News


McCool Junction UMC celebrates pastor's retirement and a launch into ministry

McCool Junction UMC celebrates pastor's retirement and a launch into ministry

6/18/2019
Like about a hundred other churches in the Great Plains Conference, McCool Junction United Methodist bid farewell to its pastor during services on June 16.  But the central Nebraska church was not only celebrating the retiring Rev. Ralph Gaines, who helped the church triple its membership over his six years, but the launch of ministry for church member Jenice Epp, assigned to churches in Bassett and Springview in north-central Nebraska.  “You’re never too old to change professions,” said the ...

David Burke


Alternatives are available to flawed 'Roar!' VBS curriculum

Alternatives are available to flawed 'Roar!' VBS curriculum

6/13/2019
Dear Pastors, Kids Ministry Directors, and VBS Directors in the Great Plains Conference:    The Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford is intergenerational discipleship coordinator for the Great Plains Conference. Over the weekend, Group’s Vacation Bible School curriculum was the topic of much social media discussion and debate. Group describes its theme, Roar!, as an “epic African adventure [that] engages the whole heart.” At first glance, the theme appears to take on a safari feel, with animals as ...

Conference works to fill void left by record number of retirees

Conference works to fill void left by record number of retirees

6/11/2019
With a record number of retirees this year – more than 55 – the Great Plains Conference has worked to fill the vacancies in several ways.   A record number of clergy -- more than 55 -- are retiring this year from the Great Plains Conference. Photo by Todd Seifert Among them is a new influx of international pastors. Of the the new pastors this year, four are from South Korea, four are from the Congo and three are from Kenya. “Our conference is very open to receiving international pastors,”...

David Burke


Topeka Asbury Mount Olive UMC celebrates its 50th anniversary

Topeka Asbury Mount Olive UMC celebrates its 50th anniversary

6/10/2019
The Rev. Harry Christian had simple instructions for his Topeka Asbury Mount Olive United Methodist Church to celebrate its golden anniversary. “Laugh, shout, jump, cry,” he told the congregation on June 9, “whatever you want to do to celebrate those 50 years.”   The Rev. Harry Christian welcomes the congregation to the 50th anniversary celebration at Topeka Asbury Mount Olive United Methodist Church. Photos by David Burke The church is a merger of two black Methodist Episcopal ...

David Burke


Conference talks about serving others, reacts to General Conference outcomes

Conference talks about serving others, reacts to General Conference outcomes

6/5/2019
With a theme of “Therefore Go: Serve Others” for the 2019 Great Plains Annual Conference, messages throughout the event, May 29-June 1 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, focused on fresh starts — from setting priorities for ministry to starting off in ministry for newly ordained clergy to coping with unrest in The United Methodist Church amid the ongoing debate over human sexuality. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. set the tone with his episcopal address by acknowledging the church’s struggles. “...

Todd Seifert


Interns ready to get to work this summer in Great Plains Conference

Interns ready to get to work this summer in Great Plains Conference

6/5/2019
Internships in the Great Plains Conference are a win-win situation for all involved. The young people get experience in the church and social justice ministries while the organizations get fresh perspectives and eager workers. Pastoral leadership interns Brayan Martinez, center, and Abraham Ruffcorn, with the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford. Photos by David Burke This year 20 interns, ranging from incoming college freshmen to seminary students, are at work in the Great Plains. Seventeen of them ...

More ERTs needed to mobilize after latest round of spring storms

More ERTs needed to mobilize after latest round of spring storms

6/4/2019
Damage from tornadoes that ripped through Douglas County, Kansas, last week have been added to the list of priorities for the Great Plains Disaster Response team, joining flooding in Kansas and Nebraska. Douglas County officials said the May 28 tornado injured 17 people, three of them seriously, and damaged more than 60 homes, according to the Lawrence Journal-World. At its peak, the twister was a mile wide and had wind speeds of 170 mph. The tornado was the county’s first measured at EF-4 since...

David Burke


Annual Conference 2019 Portal

Annual Conference 2019 Portal

6/1/2019
This page serves as a portal for information about the 2019 Great Plains Annual Conference from May 29 to June 1 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kansas. The theme for Annual Conference 2019 is, "Therefore Go: Serve Others."   Livestream All plenary times will be livestreamed on the conference website at www.greatplainsumc.org/livestream. A link is provided via the button below. A special link is provided below for the memorial service May 30, hosted by Topeka First United Methodist Church....

UMCNext organizers Dotson, Hamilton optimistic about annual conference

UMCNext organizers Dotson, Hamilton optimistic about annual conference

5/23/2019
Two high-profile pastors from the Great Plains Conference, each a member of the UMCNext convening team, said they expect the momentum from their three-day gathering this week to extend into their own annual conference sessions next week. Rev. Junius Dotson, executive secretary of Discipleship Ministries and a former pastor at Wichita Saint Mark UMC, says he expects a resolution to reach the floor of the Great Plains session, May 30 to June 1 in Topeka. “Every annual conference obviously is ...

David Burke


UMCNext meets at Church of the Resurrection to discuss new directions for the denomination

UMCNext meets at Church of the Resurrection to discuss new directions for the denomination

5/22/2019
More than 600 U.S. United Methodists spent three days grappling with possible options for forging what they hope will be a more just and inclusive church future. What united those at UMCNext, which met May 20-22 behind closed doors, was their opposition to the Traditional Plan. That legislation, which the special 2019 General Conference approved by a vote of 438-384, retains the church stance that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” and strengthens enforcement...

United Methodist News Service


Nearing retirement, Ritter reflects on 42 years of ministry

Nearing retirement, Ritter reflects on 42 years of ministry

5/21/2019
Even after he announced his retirement, the Rev. Bill Ritter had second thoughts. “I wrestled with it,” the Blue River District superintendent said about concluding 42 years of ministry. “This has been my life, this is all I’ve ever been is a pastor. To think of myself as not being an active pastor was not my nature.” The Rev. Bill Ritter shares a laugh with the Rev. Nancy Tomlinson, his successor as Blue Valley and Elkhorn district superintendent, before the Orders & Fellowship gathering at ...

David Burke


Revs. Nan, Lew Kaye-Skinner reflect on careers in ministry as retirement nears

Revs. Nan, Lew Kaye-Skinner reflect on careers in ministry as retirement nears

5/21/2019
Two of the most visible clergy during the Great Plains Annual Conference sessions are among the 54 retirees from the conference this year. The Rev. Nan Kaye-Skinner and the Rev. Lew Kaye-Skinner are retiring from their appointive positions – she as senior pastor of Lincoln Trinity UMC and he as adjunct faculty in the Bryan LGH College of Health Sciences – but say they are willing to continue their roles during the sessions. Nan has served as secretary of the conference for the past several ...

