Fondly Remembering Carolyn Elias (1931-2024)

Fondly Remembering Carolyn Elias (1931-2024)

The Good News staff and board of directors were saddened to hear of the passing of our longtime friend and treasured colleague, Carolyn Parrish Elias (1931-2024). The Good News Board of directors presented its eighth annual Edmund W. Robb, Jr. United Methodist Renewal Award to Carolyn Elias at its fall meeting in November 2010. The award, named after long-time Good News board member and renewal leader, Dr. Ed Robb, is given to a United Methodist who has made a significant and lasting contribution to renewal within the United Methodist Church.

“Carolyn was a thoroughly unique woman of deep faith with a zest and flare for life – she was a joy to be with. She loved her husband, Barney, and their entire family, studying the Bible, reforming the Methodist church, and cheering for Razorback football,” said Steve Beard, editor of Good News. “She will be deeply missed by all of us who loved her.”

Elias was a leader in the evangelical Methodist renewal movement in the Central Illinois Conference before she and her husband, Barney, moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1991. She became active in the First United Methodist Church. She worked with the Good News General Conference team in 1988 in St. Louis, 1992 in Louisville, and 1996 in Denver.

In 2000, Carolyn was elected a lay delegate to the General Conference—in fact, she was the first lay person elected in her delegation. “Carolyn’s election as the first lay delegate in the North Little Rock Conference after a decade of serving as a member of the Good News board and being actively involved with the Renew Network was really remarkable! It spoke clearly about her ability to be a firm and gracious witness to her evangelical faith while also working effectively with others who might not necessarily agree with her theological commitments,” said the Rev. James V. Heidinger II, Good News President and Publisher emeritus, who made the presentation to Elias at the board meeting banquet. (Elias became an honorary life member of the Good New Board of Drirectors in 2001.)

Carolyn served as Chair of the Conference Episcopacy Committee for Bishop Janet Riggle Huey and also was on the South Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy, the group charged with the important quadrennial task of assigning bishops for the entire jurisdiction. She was again elected a General Conference delegate in 2004.

Ever since moving to Hot Springs, Elias has been an important part of the leadership of the Evangelical Fellowship in the conference, which now is referred to as the Arkansas Confessing Movement. She has had the responsibility of arranging the morning breakfast meeting of the fellowship at annual conference.

In addition to her United Methodist involvement, Carolyn was, for 13 years, a leader in Bible Study Fellowship in North Little Rock. She also started a spin-off of BSF, called Explorers Bible Study, with as many as 300 women involved at one time. That Bible study continues.

“In Carolyn, we see a mature, gracious, theologically-grounded, and discerning United Methodist laywoman. She is highly respected by all who have worked with her. She has a warm, kind spirit but Carolyn can also be firm when firmness is needed,” Heidinger said to board members, family, and guests attending the 2010 banquet on the campus of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

-Good News Media Service. This is adapted from a story about Carolyn in the January/February 2011 issue of Good News. Archive Photo: James V. Heidinger II, Carolyn Elias, and Rob Renfroe in 2010. Photo by Steve Beard. 


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