News


Bishop, pastors discuss personal cases of racism during webinar

Bishop, pastors discuss personal cases of racism during webinar

8/12/2020
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. can look back at it now and chuckle.  In 2016, the newly elected ecumenical leader of the Great Plains Conference was moving into his new residence in Wichita. He was dressed informally, in shorts, when the boss of the moving crew began ordering him around.  “I played along,” the bishop recalled.  Finally, someone addressed him as “Bishop,” and the boss began to apologize.  “Why do you have to know who I am, so you treat me like a person of dignity?” Bishop Saenz asked. “...

David Burke


David City's Louise Niemann elected to national UMW board of directors

David City's Louise Niemann elected to national UMW board of directors

8/12/2020
In an ideal 2020, Louise Niemann would have been told that she was elected to the national United Methodist Women board of directors at the group’s South Central Jurisdiction meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, with friends and colleagues gathering around to congratulate her.  Instead, she got a phone call at her David City, Nebraska, home in mid-July to tell her that she gained enough votes – 50%, plus one, of the delegates – to be elected to the national position.  “There wasn’t anyone there to ...

David Burke


Virtual Spirit Week

Virtual Spirit Week

8/10/2020
School is starting back up, and that means the church is gearing up for fall programming. Though most ministry settings will look vastly different this year, we can still celebrate special milestones for kids and teens. This week, check out this space on our website and/or watch our social media to participate in our Virtual Spirit Week. Each day features a special theme and video. You're invited to dress up for the theme, take a picture, and post it to social media — Facebook, Twitter or ...

During webinar, school leaders ask for partnerships with churches

During webinar, school leaders ask for partnerships with churches

8/5/2020
There’s never been a better time for churches and schools to work together, two educators told an audience of clergy during a recent webinar and podcast.  “We are all in this together, and the way we will get through is with the faith we will have with each other and the support we will give to one another,” Tawana Grover, Grand Island Public Schools superintendent, said during “At the Threshold: Ministry in Liminal Time,” which has focused on the Great Plains Conference during the pandemic.  ...

David Burke


Foreign-born pastors share their views, frustrations during 2nd 'Time to Listen' webinar

Foreign-born pastors share their views, frustrations during 2nd 'Time to Listen' webinar

7/29/2020
Four foreign-born clergy from the Great Plains Conference shared their perspectives — and their frustrations — in the second in the series of “A Time to Listen” webinars on July 25.  All said they were bothered by the civil unrest that has taken place in throughout the country this summer.  “I feel anything can happen, and I have no powers to stop it,” said the Rev. Dr. Charles Murithi, a native of Kenya and pastor of Nebraska City UMC. “This goes against the spirit of this country. The spirit ...

David Burke


Conference, district ask Nebraska for greater coronavirus protection for meatpacking plants

Conference, district ask Nebraska for greater coronavirus protection for meatpacking plants

7/28/2020
The Great Plains Conference and the Gateway District are among 25 organizations calling for greater coronavirus protection for workers in Nebraska meat and poultry plants.  “We have seen more than three months of slow and insufficient action by meat and poultry plants to proactively institute COVID-19 safety protections,” the letter, dated July 23, reads. “As cases continue to rise, we can't afford to navigate the next six months without clear protections.”  Image courtesy CDC The letter, ...

David Burke


Intern brings world of experience to Omaha Hanscom Park UMC

Intern brings world of experience to Omaha Hanscom Park UMC

7/23/2020
Peter Karanja will never forget how welcome he felt the first time he entered a United Methodist Church.  With his parents and four siblings, Peter, a high-schooler at the time, moved from their hometown in Kenya to Naivasha, a city of about 200,000, after unrest broke out following a general election in 2007-2008.  “That place was not safe,” recalls Karanja, now 32.  In the process of looking for a place to worship in Naivasha, the family visited a United Methodist Church.  “It was just so ...

K-State Wesley pays off $1 million mortgage

K-State Wesley pays off $1 million mortgage

7/22/2020
Eleven years after it has moved into its current home, K-State Wesley has paid off its $1 million debt.  “We had some very nice, really wonderful gifts to help us be able to do that,” said the Rev. Jim Reed, development director for the Manhattan ministry. “But we also had lots and lots of people who supported it. It turned out really well.”  The “Finish the Dream” campaign, which began in January 2017, completed the final half of retiring the debt, Reed said.  K-State Wesley is located at ...

David Burke


Adapting to coronavirus is latest challenge overcome by EmberHope Youthville

Adapting to coronavirus is latest challenge overcome by EmberHope Youthville

7/21/2020
Like everything else in the world in 2020, EmberHope Youthville has had to make changes because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nickaila Sandate, president/CEO On March 13, all non-essential staff at the United Methodist-supported facility in Newton, Kansas – which serves at-risk children and teens through foster care, adoption, residential programs and counseling for individuals and families -- were instructed to work from home, with no outside visitors, including parents and vendors, allowed on...

David Burke


Responding to racism: What the Great Plains is doing to make a difference

Responding to racism: What the Great Plains is doing to make a difference

7/7/2020
Tragic events of the spring and summer of 2020 have brought to the forefront something that Black Americans have known for some time: The struggle for equality is still very real.  With a mission for mercy and justice in Nebraska and Kansas, the Great Plains Conference is committed to non-violent expressions against racism and bigotry, as well as educating our communities about a Christian commitment to equality.  In this space, which we will update as warranted, we will focus on the work that ...

