Janice and Byron Mann
Byron and Janice Mann got married in, and started their family while attending, a small rural church in southwest Arkansas, where they began serving in youth ministry. They moved out of state for a short time, then returned home to a new church plant where they raised their
children and continued in youth ministry. As time passed, the age gap with youth widened and they began to question whether their ministry field should change. God used a major ice storm to develop within the Manns a passion for disaster response as their local church sheltered
those affected by the storm of December 2000. They were hooked. Soon their local emergency manager asked them to handle mass care and shelter management for that county. They went on to organize care for evacuees of several hurricane events. Janice was instrumental in establishing a
local Community Organization Active in Disaster (COAD) in that county. Byron experienced his call into ministry during this time and notified his District Superintendent. While he and Janice were serving with a Hurricane Katrina recovery team in Mississippi in 2006, the phone call
came asking him to serve as local pastor to two small rural churches in southwest Arkansas.
In 2009, the Manns to trained and volunteered with the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church as District Disaster Response Coordinators. In 2011, they became Conference Disaster Response Coordinators and led the United Methodist response in several small
flood and tornado events between 2011 and 2014. During this time, they became better acquainted with the Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (AR VOAD). Byron also served as Volunteers in Mission Coordinator beginning in 2012 and has led numerous work teams, in both
disaster response and recovery.
In April 2014, after a devastating tornado struck central Arkansas, Janice left her 32-year career in medical technology and served two years as recovery coordinator for that event. Byron sold his interest in a small sand and gravel business and put his background in construction
and heavy equipment operation to work as construction coordinator for the recovery effort. To God be the glory—with the financial support of Arkansas United Methodists and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), and with the help of partner agencies and organizations, 31
homes were rebuilt, and many others replaced and repaired.
When recovery ended, Byron and Janice continued to lead Arkansas Conference response and to help coordinate recovery efforts in the state. Byron continued doing damage assessments, construction coordination, volunteer coordination, leading teams and meeting needs
during disaster response and recovery. Janice continued the work as AR VOAD chairperson from 2016 to 2018, then served on the Executive Committee and chaired their Preparedness and Recovery Committee until she and Byron retired from disaster response at the end of 2021. She
enjoyed promoting VOAD and helping to organize COADs and Long-Term Recovery Groups in local communities. Byron and Janice are thankful to God for His leading and guiding as they served and for the support of the Conference, UMCOR, and the volunteers and partners God put in their
path. It was a joy and a blessing for them to work alongside those with the same passion, doing the same thing for the same reason: sharing God’s love and care for all.
The Manns started their retirement home in 2013, just before the tornado of 2014. They put off moving into it while they served in recovery efforts but did move in 2016. Byron now serves as pastor of the local Methodist congregation in Jasper, Arkansas. He and Janice still
volunteer, including as Early Response Team trainers for the Arkansas Conference and evaluating new trainers for UMCOR. They are enjoying retirement while also getting more involved in their local community. In addition to serving at church, they volunteer at the local food room,
the local emergency preparedness committee (Byron is the current chair) and hope to establish a COAD in their home county. They have two children and six grandchildren. In their spare time, they attend their grandchildren’s events, travel, spend time with family, garden, and
explore Newton County backroads while riding side by sides with friends from church and community; Byron enjoys working in his shop; and they both enjoy quality time on their porch with each other and their fur babies, Abby and Ziva.