Blog Posts

Grief and the COVID-19 crisis

Lay Servant Ministries


I recently read an article on the internet (so you know it must be true!) from Harvard Business Review that referenced our emotions in this time of COVID-19. Some of their staff recently met virtually, a screen full of faces in a scene becoming more common everywhere. They talked of many COVID-related things and emotions, but one mentioned that what she was feeling was grief...and there were a lot of nodding faces. If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it. David Kessler, in his book “On ...

Clergy faith and wellness: I wept

Rev. Shelly Petz


I didn't know I had so many tears. Today I took a walk, because I know the importance of physical activity, especially in the midst of stress and distress. I wept. I wept as I walked by the house of my son's music teacher, knowing that tonight would have been his school music program, in which he had the lead. I wept as I walked by the house of the basketball coach, because I do not know when students will play sports together again. I wept as I walked by the house of my daughter's band ...

What is the real reach of your church's online worship?

Todd Seifert


I remember an older gentleman who counted the number of people in attendance each week at the church my wife served as music director in Springfield, Missouri. It was the late 1990s, and he was in his 90s, but as the first hymn wrapped up, he would walk to the end of each row, starting at the very front, and count meticulously. He then would go to the other side and follow the same procedure. It’s safe to say that church had an accurate count nearly every week because of his care and attention....

Clergy Faith & Wellness: Surviving -- one day at a time

Rev. Shelly Petz


The list of responsibilities these past few weeks has been ever-growing, ever-changing. It has opened up times to think about new opportunities. For me, I have also been overwhelmed. I have found myself in the midst of moments with renewed creativity and exploring uncharted waters. I have found myself in tears as I crumble to the floor exhausted. I have experienced, as maybe you have, the best and worst of humanity. There is deep faith. There is great fear. At the end of each day, I crawl into ...

How do we meet the needs of our lay servants during this time of social distancing?

Lay Servant Ministries


In the Great West District in Nebraska, we are looking at trying to use Zoom to hold a class that was originally scheduled and needs to be completed before June due to our pastor being moved to another district. The lay servants are wanting to take the class with this pastor and CLS. One of our main concerns is the time frame of the class. We do know that we do not want to do this in the weekend format as we have found most adults have shorter attention spans when using technology than face to ...

Clergy Faith & Wellness: Give yourself permission to grieve

Rev. Shelly Petz


Clergy,   It is OK to give yourself permission to grieve. At an unprecedented time of facing a pandemic, many people are experiencing various stages of grief ... denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, meaning-making. (See works by Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler for more related to stages of grief.) There is also anticipatory grief, grief that comes when we understand that there is so much more that we do not yet know or understand, and we anticipate more grief to come.   As ...

Disappointment and opportunity

Lay Servant Ministries


For the last several months, Lisa, Shane and I (and other conference staff), plus the Kearney First UMC staff, have spent countless hours and energy planning what has become known as The Laity Summit. To me, it is also an exciting and significant opportunity for lay persons of our conference. But, alas, the elephant virus in the room has not cancelled but drastically changed the event. It will be produced from the Topeka office to anyone in the conference who would like to attend via ...

Little children, come unto me

Lay Servant Ministries


As we are entering this season of Lent, we need to look for Jesus here on earth. Three years ago, I started to work part-time as a special services bus driver for the local school district. I have a wide range of students: a boy and girl who are nonverbal and are in wheelchairs, age 19; two autistic students that are very sensitive to sounds and need reassurance when there is a change, ages 7 and 10; and one kindergarten foster child that has a lot of emotional trouble. Then we also have eight ...

In Layman's Terms: Interviewing potential bishops

Todd Seifert


I had the privilege of seeing what I think is an efficient model of church democracy take place last week in Oklahoma City. That’s where delegates to the General Conference and South Central Jurisdictional Conference gathered for three days of meetings leading up to those big events. Full disclosure: I missed the final day, the time set aside for delegates to hear about legislation coming to the General Conference in May in Minneapolis. I had heard that information before at a special meeting ...

Clergy Faith & Wellness: Take care of your hearts during Lent

Rev. Shelly Petz


How is your heart? It is American Heart Month, and as United Methodists who understand the power of a “heart strangely warmed,” I invite you to look at your heart. How is it physically, emotionally and spiritually? I care about your hearts and offer this invitation to the clergy of the Great Plains Conference: I invite you to join me during this upcoming season of Lent to take care of our hearts. How am I doing this? Physically: Choose something that I enjoy that is good for my physical heart ...

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