Todd Seifert

Todd Seifert is director of communications for the Great Plains Conference. He writes this blog much like he wrote a column for 13 years as a newspaper editor: focused on what is going on in his life. He hopes to share some thought-provoking words as a member of the laity on the conference staff.


In Layman’s Terms: Taking a Sabbath

June 18, 2019

I’ll confess that I’ve spent the past two days at my desk digging out from a pile of emails and associated tasks that needed to be completed. It’s only fair since I was returning from being out of the office for 10 days. I’ll also confess to feeling a little guilty for being gone that long. In 20 ...


Conference talks about serving others, reacts to General Conference outcomes

June 05, 2019

With a theme of “Therefore Go: Serve Others” for the 2019 Great Plains Annual Conference, messages throughout the event, May 29-June 1 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, focused on fresh starts — from setting priorities for ministry to starting off in ministry for newly ordained clergy to ...


In Layman's Terms: Using YouTube videos

June 05, 2019

We’ve been exploring topics the past few weeks about copyright law compliance. We’ve taken a look at song lyrics and movies. To wrap up this series, let’s take a look at what you can and shouldn’t use from the popular videos website YouTube. First, YouTube is a site popular with many demographics, ...


In Layman's Terms: Movies in Church

May 22, 2019

So far in our journey to better understand how best to comply with copyright laws, we’ve been focusing on music. Today, we cross over to feature films, television shows and movie clips. Just as before, we’re talking about a license you can purchase from CCLI, but this time it’s CVLI — Church Video ...


In Layman's Terms: Ensuring your songs are covered

May 15, 2019

As I shared in my last blog, I want to make sure our churches are getting the most out of their CCLI subscription so the people who put together worship slides are getting the most bang for their buck and so the church is protected. Last time, I shared how to display copyright information either on...


In Layman's Terms: Displaying song copyright information

May 08, 2019

CCLI — Christian Copyright Licensing International —helps churches augment their worship services while keeping them compliant with U.S. copyright laws. And, yes, those laws are complicated. I spent 20 years in the Fourth Estate, also known as the news industry. Copyright issues came up all the ...


In Layman's Terms: A prayer that a fire rekindles the Spirit in many

April 16, 2019

My news alerts started firing off on my phone and watch in fairly rapid succession Monday. The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was burning. I’ve never been to Paris. It’s on my bucket list, along with about a dozen other European sites to satisfy my craving to see the world with my own eyes. But the ...


Connecting Council hears ideas for organizing for justice ministries

April 09, 2019

The Connecting Council heard proposals during its April meeting in Topeka from two organizations that could help provide a boost to justice ministries throughout Kansas and Nebraska.  Direct Action & Research Training (DART) and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) presented ...


Sitting water, infrastructure damage force delay in response to Columbus area

March 29, 2019

Continued high-water levels in the area of Columbus, Nebraska, have stymied much of the effort by Great Plains Conference early response teams (ERT) efforts to help homeowners begin the recovery after a massive flood. In many cases, access to homes is still cut off because of standing water or ...


Kansas town evacuated as Missouri River waters rise

March 22, 2019

Kansas Highway Patrol pilots help monitor the Missouri River flooding by surveying the levee near Elwood, Kansas, and the levee breach east of Atchison. Photo courtesy KHP While disaster response teams continue their work helping people impacted by flooding in Nebraska, the flow of the Missouri...


Great Plains response teams bring hope to flooded Nebraska towns

March 21, 2019

In small groups, they re-entered the church. Tired and a bit dirty, but with smiles on their faces, they swapped stories of ripping down soggy drywall, pulling up saturated carpet and hauling out furniture made extra heavy by materials that retained water.  They are early response team (ERT) ...


In Layman's Terms: Nebraska flooding

March 19, 2019

It’s truly amazing how much damage water can do.   By now you’ve seen either with your own two eyes or via photographs the havoc being spread by water coming out of the banks of rivers and water standing because there’s simply no place for it to go. A much snowier winter than in recent years, ...


In Layman's Terms: 5 questions for livestreaming

March 13, 2019

We have to come to grips with the reality that the days are long gone when all we need to do is make sure someone is on time on Sunday morning to open up the doors so people can come flooding in to hear a sermon.   These days, people look at “church shopping” much like they envision shopping for a ...


In Layman's Terms: Arch serves as symbol for UMC's journey

March 06, 2019

Many tears. A few smiles. Strong resolve on both sides. Those are the images burned into my memory from the special session of General Conference last week in St. Louis. To be honest, it was a draining experience — one from which I am still attempting to recover.   I won’t belabor any points that ...


In Layman's Terms: Some poignant moments on a difficult day

February 25, 2019

After the prioritization votes for the legislative committee portion of the special session of General Conference on Sunday, it probably wasn’t surprising to too many people that the Traditional Plan moved on to Monday’s plenary phase, and the One Church Plan failed to move on to that step. Or did ...


In Layman's Terms: Quick change of atmosphere

February 24, 2019

An environment of praise and elation one minute. The air seemingly sucked out of the room the next. That’s how I experienced Sunday afternoon at the special session of General Conference in St. Louis. After a morning filled with engaging preaching from Bishop Ken Carter, president of the Council of...


In Layman's Terms: Worldwide challenge, opportunities

February 24, 2019

After the first day of the special session of General Conference — a day set aside for prayer and praise — I was struck that a unifying embrace of cultures from outside the United States also poses one of the larger challenges for The United Methodist Church. That’s neither good nor bad. It just is...


In Layman's Terms: Packing for General Conference

February 19, 2019

Well, the time has finally arrived. Those of us plugged in to The United Methodist Church have been either eagerly awaiting or anxiously dreading this day since the adjournment of the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. The time, indeed, has come for the special called session of General ...


In Layman's Terms: Reflections from the Holy Land

February 11, 2019

Amazing! Awesome! Life-changing! Those were just some of the words people who recently visited the Holy Land with Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. used to describe their trip. The seven-day adventure took the group of 61 people to historic churches marking the traditional locations of Jesus’ birth, ministry,...


Bishop leads group from Great Plains to the Holy Land

January 29, 2019

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. is led a group of 61 people from the Great Plains Conference on a tour of the Holy Land. They visited the traditional sites of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, as well as locations of other key locations from biblical history. Todd Seifert, conference ...


In Layman's Terms: A book that challenges your thoughts on race

January 22, 2019

I think it’s appropriate that I completed reading the book “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” on the day we celebrated the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I made a resolution in 2018 to read two books a month. I fulfilled that goal on Dec. ...


New DS for Blue River, Elkhorn Valley districts

January 14, 2019

Rev. Dr. Nancy Tomlinson A pastor with a track record of launching ministries, embracing new ministry techniques, retiring debt and adjusting to the varying demands of ministry has been named the new district superintendent of the Blue River and Elkhorn Valley districts. The Rev. Dr. Nancy ...


In Layman's Terms: App can help set foundation for bold faith goals

January 08, 2019

I’m not really into new year’s resolutions, but I am a pretty big advocate for setting goals. I’ve always looked at goals as providing some prioritization to my life, but I heard this concept put into a different perspective recently while listening to Pastor Rick Warren’s “Daily Hope” podcast on ...


In Layman's Terms: Easter people celebrating Christmas

December 12, 2018

I’m convinced Christmas is such a festive time of year because of the atmosphere that accompanies it. The lights on houses and along city streets remind us of the light — Jesus — coming into the world. Christmas trees become a focal point in our homes. Nativity scenes remind us of the reason for ...


In Layman's Terms: Livestreaming considerations

December 05, 2018

Most of us get excited for the Christmas season. We decorate our sanctuaries with trees, wreaths and lights. Nativity scenes get dusted off and put on prominent display. And we shift our thinking toward marketing our church in hopes of bringing in the unchurched or de-churched neighbors in our ...


In Layman's Terms: Numbers and lessons from our town halls

November 21, 2018

What a ride! Eighteen town halls in 17 cities in every district of the Great Plains Conference. In all, more than 4,100 people in attendance. Twenty-six delegates. Three plans. A few laughs. Not-so-few tears. Lots of prayers. That sums up recently completed town halls journey I embarked upon with ...


In Layman's Terms: Resources for inviting people to your church

November 15, 2018

Sometimes, a call or email from a local church with a question leads me on a path to find something entirely new that prompts me to share this new information with all of you. Such an instance occurred this week when a question came in from the Gateway District in Nebraska about special Sunday ...


In Layman's Terms: Try one of these methods for reading the Bible

November 07, 2018

Reading scripture has had a profound impact on my life. It’s amazing to me that I can read the same verses multiple times and find something – even slightly – different to take away from it. I know that’s because my experiences and whatever issues at play in my life at the time lead me to seek ...


In Layman's Terms: Take from and add to our Local Church Toolbox

October 24, 2018

Kansas and Nebraska – when you place them together – create a fairly large parcel of land. In fact, if you put the two together, you have about 160,000 square miles. That’s huge! My duties as the conference communications director have allowed me to see many parts of our two states. My most recent ...


Leadership, discipleship two points of focus for Connecting Council

October 24, 2018

Discussion leaders share traits their peers identified in great leaders from the Bible and secular society during the Connecting Council’s fall meeting Oct. 19 at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church in Topeka. Photo by Todd Seifert The Connecting Council discussed the importance of strong ...


In Layman's Terms: Resources for our way forward

October 10, 2018

Anyone who has attended one of the bishop’s town hall meetings knows that the three plans to be considered at the upcoming special session of General Conference can be confusing. The plans – offered by the Commission on a Way Forward and approved by the Council of Bishops – are meant to help our ...


In Layman's Terms: A free Bible study to help us all #BeKind

September 12, 2018

It sure can seem at times like the world has forgotten what it’s like to be kind. We criticize each other. We share things on social media that we would never have the guts to say to a person’s face – at least that’s true of many people. For Christians, I think the act of being kind is an essential...


In Layman's Terms: Give app a try to hold you to your spiritual disciplines

September 06, 2018

This week’s subject is part resource, part shameless self-promotion. But it’s aimed at helping you stay connected with other United Methodists across Kansas and Nebraska while helping you stay in tune with your spiritual disciplines. Earlier this year, the Great Plains Conference launched its new ...


In Layman's Terms: Is your church ready for microphone changes?

August 31, 2018

Wireless microphones have become as much a part of the worship experience as the organ and hymnals. Preachers who don’t want to be tied to a pulpit rely on these devices to allow them to move around to engage their congregation while delivering their messages. But as our communications staff has ...


In Layman's Terms: Free photos for use in your churches

August 20, 2018

You’re preparing for Sunday worship. The pastor has given you his or her scripture. You have photos to represent sermon points – maybe even a video. You’re all set to build that week’s audio-visual presentation and start promoting the upcoming worship experience on social media. But you are lacking...


In Layman's Terms: Don't fall for spoof of bishop's email

August 14, 2018

The folks who like to wreak havoc with email and get you to pay for things they want are getting more and more sophisticated. It wasn’t all that long ago that many of us were receiving emails from sudden royalty in Nigeria or some other country who just needed a little money to leave their homeland...


In Layman's Terms: Podcasting

August 01, 2018

While I’m a big fan of video – and still prefer that medium – there’s no denying that podcasts are quite popular. And it’s actually easy to see why. People these days are busy. You can play a podcast from a mobile phone like an audiobook while exercising or while driving to work or hitting the ...


In Layman's Terms: Gaining some Fresh Expressions

July 27, 2018

First of all, I apologize for not having written in a while. But it’s been for a good reason. As most of you are aware, the three Great Plains Conference offices in Lincoln, Wichita and Topeka have been consolidated to a new, single conference office in Topeka. Toss in the upheaval that comes with ...


Forward in Unity team prepares for annual conference presentations

May 22, 2018

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. talks about the recent Council of Bishops meetings while the Rev. Dee Williamston, Salina District superintendent looks on during the May 16 Forward in Unity Process Team meeting. Photo by Todd Seifert   The Great Plains Conference’s Forward in Unity ...


Connecting Council learns more of networks, statistics, bishops’ commission

April 25, 2018

The Great Plains Conference Connecting Council learned about the progress of networks across Kansas and Nebraska, discussed concepts in the book “The Anatomy of Peace” and took part in a town hall-style dialogue associated with possible proposals from the Commission on a Way Forward during the ...


Water’s Edge opens new building, keeps same goal of making disciples

April 17, 2018

The Water's Edge Church worshiped in its new building in Omaha for the first time March 18 and consecrated the building April 8. Photo courtesy The Water's Edge   Just as Jesus reached out to men who would become His disciples along the shore of Lake Gennesaret, The Water’s Edge Church is ...


Fresh Expressions encourages creative ministry beyond the 4 walls

April 11, 2018

Several members of the Great Plains Conference traveled March 15-17 to Reston, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., to attend the national gathering of Fresh Expressions. The event, attended by more than 500 participants from across the nation, represented a number of denominations and local ...


Conference team begins work on human sexuality-related resources

April 10, 2018

The Great Plains Conference’s Forward in Unity Process Team experienced what a town hall-style meeting would be like for future participants as they learn and discuss the Council of Bishops’ recommendations to help The United Methodist Church find a way forward.  The team, an assembly of leaders ...


UMW celebrates legacy one stitch at a time

March 16, 2018

When United Methodist Women of the Great Plains Conference decided they wanted to commemorate the 150th anniversary of UMW in 2019, they decided to put the crafting skills of women in Kansas and Nebraska to work making a quilt. Marilyn Zehring of Columbus, Nebraska, and Louise Niemann of David ...


Team assembled to help with focus on unity in Great Plains

March 07, 2018

With a special General Conference called for February 2019 to address human sexuality concerns drawing nearer, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has assembled a team of leaders from throughout the Great Plains Conference to develop a process to offer resources, tools, disseminate accurate information and to ...


Gatobu selected as next DS in Kansas City

March 01, 2018

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and the Cabinet have announced that the Rev. Dr. Anne Kiome Gatobu will be the next Kansas City District superintendent. Gatobu, currently serving in extension ministry with Flourishing Springs, a ministry of pastoral self-care, creativity and coaching, will assume her new ...


Nebraskans learn about key legislative issues

February 27, 2018

More than 100 people learned about legislation in Nebraska on important topics such as human trafficking, funding for schools, prison reform and immigration during the annual ecumenical legislative briefing day. Founded in 1975, the event provides a full day of workshops and presentations on issues...


Networks system taking firmer hold with change in Elkhorn Valley District

February 22, 2018

The retirement of Elkhorn Valley District Superintendent Eldon Davis has prompted the Great Plains Conference to more fully live into a network-based system introduced last year. The Rev. Eldon Davis, Elkhorn Valley District superintendent, serves communion during the annual Orders & Fellowship ...


Emmert leaving Cabinet to serve at Omaha St. Andrew's UMC

February 16, 2018

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and the Cabinet of the Great Plains Conference announced Friday, Feb. 16, that the Rev. Dr. Bruce Emmert will be reappointed from his role as Kansas City District superintendent to serve as lead pastor at St. Andrew's United Methodist Church in Omaha, effective July 1. St. ...


In Layman's Terms: Discussion with a moderator for the Commission on a Way Forward

October 27, 2017

I used to think there was no more thankless job in all of The United Methodist Church than that of district superintendent. Now, I think it must be serving as a member of the Commission on a Way Forward. God bless those 32 people, especially the three bishops serving as moderators, who agreed to ...