News


Bishop issues pastoral letter following council meeting

Bishop issues pastoral letter following council meeting

11/13/2019
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has issued the following letter to clergy and laity in the Great Plains Conference following the recent meeting of the Council of Bishops. Download a printable copy of the letter. Members of the Great Plains Conference,                                                                                            Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, the One we all belong to and whose will it is for us as His people to give thanks to God in all circumstances (1 ...

Bishop Saenz looks forward to work with General Board of Global Ministries

Bishop Saenz looks forward to work with General Board of Global Ministries

11/13/2019
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. says he’s excited about the possibilities in the next quadrennium in his appointment to the General Board of Global Ministries. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. confers with fellow bishops at the special session of the General Conference in February in St. Louis. File photos by Todd Seifert “The first quadrennium, I focused on the annual conference and being present and getting to know the pastors and the churches and the context,” Bishop Saenz said of the 2016-2019 term. “This ...

David Burke


Bishop Saenz chosen to deliver sermon during 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis

Bishop Saenz chosen to deliver sermon during 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis

11/12/2019
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. will get his largest congregation yet during the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis. The episcopal leader of the Great Plains Conference has been chosen to give the sermon on the morning of May 8. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. delivers a sermon at the Great Plains Annual Conference in 2017. File photo by Todd Seifert “It’ll take a lot of prayer and a lot of reflection and a lot of time,” Bishop Saenz said, “and a lot of drafts and restarts.” The bishop was chosen by the ...

David Burke


Judicial Council upholds exit plan, conference will follow procedures

Judicial Council upholds exit plan, conference will follow procedures

11/2/2019
Bishop Kenneth H. Carter speaks during an oral hearing before the United Methodist Judicial Council meeting in Evanston, Ill. Carter is president of the denomination's Council of Bishops. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.   Rulings from the United Methodist Church Judicial Council on special provisions allowing congregations to leave the denomination changes little, if anything, for churches within the Great Plains Conference. Scott Brewer, conference Treasurer and director ...

United Methodist News Service


Great Plains internships for 2020 will help local churches grow leaders

Great Plains internships for 2020 will help local churches grow leaders

10/30/2019
The summer internship program for the Great Plains Conference in 2020 will be calling on local churches to help identify potential leaders. Applications have opened for the 10-week internships in youth ministry, kids ministry and pastoral ministry, as well as the Micah Corps program. For 2020, churches are being asked to look within their congregations for potential leaders and apply for a matching grant of up to $1,750 for a full-time intern that will assist in their church. The Great ...

David Burke


Connecting Council addresses community building, General Conference and more

Connecting Council addresses community building, General Conference and more

10/23/2019
The Great Plains Conference’s Connecting Council considered what it means to be a “great church,” discussed budget reductions amid the denomination’s tumultuous times, the possibility of a special-called annual conference session in 2020, a plan for disaffiliation of churches, and recommended a social-justice initiative during the council’s busy two-day meeting Oct. 19-20 in Topeka. “We’re being real intentional about building community because that’s what is going to keep us together going ...

Todd Seifert


New webpage, materials celebrate 'Great Start' in the Great Plains

New webpage, materials celebrate 'Great Start' in the Great Plains

10/23/2019
A new webpage and promotional materials are out in hopes of convincing potential clergy that they can have a great start in the Great Plains Conference. The Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator, said the Great Start project began as a way to recruit seminary students for the conference. Flyers with QR codes that link to video testimonials are being distributed during visits to 10 United Methodist seminaries. Photo by the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford “We ...

David Burke


Fourteen churches, campus groups receive Culture of Call grants

Fourteen churches, campus groups receive Culture of Call grants

10/16/2019
Four campus ministries, the Institute for Discipleship and nine churches will divide more than $21,000 in the fall round of Culture of Call grants. “We love seeing creativity come from churches and campus ministries who are exploring ways that they can cultivate people to explore their call,” the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator, said. “We were happy to be able to invest in each of these communities to find ways that God can continue to grow their ...

