News


Bishop makes plea for hurricane relief

Bishop makes plea for hurricane relief

10/3/2022
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. issued the following letter asking United Methodists in the Great Plains Conference to donate money for relief for people impacted by Hurricane Ian.  Download a printable PDF version. Sisters and Brothers of the Great Plains Conference:   Debris spreads across the Fort Myers, Florida, landscape in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Photo Courtesy Live Storm Chasers Grace and peace in the name of Jesus Christ. I know you have been joining me in prayer for the people ...

Rugby is an exciting sideline for Baptist-turned-UMC pastor

Rugby is an exciting sideline for Baptist-turned-UMC pastor

9/27/2022
When it came time for the Rev. John Sievering to record a welcome video for his new congregation at Omaha St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, he had to postpone.  He had a black eye.  Rev. John Sievering sports a black eye after a rugby match. Photo courtesy John Sievering “We had to sort of push that off a little bit,” he said with a laugh. “Got some good pictures out of it.”  Sievering, who began at St. Andrew’s in July as executive pastor of discipleship and congregational care, finds a...

David Burke


Omaha St. Andrew's looks back at 30 years

Omaha St. Andrew's looks back at 30 years

9/21/2022
Three decades ago, the former Nebraska Conference began a concerted drive for new church starts and chose Rev. Dr. Al Winseman to launch one in northwest Omaha. Now a burgeoning suburban area with busy shopping centers and restaurants, the spot that would become St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church was in the middle of farmland. “I was appointed to come here basically with a vacant lot and a phone book,” Winseman recalled with a laugh. “Our whole plan all along was that we weren’t going to be ...

David Burke


Partnership brings FHSU literacy center under campus ministries’ roof

Partnership brings FHSU literacy center under campus ministries’ roof

9/21/2022
Fort Hays State University’s Language and Literacy Institute was looking for a new home.  FHSU’s United Methodist Campus Ministries was looking for students with a reason to enter its building.  Both of those needs are being met with a marriage of the two, stoked by the marriage of their leaders. Dr. Sarah Broman Miller is assistant professor of teacher education and director of the institute, and Troy Miller is campus pastor at Fort Hays State.  “My basic strategy, if you will, for outreach, ...

David Burke


Salina churches work together to bolster youth groups and beyond

Salina churches work together to bolster youth groups and beyond

9/14/2022
It’s just past 7 o’clock on a Wednesday night, and the Family Life Center at Salina Trinity United Methodist Church is filled with raucous laughter. A dodgeball-type game called “Protect the President” is being played, with two people in the center of a circle made up of other youth. Look closer at the circle, and you’ll see middle schoolers next to high schoolers next to college students. Ask around a little bit, and you’ll find out the youth are from both Trinity and Salina University UMCs, ...

David Burke


Special session approves 55 disaffiliations, increased budget for '23

Special session approves 55 disaffiliations, increased budget for '23

9/13/2022
Preparing for the special session of the annual conference Sept. 10, at the Great Plains Conference studio, are Lori Richey, secretary, left; Lisa Maupin, conference lay leader; Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.; Jesi Lipp, parliamentarian; and the Rev. Dee Williamston, assistant to the bishop and director of clergy excellence. Photo by David Burke After a special session vote of 96.5% to approve the disaffiliation of 55 churches from the Great Plains Conference, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. urged those ...

David Burke


Topeka’s Tabernacle & Table finds a new home

Topeka’s Tabernacle & Table finds a new home

9/6/2022
When it came time for Marshall Larson to make a presentation on his ministry plans at the conclusion of a New Church Development workshop 2½ years ago, he winged it.  A longtime guitar player, he talked about bringing a small praise band to neighborhood parks in Topeka, followed by a short sermon and interaction with everyone involved.   “I had no idea they would accept, because we were in the middle of COVID,” he recalled. “This ministry’s all about gathering people together, and here we are ...

David Burke


Bishops urges prayer, action on gun violence

Bishops urges prayer, action on gun violence

9/5/2022
Sisters and Brothers of the Great Plains Conference, Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Reports of the Uvalde High Coyote’s last second win of its first home football game since the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary found its way to the top of my news feeds. While the stories of celebration and moments of joy by and for the Uvalde community are well received, the reason why a high school football game in South Texas made national news is a sobering call to action.  Gun violence...

Kansas lay servant conducts funeral for Pearl Harbor victim in Missouri

Kansas lay servant conducts funeral for Pearl Harbor victim in Missouri

8/29/2022
On a picturesque country hillside just outside of Mound City, fresh soil that does not yet grow grass indicates a newly dug grave in the cemetery called Mount Hope. The grave is that of Wilbur Francis Newton, buried there on Memorial Day weekend, May 28, 2022. Newton served in the Navy and was killed when his ship was bombed. His ship was the USS Oklahoma, which was attacked in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Many military markers in the cemetery, including a large veterans’ memorial and ...

Connecting council approves increased budget to be sent to annual conference

Connecting council approves increased budget to be sent to annual conference

8/24/2022
A $13.2 million budget – a 3.5% increase from the current year, despite losing 67 churches to disaffiliation – for 2023 was approved for recommendation to the Great Plains Annual Conference for its upcoming special session by the Connecting Council at its online meeting Aug. 20.  The council brings together conference staff, district superintendents, and clergy and lay committee leaders at least twice a year to make recommendations to the annual conference session and to handle business that ...

David Burke


Topeka couple uses balloons as ministry

Topeka couple uses balloons as ministry

8/24/2022
Balloons have always been a part of Randall and Marlana Hodgkinson’s lives. While students dating at Wichita State University nearly 30 years ago, he led her on a balloon-themed scavenger hunt for her birthday, which ended with her arms full of balloons — and a proposal. They even rode off from their wedding in a hot-air balloon. “It became a thing for us,” Marlana said. “He’s surprised me with balloons many times.” They kept their affection for balloons to themselves for many years, until they...

David Burke


Epworth Village campus sold; offices to move to church

Epworth Village campus sold; offices to move to church

8/23/2022
After more than 130 years of serving children and families in York, Nebraska, Epworth Village’s campus is being sold and its offices moved to York United Methodist Church. A sale price was not disclosed, but the purchase had to be approved by the denomination’s United Women in Faith, formerly United Methodist Women. Epworth Village opened in 1889 as the Mothers’ Jewels Home for orphans and through the years became a group home for youth. United Women in Faith had to approve the sale because of ...

