Blog Posts

This is MY church!

Lay Servant Ministries


I was in a meeting at a local church with the district superintendent when a lady burst into tears and proclaimed: “This is MY church!” The DS replied hotly “this is GOD’s church!” Who was right? Who was wrong? They both were! Say what? How can they both be wrong AND right? The woman was right in that each local congregation is a unique entity that the members are responsible to maintain. We are to encourage, teach, reach out and keep our local church vital and strong. Too often we rely on ...

In Layman's Terms: Packing for General Conference

Todd Seifert


Well, the time has finally arrived. Those of us plugged in to The United Methodist Church have been either eagerly awaiting or anxiously dreading this day since the adjournment of the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. The time, indeed, has come for the special called session of General Conference in St. Louis. There almost certainly will be television cameras and newspaper reporters on site to see what the people known as Methodists will allow regarding marriage of same-gender ...

In Layman's Terms: Reflections from the Holy Land

Todd Seifert


Amazing! Awesome! Life-changing! Those were just some of the words people who recently visited the Holy Land with Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. used to describe their trip. The seven-day adventure took the group of 61 people to historic churches marking the traditional locations of Jesus’ birth, ministry, conviction, crucifixion and resurrection. Our tour guide — a Palestinian, Syrian Orthodox Christian named Nader Mascobi — greeted our group at the Tel Aviv airport with a simple phrase: “Welcome ...

Clergy Faith and Wellness: Faith and Wellness Initiative

Rev. Shelly Petz


Clergy of the Great Plains Conference, Thank you to those who planned for and participated in the recent Great Plains Orders and Fellowship meeting. The vulnerability, strength, honesty and encouragement from the presenters, workshop leaders, Bishop Saenz and Rev. Dr. Kevass Harding, and the overwhelming hospitality that was offered throughout created an atmosphere of welcome and investment in the clergy of the conference.  I experienced that clergy felt cared for, listened to, and inspired to ...

In Layman's Terms: A book that challenges your thoughts on race

Todd Seifert


I think it’s appropriate that I completed reading the book “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” on the day we celebrated the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I made a resolution in 2018 to read two books a month. I fulfilled that goal on Dec. 29. For 2019, my goal is to read 30 books. I admit that while I was interested in the topic, I didn’t realize the depth of subject I was getting myself into with my first book of the year. I found this...

In Layman's Terms: App can help set foundation for bold faith goals

Todd Seifert


I’m not really into new year’s resolutions, but I am a pretty big advocate for setting goals. I’ve always looked at goals as providing some prioritization to my life, but I heard this concept put into a different perspective recently while listening to Pastor Rick Warren’s “Daily Hope” podcast on my way to work. In one of his sermons aimed at helping the Saddleback Church congregation set goals for the new year, he urged his audience to set faith goals. He argued that we spend a lot of time ...

Clergy Faith and Wellness: Health for body and soul

Rev. Shelly Petz


Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 3 John 1:2 (NRSV) Friends, I do indeed pray for you. Ministry is an incredible calling, and responsibility. Many of you have just led others through the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and now are living in the season after Epiphany. We have before us the realities of what it means that God has come to live with us and among us. Some people make resolutions at the beginning...

Yes, Virginia, We Need Lay Servants

Lay Servant Ministries


This week we have completed the 3rd Sunday in Advent, and light a candle recognizing the Joy of the season. As I contemplated joy, I recalled the story of little Virginia O’Hanlon and the response she received from the editor of The Sun regarding her question, “Is there a Santa Claus?” (If you aren’t familiar with the story, google it.) I realized that many of the assertions the editor (Francis Church) used in his response could have as much impact if we substituted the name Jesus each time Sant...

'Anatomy of Peace': Disrupting our hearts in the presence of the other

Nathan D. Stanton


It has been 12 years since I was introduced to the ideas and philosophies contained in the Arbinger Institute’s books “Anatomy of Peace” and “Leadership and Self-Deception.” In that 12 years I have come to understand the core value of those books is that in our most intense moments of human relationship, or lack of relationship, it is always our work as human beings to manage ourselves, first. Obviously, I am not talking about folks who are manipulated, abused and systematically marginalized by...

In Layman's Terms: Easter people celebrating Christmas

Todd Seifert


I’m convinced Christmas is such a festive time of year because of the atmosphere that accompanies it. The lights on houses and along city streets remind us of the light — Jesus — coming into the world. Christmas trees become a focal point in our homes. Nativity scenes remind us of the reason for the season. Carols prompt us to break out singing, regardless of whether or not we can carry a tune. And we get to see Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, Buddy the Elf, and George Bailey on our TV screens. ...

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