David Burke


Bishops offer pastoral word, make key decisions at May meeting

Bishops offer pastoral word, make key decisions at May meeting

5/9/2019
The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church completed its May 2019 meeting held outside Chicago with a pastoral and prophetic word in response to the decisions of the Special Session and the codification of some of those decisions in the Book of Discipline. “Bishops are not judges or legislators. Bishops are preachers, teachers, shepherds, mediators and missional strategists who appoint clergy and lead annual conferences to make disciples for the transformation of the world,” the ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Great Plains participants pleased with proposed updates of Social Principles

Great Plains participants pleased with proposed updates of Social Principles

5/8/2019
The Rev. Cindy Karges says that being a part of the team tasked with updating the United Methodist Social Principles has been monumental in her career. “It was probably one of the most meaningful experiences of my 30-some years of being in pastoral ministry and in my whole life of being a United Methodist,” said Karges, Gateway and Great West districts superintendent. The Church and Society Board approved the revisions of the Social Principles, which hadn’t been updated since they were ...

David Burke


College ministries spend their spring breaks in service

College ministries spend their spring breaks in service

5/7/2019
While others at their colleges might have been enjoying the sun and fun of spring break, campus ministries of several Great Plains schools were instead exploring service and becoming the hands and feet of Jesus for those less fortunate. Here’s a look at what the students accomplished: Wesley-KU Seven students from the University of Kansas’ Wesley KU Campus Ministry, along with two adults from a local church and campus minister Susan Mercer, went to Puerto Rico, serving in and around San Juan...

Thirteen kids in small, central Kansas church baptized

Thirteen kids in small, central Kansas church baptized

5/1/2019
One by one, they stepped up to the small table where a pitcher and a bowl of water sat. Most of the 12 children — first- through eighth-graders — winced a bit in anticipation of the water that was sprinkled on their heads, but almost all of them walked away with contented smiles on their faces. The Rev. Dennis Carter baptizes a girl, among 13 youth who went through the sacrament at Kanopolis UMC on April 28. Photos by David Burke By the time they were finished, the dozen kids – along with ...

David Burke


Ellsworth church celebrates 40 years of afterschool program

Ellsworth church celebrates 40 years of afterschool program

4/30/2019
What started as the idea of a group of stay-at-home mothers four decades ago has grown into a weekly tradition at Ellsworth United Methodist Church. Kids of the Kingdom draws about half of the students of Ellsworth Elementary School, across the street from the church, for 100 minutes of music, recreation, crafts, Bible lessons, verse memorization and snacks every Wednesday afternoon after school for pupils in kindergarten through fourth grade. Children in Kids of the Kingdom perform for the ...

David Burke


Omaha confirmation class chooses to delay becoming members of United Methodist Church

Omaha confirmation class chooses to delay becoming members of United Methodist Church

4/30/2019
After eight months of confirmation classes as an introduction to United Methodism, a group of eight junior-high students at an Omaha church said they don’t want to join the denomination until people of all sexual orientations have the right to marry in the local church and serve as pastors. The Omaha First UMC youth made a statement during services at what was to be their Confirmation Sunday, April 28. Read the statement from the Omaha First youth here. “We want to be clear that, while we love ...

David Burke


Council of Bishops responds to Judicial Council ruling on special session

Council of Bishops responds to Judicial Council ruling on special session

4/26/2019
The Council of Bishops expresses its deep gratitude to the Judicial Council for its careful review of the actions of the 2019 General Conference. The Judicial Council’s decisions are clear and sound, and they give helpful guidance to the Church.  In Decision 1378, the Judicial Council ruled that the constitutional parts of the Traditional Plan enacted by the General Conference were severable from those parts that it ruled were unconstitutional. The parts of the Traditional Plan that were ...

United Methodist News Service


Court OKs part of Traditional Plan, exit plan

Court OKs part of Traditional Plan, exit plan

4/26/2019
— Chart summarizes ruling on the Traditional Plan petitions and the Disaffiliation petition. — Council of Bishops issues statement on ruling. The United Methodist Church’s top court has found that while some provisions of the newly adopted Traditional Plan remain unconstitutional, the rest of the plan is valid as church law. That was the Judicial Council’s ruling on a requested review of the Traditional Plan, which was approved during a special denomination-wide legislative session in February ...

United Methodist News Service


37 clergy, 44 laity offer selves for election as General, Jurisdictional conference delegates

37 clergy, 44 laity offer selves for election as General, Jurisdictional conference delegates

4/24/2019
Profiles from people who have offered themselves for election as delegates to the 2020 General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference are available to be downloaded from a page on the Great Plains Conference website. The profiles are broken out for clergy and laity, and each can be viewed either individually or can be downloaded as a single document to make printing easier. Each profile contains demographic information for the person and includes their answers to questions pertinent to the ...

Connecting Council hears ideas for organizing for justice ministries

Connecting Council hears ideas for organizing for justice ministries

4/9/2019
The Connecting Council heard proposals during its April meeting in Topeka from two organizations that could help provide a boost to justice ministries throughout Kansas and Nebraska.  Direct Action & Research Training (DART) and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) presented proposals of how they could partner with the more than 1,000 churches across the Great Plains to live out the call from Micah 6:8 to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly” with God. The ...

Todd Seifert


Reffner reflects on experience at ecumenical institute

Reffner reflects on experience at ecumenical institute

4/8/2019
For Daniel Reffner, it was the experience of a lifetime.  The Wichita native, in his second year at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, was chosen to attend the prestigious Ecumenical Institute at Chautau de Bossey, located in Switzerland.  Daniel Reffner, foreground, with other fellows from the Ecumenical Institute at Chateau de Bossey, located in Switzerland. Photos courtesy Daniel Reffner The Southwestern College graduate was one of 29 young people from 17 different...

David Burke


‘Idol’ time helped singer boost his ministry; Stacey in concert at Beloit rally

‘Idol’ time helped singer boost his ministry; Stacey in concert at Beloit rally

4/3/2019
A dozen years after his experience on “American Idol,” Phil Stacey thanks the talent contest for advancing his ministry. “I love doing this. I love going to churches and partnering in ministry,” said Stacey, who will perform Sunday night, April 7, at the North Central Kansas Men’s and Boys’ Rally in Beloit. “I know that ‘American Idol’ is a good connection point to the community. Even if they don’t watch it now or have never watched it, they know what it is. It’s kind of a nice, interesting ...

