David Burke

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


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 ...


Community Market builds on mission at The Hub Argentine

November 10, 2021

Don’t call The Hub Argentine’s new Community Market a food pantry. The term food pantry may conjure a vision of a hodgepodge of disorganized donations, but the Community Market — which opened Oct. 19 at The Hub Argentine in Kansas City, Kansas — has items crisply and clearly arranged that shows ...


With a quick turnaround, former church becomes town daycare

November 02, 2021

Kenesaw United Methodist Church didn’t stay dormant for long.  In early November 2020, with its membership dwindling to eight to 12 attendees, the church council voted to take steps to close the church during a Sunday afternoon meeting.  “Nobody wanted to do it. Nobody ever wants to close a church,...


Diversity, Equality, Inclusivity Task Force begins work in conference

October 27, 2021

Fulfilling a promise he made during his annual conference episcopal address this year, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. convened the first Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity Task Force on Oct. 21 at the conference office in Topeka.  Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. speaks with members of the Diversity, Equality, ...


UNDER ONE ROOF: Kansas church a proud 'melting pot'

October 27, 2021

The 20 members of the congregation at the United Church of Bennington were settled into their pews minutes before the start of a recent 9:30 a.m. Sunday service when a question came up.  “Who rings the bell?”  The bell sits on a metal frame outside the central Kansas church, which has dual ...


Buesing to leave conference after more than 11 years

October 20, 2021

After 11 ½ years as second-in-command of the administrative services department, Niki Buesing is leaving the Great Plains Conference.  Buesing, assistant treasurer and controller, will leave the conference in mid-November to become the chief financial officer for Nemaha Valley Community Hospital in ...


UNDER ONE ROOF: SW Kansas church keeps chin up with few members

October 20, 2021

It’s 8:58 a.m. Sunday, and Holcomb Community Church is without its pastor. “Hope Gordon didn’t forget about us,” church member Connie Gross wondered aloud. Gordon Gillock delivers the sermon at Holcomb Community Church. Photos by David Burke Within a minute, Gordon Gillock’s vehicle is spotted ...


UNDER ONE ROOF: From three denominations to two

October 13, 2021

United Faith Community Church has entered into a rare state of flux.  Its pastor of 20-plus years, Carl Ratcliff, retired in midsummer, and the Sept. 12 service was its first without him.  “When a church doesn’t have a senior pastor, it can be an unsettling thing,” Pastor Jeff Peterson, the first of...


UNDER ONE ROOF: Central Nebraska church stays community-focused

October 06, 2021

If a multitude of announcements are an indication of a healthy congregation, Sutton Federated Church qualifies. Pastor Mary Scott gives the announcements at the opening of services of Sutton Federated Church in Nebraska. Photos by David Burke There’s the upcoming tai chi class — which Pastor ...


Making comeback after COVID tops Leadership Institute discussion

October 05, 2021

The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection’s 23rd annual Leadership Institute spoke to churches who were bruised but not broken by the pandemic, ready for a restart and seeking encouragement to return and revitalize their missions.  Because of COVID concerns, a 500-person cap was made on ...


Panel discusses future of UMC during Leadership Institute

October 05, 2021

The Rev. Adam Hamilton has been to five General Conferences, and any discussion of issues concerning LGBTQ persons —including the ordination of gay or lesbian individuals or whether clergy can perform same-sex marriages — has “sucked the air out of every General Conference I’ve been to.”  The issues...


United Methodist pastor running for U.S. Senate

October 04, 2021

The Rev. Dr. Mark Holland speaks on the floor of The United Methodist Church's special session of General Conference in 2019 in St. Louis. File photo A United Methodist pastor and former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, says he wants to put “faith over fear” in his run for ...


Pastors use renewal leave as time to regroup, reflect

September 15, 2021

“Paper cuts,” the Rev. Jacob Cloud says, can take their toll.  Cloud has been a United Methodist pastor since 2009, serving a variety of churches as well as serving as campus minister at the University of Kansas. He has been the senior pastor at Waverly UMC in Nebraska since 2018.  And he felt like ...


