In Layman's Terms

 

About Todd 

Todd serves as communications director for the Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church and is a participant in Lay Servant Ministries. He has served in his current role since February 2015. Prior to that, he served as a journalist with Gannett Co. Inc., for 20 years, the last 14-plus years as executive editor of Spectrum Media in St. George, Utah.

 

 

 

 


This podcast, hosted by Todd Seifert, explores concepts of discipleship by telling the stories of a person, a congregation or even a community. Some episodes feature interviews. And some involve Todd providing reflections on scriptures from the Bible. 

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Lessons from Ezra
and Nehemiah

As we come nearer and nearer to being able to return to life from our in-home exiles, Todd Seifert, conference communications director, is embarking on a new series for the “In Layman’s Terms” podcast focused on rebuilding our society and our spiritual disciplines.

Using the stories from the Old Testament history books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the goal is to share stories about how people and churches are preparing to re-engage with their congregations, their communities and with God through their own faith practices. Are you or your church doing something to prepare? Send an email to Todd Seifert at tseifert@greatplainsumc.org.

  • Let's Build: Embracing the New Normal — This first episode in the series sets the stage by taking a brief look at Jewish history and the way people in Jerusalem viewed the foundation being set for the new temple after their return from the Babylonian exile.
  • Returning from Our Own Exiles — Calvary UMC in Wichita serves as an example of how preparation and flexibility can keep people connected to each other and, most importantly, to God. Rev. Michael Marion and Rev. Ashely Prescott Barlow Thompson sit down with Todd to talk about how the pandemic forced them to make decisions and how the congregation is adapting even 13 months after the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Reading the Bible — Rev. Jeff Goetzinger from the Hutchinson area takes part in a discussion with Todd about how the two of them read through the Bible in 365 days using different strategies as their guides. Re-engaging scripture is one of the key tactics for re-engaging our faith in a post-pandemic world.
  • Keeping What Works — The re-engagement series continues with an interview with the Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, lead pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church in the Benson neighborhood of north Omaha. She and Todd talk about the things St. Paul tried as a means of staying connected to its community and parishioners and how some of those efforts are now so ingrained into the church that they will remain long after the pandemic is over.

    In this episode, Stephanie references several videos you may want to check out for yourselves:

Award-Winning Episodes

The Great Plains Conference’s “In Layman’s Terms” podcast was named Best in Class in the News and Magazine Broadcast category in the recent Religion Communicators Council (RCC) awards for the four-part “Black Lives Matter” series.  RCC is a nationwide interfaith association of communications professionals who work for and with faith-based organizations in the areas of communications, public relations, advertising and development. The podcast won first place in the Web Radio Series category and then was named best in class from among winners in the categories under the Broadcast heading. The panel of four judges for the category commended podcast host Todd Seifert for including a diverse group of people to talk about their experiences as African-Americans in the United States, the need for increased focus on racial justice in the country, and the way the story was told over the four episodes in the series. 

You can listen to all four episodes via the links below: 

  • Black Lives Matter — This episode tells the story of the African-American experience through the words of six black pastors in the Great Plains Conference: Rev. Dee Williamston, Rev. Dr. Kevass Harding, Pastor Ronda Kingwood, Rev. Robert Johnson, Rev. Portia Cavitt and Rev. Kirstie Engel. A warning this episode does include some of the recording of Mr. Floyd asking officers to allow him to move so he can breathe. 

  • Response to Racism — Topics included white privilege, how to educate ourselves and other ways to help bring about change — from stopping racist chatter at the water cooler to speaking up to casting ballots. Featured guests included the late Rev. Junius Dotson and the Rev. Steve Spencer.  

  • Let’s Talk About Race — Featured guests included the Rev. Kathy Williams, now conference coordinator for clergy development and at the time an African-American pastor serving a small town in Kansas, talking about the silence she observed after the death of George Floyd; Garlinda Burton, interim general secretary of The United Methodist Church’s General Commission on Religion and Race; and the Rev. Adam Barlow-Thompson and the Rev. Ashley Prescott Barlow Thompson, who lead the Neighboring Movement in Wichita. 

  • Color of Law — Noted columnist and author Richard Rothstein takes part in a conversation about his book that explains how redlining became a government-sponsored way of preventing people of color from prospering economically and the ongoing ramifications of those policies. 


This episode, which told the story about rebuilding the destroyed town of Greensburg, Kansas, was the debut episode for "In Layman's Terms," and it won the "best in class" award — the top award for the denomination — in the audio category in the 2019 United Methodist Association of Communicators awards contest. Download and listen to the episode here.

