Fighting Hunger Through Photos

The Revs. Rodney Steele and Stephen Coburn are more than just clergy members who serve the Arkansas Annual Conference office as District Superintendents; they're also skilled photographers who capture the beauty of nature and God's creation in stunning still images.

Rev. Stephen Coburn (left) and Rev. Rodney Steele (right) at the 200,000 Reasons booth at the 2019 Arkansas Annual Conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Steele -- who retired this year and previously served as the Southwest District Superintendent -- and Coburn -- who is currently the Northwest District Superintendent -- have been good friends for years. Their photography has mainly been more of a hobby than a way of making a living.

But recently, the two decided to put their photo skills to good use, and have been holding photo exhibitions in Rogers, Arkansas, raising money for various causes through the sale of their prints.

One of their big projects has been raising money for 200,000 Reasons, a ministry of the Arkansas Annual Conference dedicated to reducing and eventually ending the number of hungry children in Arkansas.

Coburn has so far held three shows at Hark and Herald Co. in downtown Rogers. Through these three shows, he has been able to raise about $2,500 for 200,000 Reasons.

At this year's Annual Conference, Steele and Coburn setup a booth where they sold prints of their photos as well as signed the photos for those who wanted them to be autographed.

Petit Jean State Park during the February Cabinet retreat (Coburn).

"We raised just over $2,000 during conference," Coburn said. He said his personal goal is to raise $6,000 for 200,000 Reasons in 2019.

The money raised for 200,000 Reasons will be used to provide meals for hungry children in Arkansas.

Steele has also used his breathtaking photos of Arkansas landscapes and U.S. National Park scenes to gather donations for 200,000 Reasons, but he is also raising money for a passion project that is close to his heart.

"I've raised $6,000 towards the $9,000 needed for a freshwater well in the North Katanga Annual Conference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," Steele said. "While in retirement, I hope to raise the remaining $3,000 needed for a freshwater well as well as continue raising money for 200,000 Reasons."

story by Caleb Hennington, Digital Content Editor, Arkansas Methodist magazine

This story represents how United Methodist local churches through their Annual Conferences are living as Vital Congregations. A vital congregation is the body of Christ making and engaging disciples for the transformation of the world. Vital congregations are shaped by and witnessed through four focus areas: calling and shaping principled Christian leaders; creating and sustaining new places for new people; ministries with poor people and communities; and abundant health for all.