generations to come.
The story of The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas began with a group of far-sighted Methodists, more than 50 years ago. Since 1963, generations of men and women like the late Gertie and Dick Butler have made second-mile contributions to the Foundation to create endowment funds that strengthen and expand ministries in Arkansas.
Dick Butler spent many years helping the then-fledgling Foundation become the strong ministry partner it is today. One of the original incorporators in 1963, he had a hands-on, day-to-day role in managing the investments of the Foundation from the start until his death in 1999.
The Butler legacy at The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas is a series of endowment funds that have allowed the Foundation to grow to its current status as one of the largest grant-making United Methodist foundations in the country. Today’s ability to make transformational grants to Methodist ministries throughout Arkansas rests in large part on the generosity, foresight, and investment savvy of Dick Butler.
The late Bishop Kenneth Hicks had a substantial – and concrete – role in the history of The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas. In 1981 when then-President & CEO, Jim Argue, Jr., joined the Foundation, there were very limited operating funds and office space. Soon Bishop Hicks had a door cut from his office to a small closet to provide additional space for the Foundation. He also allowed his assistant, Janice Goldman, to provide administrative support.
Bishop Hicks marveled at the faith of the donors who put their confidence in the Foundation in its early years and those who continue to keep it strong. He stated that the Foundation holds high the banner for stewardship in our Conference. It is the caretaker of hundreds of legacies left by faithful and generous Methodists across Arkansas.
The late Winfred Polk of Corning believed in The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas in its infancy. He made significant gifts of resources, time and talent to the Foundation with a steadfast commitment that would eventually expand Methodist ministries throughout the state. His wife Peggy Polk, now of Paragould, took up that commitment, and she continued as a board member from 1989-2015.
The Polks helped enhance the vision of the Foundation and have been great advocates. Their ideas, their board service and their creation of endowment funds at the Foundation all contribute to a continuing legacy for the Arkansas Conference.
Jim Argue, Jr.
In 1981, Jim Argue, Jr. became President of The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas. Under his leadership, the Foundation’s assets grew from $67,000 to more than $164 million upon his death in May 2018.
In early 2019, The Board of Directors of The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas voted to name their new headquarters building in honor of the CEO who served the organization for more than 35 years. “The James B. Argue, Jr. Stewardship Center perfectly reflects the focus of The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas; that is, to encourage and enable Arkansas United Methodists to be good stewards,” said the Honorable Beth Deere, Chair of the Foundation Board. “Not coincidentally, stewardship was the watchword of Jim Argue’s life and work. It is a fitting name for the Foundation’s new home.”
“Jim’s career goes far beyond his 35-plus years of service at the helm of the Foundation,” said Clarence Trice, UMFA Senior Vice President and CFO. “His continuing national leadership on education issues, his long-term leadership in the Arkansas General Assembly, and his local board leadership to several non-profit organizations are marks of his commitment to United Methodist principles.”