David Burke


Black pastors share their sadness, anger over racism in webinar

Black pastors share their sadness, anger over racism in webinar

7/1/2020
Participating in the June 27 webinar are, clockwise from left, Rev. Dee Williamston, Rev. Dr. Rose Booker-Jones, Rev. Dr. Wayne Reynolds, Rev. Dr. Charlotte Abram, Rev. Cynthia Smart, Rev. Darryl Burton, Pastor Ronda Kingwood, and center, the Rev. Harry Christian. Watch the entire June 27 webinar here. Black pastors in the Great Plains Conference expressed a mix of sadness and anger, only heightened by events of the previous month, in a June 27 webinar regarding race relations in ...

David Burke


Pastors moving in 2020 say they miss closure with congregations

Pastors moving in 2020 say they miss closure with congregations

6/29/2020
United Methodist pastors and their congregations know the drill all too well. Every few years, a pastor may be moved from one charge to another. The month of June is filled with trucks being packed and goodbyes said, while open arms wait at that pastor’s next destination. That is, until 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has changed that routine for the hundreds of pastors moving from one church to another in the Great Plains Conference. For the Rev. Susan Murithi, the move from Mentor and Gypsum, ...

David Burke


Despite pandemic, Great Plains camps find ways to connect with youth

Despite pandemic, Great Plains camps find ways to connect with youth

6/24/2020
2020 CAMP CHIPPEWA DURING COVID-19 from Great Plains UMC on Vimeo. The coronavirus pandemic-forced cancellation of summer camps in the Great Plains Conference this summer left hundreds of children and youth without a destination to explore nature and deepen their faith.  “We were all very disappointed about not having summer camp this year, but we tried to do as best we could,” said Courtney Troyer, program coordinator for Camp Chippewa. “But we don’t want to be the reason why someone gets ...

David Burke


UMC leaders launch denominationwide effort against racism

UMC leaders launch denominationwide effort against racism

6/17/2020
United Methodist Church leaders will launch a plan of action to galvanize church members and others to actively stand against racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd and protests across the United States.  The “Dismantling Racism: Pressing on to Freedom” initiative is a multi-level effort throughout the denomination to initiate a sustained and coordinated effort to dismantle racism and promote collective action to work toward racial justice. The church-wide effort will kick off this ...

Pastors facing additional stress, depression, anxiety during pandemic

Pastors facing additional stress, depression, anxiety during pandemic

6/16/2020
A survey by the Duke University Clergy Health Initiative in 2019 has shown that 11% of pastors reported symptoms consistent with having moderate or severe depression.  And that was before the coronavirus pandemic.  Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford “Those numbers are higher normally than the average population,” said the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator for the Great Plains Conference. “My sense is that clergy are feeling a greater sense of responsibility, a ...

David Burke


Great Plains churches adjust to keep VBS alive during pandemic

Great Plains churches adjust to keep VBS alive during pandemic

6/10/2020
If everything had gone according to plan, about 50 children from 3 years old through fourth grade would have gathered at Prairie Village Asbury UMC for Vacation Bible School next week. But, like nearly everything else in 2020, nothing has gone according to plan. Instead, the Johnson County, Kansas, church is making plans for a July virtual VBS, using Illustrated Ministry’s “Compassion Camp” material. “I liked that it was designed to be at home and done virtually, and that we didn’t have to adapt...

David Burke


Bishops: Act now to end racism and white supremacy

Bishops: Act now to end racism and white supremacy

6/8/2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the aftermath of police killings of unarmed Black people, the bishops of The United Methodist Church today called on all United Methodists to act now by using their voices, pens, feet and hearts to end racism. In a statement released by Council of Bishops President Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, the bishops are urging every United Methodist to reclaim their baptismal vows to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. “We ask every ...

Maidstone Mulenga


A Discipleship Response to Racism and Injustice

A Discipleship Response to Racism and Injustice

6/5/2020
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. released the following letter June 5, 2020, regarding a plan for the Great Plains Conference and its churches to take a leadership role in responding as disciples of Jesus Christ to systemic racism and injustice in the United States. Download a PDF of the letter. A Discipleship Response to Racism and Injustice My God! Not again! And again! This was my sickening reaction when I heard the news and saw social media video recordings of the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and ...

Churches cautiously return to worship in Great Plains

Churches cautiously return to worship in Great Plains

6/3/2020
With prayer, caution and proper sanitization, a handful of churches in the Great Plains Conference have returned to in-person services. The churches, all in western Kansas and western Nebraska, began in-person worship throughout May. Although those we talked to were apprehensive before opening their doors, all followed the list of precautions and recommendations from Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and the conference staff before returning to live worship. Here’s a look at some of the churches in the ...

David Burke


Condensed conference concludes with call to ‘Catch Fire’

Condensed conference concludes with call to ‘Catch Fire’

6/2/2020
Concluding an abbreviated and revised Annual Conference session conducted by telephone, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. told the Great Plains it needed to continue to “Catch Fire” — the unofficial title given to the one-day meeting.  “I believe the Holy Spirit is calling us in this new season of our church’s life to Catch Fire for a Spirit of justice, for mercy, and the truth of God’s love in Christ for all people. I believe that the Holy Spirit is calling us to catch fire to be the voices for the ...