Murithi installed as Prairie Rivers, Elkhorn Valley DS

August 31, 2021

The Rev. Dr. Charles Murithi served up food for thought as he was installed as superintendent of the Prairie Rivers District and a portion of the Elkhorn Valley District on the weekend of Aug. 28-29.  His sermon on Sunday afternoon, he said at the Prairie Rivers installation ceremonies at Aurora ...


Great Plains part of reflective supervision pilot program

August 25, 2021

Holding a figurative mirror up to a clergy person to help them evaluate their own accountability is the mission of reflective supervision, a pilot program that will begin this fall in the Great Plains Conference.  “Reflective supervision is a one-on-one relationship with a trained supervisor who ...


Group rallying for Medicaid expansion in Kansas

August 25, 2021

A retired United Methodist pastor and a retired social worker are seeking to rally people from across Kansas to help support Medicaid expansion in the state.  Rev. Jack Gregory and Cathy Matlack, both members of the Lenexa St. Paul’s UMC peace and justice committee, have founded Faith Voices for ...


Topeka’s Café Quetzal off to a caffeinated start

August 24, 2021

Wielding a pair of what she called “comically oversized scissors,” the Rev. Christine Potter was ready to cut the red ribbon that officially opened Café Quetzal on Aug. 21 in Topeka.  Rev. Christine Potter and Barb Muench attempt to cut the ribbon at the opening of Cafe Quetzal in Topeka on ...


Karen Rice Ratzlaff installed as Salina, Hutchinson DS

August 17, 2021

When the Rev. Karen Rice Ratzlaff was in third grade, she gathered all of her stuffed animals and one doll, lined them up on the side of her bed, and delivered her first sermon. “Because God can do anything, God became a little tiny baby,” she recalled of her bedroom homily. She left the room, ...


In his former church, Brady installed as Kansas City District superintendent

August 10, 2021

The Rev. Dr. Tom Brady returned to Overland Park Heritage UMC on Aug. 8 to be formally installed as the Kansas City District superintendent. Brady served as senior pastor at the church from July 1996 to February 2006 — “For almost 10 years, this was home,” he said. The Rev. Tom Brady is ...


Binder adds new duties at conference level

August 04, 2021

The Rev. Marcee Binder is expanding on her work in mission outreach and justice ministries for the Missouri River District by adding responsibilities at the conference level.  As of last month, Binder has become the liaison for the Missouri River and Elkhorn Valley districts to the Congregational ...


Anderson installed as Hays, Dodge City district superintendent

July 27, 2021

The youngest district superintendent in the Great Plains Conference was installed in ceremonies July 24, with Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. calling the Rev. Zach Anderson a voice of the next generation.  “Isn’t it wise to have someone is a position of decision making to lead the church that we leave ...


Wichita Saint Mark proposes housing complex for released convicts

July 14, 2021

Wichita Saint Mark UMC sits in the corner of the 67214 ZIP code, which Rev. Robert Johnson calls the “No. 1 landing ZIP” in the city for released prisoners.  Johnson said 1,300 to 1,400 former convicted felons live in that area of central Wichita, and most, he says, are released into the community ...


Cross-cultural pastors given advice on clergy life in Great Plains

July 12, 2021

The importance of foreign-born pastors to the ministry and mission of the Great Plains Conference was reinforced July 10 during the first of two Cross-Cultural Workshops. “You have so much to teach us as far as spiritual fervor and spiritual community,” Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. told the three dozen ...


De Anda looks back on her legacy at Lydia Patterson

June 30, 2021

Thirty-seven years ago, Socorro Brito de Anda agreed to temporarily help out Lydia Patterson Institute in El Paso, Texas, agreeing to work three months in the business office of the United Methodist private school.  And she’s never left.  Retiring this summer, longtime Lydia Patterson president ...