David Burke


Eudora church channels VBS into one-day food-themed event

Eudora church channels VBS into one-day food-themed event

8/17/2022
  Barb Keltner greeted members and visitors to Eudora United Methodist Church with a promise.  “We’re gonna have some fun today,” she enthusiastically declared before the start of 9 a.m. services on Aug. 14.  Twins Landry and Maris Plegge prepare pizza at the food-themed event Aug. 14 at Eudora UMC. Photos by David Burke Indeed, at the beginning of the service the Rev. Ross Baker warned that no one was too young, too old, too big, nor too small for the events of the next few hours, where ...

David Burke


After one year, Café Quetzal connects with coffee, Christ

After one year, Café Quetzal connects with coffee, Christ

8/16/2022
As Topeka’s Café Quetzal celebrates its first anniversary, founders of the coffeeshop ministry see it as a triple success — as a business, as a church and as a community center.  “We feel like we have a good flow now,” said the Rev. Christine Potter, who opened the doors at the strip mall at 21st and Belle on Aug. 2, 2021. “We’re really confident in what we’re doing, we have a good following of people who come in regularly, and new people discovering us all the time.”  Rev. Christine ...

David Burke


Haitian church leader shares highs, lows of country

Haitian church leader shares highs, lows of country

8/10/2022
Though he spent two days in the Great Plains Conference in early August, Rev. Gélin Rosamour’s thoughts weren’t too far from his home in Haiti.  Since the country’s president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated 13 months ago, the Caribbean country has continued to erupt in chaos, he said.  Rev. Gélin Rosamour talks with Sheryl Crooks of Alta Vista, Kansas, as a reception at Topeka Susanna Wesley UMC. Photos by David Burke “Since the president passed, the country has become hell on earth,” he ...

David Burke


Atchison church engaging all generations

Atchison church engaging all generations

8/9/2022
At one United Methodist Church in Kansas, when the worship stops the engagement begins. Atchison UMC has started a first-Sunday-of-the-month pilot program this summer called Engage. With a different theme every month, those attending go downstairs from the sanctuary after an abbreviated service for an hour of intergenerational learning and activities, as well as food. Rev. Cyd Stein explains the activities for the August session of Engage at Atchison UMC. Photos by David Burke August’s ...

David Burke


Longtime UMC pastor Holland wins U.S. Senate nomination

Longtime UMC pastor Holland wins U.S. Senate nomination

8/3/2022
The United Methodist pastor who won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday believes the high voter turnout for the failed Value Them Both amendment helped his campaign. The Rev. Dr. Mark Holland received 96,832 votes, or 38% of the Democratic votes in the primary, more votes than the next two of the six contenders for the nomination. Rev. Dr. Mark Holland, here speaking at a rally in Topeka in 2020, topped six candidates in the Aug. 2 primary for the Democratic nomination for U.S. ...

David Burke


Institute numbers down, but spirit still high

Institute numbers down, but spirit still high

8/1/2022
The first in-person United Methodist Youth Institute in three years may have lacked the hundred-plus attendees of previous versions, but not its spirit.  About 35 youth attended Institute, whose roots go back a century, at Baker University in Baldwin City from July 25 to 30.  “They’ve really formed a nice community together, and it might even be tighter-knit because there’s less of them,” said Heather Fischer, stepping in for her brother, the Rev. Kurt Cooper, as community life director.  ...

David Burke


Ukrainian finds love, hope in UMC pastor's family

Ukrainian finds love, hope in UMC pastor's family

7/27/2022
John Finch doesn’t watch the news.  “We made an agreement,” his adoptive mother, Meagan Finch, said.  “It was too much trauma,” his adoptive father, the Rev. Andrew Finch, continued.  The Rev. Andrew Finch, left, John and Meagan Finch, along with their dog, Chloe, in the living room of their Omaha home. Photo by David Burke The 20-year-old was born in Ukraine, and by the time he was 1, his parents and sister were thrown into jail. He grew up in an orphanage — with countless tales of ...

David Burke


Micah Corps interns look back at memorable summer

Micah Corps interns look back at memorable summer

7/20/2022
The five young people who comprised this year’s Micah Corps spent the summer learning a lot about justice ministries – and just as much about themselves. “I think I’ve learned more about being Methodist than I ever thought I would in my whole life,” said Charlotte Carroll, a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and an Omaha native. “I like the benefit of that, because I was doing this to challenge my faith journey, so I’m excited I had the time to experience that this summer.”   ...

David Burke


SW Kansas church stays on side of UMC

SW Kansas church stays on side of UMC

7/13/2022
Within 18 miles of Dodge City, the Rev. Jerre Nolte says, are six churches that have announced their intention to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. But Dodge City First UMC, where Nolte is entering its eighth year as pastor, is bucking the trend in southwest Kansas by declaring it will stay with the UMC. At a special called charge conference in June, church members voted nearly unanimously to stay with the denomination. “We want to be proactive in becoming a beacon of hope and a ...

David Burke


Bishop formally calls for special session in September

Bishop formally calls for special session in September

7/7/2022
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. issued the following letter July 7, 2022, formally calling a special session of the Great Plains Annual Conference for Sept. 10, 2022. Download a printable copy of the letter. Dear Clergy and Lay Members to the Great Plains Annual Conference:                                                 July 7, 2022   In accordance with our standing rules and ¶603.5 of the Book of Discipline, I hereby call for a special session of the Great Plains Annual Conference on Sept. 10, ...

UMC issues state of the church report

UMC issues state of the church report

7/5/2022
NASHVILLE – The United Methodist Church has released the 2021 State of the Church Report, which centers around the theme of claiming our identity. Beginning with Jesus' question to Peter in Matthew 16, "Who do you say that I am?" the question is posed to the UMC, "Who do we say that we are?" as the church seeks to affirm the basis of their identity in faith and service to Christ.  “This State of the Church Report is about how The United Methodist Church over the past year has sought to better ...

Jurisdiction recommends electing 3 bishops in November

Jurisdiction recommends electing 3 bishops in November

6/30/2022
The South Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy has decided, in consultation with the College of Bishops, to recommend that the Jurisdictional Conference elect three new bishops in November 2022. With three elections, the SCJ would have a total of nine bishops available to be assigned to nine of the 10 current episcopal areas. The tenth episcopal area will be left open with episcopal coverage to be determined by the Council of Bishops upon recommendation from the SCJ College of Bishops ...

Wichita church victim of copper theft from AC units

Wichita church victim of copper theft from AC units

6/29/2022
The Rev. Kevass Harding and his congregation at Dellrose United Methodist Church were ready for a celebration of the beginning of his 25th year at the Wichita church on the first Sunday of July.  But because of the theft of copper from the 10 air conditioning units surrounding the church, those plans are on hold.  All 10 of the air conditioning units at Wichita Dellrose UMC were stripped of their copper parts. Contributed photo “We don’t know if we’re going to or have to go virtual,” Harding...