David Burke


In opening sermon, Bishop Saenz thanks Great Plains for work during pandemic

In opening sermon, Bishop Saenz thanks Great Plains for work during pandemic

6/2/2020
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. saluted the churches, clergy and laity of the Great Plains for their work during the coronavirus pandemic during the annual conference session’s opening worship service May 29. Because of the pandemic and with a revised, condensed conference call with essential business taking place the next day, the bishop’s recorded sermon was broadcast on Facebook Live and the conference’s website. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. preaches the opening sermon of the abbreviated annual ...

David Burke


Revised conference session approves Comeca sale, church disaffiliations

Revised conference session approves Comeca sale, church disaffiliations

6/1/2020
With the assistance of, from left, the Rev. Nathan Stanton, Scott Brewer and the Rev. Nancy Lambert, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. opens the revised Annual Conference session from the Great Plains office in Topeka. Photos by David Burke   Calling it an unprecedented move for “unprecedented times,” Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. opened an abbreviated, condensed Great Plains Annual Conference session the morning of May 30.  The three-plus hour session was conducted via a phone conference call that had early ...

David Burke


Bishop shares thoughts on reopening buildings

Bishop shares thoughts on reopening buildings

5/27/2020
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has issued the following letter for churches sharing some of his thoughts about reopening church buildings as Kansas and Nebraska move into new phases of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference is urging caution in reopening to ensure, as best each congregation can, the health and safety of parishioners and the communities our churches serve. Sisters and Brothers of the Great Plains Conference,                                                               ...

Commission sets dates for postponed General Conference

Commission sets dates for postponed General Conference

5/26/2020
The Commission on the General Conference has announced new 2021 dates for General Conference following the postponement of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The quadrennial legislative event will take place on August 29 - September 7, 2021, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minn.  "We're grateful that we were able to secure new dates while keeping the site of General Conference in Minneapolis. Nearly seven years of pre-planning and preparations by the host team have gone...

Great Plains communications team wins 7 top awards

Great Plains communications team wins 7 top awards

5/21/2020
The Great Plains Conference communications team won seven first-place awards and one best-of-class award Thursday, May 21, in the annual United Methodist Association of Communicators awards. The Great Plains won in the website, mobile app, news series, streaming, advertisement promotion, media presentation and podcast categories during a virtual gala on the organization’s website — www.umcommunicators.org — and on its Facebook page. The annual meeting and awards banquet scheduled in March was ...

Great Plains Camps suspend traditional summer programs

Great Plains Camps suspend traditional summer programs

5/19/2020
Great Plains Camping Inc. has decided to suspend traditional summer camping programs for the foreseeable future at all five member camps due to the public-health risk associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Programming at Camp Fontanelle and Camp Norwesca in Nebraska and Camps Chippewa, Horizon and Lakeside in Kansas may resume later in the summer or fall, depending on a number of factors associated with the pandemic. Some forms of online or alternative camping programs will be considered. ...

Parking lot services bring new energy to six-point Riley County churches

Parking lot services bring new energy to six-point Riley County churches

5/12/2020
Revs. Sandy and Bruce Ferguson were already no slouches when it came to Sunday mornings.  They’ve been pastors of the Leonardville, Swede Creek, Randolph and Fancy Creek Zion UMCs in northern Riley County, Kansas – called the Jerusalem Road Parish – since 2014 and added the two-church charge in Keats-Riley in December.  Each Sunday meant three services in three locations, with churches alternating between the two married pastors each week.  Rev. Bruce Ferguson adjusts the camera during the ...

David Burke


Mainstream UMC calls for continued moratoriums until 2021 GC

Mainstream UMC calls for continued moratoriums until 2021 GC

5/6/2020
On what was supposed to be the first day of the 2020 General Conference, the leaders of the Mainstream UMC movement urged fellow centrists and progressives to not let their guard down for LGBTQ equality.  “Their hopes and dreams were waiting in the balance, and now they have to wait another year and a half,” said the Rev. Dr. Mark Holland, co-founder and executive director of Mainstream UMC.  The May 5 video town hall, “A Call for Grace,” came on the original date of the worldwide gathering in ...

David Burke


Bishop Harvey makes history as first Hispanic woman to be Council of Bishops president

Bishop Harvey makes history as first Hispanic woman to be Council of Bishops president

5/5/2020
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of the Louisiana Area has made history by becoming the first female Hispanic to be president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church.  She is also the first woman of color to lead the more than 128 active and retired bishops of the one of the largest denominations in the world.  Bishop Harvey assumed the mantle of office last week as the active and retired bishops from around the globe gathered in a virtual meeting April 29 to May 1 to celebrate new ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Bishop Saenz elected as chair of congregational vitality leadership team by Council of Bishops

Bishop Saenz elected as chair of congregational vitality leadership team by Council of Bishops

5/5/2020
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. is looking forward to his tenure as chair of the congregational vitality team of the Council of Bishops. The Great Plains Conference’s episcopal leader since 2016 was elected during a video conference during the final few days of April. Bishop Saenz will lead a group of about 10 episcopal leaders from around the world, including Europe, Asia and Africa. “It's an exciting group of people, because you kind of get a scan about what congregational vitality looks like around ...

