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Hendrix Alumna, Clergy Leader to Serve as Interim Chaplain

CONWAY, Ark. (March 3, 2020) – Hendrix College alumna the Rev. Ellen R. Alston has been named interim Hendrix College Chaplain, effective July 1, by President Ellis Arnold, in consultation with Bishop Gary E. Mueller, episcopal leader of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“What an opportunity and delight to return to the campus where I was so enriched as a student years ago,” Alston said. “I am honored to walk alongside this amazing generation of student leaders who are exploring vocation and vision for their lives, and who will be impacting the world for years to come.”

Alston, a 1982 Hendrix graduate, follows the Rev. J.J. Whitney, who was named senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Bentonville this spring. 

“Rev. Alston brings her wisdom in mentoring young adults in ministry in her role as a superintendent, and has the ability to relate to a diverse campus of faculty, students, and staff as a minister who has served various communities and churches throughout Louisiana,” Whitney said. “With her love of Hendrix as an alumna, and through her guidance of programs in the Miller Center and the Chaplain’s Office helping students discern a call to ministry and church leadership, she will be a source of joy to the College.”

“I am grateful for the outstanding and faithful leadership Rev. J.J. Whitney has offered as the Chaplain at Hendrix,” said Bishop Mueller, who is also an ex officio member of the Hendrix College Board of Trustees. “Rev. Ellen Alston, who has deep Arkansas roots and is a Hendrix alum, offers a wealth of experience and many gifts as she begins her ministry with the entire Hendrix community.”

An Arkansas native, Alston has served the United Methodist Church in Louisiana for nearly two decades in numerous clergy and leadership roles, including two District Superintendent appointments. Her ministry is grounded in cultivating relationships, resilience, and renewal around purpose and vision, particularly during seasons of transition.

“We are so fortunate to have Rev. Alston serve in this critical capacity at this time,” said President Arnold. “She brings a wealth of strong leadership experience, as well as a commitment to and passion for the values that we hold so dear as an institution.”

Alston is currently senior pastor of Henning Memorial United Methodist Church in Sulphur, Louisiana, which recently launched a Beds for Kids mission that has increased church members’ engagement with the local community and mission field. In other roles, she has coordinated local mission and national disaster relief work in the Gulf Coast and shepherded congregations through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 

A humanities major with an emphasis in English, Alston participated in the Oxford Overseas Study Course in Oxford, England, while a student at Hendrix. She then earned her Master of Divinity degree from Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas, in 1990. In addition to numerous church and community service roles, Alston served as a member of the Hendrix College Board of Trustees from 2011 to 2017.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit