David Burke

David Burke serves as the content specialist for the Great Plains Conference.


Rugby is an exciting sideline for Baptist-turned-UMC pastor

September 27, 2022

When it came time for the Rev. John Sievering to record a welcome video for his new congregation at Omaha St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, he had to postpone.  He had a black eye.  Rev. John Sievering sports a black eye after a rugby match. Photo courtesy John Sievering “We had to sort of ...


Omaha St. Andrew's looks back at 30 years

September 21, 2022

Three decades ago, the former Nebraska Conference began a concerted drive for new church starts and chose Rev. Dr. Al Winseman to launch one in northwest Omaha. Now a burgeoning suburban area with busy shopping centers and restaurants, the spot that would become St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church...


Partnership brings FHSU literacy center under campus ministries’ roof

September 21, 2022

Fort Hays State University’s Language and Literacy Institute was looking for a new home.  FHSU’s United Methodist Campus Ministries was looking for students with a reason to enter its building.  Both of those needs are being met with a marriage of the two, stoked by the marriage of their leaders. ...


Salina churches work together to bolster youth groups and beyond

September 14, 2022

It’s just past 7 o’clock on a Wednesday night, and the Family Life Center at Salina Trinity United Methodist Church is filled with raucous laughter. A dodgeball-type game called “Protect the President” is being played, with two people in the center of a circle made up of other youth. Look closer at...


Special session approves 55 disaffiliations, increased budget for '23

September 13, 2022

Preparing for the special session of the annual conference Sept. 10, at the Great Plains Conference studio, are Lori Richey, secretary, left; Lisa Maupin, conference lay leader; Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.; Jesi Lipp, parliamentarian; and the Rev. Dee Williamston, assistant to the bishop and director ...


Topeka’s Tabernacle & Table finds a new home

September 06, 2022

When it came time for Marshall Larson to make a presentation on his ministry plans at the conclusion of a New Church Development workshop 2½ years ago, he winged it.  A longtime guitar player, he talked about bringing a small praise band to neighborhood parks in Topeka, followed by a short sermon ...


Connecting council approves increased budget to be sent to annual conference

August 24, 2022

A $13.2 million budget – a 3.5% increase from the current year, despite losing 67 churches to disaffiliation – for 2023 was approved for recommendation to the Great Plains Annual Conference for its upcoming special session by the Connecting Council at its online meeting Aug. 20.  The council brings ...


Topeka couple uses balloons as ministry

August 24, 2022

Balloons have always been a part of Randall and Marlana Hodgkinson’s lives. While students dating at Wichita State University nearly 30 years ago, he led her on a balloon-themed scavenger hunt for her birthday, which ended with her arms full of balloons — and a proposal. They even rode off from ...


Epworth Village campus sold; offices to move to church

August 23, 2022

After more than 130 years of serving children and families in York, Nebraska, Epworth Village’s campus is being sold and its offices moved to York United Methodist Church. A sale price was not disclosed, but the purchase had to be approved by the denomination’s United Women in Faith, formerly United...


Eudora church channels VBS into one-day food-themed event

August 17, 2022

  Barb Keltner greeted members and visitors to Eudora United Methodist Church with a promise.  “We’re gonna have some fun today,” she enthusiastically declared before the start of 9 a.m. services on Aug. 14.  Twins Landry and Maris Plegge prepare pizza at the food-themed event Aug. 14 at Eudora ...


After one year, Café Quetzal connects with coffee, Christ

August 16, 2022

As Topeka’s Café Quetzal celebrates its first anniversary, founders of the coffeeshop ministry see it as a triple success — as a business, as a church and as a community center.  “We feel like we have a good flow now,” said the Rev. Christine Potter, who opened the doors at the strip mall at 21st...


Haitian church leader shares highs, lows of country

August 10, 2022

Though he spent two days in the Great Plains Conference in early August, Rev. Gélin Rosamour’s thoughts weren’t too far from his home in Haiti.  Since the country’s president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated 13 months ago, the Caribbean country has continued to erupt in chaos, he said.  Rev. Gélin...


Atchison church engaging all generations

August 09, 2022

At one United Methodist Church in Kansas, when the worship stops the engagement begins. Atchison UMC has started a first-Sunday-of-the-month pilot program this summer called Engage. With a different theme every month, those attending go downstairs from the sanctuary after an abbreviated service for...


Longtime UMC pastor Holland wins U.S. Senate nomination

August 03, 2022

The United Methodist pastor who won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday believes the high voter turnout for the failed Value Them Both amendment helped his campaign. The Rev. Dr. Mark Holland received 96,832 votes, or 38% of the Democratic votes in the primary, more votes than the next...


Institute numbers down, but spirit still high

August 01, 2022

The first in-person United Methodist Youth Institute in three years may have lacked the hundred-plus attendees of previous versions, but not its spirit.  About 35 youth attended Institute, whose roots go back a century, at Baker University in Baldwin City from July 25 to 30.  “They’ve really formed...


Ukrainian finds love, hope in UMC pastor's family

July 27, 2022

John Finch doesn’t watch the news.  “We made an agreement,” his adoptive mother, Meagan Finch, said.  “It was too much trauma,” his adoptive father, the Rev. Andrew Finch, continued.  The Rev. Andrew Finch, left, John and Meagan Finch, along with their dog, Chloe, in the living room of their Omaha...


Micah Corps interns look back at memorable summer

July 20, 2022

The five young people who comprised this year’s Micah Corps spent the summer learning a lot about justice ministries – and just as much about themselves. “I think I’ve learned more about being Methodist than I ever thought I would in my whole life,” said Charlotte Carroll, a student at the ...


SW Kansas church stays on side of UMC

July 13, 2022

Within 18 miles of Dodge City, the Rev. Jerre Nolte says, are six churches that have announced their intention to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. But Dodge City First UMC, where Nolte is entering its eighth year as pastor, is bucking the trend in southwest Kansas by declaring it will ...


Wichita church victim of copper theft from AC units

June 29, 2022

The Rev. Kevass Harding and his congregation at Dellrose United Methodist Church were ready for a celebration of the beginning of his 25th year at the Wichita church on the first Sunday of July.  But because of the theft of copper from the 10 air conditioning units surrounding the church, those ...


Williamston instrumental in getting historic marker for lynching victim

June 21, 2022

While a pastor at Mentor UMC in central Kansas in 2007, the Rev. Dee Williamston read a book titled “Fire on the Prairie: Methodism in the History of Kansas.” The book included a brief mention of the lynching of a Black man in Salina, a story the Kansas native had never heard. “A Methodist ...


Interns bond before being sent out to GP churches

June 07, 2022

When it came time to pose for a group picture at the end of their three-day orientation, the youth ministry and pastoral interns for the Great Plains Conference instinctively locked shoulders as a demonstration of the closeness they felt after their experience. Their leaders say it’s indicative of...


Author, expert to ask Great Plains to rethink discipleship

May 25, 2022

Rev. Alex Absalom thinks we’re not doing a good job of discipling.  “I think one of the reasons we’re not any good is that we’re intimidated by it,” the author and consultant said in a phone interview. “We think we have to be experts before we start discipling people. But actually, I would argue the...


Busy band of VIMs looking for more volunteers

May 25, 2022

The cover photo of the Volunteers in Mission is from the group's Facebook page, used by permission. VIMs in the picture are Rick Holbrook, left, Annette Holbrook, Marlin Brown, Janet Ward, Bill Ward, Bob Moore, Linda Buchmueller and Chuck Buchmueller. The children and youth who descend on the ...


Conference purchases new offices in downtown Topeka

May 11, 2022

A downtown Topeka building constructed as a factory in the 1940s and renovated in the mid-2010s will be the new home of the Great Plains Conference.  The conference entered into a purchase contract for the building at 100 S. Kansas Ave., on May 5. Scott Brewer, conference treasurer and director of ...


Connecting Council hears of progress in justice ministries

May 11, 2022

Three years after hearing the first proposals regarding justice ministry improvements in the Great Plains Conference, the Connecting Council received progress reports on them during its May 6-7 meetings in Topeka.  The Rev. Sarah Marsh, mercy and justice coordinator, introduces Ben MacConnell, ...