David Burke


Health, social service organizations adapting during pandemic

Health, social service organizations adapting during pandemic

4/29/2020
Three Kansas-based health and social service organizations have made adjustments because of the COVID-19 pandemic as they have all seen an increased need for their services.  All three — Genesis Family Health, with clinics in Garden City, Dodge City, Liberal and Ulysses; GraceMed, with clinics in Wichita, Topeka, McPherson and Clearwater; and Wichita-based United Methodist Open Door Ministries — have ties to The United Methodist Church and the Great Plains Conference.  Genesis Family Health  ...

David Burke


25th, final NUMB ride postponed until 2021

25th, final NUMB ride postponed until 2021

4/24/2020
What was to be the 25th and final Nebraska United Methodist Bike Ride for Hunger – also known as NUMB – is being postponed. “Hunger is still our mission and we look forward to continuing that work with NUMB 25 in June of 2021,” ride organizers, including the Rev. Bill Ritter, director and co-founder as well as retired Blue River District superintendent, wrote to participants. NUMB will offer full refunds to participants, as well as giving them the option of putting the money toward the 2021 ...

Chaplain from Great Plains on front lines vs. COVID-19 in Florida

Chaplain from Great Plains on front lines vs. COVID-19 in Florida

4/21/2020
The Rev. Denise Sawyer has seen nothing like it in her nearly nine years as a chaplain at a southwest Florida hospital. The Rev. Denise Sawyer, right, prays with a staff member at Florida's Cape Coral Hospital. Contributed photos “The leadership team was watching for it, but it still felt like it was hitting us from out of nowhere,” Sawyer, an elder in the Great Plains Conference, said of the coronavirus pandemic. “One day we went into work and suddenly there were these rules, and the rules ...

David Burke


Connecting Council endorses changes to standing rules, clergy renewal leave policy

Connecting Council endorses changes to standing rules, clergy renewal leave policy

4/21/2020
The Great Plains Conference’s Connecting Council used Zoom video conferencing to conduct its spring meeting April 18 and endorsed a revision to the standing rules for the annual conference session to allow for a meeting during this time of sheltering in place. The council, which has authority to make decisions and forward recommendations between annual conference sessions, also listened to reports from Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., considered a recommendation regarding renewal leave for clergy and ...

Todd Seifert


Nebraska women among singers in Discipleship Ministries Easter video

Nebraska women among singers in Discipleship Ministries Easter video

4/15/2020
E Brenda Cochran, circled, is among the singers. Editor's note: This story was updated on April 20. When Brenda Cochran recorded herself singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” for an internet project, she didn’t know she’d be part of a global video.  “I didn’t realize it was a worldwide Methodist group that was doing it,” the Grand Island woman said of the Discipleship Ministries video, released last week. “Initially I thought maybe it was our conference or something. When I realized ...

David Burke


Ideas for Festival of God's Creation Sunday

Ideas for Festival of God's Creation Sunday

4/13/2020
Sandhill cranes and other wildlife rely on the Platte River and other natural resources throughout Kansas and Nebraska. Photo courtesy Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary   Each year, The United Methodist Church designates one Sunday as Festival of God’s Creation. The purpose of this festival is to recognize and celebrate God’s gracious work as Creator of the earth and all of its amazing biological life. The festival highlights God’s mandate that humans care for the rest of creation.  ...

In Easter message, bishops urge Christians not to despair in midst of global pandemic

In Easter message, bishops urge Christians not to despair in midst of global pandemic

4/9/2020
President of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church Bishop Kenneth H. Carter has urged Christians to rely on the power of Easter to overcome the forces of death, division, darkness, and despair in the amidst of the COVID-19 global pandemic. In the Easter message to The United Methodist Church, Bishop Carter noted that, “Easter is the moment when who we are, what we believe and what we do becomes clear. Easter is the power of the crucified and risen Jesus over the forces of death —...

Maidstone Mulenga


Ministry amid coronavirus: stories from across the Great Plains

Ministry amid coronavirus: stories from across the Great Plains

4/8/2020
  The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the creativity, compassion and caring of churches and clergy in the Great Plains Conference.  In the past few months, new ideas have been tried and longtime staples have been adjusted because of the limits of crowd sizes and the dangers of infecting some populations.  We intend to highlight those ideas in this space, which will be constantly updated. If you would like to let the rest of the conference know about the new ideas and changes that have ...

David Burke


Pandemic prompts annual conference schedule change

Pandemic prompts annual conference schedule change

4/8/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes in the schedule for the 2020 Great Plains Annual Conference session. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. sent a letter to clergy and lay members of annual conference Wednesday, April 8, notifying them that to ensure their safety he had consulted with the ministry area directors and decided to change the scheduled May 27-30 session. Under the revised schedule, annual conference now will be a one-day conference call to tend to items that cannot be delayed. Then, a ...

Amid pandemic, Lydia Patterson faces difficulties due to border closing

Amid pandemic, Lydia Patterson faces difficulties due to border closing

3/31/2020
The good news for Lydia Patterson Institute is that the school was already technologically equipped for the coronavirus-related shutdown of all schools in El Paso, Texas, that began March 16. “We were prepared to finish online,” school President Socorro de Anda said in a phone interview. “We’ve been pretty much doing everything electronically for almost five years.” The bad news is that because of a shutdown of the Mexican border a few blocks away from the school, parents have not been able ...