David Burke


UMCOR executive impressed by workers in Great Plains Conference

UMCOR executive impressed by workers in Great Plains Conference

4/3/2019
A two-day trip to the Great Plains Conference has left a United Methodist Committee on Relief official saddened by the flood damage in Nebraska but impressed with the people working to get others’ lives back in order. “The conference has done a really good job of getting ahead of it,” Cathy Earl, director of disaster response, said Tuesday night. “You really have a deep desire to do all you can as a conference.”   Photos show the aftermath of the flood damage in Columbus and Bellwood, ...

David Burke


Churches raise $180K for flood relief; donations still needed

Churches raise $180K for flood relief; donations still needed

4/1/2019
Churches of the Great Plains Conference have raised more than $180,000 to help with flood relief in Nebraska, officials announced this morning.  The Rev. Nathan Stanton, congregational excellence director, and Scott Brewer, conference treasurer and director of administrative services, told the conference staff that the amount included $11,000 from Copeland United Methodist Church in Kansas and $10,000 from Friend UMC in Nebraska.  “We’re hearing a lot of exciting stories of generosity and the ...

Sitting water, infrastructure damage force delay in response to Columbus area

Sitting water, infrastructure damage force delay in response to Columbus area

3/29/2019
Continued high-water levels in the area of Columbus, Nebraska, have stymied much of the effort by Great Plains Conference early response teams (ERT) efforts to help homeowners begin the recovery after a massive flood. In many cases, access to homes is still cut off because of standing water or because driveways and property was washed away, said the Rev. Hollie Tapley, the conference’s disaster response coordinator. In many cases, it’s not even possible to access homes via ATVs or by hiking ...

Todd Seifert


Great Plains disaster response crews begin work in Columbus, Fremont

Great Plains disaster response crews begin work in Columbus, Fremont

3/28/2019
Great Plains Conference early response teams began the long, long road to recovery for Nebraska flood victims on Thursday morning, March 28. “It’s just devastating, totally devastating,” the Rev. Hollie Tapley, conference disaster response coordinator, said at midday Thursday from Columbus. “It’s going to be a long, very long, relief phase in this community. It’s unreal, just unreal.” Water damage like this, south of Columbus, is what Great Plains disaster response teams are facing. Photos by ...

David Burke


Wahoo women lead effort to meet post-flooding needs; Fremont ready to rebuild

Wahoo women lead effort to meet post-flooding needs; Fremont ready to rebuild

3/27/2019
Members of the Wahoo Emergency Relief Team pose for a photo in the warehouse that has become the base for relief efforts for those impacted by Nebraska's flooding. Submitted photo   It started with an idea, and a Facebook page. Two days after historic floods swamped Nebraska, Rachel Stone and her friend Michelle Morgan wondered how they could help — and what resources their town of Wahoo had available to those in need. They put out a Facebook invitation to meet in the basement of their ...

David Burke


Nebraska church reaches out with supplies, shoulder to flooded community

Nebraska church reaches out with supplies, shoulder to flooded community

3/26/2019
Volunteers help sort items in the St. Edward UMC fellowship hall. Photo by David Burke   Vern Olson calls the fellowship hall of St. Edward United Methodist Church “our own little Walmart.” Cleaning supplies take up one corner, paper towels and toilet paper are stacked in the lobby. Fresh pillows are stacked along the wall adjacent to the sanctuary, and a variety of donated food is in the center. When a visitor remarks how many items are in the fellowship hall, the person is told it’s ...

David Burke


Kansas town evacuated as Missouri River waters rise

Kansas town evacuated as Missouri River waters rise

3/22/2019
Kansas Highway Patrol pilots help monitor the Missouri River flooding by surveying the levee near Elwood, Kansas, and the levee breach east of Atchison. Photo courtesy KHP While disaster response teams continue their work helping people impacted by flooding in Nebraska, the flow of the Missouri River is now prompting some evacuations in northeast Kansas. Residents of the community of Elwood, Kansas, a border town along the Missouri River just west of St. Joseph, Missouri, and the eastern ...

Todd Seifert


Great Plains response teams bring hope to flooded Nebraska towns

Great Plains response teams bring hope to flooded Nebraska towns

3/21/2019
In small groups, they re-entered the church. Tired and a bit dirty, but with smiles on their faces, they swapped stories of ripping down soggy drywall, pulling up saturated carpet and hauling out furniture made extra heavy by materials that retained water.  They are early response team (ERT) members of the Great Plains Conference, people trained to swoop in after a natural disaster to start the earliest stages of the recovery process.  Wednesday, March 20, the base they were returning to was...

Todd Seifert


Call is out for cleaning, hygiene kits to be delivered to Nebraska district offices

Call is out for cleaning, hygiene kits to be delivered to Nebraska district offices

3/20/2019
Officially, their name is Cleaning Kit. But in the Great Plains, we call them “flood buckets.” Those who have received them have considered them a godsend, and if semi truckloads of them in the past few years are any indication, churches and their congregations are dedicated and excited about assembling them. And this week, with history-making floodwaters hitting up to two-thirds of Nebraska during the past week, they are needed again.   Cleaning kits, also known as "flood buckets" are ...

Cleaning, hygiene kits needed; NE governor surveys damage

Cleaning, hygiene kits needed; NE governor surveys damage

3/19/2019
Deployment began today for Great Plains Disaster Response volunteers, headed for Valley County in central Nebraska. Valley County Roads Superintendent Jay Meyer reported that more than 150 sites are damaged, ranging from minor to major damage. The Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator, left the conference office in Topeka late Tuesday morning after a blessing from the staff. Tapley said the area is in need of cleaning kits (formerly known as “flood buckets”) and hygiene kits, and ...

David Burke


Saint Paul celebrates removal of sanctions, probation

Saint Paul celebrates removal of sanctions, probation

3/19/2019
With sanctions from accrediting agencies from the Higher Learning Commission behind it, Saint Paul School of Theology can keep looking forward, its president said.  “We’re just breathing a good bit easier,” the Rev. Neil Blair said. “We continue to be the seminary, hopefully, of choice in the Midwest.”  Saint Paul, which has campuses in Leawood, Kansas, and Oklahoma City, was placed on probation two years ago along with another seminary, Claremont School of Theology in California.   Saint Paul ...

David Burke


First flooding response crews ready to hit the ground

First flooding response crews ready to hit the ground

3/18/2019
Members of Fremont First United Methodist Church join others from their community to fill sand bags as waters rose. The city has become a temporary island after waters swallowed all roads leading in and out of town. Photo by Rev. Bill Gepford   As damage assessment from ongoing flooding begins throughout Nebraska, the disaster response coordinator for the Great Plains Conference is waiting for government approval before volunteers can begin work. “The state of Nebraska requested last night...

