David Burke

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


Bishop Wilson among advocates for payday loan reform

January 25, 2023

TOPEKA — Bishop David Wilson joined statewide religious leaders in calling for reform of payday loan regulations in Kansas.  The Great Plains Conference bishop joined Catholic and Jewish leaders in calling for changes in the industry in a Jan. 25 news conference in the rotunda of the state ...


Kansas pastor still going strong at age 91

January 24, 2023

ELSMORE, Kansas – Rev. Ralph Peters asks and answers his own question. “Why is an old pastor, 91 years old, still preaching?” he said in the middle of a recent sermon at Elsmore United Methodist Church. “I’m still preaching because I love the Lord God, God’s power, and the things He can do.” Rev. ...


Group seeks ways to end violence in KCK

January 18, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Kansas – With the image of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King as a figurative and literal backdrop, Churches United for Justice asked local law enforcement officials to begin initiating group violence intervention programs in Wyandotte County. “The violence must stop,” the Rev. Ronald ...


Chali to succeed Reece as Wichita DS

January 17, 2023

The former mercy and justice coordinator for the Great Plains Conference will become the district superintendent for the Wichita area beginning July 1. Rev. Dr. Kalaba Chali, 45, will succeed Rev. Dr. Mitch Reece, who will reach his eight-year limit on the appointive cabinet. Reece will be ...


Grant to help conference with March border trip

January 11, 2023

A $10,000 grant from the General Commission on Religion and Race will go toward a border immersion opportunity for those in the Great Plains Conference wanting to learn more about immigration.  The immersion trip, under the umbrella Justice Encounters, will be March 23-28.  Leaders from the Great ...


Bishop continues tradition at Topeka First

January 10, 2023

Bishop David Wilson continued a 50-plus year tradition Jan. 8, delivering the sermon at Topeka First United Methodist Church.  From its days in the former Kansas East Conference through its time in the Great Plains Conference, the downtown Topeka church has traditionally hosted the new bishop for ...


Grants targeted at self-care for clergy in Great Plains

January 04, 2023

The Great Plains Conference will continue to provide clergy an opportunity to choose their own means of self-care.  Launched as a pilot program in 2021, clergy well-being grants will continue in the new year with a handful of changes, including a limit of $400 over a two-year period and two grant ...


New bishop praised for compassion, connection

December 14, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Those who have known and worked with Bishop David Wilson describe him with various combinations of three C’s: Caring, compassion and connection.  Bishop Wilson, who will begin as episcopal leader of the Great Plains Conference on Jan. 1, has been assistant to the bishop of the ...


Bishop Williamston looks back at time in Great Plains

December 13, 2022

Sixteen months isn’t very long on the job.  But it was that time frame as director of clergy excellence and assistant to the bishop of the Great Plains Conference that gave Bishop Dee Williamston the courage and the confidence to make advances in the denomination.  “It was fast,” she said with a ...


Conference bids farewell to Bishop, Mayé Saenz

December 12, 2022

With waves of laughter and tears, the Great Plains Conference bid farewell to Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and his wife, Mayé, on Dec. 9.  About 150 clergy, laity, cabinet, retirees and staff members gathered at Topeka Countryside United Methodist Church to honor Bishop Saenz, who will begin Jan. 1 as ...


Bishop Wilson gets sendoff from Oklahoma, OIMC

December 06, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY -- With the blessings of dozens of Native American tribes, Bishop David Wilson was sent off from the Oklahoma and Oklahoma Indian Missionary conferences in a Dec. 4 ceremony at Mosaic United Methodist Church.  “He made a pathway to You to become the first OIMC bishop,” Rev. Mike ...


Lincoln’s new justice group sets name, priorities, leader

November 15, 2022

LINCOLN – In the space of a 70-minute community problems assembly, Lincoln and Lancaster County’s new justice organization determined its two top priorities, elected officers, selected its name, and announced a Great Plains Conference clergy as its lead organizer. Justice in Action, the name ...


New bishop, colleague get close shaves

November 15, 2022

As a candidate for bishop in The United Methodist Church this summer, the Rev. Dee Williamston got a wild hair. The director of clergy excellence and assistant to the bishop at the time, she was talking to the Rev. Jeff Clinger, director of congregational excellence, at the conference office in ...


Bishop Saenz names Crawford, Reece to interim roles

November 09, 2022

Two veteran Great Plains Conference clergy will temporarily fill the positions of the departing Bishop Dee Williamston, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. announced Wednesday. The Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford will be the interim clergy excellence director, and the Rev. Dr. Mitch Reece will be interim assistant to...


New governance system, new director for GP camps

November 08, 2022

A 30-year veteran of camp leadership through both the YMCA and The United Methodist Church will be the first director of camping services for GP Camps.  Bob Kahle is currently director of programs and operations for SC Camps and Retreat Ministries in the South Carolina Conference, including managing...


New bishops look back at historic jurisdictionals

November 07, 2022

HOUSTON -- As the newly elected and veteran bishops prepared for the consecration service that concluded the South Central Jurisdictional Conference, all of them reflected on a historic, whirlwind week.  “It’s surreal, it’s surreal,” said Bishop Dee Williamston from the Great Plains, assigned to the...


Sibling delegates look back at historic week

November 04, 2022

HOUSTON — They’re not quite sure who had the idea first. Siblings Roy and Abigail Koech pose for a photo at First United Methodist Church's west campus in Houston, the venue for the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. Abigail Koech was encouraging friends in 2019 to nominate ...