David Burke


General Conference will be postponed to 2021

General Conference will be postponed to 2021

3/23/2020
Subsequent to the announcement by the Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference that the 2020 General Conference will be postponed, the full Commission met March 21, 2020 to determine next steps to take in setting a new date. After hearing recommendations from Sara Hotchkiss, Business Manager of the General Conference, and discussion of possible alternatives, the Commission made a determination that the General Conference will not meet in 2020 as originally planned and ...

Via livestream, conference’s first Laity Summit rolls on

Via livestream, conference’s first Laity Summit rolls on

3/23/2020
Like many other events scheduled for the month of March, the Great Plains Conference’s first Laity Summit did not go according to plan. Media producer Eugenio Hernandez, left, instructs Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and Shane Warta, lay leadership coordinator, before the beginning of the Laity Summit livestream. Photo by David Burke What was supposed to be an in-person gathering at Kearney First UMC with 140 laity registered turned into an online gathering with 360 participating at one time or ...

David Burke


United Methodist 2020 General Conference to be postponed

United Methodist 2020 General Conference to be postponed

3/18/2020
Nashville, Tenn.: The Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference has been notified by the Minneapolis Convention Center that they are restricting events at the venue through May 10, 2020, following recommendations by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Governor of Minnesota and the Mayor of Minneapolis to postpone or cancel events involving 50+ people in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. As a result of this decision, the Executive Committee is announcing that the ...

Commission on the General Conference to meet March 21

Commission on the General Conference to meet March 21

3/16/2020
Nashville, Tenn.: As concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic continue to escalate, the Commission on the General Conference will meet on March 21 via teleconference to discuss plans for the 2020 General Conference, scheduled for May 5-15, 2020. in Minneapolis, Minn.  According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, in the absence of a convened General Conference, only the full Commission, as the duly authorized committee of the General Conference, can set the date of the ...

Bishops request to postpone 2020 General Conference

Bishops request to postpone 2020 General Conference

3/13/2020
The following is a letter to the leaders of the General Conference from the leaders of the Council of Bishops: March 13, 2020 Kim Simpson, Chairperson of Commission on the General Conference Rev. Gary W. Graves, Secretary of the General Conference Sara Hotchkiss, Business Manager of the General Conference Dear Members of the Commission on the General Conference, Grace and Peace in the Name of our Lord, Savior and Healer, Jesus Christ. We write as the Executive Committee of the Council of ...

Legislator, Resurrection ‘force’ Nancy Brown dies at 77

Legislator, Resurrection ‘force’ Nancy Brown dies at 77

3/12/2020
Those who knew her best remember Nancy Brown as someone who cared deeply for her church and her community. Brown, who died of complications from cancer March 9 at age 77, served from 1984-1994 in the Kansas House of Representatives from the 27th District. She was also one of the founding members of Church of the Resurrection, chairing the first visionary committee, early church councils and its social action committee. Nancy Brown, 77, died March 9 of complications from cancer. Her funeral ...

David Burke


Bishops request declaratory decision from Judicial Council on protocol legislation

Bishops request declaratory decision from Judicial Council on protocol legislation

3/11/2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has asked the denomination’s highest court, the Judicial Council, to decide whether the legislation implementing The Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation is constitutional. A diverse group of representatives from United Methodist advocacy groups and several bishops from around the world collaborated on the agreement for the separation of The United Methodist Church. The agreement, the Protocol of ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Great Plains delegation votes to endorse protocol

Great Plains delegation votes to endorse protocol

3/11/2020
In their meeting on Feb. 28, the Great Plains Conference delegation approved these actions: The Great Plains Delegation formally endorses the items presented by Wespath to safeguard pensions during this turbulent time. The Great Plains Delegation formally endorses the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation.  Further, we discourage all amendments to the Protocol legislation that do not originate from or are not unanimously supported by the original 16 signers.  The Great ...

David Burke


Some worship elements in Great Plains change thanks to coronavirus scare

Some worship elements in Great Plains change thanks to coronavirus scare

3/11/2020
Handshakes, for now, are out. The Passing of the Peace during many worship services in the Great Plains Conference replaced the handshakes with fist bumps, elbow touches, waves, toe taps, peace signs, bows and even a Vulcan salute a la “Star Trek.” The Rev. Chris Jorgensen, pastor of Omaha Hanscom Park UMC, demonstrates the Vulcan salute as an alternative to shaking hands, in this video to the congregation. “There’s some concern about the coronavirus, and we don’t necessarily want to be ...

David Burke


Bishop's Lenten podcast series: 2nd episode now available

Bishop's Lenten podcast series: 2nd episode now available

3/2/2020
Each Monday, throughout the season of Lent, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., episcopal leader of the Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church, is the featured guest for a special series of "In Layman's Terms" podcast episodes that explores the seven final sayings of Jesus from the cross. Click the links below, as the podcasts publish, to download each episode. Episode 2 — "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Bishop Saenz and Todd Seifert talk about the second of the ...