David Burke


Donations sought to help victims; NE governor urges caution

Donations sought to help victims; NE governor urges caution

3/15/2019
UPDATE — 12:45 p.m. Saturday, March 16 As the video featuring Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. above suggests, please consider giving to the Great Plains Disaster Response Fund. This is advance number 975/410101. Financial donations can either be from yourself privately or as a special offering from your church. This plea is separate from the planned giving to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) that was already scheduled for March 31. While we support UMCOR, giving to the conference's ...

David Burke


Credentialing review to go before Commission on General Conference

Credentialing review to go before Commission on General Conference

3/14/2019
The Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference is looking into a question that ineligible persons may have received credentials to vote during the Special Session of the General Conference. The Secretary of the General Conference, the Rev. Gary W. Graves, recently became aware of the concerns after receiving an inquiry about the registration and credentialing process. Following consultation with the chair of the Commission on the General Conference, an in-depth review was ...

Bishop Saenz leads discussion about future of UMC at first regional gathering

Bishop Saenz leads discussion about future of UMC at first regional gathering

3/11/2019
The last time Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. led a gathering in Salina, the largest crowd of his town hall tours – 375 people – became contentious at times in October when discussing the special session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church regarding human sexuality issues. But in the first of 10 planned regional gatherings across the Great Plains Conference, March 8 at Salina First UMC, the 115 people attending were more in a spirit of cooperation for the future of United Methodists....

David Burke


Women reflect on changing roles in United Methodist leadership

Women reflect on changing roles in United Methodist leadership

3/7/2019
Friday, March 8, is International Women’s Day, and we are taking this opportunity to salute the female pastors in the Great Plains Conference.  The Methodist Episcopal Church first licensed and ordained women as pastors in the early 1920s, but that position had to change in 1939 at the time of the union of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and the Methodist Protestant Church. By 1956, full clergy rights were granted to women in the Methodist Church. As United Methodists since 1968, women have...

David Burke


Workshops show how to leave legacy through financial plans

Workshops show how to leave legacy through financial plans

3/6/2019
Planned giving, the Rev. Dr. Dustin Petz says, means more than just “remembering” the church in your last will and testament.  That’s why Petz, the president and CEO of the Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation, is hosting three workshops, Leaving a Lasting Legacy, in the state this spring.  The workshops are March 12 at Garden City First UMC, March 19 at Topeka First UMC and April 9 at Hutchinson Trinity UMC. Each is free, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes free lunch.  Rev. Dr. Dustin ...

David Burke


Bishop Saenz writes open letter to Great Plains Conference

Bishop Saenz writes open letter to Great Plains Conference

3/2/2019
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has written written the following letter to United Methodists in the Great Plains Conference regarding results from the recently completed 2019 special session of General Conference. Download a PDF of the letter. March 2, 2019 Sisters and brothers of the Great Plains Conference and the United Methodist Church:              Grace and peace to you from God and the Lord Jesus Christ. At the 2019 General Conference in St. Louis, 53 percent of more than 820 delegates ...

Special Session of General Conference coverage

Special Session of General Conference coverage

2/26/2019
The special session of General Conference has concluded in St. Louis. Our coverage will continue in coming days as rulings are made by the Judicial Council related to the Traditional Plan.  Stories and videos from the conference appear below.   Feb. 26 — Plenary Session Delegates spent the day Tuesday considering a minority report in favor of the One Church Plan and amendments associated to the Traditional Plan, Wespath petitions and other legislation.. Video Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. encourages ...

Council of Bishops president: Methodists should refocus on mission

Council of Bishops president: Methodists should refocus on mission

2/26/2019
After the special session of a General Conference that saw delegates favor a Traditional Plan, the leader of the Council of Bishops said United Methodists should focus on their similarities rather than their differences. “Our work now is to help the church refocus on its mission,” Bishop Ken Carter told media Tuesday evening after a contentious four-day session in St. Louis. “And it is to be encouragers. And it is to try to gather up the fragments of what has happened here.” Bishop Ken ...

David Burke


Alternates reflect on sitting on conference sidelines

Alternates reflect on sitting on conference sidelines

2/26/2019
They hung on every word of the special session of the General Conference and sat at the ready in case they were called into duty. Great Plans Conference members — including some delegate reserves — watch proceedings at General Conference in St. Louis. Photo by Todd Seifert But unlike the 2016 General Conference in Portland, alternate delegates from the Great Plains Conference saw little to no time seated at the floor of the special session. “I’m fascinated by the fact that we’re in a ...

David Burke


Youngest delegate urges unity among General Conference

Youngest delegate urges unity among General Conference

2/26/2019
Young adult delegates embrace Shayla Jordan, a Great Plains lay delegate, after she delivered a speech against the Traditional Plan during day four of the United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS. With dozens of her contemporaries around her and the support of more than 15,500 of her generation from around the world, the youngest delegate to the special session of the General Conference gave a plea for unity Tuesday morning. “Today we ask you to vote...

David Burke


Great Plains delegation down after One Church Plan loses vote

Great Plains delegation down after One Church Plan loses vote

2/25/2019
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. addresses and prays with the Great Plains Conference delegation after the special session of General Conference adjourned for the day Monday. Photo by Todd Seifert   An emotionally drained delegation from the Great Plains Conference is thinking about what is ahead after the One Church Plan that most of them supported was defeated Tuesday. “It’s a disappointment and kind of a feeling of getting kicked in the gut – and at the same time wondering, ‘Where do we go from ...

David Burke


Resurrection staffer on center stage with special session praise band

Resurrection staffer on center stage with special session praise band

2/25/2019
When planning for the special session of the General Conference began, the Rev. Ashley Morgan Kirk didn’t think she would be on stage in St. Louis. Kirk was local host and worship liaison, just as she had been for the past three years in the Missouri Annual Conference sessions. Rev. Ashley Morgan Kirk (center) joined an established praise team from Brooklyn for worship in the special session of General Conference. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News Service But after conversations with Raymond ...

David Burke


Wesley KU students intently watching special session

Wesley KU students intently watching special session

2/25/2019
A junior at the University of Kansas, Grace Woods is preparing to go to the seminary to become a pastor. Nicole Guthrie, a member of Great Plains Conference staff in the Clergy Excellence department, poses with visitors to General Conference from the KU Wesley campus ministry at the University of Kansas. Photo courtesy Nicole Guthrie “The United Methodist Church is really important to me,” the Tonganoxie native said. “It’s part of my identity, and it’s who I am.” But if the Traditional ...

David Burke


Great Plains clergy, laity make their way to General Conference in St. Louis

Great Plains clergy, laity make their way to General Conference in St. Louis

2/24/2019
Members of the Great Plains Conference interact with people around them during the special session of General Conference on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. Dozens of people from Kansas and Nebraska have traveled to St. Louis for the special session. Photo by Jayna McFarland Some of those who trekked from the Great Plains Conference to St. Louis are there to support clergy and laity. Others want to be in the room where and when history might happen for United Methodists. Dozens ...