Bishops seek resolution to crisis along southern border

Bishops seek resolution to crisis along southern border

10/11/2019
The South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops issued a letter today addressing concerns along the southern border of the United States. The bishops called for policy changes to address what they called a humanitarian crisis. "Christian teaching tells us that realities that forcibly displace and dehumanize people must spur us to practical concern and action," the bishops wrote. "Our actions must be more than just words and prayers, but rather care that hospitably tends to their wounds, ...

After special session, Church of the Resurrection changes its Leadership Institute plans

After special session, Church of the Resurrection changes its Leadership Institute plans

10/1/2019
Just like it had done for the previous 20 years, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection began planning its annual Leadership Institute a week after the close of the 2018 gathering.  “It is a year-round process,” said Kari Burgess, program director of ShareChurch. “We start combing through (participant surveys) right away and get ideas of how we might change and better Leadership Institute for the next year.”  Nearly 2,500 people from all 54 annual conferences attended the 2019 ...

David Burke


Great Plains attendees feel energized after Leadership Institute

Great Plains attendees feel energized after Leadership Institute

10/1/2019
With the 2019 Leadership Institute in its backyard at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, better than one in 10 attendees were from the Great Plains Conference.  More than 260 pastors and laity from Kansas and Nebraska attended the Institute, Sept. 25-27. Nearly 2,500, representing all 54 annual conferences and 46 states, attended the 21st annual Institute.  More than 250 Leadership Institute attendees from the Great Plains Conference attended a strategy breakout session ...

David Burke


Leaders begin to form ideas for new church plants in Great Plains Conference

Leaders begin to form ideas for new church plants in Great Plains Conference

9/25/2019
Strategies for starting new United Methodist churches have changed over the past several years, a pastor who helps guide church starts told a group of clergy in a recent training session.  Rev. Dr. Iosmar Alvarez, Lexington District superintendent from the Kentucky Conference, discusses church planting with members of the Great Plains Conference on Sept. 20 in Topeka. Photos by David Burke “In the past, we had a lot of ‘parachute drops’ (beginning churches without the guidance of a parent ...

David Burke


Scammers targeting churchgoers with fake text messages from pastors

Scammers targeting churchgoers with fake text messages from pastors

9/23/2019
The Rev. David Livingston was stunned to learn over the weekend that someone claiming to be him was texting members of Fairway Old Mission United Methodist Church, asking for gift cards to benefit cancer patients.  “There’s so much legitimate need in the world, and for legitimate need and people’s good hearts to be exploited is just disappointing,” Livingston said. “They’re violating the good nature of parishioners as well as pastors.”  The Rev. David Livingston, seen here during the special ...

David Burke


Bishop requests financial assistance for hurricane victims

Bishop requests financial assistance for hurricane victims

9/7/2019
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has drafted the following letter of support for financial assistance for people impacted by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas and along parts of the U.S. Atlantic Coast. At this point, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is asking congregations and individuals to limit donations to financial gifts and not supplies of any sort. Also, please do not self-deploy to provide assistance. Rather, please wait until UMCOR provides more instructions once damage ...

African bishops say United Methodist Church will continue, even after 2020 General Conference

African bishops say United Methodist Church will continue, even after 2020 General Conference

9/6/2019
MUTARE, ZIMBABWE -- Bishops in Africa have vowed that The United Methodist Church will continue in Africa even after the 2020 General Conference. Therefore, the bishops have resolved not to support any proposed legislation or plans that call for dividing or dissolving The United Methodist Church. “We do not support any legislation that calls for the dissolution of The United Methodist Church. We uphold our values as a connectional and worldwide church committed to ‘Making disciples of Jesus ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Dotson kicks off 'Soul Reset' book tour with leaders summit in Wichita

Dotson kicks off 'Soul Reset' book tour with leaders summit in Wichita

8/28/2019
The Rev. Junius Dotson believes that churches, their pastors and leaders need to hit the “Reset” button.  Dotson, general secretary and CEO of Discipleship Ministries, returned to Wichita — where he served as senior pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church from 2002 to 2016 — for a leadership summit to kick off a promotional tour for his book “Soul Reset,” to be released Sept. 1.  The Rev. Junius Dotson's new book, "Soul Reset," will be released Sept. 1. Photos by David Burke Subtitled...