SCJ Episcopacy Committee discusses needs for next quadrennium

SCJ Episcopacy Committee discusses needs for next quadrennium

2/27/2020
The South Central Jurisdiction Committee on the Episcopacy conducted its spring meeting Feb. 24-25, and members discussed with the College of Bishops about episcopal leadership needs for the upcoming quadrennium. Episcopal elections occur during Jurisdictional Conference every four years. One of the committee’s duties is to recommend the number of bishops to elect. In a press release, the committee said it is mindful of various factors that could impact that recommendation, including actions ...

Proposed new General Book of Discipline review documents available

Proposed new General Book of Discipline review documents available

2/26/2020
Nashville, Tenn.:  The United Methodist Church’s Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters has launched Generalbod.org — an online resource that makes it easy to review tracked changes to the proposed new General Book of Discipline as a means of offering transparency, and informing and stimulating conversation within the church. Members can now choose to view the content as the proposed final document version or a version with edit notations. The latter highlights revised text and the ...

South Central bishops urge delegates to consider protocol for separation

South Central bishops urge delegates to consider protocol for separation

2/26/2020
Delegates from the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church met on Feb. 20-22 to interview candidates for bishop and discuss matters relating to the 2020 General Conference, a meeting of the denomination’s top law-making body, taking place May 5-15 in Minneapolis. A major part of the weekend was hearing about the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation. Rather than explain recently released legislation for the protocol, representatives of the jurisdiction’s ...

Bishop offers invitation to conference-wide Lenten study

Bishop offers invitation to conference-wide Lenten study

2/25/2020
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. inviting the people of Kansas and Nebraska to take part in a journey exploring the love that Jesus showed for all of us. This study is intended to put us all "By His Side." In this introductory video, the bishop explains how the study will work each day on Facebook and tells how he will teach us about the last words of Christ from the cross via a podcast throughout the season of Lent.  

Think tank to look at GC2020 possibilities

Think tank to look at GC2020 possibilities

2/19/2020
General Conference organizers have established a think tank to explore different ways for processing legislation at this year’s gathering of The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking body. The assembly, scheduled May 5-15 in Minneapolis, could make decisions about how to split and restructure the international denomination of nearly 13 million members. “This is not a General Conference as usual,” said Kim Simpson, chair of the Commission on the General Conference and a lay member in the ...

United Methodist News Service


'Breaking Chains' theme of 2020 LEAF sessions

'Breaking Chains' theme of 2020 LEAF sessions

2/18/2020
Kansas Secretary of Labor Delia Garcia, Secretary of Labor Randy Watson and Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman participate in a panel discussion at LEAF. Photos by David Burke More than 90 people focused on stopping what they see as oppression during a legislative update event Sunday and Monday in Topeka. “Breaking Chains of Oppression” was the theme of the 2020 Legislative Event for Advocacy in Faith, or LEAF, Topeka First United Methodist Church. The 46th...

David Burke


Tennessee layman offers Plain Grace Plan

Tennessee layman offers Plain Grace Plan

2/17/2020
As The United Methodist Church moves toward its 2020 General Conference, many plans for structuring the denomination have been and are being submitted for consideration. 2020 General Conference takes place May 5-15 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with 862 delegates from around the world. General Conference is the denomination’s top legislative body that makes decisions on submitted legislation. Actions of one General Conference do not bind the next General Conference, meaning every General ...

Western Jurisdiction delegates name GC2020 legislative goals

Western Jurisdiction delegates name GC2020 legislative goals

2/17/2020
We, the First Elected Delegates to General Conference 2020 from the Annual Conferences making up the Western Jurisdiction, appreciate the earnest collaborative work on the Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation through Separation. We are hopeful that it is a connectional path to fulfilling God’s call to mission and ministry. Although we are disappointed with the proposed need to pay for those who wish to leave the denomination, we understand the need for compromise. We believe the Protocol will ...

Nebraska Ecumenical Legislative Briefing Day becomes a tribute to its longtime leader

Nebraska Ecumenical Legislative Briefing Day becomes a tribute to its longtime leader

2/12/2020
The 45th annual Nebraska Ecumenical Legislative Briefing Day included a tribute to its longtime leader. Ruby Thelander from Lincoln, who was among the founders of the event co-sponsored by United Methodist Women, is stepping down as its chair. “I’m going to stay on the committee, but I’m not going to lead it anymore,” said Thelander, who turned 90 a few days before the Feb. 8 briefing day. She added with a laugh, “I’m staying on the committee because I won’t be able to stand not knowing what’...

David Burke


Prairie Rivers wins inaugural ‘Kansaska Cup’ for mission shares payout

Prairie Rivers wins inaugural ‘Kansaska Cup’ for mission shares payout

2/5/2020
The Prairie Rivers District is the first home for the Kansaska Cup, a new traveling trophy presented to the district with the highest mission share payout for a calendar year. The district, covering south-central Nebraska, finished 2019 with a 97.9% payout. The Rev. Lance Clay, Prairie Rivers District superintendent, said he was especially impressed because that district took much of the brunt from last year’s flooding. The Rev. Lance Clay, right, Prairie Rivers District superintendent, ...

David Burke


Topeka churches beefing up security after series of break-ins

Topeka churches beefing up security after series of break-ins

2/5/2020
Two Topeka United Methodist churches are surveying damage, estimating loss, and considering new security measures after each suffered several burglaries over the past few months. Topeka First United Methodist Church Topeka First UMC suffered burglaries Dec. 2, 19 and 24, as well as Jan. 9. “The pattern seems to be that people were sneaking in during large events and hiding,” the Rev. Jeff Clinger, senior pastor, said. Most of the items taken from the church were electronics, including ...

David Burke


Bishop announces 2 new DSes, some district supervisory changes

Bishop announces 2 new DSes, some district supervisory changes

1/29/2020
Two new district superintendents have been appointed in the Great Plains Conference to fill the roles of three retiring DSes and another DS who has completed an eight-year term on the cabinet. The appointments also continue progress toward a conference-wide goal to fully live into a system of networks and base communities for contextual ministries. The Rev. Jenny Collins, currently serving at First United Methodist Church in Abilene, Kansas, and the Rev. Dr. Tom Brady, senior pastor at First ...

Todd Seifert


Retirement brings close of ministry for district superintendents Watson, Bakely, Livingston

Retirement brings close of ministry for district superintendents Watson, Bakely, Livingston

1/28/2020
A trio of district superintendents with more than 80 years combined in the ministry have announced their retirements from the Great Plains Conference.  The Rev. David Watson, DS of the Five Rivers and Parsons districts, is stepping down after 38 years in the ministry. The Rev. Dennis Livingston, DS of the Hutchinson District and a portion of the Hays District, will retire after 29 years. And the Rev. Claudia Bakely, Flint Hills DS, is retiring after 17 years.  The retirements, as well as the ...

David Burke


Clergy get lowdown on ABCD at Orders & Fellowship

Clergy get lowdown on ABCD at Orders & Fellowship

1/22/2020
Presenters during the 2020 Orders & Fellowship gathering asked clergy to adhere to one unofficial rule.  Any time the words “need” or “needy” were uttered, the clergy in the sanctuary at Lincoln St. Mark’s United Methodist Church on Jan. 14-15 were encouraged to boo.  Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. introduces, from left, Daryl Answer, the Rev. Rachel Metheny and the Rev. Mike Mather at the opening of Orders & Fellowship at Lincoln St. Mark's UMC. Photos by David Burke Such is the way of ...

David Burke


Western Kansas churches raise money to erase school lunch debt

Western Kansas churches raise money to erase school lunch debt

1/22/2020
Before Christmas last year, the Rev. Patrick Broz was asked by his wife, the Rev. Abby Caseman, what he wanted for a present.  “I don’t need anything — which is what she got me,” recalled Broz, pastor of Colby United Methodist Church. “So, I said what I’d like to be able to do is pay off all the debt of the food balances so kids can get a hot meal, versus a cheese sandwich. If you don’t have enough money, you get a cheese sandwich, and everybody knows what’s going on. There’s a stigma attached ...

David Burke


Barlow-Thompson preaches on the power of neighboring

Barlow-Thompson preaches on the power of neighboring

1/21/2020
When he started discussing Asset-Based Community Development with people a decade ago, the Rev. Adam Barlow-Thompson said, “their eyes would glaze over.”  Rev. Adam Barlow-Thompson, co-founder of The Neighboring Movement, delivers the opening sermon at Orders & Fellowship. Photo by David Burke Barlow-Thompson -- co-founder of The Neighboring Movement, known in Wichita as SoCe Life -- began the 2020 Orders & Fellowship Gathering with a sermon that emphasized the simplest form of ABCD: ...

David Burke


Bishop discusses protocol plan with Great Plains clergy

Bishop discusses protocol plan with Great Plains clergy

1/21/2020
The Jan. 3 announcement of the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation came as a surprise to many United Methodists, including Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.  “Everyone was caught off guard, including many on the Council of Bishops,” the Great Plains Conference episcopal leader told clergy during the 2020 Orders & Fellowship clergy training event at Lincoln St. Mark’s UMC. The bishop provided a time of explanation and questions following the close of Wednesday’s session for clergy ...

David Burke


Bishop offers thoughts on Protocol for UMC's future

Bishop offers thoughts on Protocol for UMC's future

1/12/2020
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has issued the following statement regarding the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation document. Download a PDF of the letter to the Great Plains Conference. Brothers and sisters of the Great Plains Conference,                                                   May the peace and light of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ enfold and hold you today.   By now you have read or heard that a Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation (The Protocol)...

More than 250 gather for Resist Harm rallies in Topeka, Omaha

More than 250 gather for Resist Harm rallies in Topeka, Omaha

1/6/2020
A day after the announcement of a proposal for a way forward for The United Methodist Church by letting more traditional congregations form a new denomination, clergy and laity in the Great Plains Conference gathered to support their LGBTQ siblings in two rallies. The Resist Harm gatherings Jan. 4 had been scheduled for several months, but organizers said news of a proposed new protocol energized each meeting. The Rev. Lora Andrews, Lenexa St. Paul's United Methodist Church, and the Rev. ...

David Burke


Pastor pleased with protocol announcement, but says work is still to come

Pastor pleased with protocol announcement, but says work is still to come

1/6/2020
A Great Plains Conference pastor who was among those consulted in the first steps of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation said he’s pleased with the outcome of the document released Jan. 3, but there is still work ahead. “I think it’s a huge step forward. It’s an acknowledgement that we’re stuck,” said the Rev. Dr. Mark Holland, a Kansas City pastor and founder of Mainstream UMC, which began in August 2018 to represent centrists and progressives in The United Methodist ...