David Burke


Delegates welcome opening special session with prayer, praise

Delegates welcome opening special session with prayer, praise

2/23/2019
  Starting the special session of General Conference on Saturday with a day of praise and worship was just what the Rev. Cheryl Jefferson Bell needed. “It was preparing us spiritually to focus on God, and why we’re here – not to look at the issues immediately, but to get our spirits connected with God,” said Bell, associate pastor of Church of the Resurrection in Leawood and a Great Plains clergy delegate to General Conference. The delegates were led in worship for about six hours, with ...

David Burke


Beware scam citing GoFundMe page

Beware scam citing GoFundMe page

2/22/2019
Over the past few days, several people in the Great Plains Annual Conference has received a GoFundMe request for a contribution that looks to be written on Great Plains letterhead. The request was for a 3-year-old boy in Oregon who was diagnosed with a rare form of anemia. Through several searches, we found not only any connection in the Great Plains to the boy but did not even find the original request on GoFundMe. The GoFundMe email included several grammatical mistakes, one of the telltale ...

Communications team wins 11 UMAC awards

Communications team wins 11 UMAC awards

2/22/2019
The Great Plains Conference communications team won 11 awards — including one best-of-class award — Feb. 22 at the annual gala for the United Methodist Association of Communicators in St. Louis. The awards were presented for work completed in 2018 from annual conferences and local churches. General agencies compete in a separate category. The best-of-class awards represents the top prize among conferences, local churches and agencies combined. Eugenio Hernandez, multimedia production ...

LEAF organizers see 'new day' in Kansas government

LEAF organizers see 'new day' in Kansas government

2/20/2019
A change in the governor’s office fueled optimism among participants in this year’s Legislative Event for Advocacy and Faith. “It’s a new day in Kansas,” said Becky Plate, Eudora, one of the organizers of the 45th annual LEAF day. “We have a new secretary of state and a new governor.” Former Kansas Gov. John Carlin was a keynote speaker at the 2019 LEAF event, Feb. 18 in Topeka. Photos by David Burke LEAF, a cooperative effort of the Great Plains Conference United Methodist Women and Church...

David Burke


Bishop applauds day of prayer to open special session

Bishop applauds day of prayer to open special session

2/18/2019
The special session of the General Conference, Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, will begin with an entire day of praise and worship.  “This will be a wonderful act, signifying and recognizing our dependence on God to lead us forward as a United Methodist Church,” said a statement from the Praying Our Way Forward Team of the Council of Bishops.  Great Plains Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. said he appreciates and applauds the intentional time of prayer.  Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., left, and the Rev. Dee ...

David Burke


Churches get inspiration for Fresh Expressions during Vision Day

Churches get inspiration for Fresh Expressions during Vision Day

2/12/2019
If you want to see where old-fashioned thinking will lead you, leaders of the Fresh Expressions movement say, look no further than Blockbuster Video. But you can’t – there is only one brick-and-mortar outlet left for the once-behemoth movie rental chain. It fell to Netflix, which harnessed the new, expanded reach of internet streaming to topple Blockbuster, which required drives back to the store for customers to return their rentals. “Our method of delivery is not working for everybody,” said ...

David Burke


UMW national exec featured in Nebraska Ecumenical Legislative Briefing Day

UMW national exec featured in Nebraska Ecumenical Legislative Briefing Day

2/11/2019
The executive for Racial Justice for the national United Methodist Women planned to attend the 44th Nebraska Ecumenical Legislative Briefing Day. But when Emily Jones registered, she didn’t plan on presenting. Ruby Thelander, spokesperson for event, had other ideas. After Jones registered, Thelander asked Jones to speak while at the event, Feb. 9 at Lincoln Christ UMC. And Jones was very excited for the opportunity.  UMW national executive Emily Jones speaks during Nebraska Ecumenical ...

Bishop leads group from Great Plains to the Holy Land

Bishop leads group from Great Plains to the Holy Land

1/29/2019
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. is led a group of 61 people from the Great Plains Conference on a tour of the Holy Land. They visited the traditional sites of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, as well as locations of other key locations from biblical history. Todd Seifert, conference communications director, shared these videos each day during the journey.   Fortress of Masada, Caves of Qumran and the Dead Sea On our final day in the Holy Land, the group first toured the ruins of Masada, a ...

Todd Seifert


Melissa Collier Gepford named as conference intergenerational ministries coordinator

Melissa Collier Gepford named as conference intergenerational ministries coordinator

1/24/2019
A Great Plains pastor devoted to research and curriculum, as well as applying them to real-world situations, is the conference’s new intergenerational ministries coordinator. “I have a passion for helping people find the resources they need and building systems for discipleship, so their lives can be transformed and changed so that we can change the world,” said the Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford. The Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford is ordained a full deacon by Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. in 2018 during...

David Burke


Clergy get healthy talk at 2019 Orders & Fellowship

Clergy get healthy talk at 2019 Orders & Fellowship

1/24/2019
  Great Plains pastors got a healthy dose of information on self-care during the 2019 Orders & Fellowship gathering. “Living Water, Living Well” was the theme for the annual clergy gathering, Jan. 16-17 at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. The two-day sessions’ keynote speaker, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, has spent 11 years as research director of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative, as well as serving as associate professor of global health at Duke University. ...

David Burke


Orders & Fellowship 2019 Notebook

Orders & Fellowship 2019 Notebook

1/24/2019
Approximately 600 clergy from across Kansas and Nebraska gathered for our annual Orders & Fellowship clergy gathering. This year's event took place Jan. 16-17, 2019, at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection's Leawood campus. Here are some notes from the event. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. shares a sermon to kick off the 2019 Orders & Fellowship clergy gathering Jan. 16 at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. Photo by Todd Seifert   Bishop: Keep ‘wolves’ away Bishop Ruben ...

David Burke


Great Plains contributing to Rio Texas reserves

Great Plains contributing to Rio Texas reserves

1/22/2019
Jan. 22, 2019 Friends of the Great Plains Conference:   I am writing to inform you that the Great Plains Conference is transferring $50,000 to the Rio Texas Conference, one of our South Central Jurisdiction ministry partners, as a one-time gift to help replenish that conference’s reserves.   I believe this is an opportunity for us to live out what Christ taught in Luke 3:11 — “Whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, and whoever has food must do the same” — and emphasized ...

Wespath clarifies info with frequently-asked-questions web page

Wespath clarifies info with frequently-asked-questions web page

1/18/2019
Wespath, formerly known as the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits for The United Methodist Church, added to its frequently-asked-questions document earlier this week in response to what it said were erroneous remarks made on blogs and social media related to the upcoming special session of General Conference.  In a letter to the Council of Bishops, Barbara Boigegrain, general secretary and CEO of Wespath Benefits and Investments, directed bishops to an updated FAQ document meant to ...

