Distance Meeting Options

Distance meeting or distance learning technology may be used when distances are too great for participants to travel, great meeting frequency is required, timeliness is a factor or simply greater efficiencies are desired. The Great Plains United Methodist Conference spans two very large states and requires group leaders to think strategically about the proper combination of face-to-face meeting interaction and the use of interactive meeting technology. Following is a menu of meeting technologies currently employed by Great Plains United Methodists and how you can initiate their use. The following meeting options are provided from smallest to largest meeting format.

Telephone Conference Calls

Using traditional telephone conference call technology, the number of connections is unlimited and several meetings can be conducted simultaneously. Conference calls are best with groups of 3-6 people, 12-15 is an absolute maximum with the organizer setting a precise model for conversation, such as each person identifying themselves before speaking, and other ground rules. To schedule a telephone conference call, contact the appropriate liaison for your department.


  • Clergy Excellence Committees: Contact Dana Reinhardt, dreinhardt@greatplainsumc.org or call her at 402-464-5994 or 800-435-6107, ext. 105.
  • Congregational Excellence Committees: Contact your staff liaison in the Wichita office at 800-745-2350.
  • Administrative Ministries Committees: Contact JoEllen McGranahan, jmcgranahan@greatplainsumc.org or call her at 877-972-9111.


Number of possible connections: 1 to 1 (unless participants pay for a multi-person account, Skype Premium.) This option uses a webcam with built-in microphone and your computer speakers.


Web Conferencing Option 1 (Go To Meeting)

Number of possible connections: 25 (including presenter); number of simultaneous meetings: 1

This format is good for small meetings where it is important to share visual aids. Participants using their webcams can use facial expressions and other non-verbal communication. It is also excellent for two-way communication where discussion and feedback are important elements of the meeting. Meetings can be recorded, allowing participants to access the material and discussion later.

Schedule through the communications office, rmoser@greatplainsumc.org (Rachel Moser), 402-464-5994 x115. GoToMeeting leaders will receive confirmation with meeting instructions for participants. Your conference is not scheduled until you receive this confirmation.

First-time leaders can schedule a training in advance to ensure familiarity with the platform. Meeting leaders will be responsible for distributing meeting connection information to participants.

GoToMeeting is an application that uses a webcam and online download. Phone conferencing is available through the GoToMeeting platform. Normal long distance charges apply.


Web Conferencing Option 2 (Adobe Connect)

Number of possible connections: 100 (including presenter); number of possible simultaneous meetings: 3

This format is good for meetings where it is important to share visual aids. Participants can see the presenter’s facial expressions. Two-way communication is possible, contingent upon the number of participants. Meetings can be recorded, allowing participants or people unable to attend the meeting to access the material and discussion later.

To request a meeting time and date, send an email to scheduleconnect@greatplainsumc.org. Leaders will receive confirmation with meeting instructions for participants. Your conference is not scheduled until you receive this confirmation.

First-time meeting leaders are encouraged to schedule a training in advance to ensure familiarity with the platform. Meeting leaders are responsible for distributing participant connection information.

Adobe Connect uses a webcam, an online application and VOIP (voice over internet). Integrated telephony is available with Adobe Connect and is recommended for connecting locations with low bandwidth. Conference call fees apply.


Great Plains Video Conferencing System (Polycom or formerly LifeSize)

The Great Plains Conference has 14 video conferencing locations throughout Kansas and Nebraska (see map). A limited number of simultaneous connections are available.

Site capacities range from 8-10 participants up to 40 participants. This format is good for education/instruction/preaching sessions as well as small meetings where it is important to see facial expressions and other non-verbal communication. It is also excellent for two-way communication where discussion and feedback are important elements of the meeting.

First-time meeting leaders are encouraged to schedule training in advance with your staff liaison or one of the communications staff members to ensure familiarity with the system. Meeting leaders are responsible for distributing participant connection information and local videoconferencing site management once a meeting is scheduled.

A map showing all locations is available at www.greatplainsumc.org/VideoConferencingLocations. A video conference reservation form link is located at www.greatplainsumc.org/distancemeetingoptions under the Conference Leadership Resources link under the Administration tab. Alternatively, contact Ann Manske in the Wichita Office at 800-745-2350 or amanske@greatplainsumc.org, to initiate a video conference meeting. Manske will reserve the locations with each site’s scheduler for the time requested on a space available basis.

All site-specific needs or requests such as refreshments or special room setup should be coordinated through the local site scheduler. The reserved videoconferencing sites and the initiator of the meeting will receive a meeting request through Outlook notification for the booked video conference.

