At The Threshold


About Ashlee and Shelly

Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford — Rev. Ashlee Alley-Crawford is the Clergy Recruitment and Development Coordinator for the Great Plains Conference of the UMC, calling Lincoln her (most recent) home. She works with people as they are discerning a call to ministry and helps them through the credentialing process in The United Methodist Church. She also directs a young clergy leadership program. Prior to her current position, she served for 12 years in campus ministry, the last nine at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.
Rev. Dr. Shelly Petz — The Rev. Shelly Petz is an elder in The United Methodist Church. She works with the Great Plains Conference on topics of clergy faith and wellness. She earned a bachelor's of science in psychology from Kansas State University and a master's of divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology. She earned a doctorate of ministry from Drew Theological Seminary, with an emphasis in worship, preaching, and spirituality.  She has served rural, county seat, and suburban congregations in Kansas, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. 


"At the Threshold" is a podcast for ministry leaders during this new, unsettled season in the life of the Church.

Join hosts the Revs. Ashlee Alley Crawford and Shelly Petz as they host conversation with and for clergy in order to describe what’s happening, ask questions to help us get “unstuck," and encourage the heart of pastors and leaders in this liminal time in which we find ourselves.

Liminal may be a new word. But a new season calls for a new word. Liminal means a threshold from what we’ve always know to … well, we don’t know just yet what life and ministry is becoming. The hosts' goal is to find a little light at the threshold.

Upcoming Episodes

  • Children’s Ministry in a Liminal Season (July 16, 10:30 a.m. CDT) — Are you thinking ahead about your fall programming for forming the spiritual lives of the kids in your church? Join Intergenerational Ministries Coordinator, Rev. Melissa Gepford, Grace UMC (Olathe) Children’s Ministry Coordinator Mona Candea, and Grace UMC (Winfield, Kansas) Children’s Ministry Coordinator Madison Stumbough as they share with Ashlee and Shelly about how they’re ministering with children and families during this challenging season. Register here.
  • The Church as an Educational Partner (July 30, 10:30 a.m. CDT) — Part of our Wesleyan heritage is to support education as a way of impacting society in a positive way. School districts, teachers, and families navigating the changes of these last couple of months are stressed. How can churches partner to support this important work on behalf of our children? Shelly and Ashlee will be joined by a teacher, an administrator, and a pastor as we discuss positive partnerships. Register here.
  • Mark your calendar for Aug. 13 and 27 for 10:30 a.m. CDT! More topics announced soon!


Featured Episodes


Death in the time of COVID-19

Most of us have a somewhat complicated relationship with death, but as Wesleyans, we’ve got an important heritage and witness in our founder, John Wesley’s relationship with death. He explored the depth of the realities and the art of dying throughout his life, to ultimately proclaim in his own death, “The best of all, God is with us.” God is indeed with us in our living and in our dying. This episode explores three different perspective on death during this COVID-19 season of our collective lives. Dr. Steve Short, a Manhattan, KS pulmonary specialist who went to Brooklyn, NY during the heart of the outbreak, shares about his experiences with patients and medical teams and shares how he’s leaning on his faith in this time. Rev. Shelly McNaughton-Lawrence was navigating being a pastor and a daughter in the first weeks of the pandemic as she grieved the loss of her mother’s life to COVID-19 and shares how she’s processing her own grief as well as grief within her community. Hospital Chaplain, Rev. Becky Johnson, shares some practical ways that churches and pastors can minister to the sick and dying and emphasizes the important ministry of prayer. 
This episode debuted July 2, 2020.

Download the episode.
Also, here are some resources that were mentioned or shared by our panelists. 

Spiritual Leadership During This Challenging Season

The uncertainty and opportunity in this season invites us to look to our spiritual leaders for a sense of how to navigate it’s challenges and embrace what is emerging. Bishop Saenz is joined by retired bishops Ann Shearer Simpson and Bruce Blake to share how they themselves are navigating this season and offer their perspectives on Spiritual Leadership during this new and challenging season. 

This episode debuted June 19, 2020.

Download this episode.

Practical Questions for New Ways of Ministry

Several Great Plains pastors join Ashlee and Shelly to identify some of the questions — and opportunities — during this new season! (Above, from left) Pastors Maria Campbell, Craig Finnestad, Jeff Gannon and Berniece Ludlum share about some of their challenges in the first months of shifting ministry as well as ways that they’re experiencing being a part of the Church differently in this season and hope to continue to experience in the season ahead.

This episode debuted June 2, 2020.

Download this episode.

Mental Health Check-in

Seanne Larson Emmerton, a licensed marriage and family therapist and licensed independent mental health provider who comes from a long line of United Methodists, including circuit riders has a special interest in spirituality and health. Her specialties are relationships, trauma and resilience using positive psychology and a strength-based model. This episode debuted May 21, 2020.

Download the episode.

Seanne shared some resources that might be helpful in this season in the life of the church. They are listed below:


  • The Universal Christ, by Richard Rohr
  • The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions, by Christopher K. Germer, PhD.
  • Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck, PhD.
  • Faithful and Fractured: responding to the clergy health crisis, by Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee
  • Breathing Underwater: spirituality and the twelve steps, Richard Rohr

Websites/Other Media

Creativity, Comparing and Coping

This first episode is a Zoom conversation that Ashlee and Shelly hosted with nearly 30 clergy from the Great Plains Conference. They asked four pastors to serve as a panel, sharing from their experiences leading churches in these first two months after the COVID-19 crisis. The Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede (above, left) serves as the senior pastor of St. Paul UMC in the Historic Benson Neighborhood in Omaha. The Rev. Isaac Chua (second from left) is the pastor of two churches, Laurel and Logan Center UMCs in Nebraska. The Rev. Cindi Stewart (second from right) serves as the lead pastor of First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Nebraska. And the Rev. Jeff Clinger (right) serves as the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church in Topeka, Kansas. The topic of this discussion was "Creativity, Comparing, and Coping" — three responses that we’ve seen in ourselves and in other pastoral leaders during this new time. Download the episode.

This episode debuted May 7, 2020.