New DS for Blue River, Elkhorn Valley districts

New DS for Blue River, Elkhorn Valley districts

1/14/2019
Rev. Dr. Nancy Tomlinson A pastor with a track record of launching ministries, embracing new ministry techniques, retiring debt and adjusting to the varying demands of ministry has been named the new district superintendent of the Blue River and Elkhorn Valley districts. The Rev. Dr. Nancy Tomlinson will move to the Cabinet from her current role as lead pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Papillion, Nebraska, effective July 1. Tomlinson, who has nearly 25 years of ministry ...

Todd Seifert


Liberal UMC kicks off effort to prevent human trafficking

Liberal UMC kicks off effort to prevent human trafficking

1/14/2019
What started out as a church action team at Liberal First United Methodist Church has grown into a community-wide seminar on preventing and responding to human trafficking, called “Hidden in Plain Sight.”  Rev. Keith Anglemyer welcomes participants to the "Hidden in Plain Sight" seminar. Photos by David Burke “It’s not a problem a lot of churches are talking about,” the Rev. Keith Anglemyer, Liberal First UMC pastor, said at the opening of the seminar, “but churches need to.”  About 50 ...

David Burke


WORD speaks to 900-plus youth, leaders at sixth-annual OneEvent

WORD speaks to 900-plus youth, leaders at sixth-annual OneEvent

1/9/2019
Click on the above picture for a gallery of more than 150 photos -- email jmcfarland@greatplainsumc.org to find out how to add yours! Whether they grooved to the music, learned from the message or enjoyed the fellowship and fun, more than 900 youth and their leaders spent a full weekend at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina on Jan. 5-6. Big Al Cherry introduces Rev. Michelle Manuel at The OneEvent. Photos by Todd Seifert, David Burke “We’re all United Methodists, and we’re all ...

David Burke


OneEvent notebook: Speaker, bishop, relationships, DJ, comedian

OneEvent notebook: Speaker, bishop, relationships, DJ, comedian

1/9/2019
Speaker asks, ‘What’s your mat?’ The Rev. Michelle Manuel knew how to make an entrance at The OneEvent. In each of the sessions in which Manuel, the keynote speaker, participated, she got what she called “hype music” from DJ Big Al Cherry, and threw T-shirts to the crowd in her three sessions. Rev. Michelle Manuel Manuel, associate pastor of The Loft at The Woodlands United Methodist Church north of Houston, spoke based on John 5: 1-6, the healing at the pool at Bethesda, and repeatedly asked ...

David Burke


Liberal UMC hosts trafficking prevention seminar this weekend

Liberal UMC hosts trafficking prevention seminar this weekend

1/7/2019
The pastor and congregation of Liberal First United Methodist Church sensed an escalating problem in their southwestern Kansas community – a growth in human trafficking, whether in the sex industry or undocumented immigrants seeking employment.  “We know we’re in an area where trafficking could be a problem,” said the Rev. Keith Anglemyer, the church’s pastor. “We thought it was time to really make an effort to do something, especially to raise awareness.”  The church will host “Hidden in Plain ...

Council of Bishops writes letter to LGBTQ community

Council of Bishops writes letter to LGBTQ community

12/28/2018
To the People of the United Methodist Church:   Grace and Peace to you in these days of Christmas, and at the conclusion of a calendar year.   At the fall meeting of the Council of Bishops at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, bishops approved a motion to send a pastoral letter to the Global LGBTQ community. A writing team, composed of a bishop from each central conference and jurisdiction, completed this task, on behalf of the Council. The letter is attached.   We share this letter with you as an ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Valley View UMC to become Overland Park campus of Church of the Resurrection

Valley View UMC to become Overland Park campus of Church of the Resurrection

12/19/2018
Editor's note: This article was updated on Friday, Dec. 21. On April 28, shortly after Valley View United Methodist Church celebrates its 60th anniversary, the Overland Park, Kansas, church will close. But it will re-emerge about four months later, as the new Overland Park campus of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. Valley View’s congregation voted 160-1 on Dec. 2 to approve becoming a campus of Resurrection. The Leawood-based church, the largest United Methodist congregation in ...

David Burke


Churches continue Way Forward discussion in advance of special session

Churches continue Way Forward discussion in advance of special session

12/11/2018
The 98 days between Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.’s final town hall meeting and the opening of the special session of the General Conference focusing on human sexuality are becoming a time of study, debate and reflection for members of the Great Plains Conference.  More than 4,100 people attended the 18 town hall meetings, which took place from Aug. 25 to Nov. 17. In each meeting, Bishop Saenz shared details of the structure of the denomination and a history of its stance on LGBTQ issues, as well as ...

David Burke


Delegation thanks Great Plains Conference for prayers, feedback

Delegation thanks Great Plains Conference for prayers, feedback

12/10/2018
Great Plains Conference delegates to the special session of General Conference, scheduled for Feb. 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, have drafted this letter to United Methodists in Kansas and Nebraska. The letter shares some thoughts based on feedback delegates have received during town hall meetings and in emails and letters sent to them since August. Anyone who still wishes to send a note to the delegation may do so by sending an email to gcdelegates@greatplainsumc.org. Beloved in Christ, It’s ...

Internships in conference expand to include confirmation roles

Internships in conference expand to include confirmation roles

12/5/2018
The Great Plains Conference’s summer internship program is expanding in 2019 to include students helping to teach in confirmation camps. Applications are now being accepted for the four internship programs – Micah Corps, Network Intern, Pastoral Leadership and the new Confirmation interns – at greatplainsumc.org/internapply. The confirmation interns would work at both locations – Camp Fontanelle in Nebraska and Camp Horizon in Kansas – that already have confirmation camps in place.     These...

David Burke


A Christmas message from Bishop Carter and the Council of Bishops

A Christmas message from Bishop Carter and the Council of Bishops

11/30/2018
In a Christmas message to the people of The United Methodist Church on behalf of the Council of Bishops, Council president Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., encourages us, with a message from Isaiah 11, to be a sign of God's peaceable Kingdom. Read Bishop Carter's message: A Peaceable Kingdom in a Divided World The Prophet Living eight centuries before Christ, the prophet Isaiah had a vision, which over time was given a name:  the peaceable kingdom.  It’s a compelling vision:  A shoot will come ...

More than 290 hear way forward plans in tour finale in Parsons, Lawrence

More than 290 hear way forward plans in tour finale in Parsons, Lawrence

11/20/2018
The final weekend of Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.’s 18 town-hall tour of the Great Plains Conference included the viewpoints of southeast Kansans and the assistance of the Wesley KU campus ministry.  Nine students from the University of Kansas ministry and one alumnus welcomed visitors to Lawrence First United Methodist Church’s west campus for the last of the town halls Nov. 17, as well as helping corral the microphones for audience questions and asking a few themselves.  Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and...