David Burke


Topeka First UMC learns about civil discourse over difficult issues

Topeka First UMC learns about civil discourse over difficult issues

8/27/2019
With growing ideological rifts everywhere, from the nation’s political landscape to The United Methodist Church, David Procter says proper discourse is becoming endangered.  “Civility is not doing well — and it’s getting worse,” said Procter, director of Kansas State University’s Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy.  David Procter, director of Kansas State University’s Institute for Civil Discourse and Democracy, leads a "Dialogue Workshop" at Topeka First UMC. Photos by David Burke ...

David Burke


Garden project at Omaha church grows with fellowship, interaction

Garden project at Omaha church grows with fellowship, interaction

8/21/2019
When the Rev. Chris Jorgensen was looking at ways that Omaha Hanscom Park United Methodist Church could reach out into the community, the answer was right outside her door.  It was a garden the church had started about 10 years earlier, with the assistance of the Big Garden mission in Omaha.  A garden group gathers outside Hanscom Park UMC in Omaha for a short church service. Contributed photos “We didn’t get that far outside the church, but we did get outside the church,” Jorgensen, in her ...

David Burke


Group drafts separation plan for denomination

Group drafts separation plan for denomination

8/13/2019
The United Methodist Church’s conflict over homosexuality is irreconcilable and calls for amicable separation into different denominations, according to a 12-person group of centrists, traditionalists and progressives that began meeting in late June. “We’ve discovered The United Methodist Church can’t live in the same house together peaceably, but we can live next door to one another,” said the Rev. Kent Millard, president of United Theological Seminary and one of the group’s organizers. Millard...

United Methodist News Service


Improper voting at GC2019 voids disaffiliation legislation

Improper voting at GC2019 voids disaffiliation legislation

8/12/2019
Bishops Thomas J. Bickerton (center) and Gregory V. Palmer (right) confer with colleagues on legislative procedures during the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Bickerton is the Council of Bishops representative on the Commission on General Conference. The Commission on General Conference — meeting behind closed doors — reviewed an investigation that found evidence of four ineligible people casting votes using the credentials of delegates who were not present. File photo ...

United Methodist News Service


Lay Academy for Rural Church Ministries celebrates 20th anniversary, plans expansion

Lay Academy for Rural Church Ministries celebrates 20th anniversary, plans expansion

8/7/2019
For more than three decades, the Rev. Dr. Carl Ellis has seen rural churches increasingly struggle to find effective leadership and adapt to changing times.  Twenty years ago, preceding The United Methodist Church’s development of a certified lay minister program, Ellis began the Lay Academy for Rural Church Ministries, which trains laypersons to serve in the local church.  “It’s kind of evolved through the years,” Ellis said. “I got to the point where I have two courses that match the ...

David Burke


Bishops call for discipleship; urge end to white supremacy, xenophobia

Bishops call for discipleship; urge end to white supremacy, xenophobia

8/6/2019
In the aftermath of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Council of Bishops President Bishop Ken Carter is calling for United Methodists to help end white supremacy and xenophobia which he says is fueling a culture of violence.  Crosses for each of the victims of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, being assembled before being taken to a memorial site. Photo courtesy Reuters In a statement released Aug. 6, Bishop Carter commended the statements of Bishop Gregory Palmer and ...

Maidstone Mulenga


‘Reimagined’ OneEvent moves to Omaha, Lincoln in summer of 2020

‘Reimagined’ OneEvent moves to Omaha, Lincoln in summer of 2020

7/31/2019
After six years as an early-January gathering of youth from across the Great Plains Conference, the OneEvent is changing its focus, its location and its calendar for 2020. The “OneEvent Reimagined” is scheduled for June 14-18 in Lincoln and Omaha. “We’re moving to a mission trip model,” said the Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford, intergenerational discipleship coordinator. “This will be basically a turnkey mission opportunity for youth groups.” The "reimagined" OneEvent will be June 14-18, 2020, in...