To arrange for a video conference using any of these sites, please take the following steps:

  1. Determine which sites you would like to use and the approximate number who will attend at each site. (Note the capacity on the site list below. Local churches generally can accommodate more people than smaller offices like Dodge City, Hays and Kansas City.)
  2. Determine the date, day of the week, starting and ending times of the conference. (Be precise as the system automatically connects and disconnects at the assigned times, so estimate for the longest time you expect to need the system.)
  3. Contact Ann Manske in the Wichita office using the online reservation form or at amanske@greatplainsumc.org or 316-684-0266 to determine if your preferred sites are available and to reserve your video conference sites. Be sure to give the name of the group/meeting and your name and contact information.
  4. If one or more of your sites cannot be confirmed, you may either continue with the available sites or begin the process again with a new date and time.
  5. Once you have received a confirmation from Ann that the conference is scheduled, contact your attendees with the details of your meeting. (Forwarding your video conference confirmation email, along with any other information such as your agenda, is a good way to ensure the attendees are aware of the booked locations and the dial in number for the meeting.)
  6. Notify your video conference attendees that if they must cancel for any reason, they must inform you at once. If a video conference location is no longer needed, the meeting organizer is to directly contact the specific video conference site and let them know the room is no longer needed. This prevents staffing a reserved video conference site with no one attending. Also inform Ann Manske so she can adjust your reservation for the appropriate number of locations. This will improve your experience during the meeting.
  7. Once the video conference is reserved and confirmed and you would like to arrange for hospitality, the meeting organizer is to contact the local site to determine what can be provided by the site and what must be cared for by the meeting organizer or attendees (for example arranging for coffee or tea vs. catering for a meal – the location may be able to accommodate coffee and tea where they may not be able to arrange for catering).
  8. It is up to the meeting initiator to pass along the invitation including the dial in number for your meeting. The dial in number will be needed if the videoconferencing system at any given location does not connect automatically as scheduled. (Wait for the appointed time for the automated call before resorting to the six-digit dial in number.)


Video Conference Locations

Great Plains Conference video-conferencing facilities including contact person, address and room capacity.

Ainsworth UMC (40)    
Mary Jo Davis, copy Rev. Eldon Davis
310 N Woodward
Ainsworth, Neb.  

Alliance UMC (30)    
Rev. Tom Lucas
704 Box Butte
Alliance, Neb.

Chanute First UMC (20)    
Ronda Phillips
202 S Lincoln
Chanute, Kan.  

Dodge City District Office (8)    
Patti Craghead
2016 First Ave., Ste. 605
Dodge City, Kan.  

Hays District Office (8)    
DeeDee Peteete
1011 West 27th St., Ste. F1
Hays, Kan.  

Kansas City District Office (15)    
Stephanie Hubers
12900 Metcalf Ave., Ste. 200
Overland Park, Kan.

Kearney First UMC (40)    
Lori O’Brien
4500 Linden Dr.
Kearney, Neb.

Lincoln Conference Office (40)    
Diane Dunkerson
3333 Landmark Cir.
Lincoln, Neb. 

Norfolk First UMC (40)    
Pam Hansen, copy Tammy Brabec
406 W. Phillip
Norfolk, Neb. 

Ogallala UMC (40)    
Renee Meyer, copy Rev. Chuck Rager
421 N Spruce
Ogallala, Neb.  

Papillion St. Paul’s UMC (30)
Debra Silva, copy Nancy Tomlinson
324 S Jackson
Papillion, Neb.(Omaha area)  

Salina Trinity UMC (30)    
Shari Murray, copy to revnjlt@gmail.com
901 E Neal Ave.
Salina, Kan.  

Topeka Conference Office (20)    
JoEllen McGranahan
4201 SW 15th St.
Topeka, Kan.

Wichita Conference Office (20)
Ann Manske, primary reservationist
316-684-0266 or 800-745-2350
9440 E Boston St.
Wichita, Kan.  

Webcast or Live Stream

Webcasts are similar to broadcasts, but usually to an invited audience delivered over the Internet. Webcasts are useful for the presentation of educational material and presentations to large target audiences. Interaction occurs through email and social media. Webcasts can be watched from a home computer or as a group activity in a large setting where a large screen projects the webcast for a group.

Current programs using the live streaming technology include Next Steps, ABIDE and Wesleyan Live. Traditionally it has also provided conference leadership the ability to distribute important information and dialogue on conference polity and programs. Webcasts can be originated from any location with sufficient Internet upload and download speeds. They can also be produced with one or multi-camera production values. Webcasts can be recorded for future review, editing and distribution.



The Great Plains United Methodist Conference has invested in the ability to connect people across the area. We invite you to take advantage of these many formats for communication. Don’t know where to start? Contact the communications office at 402-464-5994 to review the possibilities and to select the appropriate meeting option for your group or project.


Printable PDF of distance meeting options