David Burke


Nearly 300 hear of proposals at Topeka District town hall

Nearly 300 hear of proposals at Topeka District town hall

11/13/2018
Ken Edmonds left the Topeka District town hall meeting Nov. 11 feeling “a little bit optimistic” about the future of The United Methodist Church, but “It needs to be more than we’ve seen today.”  The McLouth man, who identified himself as gay during a Q&A session with Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., has been a member of The United Methodist Church and its predecessors for 60 years, and wants to know that he belongs.  “In my mind, anything less than full acceptance is not acceptable,” Edmonds said. “If ...

David Burke


Bishop Carter calls on fellow bishops to trust in God to lead UMC

Bishop Carter calls on fellow bishops to trust in God to lead UMC

11/5/2018
St. Simon Island, Georgia – Council of Bishops President Bishop Ken Carter on Monday morning urged fellow bishops to call upon God to help The United Methodist Church to move forward during this time when the church finds itself in unfamiliar territory. In his presidential address at the opening plenary of the Council of Bishops November meeting at Epworth by the Sea, Bishop Carter said by trusting in God, bishops will lead the denomination forward with scriptural imagination. Read Bishop ...

Transformation event discusses gender bias, violence, discrimination

Transformation event discusses gender bias, violence, discrimination

10/31/2018
Retired Bishop Ann Sherer-Simpson vividly remembers her first charge, at age 33, as a pastor. “Honey, this is gonna be hard,” she was warned by her district superintendent as the church’s first female leader. She was instructed that she couldn’t wear slacks. Congregants crossed their arms rather than take communion from her. A board member screamed, “You have no place in this place” at her. A parishioner took back the piano he had donated to “his church.” A treasurer moved funds around so “...

David Burke


Church group gives new roof to man living in Paradise

Church group gives new roof to man living in Paradise

10/30/2018
Life in Paradise isn’t always perfect. But thanks to a service project by young adults in the Russell County, Kansas, town’s United Methodist Church, it got better for one of their neighbors. Just down the hill from the church in the town of about 50 people is the house of a man on disability after cancer struck his left jaw and tonsils. He had been in need of a new roof on his house for about two years, especially noticeable when rain would fall from his light fixtures. Members of a young ...

David Burke


Bishop asks for prayers after synagogue shooting

Bishop asks for prayers after synagogue shooting

10/29/2018
Sisters and Brothers of the Great Plains Conference,   We mourn and deeply lament the heinous, fear-driven, and hate-filled shooting last weekend at the Tree of Life Congregation in the Pittsburgh Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Eleven of our Jewish brothers and sisters lost their lives, and nine others were wounded, including four members of law enforcement who courageously rushed to the scene to stop the assailant.   As Christians and United Methodists, “we deplore acts of hate or violence ...

Crowd at Hays town hall concerned over impact on local churches

Crowd at Hays town hall concerned over impact on local churches

10/29/2018
In a sometimes-spirited town hall discussion Oct. 28, some members of the Hays District said they believed United Methodist leaders are trickling the decision over human sexuality issues down to individual congregations through the proposed One Church Plan. “That’s the whole issue, right?” asked Bob McCobb, a member of Russell Trinity UMC. “Now you’re going to pass it down to the local church to make them decide? “We’ve been forced to do something you guys couldn’t do,” he said while asking a ...

David Burke


Judicial Council says One Church Plan is largely constitutional

Judicial Council says One Church Plan is largely constitutional

10/26/2018
A review of possible plans for the future direction of The United Methodist Church found the One Church Plan to be largely constitutional, said a decision released Oct. 26 by the denomination’s top court. In Decision 1366, which was unanimous, the United Methodist Judicial Council found more problems in the Traditional Plan petitions that would need to be addressed before that plan could pass a constitutional test. Since another legislative proposal — the Connectional Conference Plan — contains ...

Leadership, discipleship two points of focus for Connecting Council

Leadership, discipleship two points of focus for Connecting Council

10/24/2018
Discussion leaders share traits their peers identified in great leaders from the Bible and secular society during the Connecting Council’s fall meeting Oct. 19 at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church in Topeka. Photo by Todd Seifert The Connecting Council discussed the importance of strong leadership and new ways to reach new people for Christ during its fall meeting Oct. 19-20 at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church in Topeka. The council – comprised of about 60 people who make timely...

Todd Seifert


Emporia State students among 150 at Council Grove town hall

Emporia State students among 150 at Council Grove town hall

10/23/2018
Among the 150 people at the Council Grove United Methodist Church for the Flint Hills District town hall meeting Oct. 21 were five Emporia State University students, along with the Rev. Kurt Cooper, campus pastor.  The students, who met with Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. for an impromptu discussion following the two-hour town hall, said they had various amounts of knowledge of the human sexuality issues facing the denomination before the session.  “I’ve heard a lot about this through campus ministry,” ...

David Burke


Judicial Council asked to rule on validity of three plans

Judicial Council asked to rule on validity of three plans

10/23/2018
The United Methodist Church’s top court was encouraged during an oral hearing to rule in advance on the constitutionality of proposed legislation that will come before a special legislative session in February. That discussion was part of the first of three hearings that opened the Oct. 23-26 meeting of the United Methodist Judicial Council in Zurich, Switzerland. The first hearing was on a request for a declaratory decision from the Council of Bishops on the constitutionality of the three sets ...

Salina town hall draws record 375 people to discuss special session

Salina town hall draws record 375 people to discuss special session

10/16/2018
Despite unseasonable weather that caused some attendees to return home while en route, 375 people packed into Salina Trinity United Methodist Church on Oct. 14 to hear information about proposals that will come before a special session of the General Conference in February. The crowd was not only the largest of the 13 town hall meetings with Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. so far, it may also have been the most vocal. Statements supporting the church’s traditional stand received applause, even though ...

David Burke


Sense of community means growing church numbers in Lindsborg

Sense of community means growing church numbers in Lindsborg

10/16/2018
When Gage Harmon was successfully recruited by Bethany College to pitch for its baseball team last spring, he didn’t know anyone in Lindsborg.  An active member of the church in his hometown of Mansfield, Texas – running the audio-video for church services – he Googled “Methodist church in Lindsborg” and found Trinity UMC.  “It’s brought me here to this community and this family, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Harmon, a junior business major. “I love everyone, and I feel so welcome here.”...