Topeka JUMP moves forward on mental health, affordable housing

May 10, 2022

At its Nehemiah Action Assembly on May 9, Topeka JUMP members received a commitment from a representative of a local mental health association to implement crisis stabilization units in Shawnee County.  It fell short, however, of receiving a commitment from the mayor of Topeka to add $5 million to ...


Good Faith Network gets commitments from officials at first Nehemiah Assembly

May 04, 2022

The first Nehemiah Assembly for the Johnson County-based Good Faith Network included commitments for improved mental health services and decreased homelessness by county officials, with some efforts already underway.  A product of the Direct Action & Resource Training network, or DART, the Good ...


K-State Wesley dedicates its campus home

April 12, 2022

Many of the 100 people gathered to celebrate the building dedication for Wesley House at Kansas State University were asked to stand if they had been involved in the facility’s governing boards.  One by one they introduced themselves as they stood around the perimeter of the room and passed along a...


United Women in Faith leaders reflect on name change

April 06, 2022

It’s more than just a name change, say leaders of United Women in Faith. The former United Methodist Women, whose change in name and adjustment in focus were announced last month, are set to cast a broader net and especially try to reach new generations, according to Lisa Maupin of Lincoln, chair of...


Assistant promoted to director of Camp Norwesca

March 25, 2022

Brandi May, here with her husband, Josh, is the new director of Camp Norwesca. Contributed photo Brandi May has gone from stumbling onto Camp Norwesca to leading the Great Plains Conference camp near Chadron, Nebraska. Her husband, Josh, was hired as one of the superintendents at Chadron State ...


Laity Summit introduces Learning Lab

March 23, 2022

The third annual Laity Summit followed the lead of its two predecessors with an entirely online gathering.  “We hope to be in person one of these years,” Shane Warta, lay leadership coordinator, said at the onset of the laity showcase, March 19.  Mary K. Feit, director of Lay Servant Ministries for ...


Stanton’s dedication to family, mission, colleagues recalled

March 19, 2022

Family, friends and colleagues remembered the encouragement, humility and sly sense of humor of the Rev. Nathan Stanton during a celebration of his life March 18 at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina.  “He never stopped doing what he did or being who he was,” Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. said in ...


Nebraska City couple funds NUMF grants for mission work

March 16, 2022

Dr. Dean and Keitha Thomson want others to get the satisfaction that they receive from mission work.  So much so that they’ve established a grant through the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation to fund mission work by individuals and organizations throughout the Great Plains Conference.  Keitha ...


Stanton remembered for encouragement, humility, supporting ministries

March 15, 2022

  Celebration of Life The Rev. Nathan Stanton's Celebration of Life was held Friday, March 18 at Kansas Wesleyan University. Watch the recording here. Read coverage from the Celebration of Life here. Read the obituary of Nathan Stanton. View photos of Nathan Stanton here. Tell us your ...


Texas man puts bishop's prayer to music

March 08, 2022

It only took about 90 minutes, Tom Lough said, for him to turn Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.’s “Prayer for Peace” into a hymn.  Lough, a retired high school and college educator, saw the prayer in the newsletter of his church, Round Rock First UMC, located north of Austin in the Central Texas Conference, ...


Conference introducing new leadership model for youth

March 02, 2022

A new model for youth leadership in the Great Plains Conference is being launched this year.  Leadership Lab is a successor to the Conference Council on Youth Ministries, which included representatives from each district in the conference. The Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford, intergenerational ...


GPARCS event to look at effect of past two years

March 02, 2022

The first meeting of the Great Plains Association of Retired Clergy and Spouses in three years will attempt to bring some discernment about the past 24 months.  “Journeys of the Soul” will be online March 21-22, and the keynote speaker will be Dr. Lallene Rector, president emerita and associate ...


New Wichita church start is unintentionally multicultural

February 16, 2022

Sunday morning services at Wichita House of Liberty United Methodist Church have all the fervency of a Black church experience, with a congregation that’s mixed race.  “We may be smaller in numbers, but we are mighty in the kingdom,” worship leader Claire Jobe told about 30 people at the beginning ...