Featured Episodes

Coming of Age During the Civil Rights Movement — Oliver Green has been heavily involved in the Great Plains Conference since its inception. As we wrap up Black History Month, Oliver shares his story and what it was like to move into adulthood — as an African-American man — during the Civil Rights Movement. Oliver shares how the movement of the 1960s is similar to the cries for racial justice that we experience today, what attracted him to leaders like Malcom X and Martin Luther King and what can we do today to move forward on the important topic of racial justice.

Continuing the Push for Racial Justice —  It’s been nine months since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, so Todd Seifert, host of the “In Layman’s Terms” podcast, decided to tell some follow-up stories featuring guests who helped explain the impact of police and other kinds of violence upon people of color in the spring of 2020. The communications team took it a step further by recording this video of the interview discussions with the Rev. Dee Williamston, superintendent of the Salina and Hutchinson districts, and the Rev. Robert Johnson, lead pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, the Great Plains Conference’s largest predominantly African-American church.  Watch the video.     |      Listen to the audio version.

 

Church of the Resurrection celebrates its 30th anniversary

In October 1990, a relatively small group of people met for worship for the first time — in a funeral home. With a name that was somewhat tongue-in-cheek because of its location but also a theological statement because of its dedication to Jesus Christ, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection was born.

The congregation made a pitstop at an elementary school before settling in the first of what is now a five-campus church in Leawood, Kansas, campus. Led by a then 25-year-old pastor and now world-renowned author, Rev. Adam Hamilton, from that humble beginning started a congregation that is now the largest in the entire denomination.

Download the episode.

Miracle of Innocence

Rev. Darryl Burton, a newly ordained elder in The United Methodist Church sat in prison for 24 years. Lamont McIntyre sat in prison for 23 years. Neither man actually committed the murders for which they were accused. A ministry in New Jersey helped exonerate them, but there was no assistance to help them re-acclimate to society. So the two men joined forces in 2018 and launched Miracle of Innocence, a ministry meant to help innocent people find justice and regain their freedom, and then receive the help that Darryl and Lamont didn’t have available to them. Check out the organization’s website at www.miracleofinnocence.org.

Download the episode.


Class Meetings and Class Leaders

Class meetings — with strong class leaders — were among the ways the Methodist movement spread westward and through the prairies of the United States. But could looking to the denomination's past help laity and churches pave the way to a brighter, more vital future?

Why Now? — In this first of several episodes about class meetings, host Todd Seifert talks with District Superintendents Cindy Karges and Don Hasty, as well as retired elder, author and Methodist historian David Lowes Watson. They share why class meetings show promise for helping churches of all sizes — but especially small, rural congregations — boost discipleship, promote leadership and provide churches the tools they need to better serve their communities. This episode debuted July 15, 2020.

Laity as Key — We continue our look at class meetings and class leaders by taking a look at a pilot project in the Great West District in Nebraska, where Pastor Mark Baldwin is helping mentor a class leader. We also talk to Lisa Maupin, Great Plains Conference lay leader, about the way the class meeting model can help shift the story from one of scarcity to one of abundance. This episode debuted July 23, 2020.

History as Future — In the third of a three-part series on class meetings, Todd explores how class meetings provided a model of growth and evangelism in the past and how they can be a sustainable force in the present. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. is the featured guest who shares a vision for how class meetings can sustain a United Methodist witness in smaller churches but also can bolster discipleship in larger congregations by enhancing spiritual disciplines and introducing accountability among believers. This episode debuted Oct. 6, 2020.


Our country is more divided than ever. We have red states and blue states, and even red and blue congregations. Or do we? Aren’t our congregations really just different shades of purple? The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade joins Todd for a discussion about her book, “Preaching in the Purple Zone,” and how a method she has developed heavily involves the input from laity to help a church determine its response to topics pertinent to our times.

Adapting Church

This series examined how pastors and churches adapted their worship services and pastoral care during the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying stay-at-home orders in Kansas and Nebraska.


Lenten Series

During Lent in 2020, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., episcopal leader of the Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church, was the featured guest for a special series of episodes that explored the seven final sayings of Jesus from the cross.

Advent Series

During Advent 2020, Todd provided some reflections related to the topics represented by the four candles in the traditional Advent wreath.

 


Podcast Archive

More episodes, including Bible reflections, are available on Todd Seifert's website.