David Burke


Culture of Call grants distributed to seven in Great Plains

Culture of Call grants distributed to seven in Great Plains

10/15/2018
Four churches, two campus ministries and one camp are the recipients of the fall Culture of Call grants from the Great Plains Conference. Campus ministries at the University of Kansas and Southwestern College were awarded grants, as was Camp Chippewa, three churches in Kansas and one in Nebraska. “We continue to be excited to see the way that groups within the Great Plains UMC are envisioning what it looks like to support a Culture of Call in their churches, campus ministries and camps,” said ...

David Burke


UPDATE: Hutch church surrounded by water has none in building

UPDATE: Hutch church surrounded by water has none in building

10/11/2018
UPDATE: Good news from Hutchinson's Mitchell Chapel. Despite floodwaters surrounding the church, there is no water inside the building. "It appears that water came within a couple feet of both the east side and the west side doors," the church's pastor, the Rev. Jeff Goetzinger, wrote in an email. "Now my hope is to mobilize my congregation to be host/hostesses and open our church for those in the area to take a break from cleanup, a place to talk, and also a place to pray." Mitchell ...

David Burke


Hutchinson church, school combine forces to boost youth

Hutchinson church, school combine forces to boost youth

10/10/2018
Nikkee Byard asked groups of 100 students at a time at Hutchinson High School if they had ever felt like they were bullied, faced poverty, had addictions in their families or had family members who were incarcerated to step over a line in a recent exercise. A giving corner at Trinity United Methodist Church in Hutchinson provides an easy drop-off point for supplies for students at Hutchinson High School. Photo by David Burke “Almost every kid in the room crossed over the line, nearly every ...

David Burke


More than 750 south central Kansans attend bishop’s town halls

More than 750 south central Kansans attend bishop’s town halls

10/9/2018
No matter the outcome of February’s special session of the General Conference to discuss human sexuality issues, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. says the goal he has given the Cabinet for 2019 is “zero decline” in the Great Plains. And yes, he understands the obstacles of achieving “zero decline,” which means losing no members nor churches. Attendees to a town hall at West Heights United Methodist Church extend their hands toward General Conference delegates while praying for them Oct. 6 during a town...

David Burke


Single legislative committee to allow for full delegate participation

Single legislative committee to allow for full delegate participation

10/8/2018
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Georgia — The Commission on the General Conference adopted a plan for the legislative structure of the Special Session of the 2019 General Conference during meetings Oct. 4-5 at St. Simons Island.. The Commission on the General Conference has determined by a unanimous vote that there will be only one legislative committee — to which all delegates will be assigned — for the Special Session of the 2019 General Conference. All legislation deemed in harmony with the call will be ...

Bishop issues statement on sexual misconduct

Bishop issues statement on sexual misconduct

10/4/2018
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has released the following letter to the people of the Great Plains Conference regarding the treatment of women and the need for an improved show of respect for women in light of continued allegations of sexual misconduct against high-profile men and news reports. Sisters and Brothers of the Great Plains Conference,   Over the past two years, more than 200 powerful and influential people – celebrities, politicians, CEOs, and others – have been the subject of sexual ...

Anita Crisp announces retirement as executive director of Nebraska UM Foundation

Anita Crisp announces retirement as executive director of Nebraska UM Foundation

10/3/2018
After seeing friends not getting a chance to spend retirement with their loved ones, Anita Crisp didn’t want to be on that list. That’s why the executive director of the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation has announced her retirement, effective Nov. 19, after eight years in the position.   Anita Crisp has been executive director of the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation for eight years. Contributed photo “He had a major heart attack several years ago and died eight times on the table,...

David Burke


Confirmands in Ogallala put their ‘talents’ to use for church

Confirmands in Ogallala put their ‘talents’ to use for church

9/26/2018
Seven young men began their confirmation journey at Nebraska’s Ogallala United Methodist Church on Sept. 23, when they were each handed an envelope containing $30. It’s become a tradition for the church’s pastor, the Rev. Chuck Rager, and his wife, Roberta, for about 13 years to make the donation to the confirmands in the spirit of the parable of the talents in the book of Matthew. “I remind them that their charge is to be stewards of those talents, or ‘seed money,’” said Rager, in his ninth ...

David Burke


Western Nebraskans hear about proposed way forward for UMC

Western Nebraskans hear about proposed way forward for UMC

9/26/2018
While some of his colleagues have publicly endorsed one of the three plans for the future of The United Methodist Church, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. says he is “taking the position of impartiality” when presenting the proposals to church members in the Great Plains Conference. “From where I’m sitting, I see both sides of this concern,” Bishop Saenz said during one of his three stops in western Nebraska on Sept. 22-23. “It’s not that I’m neutral, I’m just trying to be impartial.” Bishop Ruben Saenz...

David Burke


SW Kansas stop on bishop's tour draws 340

SW Kansas stop on bishop's tour draws 340

9/11/2018
Southwest Kansans got to learn and speak their piece about the proposals for the future of The United Methodist Church in a town hall meeting with Great Plains Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. About 340 people filled the sanctuary of Garden City First United Methodist Church on Sept. 9 to discuss the three known plans regarding human sexuality issues leading up to a special session of the General Conference in February in St. Louis. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. speaks to members of churches in the Dodge City ...

David Burke


O’Neill UMC pastor says helping displaced refugees is a humanitarian, not political, issue

O’Neill UMC pastor says helping displaced refugees is a humanitarian, not political, issue

9/5/2018
Brian Loy, pastor of O'Neill United Methodist Church, prepares to haul donations from an Omaha church. Photos by David Burke   'We just keep loving the people' O’Neill UMC pastor says helping displaced refugees is a humanitarian, not political issue    When Brian Loy was appointed pastor of O’Neill United Methodist Church last November, he was no stranger to the Nebraska community.  His father, the Rev. Glenn Loy, was pastor of the church from 1976 to 1983, during which ...

David Burke


More than 800 hear of proposed plans in first weekend of bishop's town hall meetings

More than 800 hear of proposed plans in first weekend of bishop's town hall meetings

8/27/2018
More than 800 United Methodists in the Great Plains Conference heard the known options for the future of the denomination in the opening weekend of town hall meetings with Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.  “It’s important that we pause and pray and think through our way forward,” Bishop Saenz said at the first meeting, at Omaha St. Luke UMC, which drew approximately 350 people on Aug. 25. About 200 attended that afternoon’s session at Lincoln Trinity UMC, and more than 250 packed into Olathe Grace UMC ...

David Burke


Petition process decided for special session

Petition process decided for special session

8/27/2018
The Commission on the General Conference has outlined a process for determining if petitions submitted to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference are in harmony with the Council of Bishops’ amended call to the session, which states that the purpose of the special session “shall be limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based upon the recommendations of the Council of Bishops.” The Judicial Council ruled that petitions may be filed by an ...

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