History of UMAPS
In late 2015 Rev Jay Bissett, then pastor in Hickory NC, with a long history in public education advocacy, initiated a resolution for the Western Conference of the United Methodist Church. Whereas this draft resolution calling for, among other things, additional funding for NC public schools, did not make the floor of that Conference in 2016, he did work with staff at the North Carolina Conference and it passed the following resolution at its 2016 Annual Conference. The resolution noted the state of North Carolina public education in relation to the past and other states, and calls for action by every United Methodist.
The imperative from the resolution is focused on mobilization…………….
Therefore, we call upon local churches in the North Carolina Annual Conference and the Western North Carolina Annual Conference to support public education by:
- Honoring teachers for the crucial work they do with young people; and advocating for appropriate salaries commensurate with their vital role in society;
- Encouraging young people of our congregations to enter the teaching profession;
- Insisting that all curricula present the best textbooks and teaching at all levels, acknowledging that we encourage children to read, to imagine, and to understand the many wonders of God’s creation;
- Advocating for the inclusion of differently-abled students in our classrooms, and ensuring that teachers have the special training needed to meet these children’s needs;
- Advocating at the state and local level for adequate public school funding and equitable distribution of state funds; and supporting efforts to end unjust educational disparities between rich and poor communities;
- Learning about public school issues, offering candidate forums during school board elections, and educating church members about local funding ballot issues and about the historical role of churches in creating and supporting public schools;
- Advocating for strengthened teacher training, for enhanced professional development for teachers and administrators, and for policies that assign teachers only to disciplines in which they are fully prepared, to classes whose size encourages individualized assistance, and to schedules that give teachers time to prepare or consult with other teachers, students, and parents;
- Advocating for universal, early, and quality preschool education for all children; and
- Advocating for public education as a basic human right; and not relying solely on school fund-raising and state alternative revenues, such as gambling, for financial support.
Rev Jay Bissett M Div. Co-Chair. Jay is a native of Pennsylvania but has lived most of his life in North Carolina. He has served churches in both the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences since 1995, and was ordained an Elder in 2008. Currently, Jay serves Maylo UMC in Gastonia. Jay is married to Monica, who retired in 2016 with over 35 years of service as a teacher in NC Public Schools. Jay and Monica have 3 daughters and 1 grandchild.
Brian Heymans M Ed Co-Chair. Brian chairs the Board of Church and Society in the North Carolina Conference. He is a retired business consultant with extensive experience at the interface of business human resource needs, business requirements and education delivery systems. He has served on several education institution boards and his special interest is in congregational mobilization, getting UMC members to advocate for justice in every aspect of society.
Wade Hampton, MA. Wade Hampton is a retired teacher and administrator with more than 30 years experience in North Carolina public and private schools. Wade has an MA in English from UNC-Chapel Hill as well as National Board Teacher Certification. He is a member of Main Street UMC Kernersville where he teaches adult Sunday School and serves on the Pre-School Board. Wade believes public schools and the rights of all children to a sound education are keys to responsible citizenship, solid economics, and a strong democracy.
Rev Molly White J.D. M Div. Molly White was appointed to Hayes Barton United Methodist Church in July 2018. She serves on the North Carolina Conference Board of Church and Society and is passionate about supporting public schools.
Molly grew up in Richmond, Virginia. She graduated from the University of Virginia a B.S. in History then attended the University of Pittsburgh graduating with a J.D. in 2005. She practiced law – mostly corporate real estate law – in Charleston, West Virginia, then attended Duke Divinity School. She graduated with a M.Div. in June 2016.
Rev James Littleton M Div. Reverend James (Jim) Littleton is an ordained elder in the North Carolina Conference serving as Pastor of Holly Springs UMC in the Raleigh Metro Area. Jim received his Masters of Divinity from Duke in 2014. Prior to ordained ministry, Jim was a licensed Civil Engineer and practiced in Alabama and Georgia. He believes that evangelism and mission are inseparable as we are called to both share and show the good news of Jesus Christ through words and actions
Rev Jessie Larkins M Div. Jessie is the Assistant to the District Superintendent in the Corridor District of the NCCUMC. Her special interest is in racial equity in schools.
David Rockefeller, M Ed. David is a member of Edenton Street UMC in Raleigh, the former Capital District Lay Leader and Congregations for Children Coordinator. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education and advanced certificates in curriculum, instruction and educational leadership. He served for 32 years in North Carolina public schools as a teacher, teacher assessor, assistant principal, principal, and curriculum director. He maintains an active schedule as a consultant and volunteer in public schools in the Raleigh area.