David Burke


BeADisciple offering six practical ministry certifications beginning in August

BeADisciple offering six practical ministry certifications beginning in August

7/24/2019
After a few years away from children’s ministry and returning to her calling at a different church, Jessica Bates wanted to learn as much as she could. “I felt very equipped to do some of the parts of what it takes to be a children’s minister, but not all of it,” said Bates, now working at Winfield First United Methodist Church. That’s why she entered an online certification program through BeADisciple.com, a program of the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship at Southwestern ...

Mission shares collections down after special session

Mission shares collections down after special session

7/24/2019
Bishop Michael McKee, president of the General Council on Finance and Administration, confers with Moses Kumar, GCFA’s top executive, on July 19 in Dallas. GCFA’s board heard that giving across the church is down since the 2019 General Conference in February. Photo by Sam Hodges, UM News Service   The United Methodist Church continues to face a financial hangover from the 2019 General Conference in St. Louis, where passage of the Traditional Plan led unhappy churches and individuals to a ...

United Methodist News Service


Connectional Table to propose legislation creating new U.S. structure

Connectional Table to propose legislation creating new U.S. structure

7/23/2019
CHICAGO —The Connectional Table approved sending legislation to General Conference 2020 that would create a new structure for churches in the United States, called a regional conference, during an online meeting July 18.  The proposed legislation stipulates that the U.S. Regional Conference would have geographic boundaries congruent with the territory of the U.S. annual conferences. Jurisdictions would continue to function with their current powers and duties, including their process to elect ...

Bishops call for new ways of embodying unity through mission, relationships

Bishops call for new ways of embodying unity through mission, relationships

7/18/2019
CHICAGO – The bishops of The United Methodist Church will seek to strengthen annual conferences in 2019 through the ministries of sending and missional strategy, Bishop Kenneth Carter, president of the Council of Bishops, said in a statement.     In a statement released at the end of the Executive Committee meeting outside Chicago on July 17,  Bishop Carter said: “Our primary work is not legislative or legalistic. In this season, our primary calling is to discover new ways of embodying unity ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Great Plains among those represented on YOUTH2019 stage

Great Plains among those represented on YOUTH2019 stage

7/17/2019
Two young adults from the Great Plains Conference took center stage at YOUTH2019, July 10-13 in Kansas City, Missouri. Erynn (Dahlke) Kuehl from the Great Plains Conference was the emcee for YOUTH2019. YOUTH2019 video grab Erynn (Dahlke) Kuehl was the emcee of the quadrennial event, and Abigail Koech was the speaker for the Friday night worship. Kuehl said she applied to be a member of the design team three years ago and after being selected, volunteered to be the emcee. “They decided I was ...

David Burke


KCK church combines three different cultures for its VBS

KCK church combines three different cultures for its VBS

7/15/2019
The Vacation Bible School program at Kansas City Bristol Hill United Methodist Church on July 14 was like many VBS wrap-ups, with youngsters hamming it up during the songs, kids waving to their parents in the congregation and older siblings watching out for their little brothers and sisters in the front row.  But unlike the other VBSs, Bristol Hill’s was a triad of churches and cultures – African and Micronesian children joined with the predominately white church that hosted the week.  ...

David Burke


Bishop Hicks remembered for compassion, gentle nature

Bishop Hicks remembered for compassion, gentle nature

7/8/2019
The Great Plains Conference invited people who knew Bishop Kenneth Hicks to send in some of their fond memories of the man who served in Nebraska before serving as bishop in Arkansas and Kansas. The bishop died June 19 in Little Rock, Arkansas, one day after his 96th birthday. His wife, Elaine, died June 29, also in Little Rock, but her passing was not yet known when the invitation for remembrances for the bishop was announced. The Great Plains Conference received 11 responses. Their remarks...

Wamego, Seward churches get involved in community for Fourth of July

Wamego, Seward churches get involved in community for Fourth of July

7/3/2019
When the Rev. Michael Tomson-DeGreeff began at First United Methodist Church in Wamego six years ago, he was told the Kansas community loved its fireworks on the Fourth of July. “I said, ‘Yeah, sure,’” he recalled. “I grew up in St. Louis watching the fireworks at The Arch, which were amazing. And I lived in Boston for six years, and the fireworks in Boston were amazing,” Tomson-DeGreff said. “So, I thought, ‘How good could this be?’ “But it blew me away. It was way better,” he added. “How was ...