David Burke


Reps from across human sexuality spectrum sign agreement for amicable separation

Reps from across human sexuality spectrum sign agreement for amicable separation

1/3/2020
A diverse group of representatives from United Methodist advocacy groups with contrasting views and bishops from around the world has collaborated on a proposed agreement for the separation of The United Methodist Church (UMC) that has the unanimous support of all the parties involved.  The agreement, the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation, was achieved Dec. 17 and announced today, Jan. 3, 2020. The action comes amid heightened tensions in the church over conflicting views ...

Maidstone Mulenga


Conference gets go-ahead for Doing Justice Initiative

Conference gets go-ahead for Doing Justice Initiative

12/20/2019
The Connecting Council learned that the Doing Justice Initiative that it recommended in the fall had been approved for funding, and it authorized money for grants for South Korean pastors during a special meeting conducted via Zoom video conferencing software Dec. 19. The two items were part of a short agenda meant to help the Great Plains Conference conclude its business in 2019 by addressing issues that couldn’t be concluded during the group’s October in-person meetings in Topeka. The ...

Todd Seifert


Camp Fontanelle raises $2.4 million, with $900,000 to go for new center

Camp Fontanelle raises $2.4 million, with $900,000 to go for new center

12/18/2019
Nearly $2.4 million in donations and pledges has been raised for a new retreat center at Camp Fontanelle, with another $900,000 needed in the next year and a half to complete the project, the camp’s site director said.  “There’s a larger number of people we still haven’t talked to. We’re continuing to build on that,” Trent Meyer said. “We definitely haven’t exhausted all the leads that are out there.”  Located northeast of Fremont, Nebraska, Camp Fontanelle celebrated its 60th anniversary ...

Year ahead to include monumental decisions, new events and changes to existing ones

Year ahead to include monumental decisions, new events and changes to existing ones

12/18/2019
As with the brink of any new year, there’s anticipation of what may lie ahead in the next 12 months. But 2020 could likely be a monumental year in The United Methodist Church. It is the end of a quadrennium, meaning both General and Jurisdictional conferences will take place, and the former is anticipated to see major changes in the denomination. Here’s a look at what are likely to be key events in the year ahead, both in the Great Plains Conference and The United Methodist Church worldwide: ...

David Burke


Churches will see increases in property insurance premiums for 2020

Churches will see increases in property insurance premiums for 2020

12/17/2019
Some churches in the Great Plains Conference could see their property insurance premiums increase by at least 25% in 2020.  The churches were part of a mandatory insurance program implemented by the former Kansas East Conference in 1999. About 50 churches that were formerly in the Kansas West and Nebraska conferences opted for similar policies.  The increase comes after a 30% decrease in premiums that was offered in 2017 for a three-year period.  “There’s a general tightening and increase in the...

David Burke


Rev. Cecil Bliss, pastor during Lincoln St. Mark's move, is remembered

Rev. Cecil Bliss, pastor during Lincoln St. Mark's move, is remembered

12/11/2019
The pastor at the helm of Lincoln St. Mark’s United Methodist Church when the denomination’s largest congregation in the state decided to move to a new, larger location is remembered by those throughout Nebraska. The Rev. Cecil Bliss died Nov. 29 in Lincoln at age 86. Rev. Cecil Bliss died Nov. 29 at age 86. During Bliss’s 18 years as pastor of St. Mark’s, the church grew from 2,000 to 3,800 members. It also was prepared to make a move from its previous location at 740 N. 70th St. in ...

David Burke


Southwestern budget cuts include combining campus minister, discipleship director positions

Southwestern budget cuts include combining campus minister, discipleship director positions

12/11/2019
Budget adjustments announced last week by Southwestern College include the reorganization and restructuring of several administrative and staff functions. Among the downsizing of 13 staff positions, the positions of campus minister and director of discipleship will be combined into a single role.  Southwestern President Brad Andrews said that the adjustments are necessary for the college in Winfield, Kansas, southeast of Wichita, to reach a balanced budget and to achieve the financial latitude ...

Six Great Plains churches seeking disaffiliation

Six Great Plains churches seeking disaffiliation

11/22/2019
Disagreement over same-gender marriage and ordination of LGBTQ persons have prompted six churches in the Great Plains Conference — all in Kansas — to begin the process to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. Emmanuel Church in Abilene, The Benton Church in Benton, Aulne UMC near Marion, Esbon UMC, Burns UMC and Cassoday UMC all have begun the process. The churches are in various stages of the process, which includes a vote by the congregation with a 66% threshold and a majority vote ...

Todd Seifert


Great Plains delegates vote to endorse Williamston

Great Plains delegates vote to endorse Williamston

11/19/2019
Members of the Great Plains delegation to the General and Jurisdictional conferences say a prayer of blessing over the Rev. Dee Williamston after their decision to endorse her for the episcopacy. Photo by Scott Brewer   A 22-year veteran of the military and current Hays and Salina district superintendent has received the endorsement of the Great Plains Conference delegation to the General and Jurisdictional conferences as a candidate for bishop. “I feel like I’m a warrior for the Lord, I’m ...

David Burke


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


Page 1 of 8 1 2 3 4 5 ... 8 next