David Burke


Bishop issues statement on Roe-v-Wade ruling

Bishop issues statement on Roe-v-Wade ruling

6/25/2022
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. issued the following letter today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision June 24, 2022, that overturned the landmark Roe-v-Wade decision from 1973. Download a printable version. Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Great Plains Conference: The June 24, 2022, Supreme Court decision overturning the historic Roe-v-Wade abortion-rights ruling is being met with mixed and strong emotions. Pro-life advocates cheered the ruling as a victory for the unborn, while ...

Williamston instrumental in getting historic marker for lynching victim

Williamston instrumental in getting historic marker for lynching victim

6/21/2022
While a pastor at Mentor UMC in central Kansas in 2007, the Rev. Dee Williamston read a book titled “Fire on the Prairie: Methodism in the History of Kansas.” The book included a brief mention of the lynching of a Black man in Salina, a story the Kansas native had never heard. “A Methodist documented it, but nothing else was said,” Williamston recalled. “It intrigued me. … During this time there were church meetings happening, but the situation with ‘the Negro,’ as they have termed it in that ...

David Burke


GCUMM shares a new path forward for Scouting ministry

GCUMM shares a new path forward for Scouting ministry

6/14/2022
Men’s & Scouting Ministries: General Commission on United Methodist Men Nashville, TN – The long-anticipated wait is coming to an end as a new era of Scouting ministry in The United Methodist Church makes its way forward. A highly skilled team of chancellors, insurance risk advisors, and UMC leaders have forged a path through a difficult landscape to provide a safer way for Scouting ministry to continue within local United Methodist churches. After months of negotiation between the Ad Hoc ...

Interns bond before being sent out to GP churches

Interns bond before being sent out to GP churches

6/7/2022
When it came time to pose for a group picture at the end of their three-day orientation, the youth ministry and pastoral interns for the Great Plains Conference instinctively locked shoulders as a demonstration of the closeness they felt after their experience. Their leaders say it’s indicative of the nearly instant bond they shared. Youth/children interns and churches they’re serving: Katelyn Ellis, Lincoln Horizons Community UMC; Ali Griswold, Omaha Urban Abbey; Garrett Heersche, Mulvane; ...

David Burke


UMC bishops agree to call jurisdictional conferences, Nov. 2-5

UMC bishops agree to call jurisdictional conferences, Nov. 2-5

5/27/2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to Judicial Council decision 1445, the Council of Bishops (COB) has formally set the dates for regular sessions of the Jurisdictional Conferences of The United Methodist Church (UMC) to be convened November 2-5, 2022. During a special COB meeting held today, the bishops approved a motion that the jurisdictional conferences will meet for purpose of the election and assignment of new bishops for the limited purpose of effectuating the continuance of the episcopacy ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Author, expert to ask Great Plains to rethink discipleship

Author, expert to ask Great Plains to rethink discipleship

5/25/2022
Rev. Alex Absalom thinks we’re not doing a good job of discipling.  “I think one of the reasons we’re not any good is that we’re intimidated by it,” the author and consultant said in a phone interview. “We think we have to be experts before we start discipling people. But actually, I would argue the way Jesus sent his disciples out to go disciple others was completely irresponsible. When He sent them out, they probably weren’t even saved, and they clearly don’t know a lot. And yet He empowers ...

David Burke


Busy band of VIMs looking for more volunteers

Busy band of VIMs looking for more volunteers

5/25/2022
The cover photo of the Volunteers in Mission is from the group's Facebook page, used by permission. VIMs in the picture are Rick Holbrook, left, Annette Holbrook, Marlin Brown, Janet Ward, Bill Ward, Bob Moore, Linda Buchmueller and Chuck Buchmueller. The children and youth who descend on the camps in the Great Plains Conference this summer might not notice how clean the facilities are or that new structures have been built.  But the cleanup and construction are thanks to a dedicated — but ...

David Burke


Ruling opens door for bishop elections in 2022

Ruling opens door for bishop elections in 2022

5/20/2022
The United Methodist Council of Bishops has the authority to call jurisdictional conferences this year to elect and assign new episcopal leaders in the U.S. However, that authority does not extend to changing the Sept. 1 date when church law says newly elected U.S. bishops officially take office, the denomination’s top court ruled in Decision 1445. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., with his back to the camera, is welcomed by his new colleagues at his consecration service in July 2016 in Wichita. Bishops...

United Methodist News Service


Conference purchases new offices in downtown Topeka

Conference purchases new offices in downtown Topeka

5/11/2022
A downtown Topeka building constructed as a factory in the 1940s and renovated in the mid-2010s will be the new home of the Great Plains Conference.  The conference entered into a purchase contract for the building at 100 S. Kansas Ave., on May 5. Scott Brewer, conference treasurer and director of administrative services, says staff should be able to move into the new facility by May 2023.  The cost of the purchase is $2.6 million, all from the conference’s reserve funds.  Conference staff ...

David Burke


Connecting Council hears of progress in justice ministries

Connecting Council hears of progress in justice ministries

5/11/2022
Three years after hearing the first proposals regarding justice ministry improvements in the Great Plains Conference, the Connecting Council received progress reports on them during its May 6-7 meetings in Topeka.  The Rev. Sarah Marsh, mercy and justice coordinator, introduces Ben MacConnell, Plains State coordinator for Direct Action & Research Training Center, at Connecting Council. Photos by David Burke The council is comprised of about 50 people who make timely decisions between annual ...

David Burke


Church court: Conferences can't exit unilaterally

Church court: Conferences can't exit unilaterally

5/10/2022
Key Points: The Judicial Council, The United Methodist Church’s top court, ruled that current church law doesn’t allow U.S. annual conferences to leave the denomination.  The church court said that annual conferences have a right to vote on disaffiliation, but only General Conference can set the process for doing so.  The ruling answers questions from the United Methodist bishops, who are dealing with the ramifications of a splintering in the denomination. U.S. annual conferences have no ...

United Methodist News Service


Topeka JUMP moves forward on mental health, affordable housing

Topeka JUMP moves forward on mental health, affordable housing

5/10/2022
At its Nehemiah Action Assembly on May 9, Topeka JUMP members received a commitment from a representative of a local mental health association to implement crisis stabilization units in Shawnee County.  It fell short, however, of receiving a commitment from the mayor of Topeka to add $5 million to a trust fund meant to implement more affordable housing in the city. Mayor Mike Padilla did agree to consider a $1 million addition.  Topeka JUMP, the Justice Unity & Ministry Project, is a mission of...

David Burke


Good Faith Network gets commitments from officials at first Nehemiah Assembly

Good Faith Network gets commitments from officials at first Nehemiah Assembly

5/4/2022
The first Nehemiah Assembly for the Johnson County-based Good Faith Network included commitments for improved mental health services and decreased homelessness by county officials, with some efforts already underway.  A product of the Direct Action & Resource Training network, or DART, the Good Faith Network consists of 20 congregations in Johnson County, including nine United Methodist Churches. It began as a part of the conference’s Doing Justice Initiative.  Ali Haynes, pastor of ...

David Burke


Bishop announces special session of annual conference

Bishop announces special session of annual conference

4/18/2022
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. released a letter this morning to all clergy and lay members to annual conference explaining the need for a special session of annual conference, which will be conducted online via Zoom on Sept. 10. This session will be in addition to the regularly scheduled session June 8-11 in La Vista, Nebraska. Download a printable copy. Sisters and Brothers of the Great Plains Conference,   Grace and peace to you in the name of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ. I am writing today ...

K-State Wesley dedicates its campus home

K-State Wesley dedicates its campus home

4/12/2022
Many of the 100 people gathered to celebrate the building dedication for Wesley House at Kansas State University were asked to stand if they had been involved in the facility’s governing boards.  One by one they introduced themselves as they stood around the perimeter of the room and passed along a reproduction of a page with the word “mortgage” in large type.  The last in line was Dr. Dirk Hutchinson, immediate president of the Wesley Foundation, who took a lighter to the parchment and tossed ...

David Burke


United Women in Faith leaders reflect on name change

United Women in Faith leaders reflect on name change

4/6/2022
It’s more than just a name change, say leaders of United Women in Faith. The former United Methodist Women, whose change in name and adjustment in focus were announced last month, are set to cast a broader net and especially try to reach new generations, according to Lisa Maupin of Lincoln, chair of the organization’s nominations committee for the South Central Jurisdiction. “It’s a response to the change and the growing needs of women, not just in our congregations but in our communities,” said...

David Burke


GP communications team wins 4 first places from UMAC

GP communications team wins 4 first places from UMAC

4/1/2022
   The Great Plains Conference Memorial Tribute to Rev. Junius B. Dotson, produced by Eugenio Hernandez, won first place for best visual news story.     The Great Plains Conference’s communications team won eight awards, including four first-place honors, during the United Methodist Association of Communicators awards gala, conducted online March 31.  McFarland Awards were presented from McKendree United Methodist Church in Nashville.  Winning first place among all ...

Assistant promoted to director of Camp Norwesca

Assistant promoted to director of Camp Norwesca

3/25/2022
Brandi May, here with her husband, Josh, is the new director of Camp Norwesca. Contributed photo Brandi May has gone from stumbling onto Camp Norwesca to leading the Great Plains Conference camp near Chadron, Nebraska. Her husband, Josh, was hired as one of the superintendents at Chadron State Park in 2017. “We didn’t even know Chadron existed until he came up here for his interview,” said May, a native of Axtell, Nebraska, south of Kearney. “We didn’t realize there were so many trees that ...

David Burke


Laity Summit introduces Learning Lab

Laity Summit introduces Learning Lab

3/23/2022
The third annual Laity Summit followed the lead of its two predecessors with an entirely online gathering.  “We hope to be in person one of these years,” Shane Warta, lay leadership coordinator, said at the onset of the laity showcase, March 19.  Mary K. Feit, director of Lay Servant Ministries for the conference, dedicated the Laity Summit to the memories of Scott Barnum, Colby, the Hays District director of lay servant ministries, who died Nov. 17; and the Rev. Nathan Stanton, director of ...

David Burke


Stanton’s dedication to family, mission, colleagues recalled

Stanton’s dedication to family, mission, colleagues recalled

3/19/2022
Family, friends and colleagues remembered the encouragement, humility and sly sense of humor of the Rev. Nathan Stanton during a celebration of his life March 18 at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina.  “He never stopped doing what he did or being who he was,” Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. said in eulogizing Stanton, Great Plains Conference congregational excellence director, who died March 12 at age 52 of complications from ALS.  When Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. asked the audience at the funeral who ...

David Burke


Bishops discern ways for churches choosing to separate from UMC

Bishops discern ways for churches choosing to separate from UMC

3/16/2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The Bishops of The United Methodist Church in their March 15 called meeting discerned pathways for churches choosing disaffiliation and separation. The bishops have met two consecutive weeks to discern pathways forward in these changing times.   The bishops affirmed by an overwhelming majority that paragraph 2553 in the Book of Discipline would be the primary paragraph used for disaffiliation and separation. It is understood that different contexts may require utilization of ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Nebraska City couple funds NUMF grants for mission work

Nebraska City couple funds NUMF grants for mission work

3/16/2022
Dr. Dean and Keitha Thomson want others to get the satisfaction that they receive from mission work.  So much so that they’ve established a grant through the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation to fund mission work by individuals and organizations throughout the Great Plains Conference.  Keitha and Dr. Dean Thomson are benefactors of a new mission fund from Nebraska United Methodist Foundation. Contributed photo “We consider it a brand-new program,” NUMF Executive Director Jackie Urkoski ...

David Burke


Stanton remembered for encouragement, humility, supporting ministries

Stanton remembered for encouragement, humility, supporting ministries

3/15/2022
  Celebration of Life The Rev. Nathan Stanton's Celebration of Life was held Friday, March 18 at Kansas Wesleyan University. Watch the recording here. Read coverage from the Celebration of Life here. Read the obituary of Nathan Stanton. View photos of Nathan Stanton here. Tell us your remembrances of Nathan here (please keep entries to about 200 words). The Rev. Nathan Stanton was determined to make his final months count, a longtime friend and colleague says, despite a diagnosis of ALS. ...

David Burke


Stanton dies after battle with ALS

Stanton dies after battle with ALS

3/12/2022
The Rev. Nathan Stanton, director of congregational excellence for the Great Plains Conference, died Saturday morning, March 12, 2022.   Stanton, 52, was diagnosed in August 2020 with bulbar-onset ALS, which began limiting his speech and swallowing while also causing the loss of use of extremities. He suffered from respiratory ailments in recent days but worked to fulfill his conference duties until just days before his death.   Rev. Nathan Stanton “I am deeply saddened by the passing of ...

Bishops seek ruling on whether an annual conference can exit UMC

Bishops seek ruling on whether an annual conference can exit UMC

3/8/2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is requesting a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on whether an annual conference can separate from the denomination under the provision of the Book of Discipline.  During a special meeting COB held via Zoom and through electronic balloting, the bishops approved a request to ask the church’s top court to address six questions: Question 1: May an annual conference of the United Methodist Church (“UMC”) within ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Texas man puts bishop's prayer to music

Texas man puts bishop's prayer to music

3/8/2022
It only took about 90 minutes, Tom Lough said, for him to turn Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.’s “Prayer for Peace” into a hymn.  Lough, a retired high school and college educator, saw the prayer in the newsletter of his church, Round Rock First UMC, located north of Austin in the Central Texas Conference, where Bishop Saenz started serving in addition to the Great Plains on Jan. 1.  Tom Lough “I just clicked on it and started reading it, and something came over me,” said Lough, who turns 80 in July. “...

David Burke


Bishop urges focus on mission amid postponement of General Conference

Bishop urges focus on mission amid postponement of General Conference

3/3/2022
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. issued the following letter Thursday, March 3, 2022, in response to the announcement by the Commission on General Conference to postpone the August 2022 worldwide gathering of United Methodist delegates. Download a printable version of the letter. Read the press release from United Methodist Communications. Dear Faithful Sisters & Brothers of the Great Plains Conference:   The grace of Jesus Christ be with your spirits.   The Commission on General Conference ...

General Conference further postponed to 2024

General Conference further postponed to 2024

3/3/2022
NASHVILLE — As the pandemic continues and the wait time for visas stretches to over two years in some countries, the Commission on the General Conference announced today that the 2020 General Conference cannot be held in 2022 due to COVID-related and governmental policies/constraints.   Commission members received a report based on conversations with multiple officials of the U. S. Department of State outlining the massive backlog of visa applications in some areas. This backlog has led to wait ...

Bishop asks for prayer, financial help for Ukraine

Bishop asks for prayer, financial help for Ukraine

3/2/2022
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has written a prayer and encourages United Methodists to print it out and to say it daily until armed conflict ceases in Ukraine. Download it here. Print out a two-per sheet prayer for bulletins. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has made a plea to United Methodists in the Great Plains Conference to provide financial assistance for refugees fleeing Ukraine because of the Russian invasion into the country. The letter below shares the details of how to donate money to help refugees. ...

Conference introducing new leadership model for youth

Conference introducing new leadership model for youth

3/2/2022
A new model for youth leadership in the Great Plains Conference is being launched this year.  Leadership Lab is a successor to the Conference Council on Youth Ministries, which included representatives from each district in the conference. The Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford, intergenerational discipleship coordinator, said that between graduations, the pandemic and a lack of recruitment for CCYM, only four students were active at the conference level.  “Over the past three years, we’ve seen a ...

David Burke


GPARCS event to look at effect of past two years

GPARCS event to look at effect of past two years

3/2/2022
The first meeting of the Great Plains Association of Retired Clergy and Spouses in three years will attempt to bring some discernment about the past 24 months.  “Journeys of the Soul” will be online March 21-22, and the keynote speaker will be Dr. Lallene Rector, president emerita and associate professor of psychology and pastoral psychotherapy at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Watch Todd Seifert’s video interview with Rector.  Switching to an online webinar made the most sense ...

David Burke


Bishop Saenz asks for prayers for Ukraine

Bishop Saenz asks for prayers for Ukraine

2/24/2022
Today, Russia launched an unprovoked military invasion against the people of Ukraine. United Methodist Church Bishop Christian Alsted - of the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area - is asking for United Methodists to stand with the United Methodists in Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in intercessory prayer for protection, reconciliation and peace. We pray especially for Bishop Eduard Khegay, bishop of Russia and Ukraine, for wisdom and grace as he shepherds congregations on both sides of ...

Bishop announces annual conference to be hybrid event

Bishop announces annual conference to be hybrid event

2/21/2022
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. issued the following letter Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, to all clergy and lay members to annual conference informing them that this year's session will be a hybrid event. Many logistical details are being worked out, so please watch your email and the weekly GPconnect email newsletter for details as they become available. Download a printable PDF of the letter. Dear Clergy and Lay Members to the Great Plains Annual Conference: Grace and peace to you in the name of ...

New Wichita church start is unintentionally multicultural

New Wichita church start is unintentionally multicultural

2/16/2022
Sunday morning services at Wichita House of Liberty United Methodist Church have all the fervency of a Black church experience, with a congregation that’s mixed race.  “We may be smaller in numbers, but we are mighty in the kingdom,” worship leader Claire Jobe told about 30 people at the beginning of the service.  House of Liberty, 1140 E. 47th St. S, opened at the beginning of the year as a multicultural church — albeit unintentionally.  Joseph Moore is the pastor of Wichita House of Liberty...

David Burke


Clinger selected to lead congregational excellence team

Clinger selected to lead congregational excellence team

2/9/2022
The Rev. Jeff Clinger says that getting the call to become the Great Plains Conference’s director of congregational excellence was “absolutely unexpected” and that he was “incredibly humbled” to receive the appointment from Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. Rev. Jeff Clinger Clinger, who turned 42 on Valentine's Day, has been the senior pastor at Topeka First United Methodist Church since 2015. He succeeds the Rev. Nathan Stanton, who is stepping aside from the position after a diagnosis of ALS in ...

David Burke


Stanton to step down from congregational excellence role July 1

Stanton to step down from congregational excellence role July 1

2/7/2022
Rev. Nathan Stanton, right, eats with Great Plains Conference pastors while attending a church planter conference. Submitted Photo After five years as director of congregational excellence for the Great Plains Conference, the Rev. Nathan Stanton will step back from the position at the beginning of the appointive year July 1. Stanton, 52, was diagnosed in August 2020 with bulbar-onset ALS, which began limiting his speech and swallowing. In an email interview for this article, Stanton ...

David Burke


Justice group gets jump-start from Topeka church

Justice group gets jump-start from Topeka church

2/2/2022
Topeka Asbury Mount Olive UMC has had strong connections with Topeka Justice Unity & Ministry Project, or JUMP, for as long as the Rev. Harry Christian has been pastor at the church. “Asbury Mount Olive has always been involved in social justice,” said Christian, who began as pastor of the Topeka church in 2013. “They’ve always been involved with seeing how they can improve our community. I don’t think there’s a day in our lives when we don’t think about justice.”   First in a series This is ...

David Burke


Topeka native among 10 selected for worldwide ecumenical group

Topeka native among 10 selected for worldwide ecumenical group

2/1/2022
A Great Plains Conference native is one of 10 young people worldwide selected for a cohort to study ecumenism and interreligious movements. Luke Miltz, 27, said he was pleasantly surprised to hear that he was named to the United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training: Young Adult Network, or UMEIT: YAN. “There’s no telling how many people they’re going to pick or how many are going to apply,” Miltz said. “It’s definitely exciting to be selected.” A native of Topeka who attended Shawnee...

David Burke


Wise words to combat racism highlight O&F

Wise words to combat racism highlight O&F

1/26/2022
Recommended steps toward living in “The Beloved Community” were made Jan. 25 at the annual Orders & Fellowship clergy gathering.  Originally planned as a three-day, in-person event in Kearney, Orders & Fellowship was changed to a one-day, online-only format because of continuing COVID concerns. About 500 clergy attended online.  Author Tim Wise was the keynote speaker for the plenary session. Tim Wise, author of nine books, including “White Like Me, Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son”...

David Burke


Great Plains ready to support victims as part of BSA settlement

Great Plains ready to support victims as part of BSA settlement

1/13/2022
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. wrote the following letter to clergy and laity of the Great Plains Conference regarding an agreement in the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case. At the center of the case is a trust fund set up to compensate victims of child sexual abuse. Download the bishop's letter. Dear United Methodists of the Great Plains Conference, The grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with your spirit as we begin a new year. This letter serves to inform you that pending court approval of a ...

Foundation gets new name, logo, emphasis to educate public on its ministry

Foundation gets new name, logo, emphasis to educate public on its ministry

1/12/2022
The former Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation has a new name, new logo, and renewed effort to educate those in the state about what it does. “It’s taking an opportunity to clarify our purpose and how we serve,” said the Rev. Dr. Dustin Petz, president and CEO of what’s now the Kansas Methodist Foundation. “There’s not always been a good understanding of what we do or how we do it.” Founded in 1964, the word “Area” was included to indicate it served both the east and west conferences in ...

David Burke


Pastor spearheads effort to bring items to Afghan refugees

Pastor spearheads effort to bring items to Afghan refugees

1/11/2022
When an extended family of 19 Afghanistan refugees headed to Maize, Kansas, with just the clothes on their backs, Kane McEntire put his connections — especially his United Methodist Church connections — to use.  “I utilized the platform in the community that my position of my appointment at Maize UMC has in order to pull some strings in my network in The United Methodist Church and also to build relationships with school leaders that let me know in advance that some of these families were coming...

David Burke


Multiple generations of Stantons leave their legacy at Kansas Wesleyan

Multiple generations of Stantons leave their legacy at Kansas Wesleyan

1/10/2022
Commitment, partnership and collaboration are all critical parts of the Kansas Wesleyan culture, one that was built during the presidency of Dr. Marshall Stanton, which spanned from 1983-2002. When Stanton arrived on campus, however, words like bankrupt, overwhelming and bleak surrounded the university.  It was Stanton’s leadership that saved Kansas Wesleyan from closure, and, in the decades that followed, the family established a multi-generational legacy on campus.     From left, Isaac, ...

Christmas video devotions conclude with message from Bishop Saenz

Christmas video devotions conclude with message from Bishop Saenz

12/23/2021
The Great Plains Conference team wants to provide some uplifting messages as we count down the days to Christmas. Our video project — Titled "12 Days of Christmas" — features video devotions. All involve reading scripture, from the Old Testament prophecies to the gospel account of Christ's birth. Some involve short reflections as well. The series concludes on Christmas Day with a message from Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. that also can be used by churches for their Dec. 26 worship services, should ...

Bishop shares details on UMC settlement in Boy Scouts bankruptcy case

Bishop shares details on UMC settlement in Boy Scouts bankruptcy case

12/21/2021
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. issued the following letter today in response to an announcement of a settlement reached in the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case. Download his letter. Read more details from the settlement from United Methodist Communications. Members of the Great Plains Conference,   Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, our redeemer and savior whose birth we are preparing to celebrate. I am writing to share news that you may already have heard or likely will hear...

United Methodists reach settlement in Boy Scouts bankruptcy case

United Methodists reach settlement in Boy Scouts bankruptcy case

12/21/2021
United Methodist leaders have reached a settlement in the matter of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) pending bankruptcy proceedings. Upon final court approval, the settlement would absolve any claims of sexual abuse that may have occurred in congregation-sponsored Scouting programs. Under the terms of the settlement, United Methodists would raise and give $30 million over a three-year period into a fund that will be utilized to compensate survivors, and United Methodist congregations that ...

Wyandotte, Johnson county groups set justice ministry priorities

Wyandotte, Johnson county groups set justice ministry priorities

12/15/2021
A new justice ministry in Wyandotte County has a name, a lead organizer and a list of two top priorities.  Organized by Direct Action & Research Training, or DART, the group — which includes 13 churches, four of them United Methodist — conducted its first Community Problems Assembly on Dec. 9 and selected its permanent name as Churches United for Justice.  The group also selected its top two priorities: Affordable housing/homelessness and violent crime.  During its Zoom call, the group also met...

David Burke


Advent podcast series concludes with look at joy

Advent podcast series concludes with look at joy

12/14/2021
The “In Layman’s Terms” podcast begins a four-episode series for Advent using the story of Ebenezer Scrooge from the classic novel "A Christmas Carol" to teach about the redemption we all have available to us thanks to Jesus Christ. In the series throughout December, host Todd Seifert, conference communications director, explores the first Advent themes of hope, peace, love and joy. Episodes Hope (duration 26:08)— Ebenezer learns he has hope thanks to a visit from his deceased business ...

Lincoln church continues tradition of giving craft pieces to children

Lincoln church continues tradition of giving craft pieces to children

12/8/2021
Previous crafts for children have included a wooden Nativity set and an Advent wreath. Photo by David Burke In his fifth year as pastor of Lincoln St. Luke United Methodist Church, the Rev. Curt Magelky was almost ready to let his Advent tradition lapse. For three years, Magelky and members of the church had created small wooden keepsakes to distribute to children and youth in the congregation weekly during the season. The first year was a nativity set in plain wood, coated in varnish. The ...

David Burke


Congregations encouraged to vote no on BSA bankruptcy plan

Congregations encouraged to vote no on BSA bankruptcy plan

12/2/2021
A United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee is encouraging congregations to vote against a proposed Boy Scouts of America (BSA) reorganization plan following months of negotiations that have failed to yield a settlement thus far. United Methodist local churches that have chartered Scout troops or Cub packs where abuse may have occurred are vulnerable to lawsuits and claims because they are not receiving sufficient protection in the BSA bankruptcy plan.  The BSA filed bankruptcy to address sexual abuse ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Churches begin using conference’s video streaming platform

Churches begin using conference’s video streaming platform

12/1/2021
The Great Plains Conference’s video streaming platform is off and running.  The first church to use the platform — found at www.greatplainsumc.church — is Nebraska’s Dorchester UMC.  “It’s very user-friendly and very straight forward,” said Matthew Hoffman, audio-visual tech for the church, which began using the platform Nov. 21.   The Dorchester church had previously streamed its services through Facebook Live.  “It opened the door to many others who have an internet connection but not a ...