Clinger selected to lead congregational excellence team

February 09, 2022

The Rev. Jeff Clinger says that getting the call to become the Great Plains Conference’s director of congregational excellence was “absolutely unexpected” and that he was “incredibly humbled” to receive the appointment from Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. Rev. Jeff Clinger Clinger, who turned 42 on ...


Stanton to step down from congregational excellence role July 1

February 07, 2022

Rev. Nathan Stanton, right, eats with Great Plains Conference pastors while attending a church planter conference. Submitted Photo After five years as director of congregational excellence for the Great Plains Conference, the Rev. Nathan Stanton will step back from the position at the beginning...


Justice group gets jump-start from Topeka church

February 02, 2022

Topeka Asbury Mount Olive UMC has had strong connections with Topeka Justice Unity & Ministry Project, or JUMP, for as long as the Rev. Harry Christian has been pastor at the church. “Asbury Mount Olive has always been involved in social justice,” said Christian, who began as pastor of the Topeka ...


Topeka native among 10 selected for worldwide ecumenical group

February 01, 2022

A Great Plains Conference native is one of 10 young people worldwide selected for a cohort to study ecumenism and interreligious movements. Luke Miltz, 27, said he was pleasantly surprised to hear that he was named to the United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training: Young Adult Network, ...


Wise words to combat racism highlight O&F

January 26, 2022

Recommended steps toward living in “The Beloved Community” were made Jan. 25 at the annual Orders & Fellowship clergy gathering.  Originally planned as a three-day, in-person event in Kearney, Orders & Fellowship was changed to a one-day, online-only format because of continuing COVID concerns. ...


Foundation gets new name, logo, emphasis to educate public on its ministry

January 12, 2022

The former Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation has a new name, new logo, and renewed effort to educate those in the state about what it does. “It’s taking an opportunity to clarify our purpose and how we serve,” said the Rev. Dr. Dustin Petz, president and CEO of what’s now the Kansas Methodist ...


Pastor spearheads effort to bring items to Afghan refugees

January 11, 2022

When an extended family of 19 Afghanistan refugees headed to Maize, Kansas, with just the clothes on their backs, Kane McEntire put his connections — especially his United Methodist Church connections — to use.  “I utilized the platform in the community that my position of my appointment at Maize ...


Wyandotte, Johnson county groups set justice ministry priorities

December 15, 2021

A new justice ministry in Wyandotte County has a name, a lead organizer and a list of two top priorities.  Organized by Direct Action & Research Training, or DART, the group — which includes 13 churches, four of them United Methodist — conducted its first Community Problems Assembly on Dec. 9 and ...


Lincoln church continues tradition of giving craft pieces to children

December 08, 2021

Previous crafts for children have included a wooden Nativity set and an Advent wreath. Photo by David Burke In his fifth year as pastor of Lincoln St. Luke United Methodist Church, the Rev. Curt Magelky was almost ready to let his Advent tradition lapse. For three years, Magelky and members of ...


Churches begin using conference’s video streaming platform

December 01, 2021

The Great Plains Conference’s video streaming platform is off and running.  The first church to use the platform — found at www.greatplainsumc.church — is Nebraska’s Dorchester UMC.  “It’s very user-friendly and very straight forward,” said Matthew Hoffman, audio-visual tech for the church, which ...


Leaders thrilled over $1.78M grant from Kansas Health Foundation

December 01, 2021

The Great Plains Conference’s Doing Justice Initiative is getting a kickstart thanks to a $1.78 million grant recently announced by the Kansas Health Foundation.  “It’s going to basically put the plan that the conference has put together on steroids in terms of getting started bigger and stronger ...


Korean-born pastor’s arrival spurs church growth in Chanute

November 17, 2021

Two times during the early service at Chanute First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Michael Park asked the congregation to look amongst themselves, spot someone they’re familiar with, and repeat what’s become his slogan for ministry:  “Hey, I know you!”  Rev. Michael Park gives ...