Wilson named as next Great Plains bishop

November 03, 2022

Bishop-elect David Wilson waves to attendees from the Great Plains Conference after he was named as the next episcopal leader of the conference beginning Jan. 1, 2023.   First Native American bishop 'elated' to serve in Kansas and Nebraska HOUSTON — The first Native American ...


Williamston to serve as bishop in Louisiana

November 03, 2022

Twenty-four hours after her monumental election as the first Black female episcopal leader in the South Central Jurisdiction, Bishop-elect Dee Williamston is still being cheered on by her colleagues in the Great Plains Conference.   Bishop-elect Dee Williamston stands with representatives from...


Bishop Saenz puts eye on future in episcopal address

November 03, 2022

Capped by a rousing standing ovation, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. asked the South Central Jurisdiction to look beyond the turmoil of the present and ahead to the church of the future. “For too long, but particularly the past six years, we have been consumed with the present as a denomination,” the ...


Jurisdiction passes measure to empower LGBTQIA+ persons

November 03, 2022

The South Central Jurisdiction overwhelmingly approved three resolutions Thursday morning, including asking those who are considering leaving the denomination to step back from church leadership roles, showing support for regional conferences, and giving justice and empowerment to United Methodists ...


Newly elected bishops discuss historic vote

November 02, 2022

Rev. Dr. David Wilson and Rev. Laura Merrill both were elected on the first ballot Tuesday at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference.     The Rev. Dr. David Wilson was one of two history-making elections Tuesday at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. He is ...


Williamston reflects on making history

November 02, 2022

  Rev. Dee Williamston waves to the crowd after receiving her bishop's pin minutes after being elected on the first ballot Tuesday during the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in Houston. Clergy excellence director becomes 1st African-American woman elected in South Central  The ...


Williamston among 3 elected on 1st SCJ ballot

November 02, 2022

HOUSTON – Delegates to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference elected three candidates, filling all of its vacant bishop seats, on the very first ballot Tuesday. The Rev. Dee Williamston, director of clergy excellence and assistant to the bishop of the Great Plains Conference, received 141 ...


Bishop Jones previews SCJ ‘22

November 02, 2022

  The 2022 South Central Jurisdictional Conference is the second in a row that Bishop Scott Jones has hosted. The former Great Plains Conference bishop, now the episcopal leader in the Texas Conference, also oversaw the 2016 conference in Wichita. Bishop Jones gave a preview of the 2022 SCJ to ...


Candidates answer questions prior to jurisdictional opening

November 01, 2022

HOUSTON — Candidates for bishop introduced themselves to the delegations from the South Central Jurisdiction on Tuesday night, answering random questions from their favorite hymns and pastimes to disaffiliation discernment and whether they would agree to ordain LGBTQ+ clergy. Although individual ...


Papillion church debuts first creative arts academy

October 31, 2022

For an hour, the sanctuary at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Papillion turned into an art gallery, photo display, theater and comedy club.  It was the culmination of the first semester of the Papillion Creative Arts Academy at St. Paul’s UMC, where children and youth from preschool through ...


Connecting council approves expansion of diversity task force

October 25, 2022

What began last year as a short-term Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity Task Force could become a permanent committee next June, based on a vote by the Connecting Council during an online meeting Oct. 22.  Members of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion task force at their first meeting in October 2021. ...


Capital matching grants available from conference; Nov. 15 is deadline for ‘22

October 25, 2022

Prompted by a motion from the floor of the 2022 annual conference, the Great Plains Conference board of trustees has established matching capital improvement grants for churches.  “The matching grant component helps the church demonstrate their long-term commitment to the project and accompanying ...


Camp Horizon celebrates 75th anniversary

October 19, 2022

Marjorie Hunt Utt has 75-year-old memories of being a happy camper.  “A couple in Belle Plaine brought me down, and there weren’t many attendees here,” the 93-year-old recalled while waiting for the beginning of the 75th anniversary celebration at Camp Horizon. “There wasn’t much here. We had a ...


Childcare center gives new life to former central Nebraska church

October 19, 2022

The building’s exterior still has the shape of the late 19th-century churches of its time.  Small touches of the stained glass in its windows provide a reminder of nearly 150 years of mission.  But inside the former sanctuary of the Kenesaw United Methodist Church is a modern, bustling community ...


Group holds rallies to encourage payday loan reform

October 19, 2022

“Stop the debt trap!” was a common refrain during the first rally by Kansans for Payday Loan Reform, a grassroots organization protesting the 391% interest rate that can be charged by lenders.  “Today we are sending a message to Kansas lawmakers that enough is enough,” Deacon Anne Flynn, archdeacon ...


Group wants awareness of family care options instead of orphanages

October 05, 2022

During Church of the Resurrection’s Leadership Institute, those with an interest in missions to orphans were asked to a dinner.  Participants joined around tables that contained Bible verses about caring for widows and orphans, as well as questions about perceptions about orphanages.  It was one of ...


Hamilton counters GMC claims in videos, Leadership session

October 05, 2022

The Rev. Adam Hamilton reiterated his devotion to The United Methodist Church during a Leadership Institute session on the future of the denomination.  In a largely autobiographical presentation, Hamilton, who founded United Methodist Church of the Resurrection 32 years ago, told about wavering ...


Leadership Institute includes guidance, hope -- and tractors

October 05, 2022

Part of the mission of this year’s Leadership Institute at Church of the Resurrection, the Rev. Adam Hamilton said, was to give encouragement to pastors and churches in a post-COVID world, where attendance levels aren’t what they were before the pandemic.  “A lot of pastors in this room feel like ...


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...