David Burke


Leaders thrilled over $1.78M grant from Kansas Health Foundation

Leaders thrilled over $1.78M grant from Kansas Health Foundation

12/1/2021
The Great Plains Conference’s Doing Justice Initiative is getting a kickstart thanks to a $1.78 million grant recently announced by the Kansas Health Foundation.  “It’s going to basically put the plan that the conference has put together on steroids in terms of getting started bigger and stronger than what was initially planned when we put together our proposal to the conference,” said Ben MacConnell, lead organizer for Direction Action & Research Training, or DART, in Kansas.  MacConnell said ...

David Burke


Korean-born pastor’s arrival spurs church growth in Chanute

Korean-born pastor’s arrival spurs church growth in Chanute

11/17/2021
Two times during the early service at Chanute First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Michael Park asked the congregation to look amongst themselves, spot someone they’re familiar with, and repeat what’s become his slogan for ministry:  “Hey, I know you!”  Rev. Michael Park gives announcements at First UMC in Chanute, Kansas. Photos by David Burke It’s that recognition of others, that sign of familiarity, and that reinforcement of their worth — both in person and on social media — that...

David Burke


Community Market builds on mission at The Hub Argentine

Community Market builds on mission at The Hub Argentine

11/10/2021
Don’t call The Hub Argentine’s new Community Market a food pantry. The term food pantry may conjure a vision of a hodgepodge of disorganized donations, but the Community Market — which opened Oct. 19 at The Hub Argentine in Kansas City, Kansas — has items crisply and clearly arranged that shows respect for its patrons while being cosmetically appealing. “At The Hub and so many of our local churches, we want to treat people as equals and in everything we do, with dignity and respect and ...

David Burke


Bishops offer framework for inclusive church

Bishops offer framework for inclusive church

11/8/2021
The Council of Bishops has cast a vision for a future United Methodist Church that transcends the labels many church members use to describe themselves. “We cannot be a traditional church or a progressive church or a centrist church. We cannot be a gay or straight church,” asserts what the bishops have titled “A Narrative for the Continuing United Methodist Church.” The bishops’ narrative, instead, envisions a denomination rooted in Scripture, centered in Christ and welcoming to all churchgoers ...

United Methodist News Service


With a quick turnaround, former church becomes town daycare

With a quick turnaround, former church becomes town daycare

11/2/2021
Kenesaw United Methodist Church didn’t stay dormant for long.  In early November 2020, with its membership dwindling to eight to 12 attendees, the church council voted to take steps to close the church during a Sunday afternoon meeting.  “Nobody wanted to do it. Nobody ever wants to close a church,” Pastor Kathy Uldrich said.   Kathy Uldrich plays with a youngster at Kenesaw United Child Care. Photos by David Burke Within two days, Uldrich got a call from Angela Keiser, president of the ...

David Burke


Diversity, Equality, Inclusivity Task Force begins work in conference

Diversity, Equality, Inclusivity Task Force begins work in conference

10/27/2021
Fulfilling a promise he made during his annual conference episcopal address this year, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. convened the first Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity Task Force on Oct. 21 at the conference office in Topeka.  Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. speaks with members of the Diversity, Equality, Inclusivity Task Force. Photos by David Burke The purpose of the advisory task force, the bishop said, is to provide the cabinet and conference leaders with findings and recommendations that counteract ...

David Burke


UNDER ONE ROOF: Kansas church a proud 'melting pot'

UNDER ONE ROOF: Kansas church a proud 'melting pot'

10/27/2021
The 20 members of the congregation at the United Church of Bennington were settled into their pews minutes before the start of a recent 9:30 a.m. Sunday service when a question came up.  “Who rings the bell?”  The bell sits on a metal frame outside the central Kansas church, which has dual denominations of United Methodist and Presbyterian, and signifies the start of worship services.  Once a bell ringer was found, services began with the Rev. Cynthia Smart listing a variety of activities, most ...

David Burke


Bishop shares what he learned during clergy meetings with Connecting Council

Bishop shares what he learned during clergy meetings with Connecting Council

10/26/2021
The Connecting Council heard details about what Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. learned during district meetings with clergy, updates on the conference’s justice initiative and more during its fall meeting Oct. 23 via Zoom video-conferencing software.   Bishop Saenz opened the meeting by sharing lessons churches have learned since the onset of the pandemic. Chief among those lessons: “Flexibility is not an option, it’s a must,” the bishop said. “And we learned we need to celebrate the church that we now ...

Todd Seifert


Buesing to leave conference after more than 11 years

Buesing to leave conference after more than 11 years

10/20/2021
After 11 ½ years as second-in-command of the administrative services department, Niki Buesing is leaving the Great Plains Conference.  Buesing, assistant treasurer and controller, will leave the conference in mid-November to become the chief financial officer for Nemaha Valley Community Hospital in Seneca. The position is contracted through Topeka-based Stormont-Vail Health, and Buesing said she will commute and maintain her current residence in Topeka.  “I want everybody to know I love my job ...

David Burke


UNDER ONE ROOF: SW Kansas church keeps chin up with few members

UNDER ONE ROOF: SW Kansas church keeps chin up with few members

10/20/2021
It’s 8:58 a.m. Sunday, and Holcomb Community Church is without its pastor. “Hope Gordon didn’t forget about us,” church member Connie Gross wondered aloud. Gordon Gillock delivers the sermon at Holcomb Community Church. Photos by David Burke Within a minute, Gordon Gillock’s vehicle is spotted pulling up to a parking space in front of the church, amid five others outside the southwest Kansas church, a combination of United Methodist and Presbyterian parishioners. “Race you up to front,” he ...

David Burke


UNDER ONE ROOF: From three denominations to two

UNDER ONE ROOF: From three denominations to two

10/13/2021
United Faith Community Church has entered into a rare state of flux.  Its pastor of 20-plus years, Carl Ratcliff, retired in midsummer, and the Sept. 12 service was its first without him.  “When a church doesn’t have a senior pastor, it can be an unsettling thing,” Pastor Jeff Peterson, the first of several interim pastors, told the congregation of about 60 in Valley, Nebraska. “In the right time, God will bring the right person here.”  United Faith Community Church has spent its 70-year history...

