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Staff Parish Relations Announcement

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Staff Parish Relations Announcement

Dear Central Family,

One week ago it was announced that Carness will be moving at the end of June. He has been appointed by Bishop Gary Mueller to serve as the Senior Pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock. In the United Methodist Church, ordained elders work under an appointment system, serving one-year appointments; for the last nine years Carness had been re-appointed to Central. However, your SPR Committee knew that at some point this day would come, the day when the Annual Conference needed Carness’ gifts in another congregation.

Now that this time has come, we turn our thoughts to what the transition will look like here at Central. Carness’ last Sunday with us will be June 25th, and you will be hearing more in the coming weeks on how we will celebrate his ministry here. That means our new pastor will begin at Central in early July. Last night we heard the details about who that pastor will be.

We are so excited to announce that the Bishop is appointing Rev. Jim Lenderman to be our next Senior Pastor. Jim comes to us from Asbury United Methodist in Tulsa where he has been serving as the Senior Associate Pastor on their Executive Leadership Team. Asbury is the largest UM Church in Oklahoma, with almost 8,000 members and 2,600 in weekly worship attendance. Jim is a native of Arkansas, however, and a member of the Arkansas Annual Conference. He has served numerous appointments here, including most recently as the Senior Pastor of Grace United Methodist in Conway, Arkansas, a multi-staff church that was averaging over 500 in worship when he left. 

Jim has a passion for preaching and worship, teaching and discipleship, and generosity and stewardship. He is excited about walking with all of you on your journey of experiencing who God is in your lives and who you are in Jesus Christ. As he shared with our SPR Committee, he is passionate about “helping people actively engage with what God is doing around them by discovering what God is calling them to do and turning them loose to do it.”

Jim and his family are thrilled about coming to Central. His family includes his wife Beth, and their two sons Hayden (23) and Jordan (19). They all love Razorback sports, with all four having attended or currently attending the U of A. Hayden is an intern at the UA Wesley Foundation and actually led worship this past Sunday at our 9:00 service.  Jim and Beth have been personal friends of Carness and Ashley for almost 25 years, so we are excited that the transition will be a smooth one.

Please be in prayer for Carness and his family, for Jim and his family, for our staff, and for all the Central family during this time of transition. I would encourage you to reach out to Jim with a word of welcome to Central. His email address is, his facebook profile is and his twitter account is @jim_lenderman. 

God Bless,

Mark Secker, Chair SPR