David Burke


Administrative assistant-turned-pastor looking forward to new role

Administrative assistant-turned-pastor looking forward to new role

7/2/2019
Just as she had done for the past four years as administrative assistant in the Blue River District, Pam Savery filled out forms this spring that officially put pastors in their new assignments. But unlike previous years, Savery entered her own name as a three-quarter time pastor in the three-point charge of Hallam, Martell and Roca, Nebraska. “It was kind of surreal,” Savery said of the paperwork. “It was kind of a reality check that this was actually happening.” “It’s been kind of strange, but...

David Burke


NUMB officially surpasses the $1 million mark

NUMB officially surpasses the $1 million mark

6/28/2019
The Rev. Bill Ritter takes part in the Nebraska United Methodist Bike Ride for Hunger (NUMB) with his sons Brett and Blake. Here, they ride past a lake north of Lakeside, Nebraska. Submitted photo NUMB XXIV returned to Chadron, Nebraska, the site where the first NUMB Ride in 1996 took place, and it was on this route that the ride surpassed the $1 million mark. NUMB — the Nebraska United Methodist Bike Ride for Hunger — is directed by the Rev. Bill Ritter, the Blue ...

United Methodist Youth Institute full of tradition, transformations

United Methodist Youth Institute full of tradition, transformations

6/27/2019
Amaya Harrison credits the United Methodist Youth Institute with saving her life — literally.  Amaya Harrison, Topeka, praises during worship services on visitors' night at United Methodist Youth Institute. Photos by David Burke The Topeka teenager, one of the youth care group coordinators at Institute, told a full sanctuary at Baldwin City First UMC about her early teens, which included substance addiction and emotional challenges, either of which could have cut short her life.  New to ...

David Burke


UMC Bishops pose five questions to Judicial Council on Traditional Plan

UMC Bishops pose five questions to Judicial Council on Traditional Plan

6/26/2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church (COB) has asked the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision as to the constitutionality, meaning, application and effect of certain petitions adopted as the Traditional Plan by the 2019 General Conference held in St. Louis, Missouri, in February. Although the Judicial Council addressed the constitutionality of all of the petitions adopted at the 2019 General Conference in Decision 1378, the COB has identified other ...

Maidstone Mulenga


‘God’s grace is shining’ at Camp Lakeside in Kansas

‘God’s grace is shining’ at Camp Lakeside in Kansas

6/25/2019
With a recent change in management, Camp Lakeside is “alive and doing well,” Sara Shaw said.  “We’ve had lots of God moments out here,” said Shaw, camping ministries coordinator for the Great Plains Conference. “I call it ‘God goosebumps’ that whenever you need a gentle reminder that God’s grace is shining, it’s out here.”  Sara Shaw, camping ministry coordinator, second from left, leads a cookout at Camp Lakeside. Photos courtesy Camp Lakeside Facebook page The camp, founded in 1948, is ...

David Burke


Bishop Hicks, striver for peace, dies at 96

Bishop Hicks, striver for peace, dies at 96

6/20/2019
Pastors just starting out and those with years of experience turned to Bishop Kenneth W. Hicks as a trusted and compassionate adviser. Hicks died June 19 in Little Rock, Arkansas, just a day after his 96th birthday. Tributes and Memories Share a memory or tribute about Bishop Kenneth Hicks by submitting your thoughts via this form (please limit statements to 300 words or less). Tributes and memories will be collected through July 5 and will be published on our website soon after that date. “...

United Methodist News Service


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


Nebraska's Laurel UMC receives Culture of Call grant

4/3/2019
Laurel United Methodist Church in Nebraska has received the spring Culture of Call grant. The grant will go toward an internship for a young person to explore ministry. “This project will allow a young person to explore aspects of ministry within the church and discern where God might continue to be calling them as they get opportunities to serve in various capacities,” the church’s pastor, the Rev. Isaac Chua, wrote in the grant request. “This project will also nurture spiritual growth ...

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 ...

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