David Burke


UNDER ONE ROOF: Central Nebraska church stays community-focused

UNDER ONE ROOF: Central Nebraska church stays community-focused

10/6/2021
If a multitude of announcements are an indication of a healthy congregation, Sutton Federated Church qualifies. Pastor Mary Scott gives the announcements at the opening of services of Sutton Federated Church in Nebraska. Photos by David Burke There’s the upcoming tai chi class — which Pastor Mary Scott suggested would be a good salve to heal the wounds of the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ football loss in the season opener the day before; a take-out taco supper to pay for a new musical play area, ...

David Burke


Making comeback after COVID tops Leadership Institute discussion

Making comeback after COVID tops Leadership Institute discussion

10/5/2021
The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection’s 23rd annual Leadership Institute spoke to churches who were bruised but not broken by the pandemic, ready for a restart and seeking encouragement to return and revitalize their missions.  Because of COVID concerns, a 500-person cap was made on in-person attendance at the sanctuary in Leawood, while more than 2,000 registered to watch online. Those attending in person kept on masks throughout the institute except while eating or drinking.  The ...

David Burke


Panel discusses future of UMC during Leadership Institute

Panel discusses future of UMC during Leadership Institute

10/5/2021
The Rev. Adam Hamilton has been to five General Conferences, and any discussion of issues concerning LGBTQ persons —including the ordination of gay or lesbian individuals or whether clergy can perform same-sex marriages — has “sucked the air out of every General Conference I’ve been to.”  The issues will again be at the forefront of the next General Conference, postponed from 2020 to a tentative time frame in late August and early September 2022, and Hamilton is the lead clergy delegate from the...

David Burke


United Methodist pastor running for U.S. Senate

United Methodist pastor running for U.S. Senate

10/4/2021
The Rev. Dr. Mark Holland speaks on the floor of The United Methodist Church's special session of General Conference in 2019 in St. Louis. File photo A United Methodist pastor and former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, says he wants to put “faith over fear” in his run for the U.S. Senate. “My faith is key to this,” said the Rev. Dr. Mark Holland, announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Senate on Oct. 5. “I’m very concerned about where the nation is ...

David Burke


Faith in the face of injustice

Faith in the face of injustice

9/29/2021
Southwestern College stood against racism during World War II By Richard McDonough © 2021 Yoshie and the Rev. Paul Hagiya. Photo courtesy of Christ United Methodist Church in Santa Maria, California Kindness and respect were the weapons used in the face of fear and prejudice in Cowley County, Kansas, during the 1940s. Opportunities were provided to those that others considered threats. Leadership took the form of pragmatism mixed with lofty goals — sometimes very publicly, sometimes very ...

Pastors use renewal leave as time to regroup, reflect

Pastors use renewal leave as time to regroup, reflect

9/15/2021
“Paper cuts,” the Rev. Jacob Cloud says, can take their toll.  Cloud has been a United Methodist pastor since 2009, serving a variety of churches as well as serving as campus minister at the University of Kansas. He has been the senior pastor at Waverly UMC in Nebraska since 2018.  And he felt like he was nearing the end of his rope.  “We are vulnerable, and we are open so often that sometimes just the little paper cuts can add up that we receive,” Cloud said. “If we don’t take the time to ...

David Burke


Churches receive instructions on Boy Scouts bankruptcy

Churches receive instructions on Boy Scouts bankruptcy

9/7/2021
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. issued the following letter Sept. 7, 2021, regarding the bankruptcy developments with the Boy Scouts of America. The bankruptcy settlement involves settling claims of abuse made by more than 84,000 people, and some of which date back as far as 80 years ago.   Based upon the recommendation of our Great Plains Conference Chancellors, all churches that currently support scouting units should not extend or renew any expiring charter. Instead, tell the local BSA Council that ...

Donate now to help people impacted by Hurricane Ida

Donate now to help people impacted by Hurricane Ida

8/31/2021
Hurricane Ida's impacts will be felt for a long time along the Gulf Coast. With torrential rains and wind speeds that topped 150 mph, damage ranges from destroyed homes to flooded streets and a crippled power grid. The storm made landfall Aug. 29, and its slow progression — often only at 8 to 10 mph — meant its high winds and heavy rains stayed over areas for long periods of time while advancing north and east into the continental United States. The United Methodist Committee on Relief ...

Murithi installed as Prairie Rivers, Elkhorn Valley DS

Murithi installed as Prairie Rivers, Elkhorn Valley DS

8/31/2021
The Rev. Dr. Charles Murithi served up food for thought as he was installed as superintendent of the Prairie Rivers District and a portion of the Elkhorn Valley District on the weekend of Aug. 28-29.  His sermon on Sunday afternoon, he said at the Prairie Rivers installation ceremonies at Aurora UMC, was meant to complement what individual clergy preached about that morning.  Rev. Dr. Charles Murithi delivers his sermon at his installation service, Aug. 29 at Aurora UMC. Photo by David Burke...

David Burke


Bishop asks for prayer for Haiti, Afghanistan

Bishop asks for prayer for Haiti, Afghanistan

8/26/2021
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. issued the following letter to the Great Plains Conference on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, regarding tragic situations in Haiti and Afghanistan. Download a printable version of the letter. Dear Clergy and Laity of the Great Plains Conference, Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, in whom our eternal hope rests. I am writing today to urge your congregations to pray during Sunday’s worship services — as well as before and ongoing — for the tragic circumstances...

Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy affects United Methodist congregations

Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy affects United Methodist congregations

8/26/2021
The United Methodist Church and its predecessor denominations have a relationship with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), which dates back more than 100 years. In February 2020, the BSA announced the national organization would file for bankruptcy to allow it to continue carrying on its mission while also compensating sexual abuse victims who were harmed during their time in scouting. While the bankruptcy is ongoing, the BSA, along with its local councils, recently reached an agreement with ...

Great Plains part of reflective supervision pilot program

Great Plains part of reflective supervision pilot program

8/25/2021
Holding a figurative mirror up to a clergy person to help them evaluate their own accountability is the mission of reflective supervision, a pilot program that will begin this fall in the Great Plains Conference.  “Reflective supervision is a one-on-one relationship with a trained supervisor who works with a clergyperson to focus on their practice of ministry, so they are healthy and thriving and growing in their leadership,” said the Rev. Nancy Lambert, who is coordinating the program in the ...

David Burke


Group rallying for Medicaid expansion in Kansas

Group rallying for Medicaid expansion in Kansas

8/25/2021
A retired United Methodist pastor and a retired social worker are seeking to rally people from across Kansas to help support Medicaid expansion in the state.  Rev. Jack Gregory and Cathy Matlack, both members of the Lenexa St. Paul’s UMC peace and justice committee, have founded Faith Voices for Medicaid Expansion, which is working with groups such as Kansas Interfaith Action, the Kansas-based Voter Network, and the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund to promote passage of the extension.  ...

David Burke


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