Blog Posts


Welcoming Strangers

1/1/2013

Hebrews 13:2 is clear: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” This verse—along with Leviticus 19:33-34 and Matthew 25:38-40—are the bedrock that should inform our hearts and minds about how our churches, our communities, our states and our nation should respond to newcomers in our midst. For many years now, our country has been engaged in a debate about how to handle immigrants who live and work in our country without...


Why we must continue to Imagine No Malaria

12/12/2012

The following was written Dec. 12, 2012, in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe. I have been to the meetings. I have read the brochures. I have watched the videos. I have heard impassioned speakers talk about the scourge of this disease. Intellectually I knew what I needed to know. I have been part of the Kansas West, Kansas East and Nebraska Conferences as they committed to raising money for Imagine No Malaria. I have given money personally. I have announced that I will shoot 1,000 free throws on Feb. 23 to ...


Being witnesses for Christ

10/16/2012

One way to describe the Christian’s life of discipleship is to take seriously Jesus’s words to his disciples in Acts 1:8. He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In 2008, the General Conference changed the membership vows of the United Methodist Church, adding the word, “witness.” Professing members are asked, “As members of this congregation, will you ...


More Young People

10/15/2012

Dr. Lovett Weems has taught many leaders of The United Methodist Church a phrase that is being repeated widely: we need more people, more young people, and more diverse people. I agree. The average age of a United Methodist layperson is more than 57. The average age of people in the United States is in the lower 30s. There is clearly a problem here. If our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, and if the population around us is younger than we are and we are not reaching them, we are not...


One conference and change

8/14/2012

We have voted for change. When I say “we,” I mean more than two-thirds of the lay and clergy members of all three conferences: Kansas East, Kansas West and Nebraska. On January 1, 2014, we will become the Great Plains Annual Conference. I do believe that we have made the right decision, but, as one of my friends said in an email, “Now, the real work begins.” The new conference will have more than 200,000 lay people, nearly 1,000 congregations and almost 800 active elders, deacons, associate ...


A tapestry made from the pairing of Seminary and mentoring

Transition into Ministry Program

The Rev. Bill Gepford, pastor at Fremont First UMC in Nebraska, shares about the tools learned in Seminary and how those tools are shaped by an experienced mentor. Seminary gave me a lot of tools.  But it took experience under a mentor pastor to start using the right tool at the right time.   Seminary gave me a lot of tools.    I spent a semester on preaching, a semester on leadership, a semester on ecological healing and holistic evangelism (yes, that was a class), and a semester on the minor ...


Dear Emily Cannon in 2013

Transition into Ministry Program

The Rev. Emily Cannon, pastor at Auburn UMC in Nebraska, reflects on her time in the TiM program by writing a letter to her younger self. Dear Emily-in-2013,                   Congratulations!  You’ve just graduated from seminary!  For the last three years, you’ve been immersing yourself in the study of theology and ministry, and you’ve been dreaming about the day when you’d begin to serve a congregation of your own.  And even though you spent the first 18 years of your life in the Rocky ...


Discipling at the heart of UM camps

Sara Shaw

Discipling starts in the heart, a heart that rejoices in the ministries of others. This is what the Great Plains Camping ministry is all about. Camp is a place where all are welcome. To come explore, renew, and rejoice. Staff at camp rejoice in the individuality of campers, become campers biggest cheerleader, and foster growth in a community of love, acceptance, and support. Building relationships at camp with Christ, each other, and nature is a way of life at camp.  This is why so many ...


How the TiM Program has shaped me

The Rev. Emmanuel, associate pastor at Aldersgate UMC in Wichita, KS, shares about his journey in the TiM Program. The Transition into Ministry program has been of immense and significant contribution both to my personal growth in Christ as a disciple and in my call to the pastoral vocation—servanthood endeavor.  From my standpoint as a person with international cultural nurture and perspective, my general life here in the United States has always been cross-cultural, with its attending ...


Mentorship ... discipleship ...

Shane Hinderliter

Confirmation mentors as "disciplers" The Great Plains conference hosted three confirmation rallies across Nebraska and Kansas this spring. Several of the groups that attended were comprised of nearly as many adults as students – many of these adults were serving as mentors to the confirmation students. At one of the rallies a group of senior adults walked into the church looking for the restrooms about an hour before the event was scheduled to begin. I thought they were there for another church ...


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