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Hendrix Chaplain Appointed Senior Pastor in Northwest Arkansas


CONWAY, Ark. (February 21, 2020) – Hendrix College Chaplain Rev. Judith J. Whitney has been appointed Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Bentonville.

The appointment was made by Bishop Gary E. Mueller, Episcopal Leader of the United Methodist Church for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church and will begin July 1, 2020.

Rev. Whitney is a Bentonville native and attended First United Methodist Church, where her father, Rev. Guy Whitney, was senior pastor.

“I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve as the pastor of FUMC, Bentonville which was such a formative church for my own call to ministry and an important moment in my father’s career,” Whitney said. “I am excited to reconnect with the church family and lead the church as they engage a thriving downtown community in Bentonville.”

Whitney is a 1996 graduate of Hendrix and completed her master’s degree, with a concentration in pastoral care in campus ministry, from Boston University’s School of Theology. She served as chaplain associate for Boston University’s Marsh Chapel and later as pastor of Hunter United Methodist Church in Little Rock.

She returned to her alma mater in 2002 to serve as Program Coordinator for the Hendrix-Lilly Vocations Initiative (now known as the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics and Calling). She was responsible for creating and implementing co-curricular programs, mentoring a ministry exploration group, coordinating seminary visits, leading international and domestic mission trips, overseeing scholars in service work, planning and implementing vocation conferences and visiting scholars, and creating and leading a week-long ministry discernment opportunity for United Methodist youth. She was named Associate Director of the Miller Center in 2009.

In 2005, Whitney was named Assistant Chaplain and was responsible for assisting the chaplain with preaching and worship planning, leading a Women’s Bible Study, creating and implementing a weekly Christian Fellowship group, pastoral care, and mentoring candidates for ordained ministry.

She was awarded the 2005 Francis Asbury Award for Fostering United Methodist Ministries in Higher Education from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

In 2013, she was named Associate Chaplain and, in 2015, following a national search, Rev. Whitney was recommended for the Hendrix Chaplain’s role by a committee of alumni, clergy, faculty, staff and students, after serving as interim chaplain.

“Rev. Whitney is a vital part of a strong tradition of visionary clergy who have served our community as Chaplain,” said Hendrix President W. Ellis Arnold III ’79. “For more than a decade, she has strengthened and nurtured our historic relationship with the United Methodist Church through her leadership and service to the campus community and beyond.”

About Hendrix College

Hendrix College is a private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas. Founded in 1876 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884, Hendrix is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges and is nationally recognized in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings for academic quality, community, innovation, and value. For more information, visit