3 churches, 1 district get ‘Culture of Call’ grants


Three churches and one district in the Great Plains Conference are the recipients of monetary grants that will help them develop a “Culture of Call” in the two-state region.

The Rev. Ashlee Alley, Great Plains Conference coordinator of
clergy recruitment and development, talks about "culture of call"
during a talk at February's Orders & Fellowship  clergy training
session. Photo by Todd Seifert.

The churches are FirstLight (in Gardner), Lenexa and Tonganoxie United Methodist churches, all in Kansas; and the Great West District in Nebraska.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity to put some resources with casting a vision for churches and districts and different entities of the Great Plains United Methodist Church to consider what it would look like to cultivate a culture of call,” said Ashlee Alley, clergy recruitment and development director for the conference.

The grants were introduced at the annual Orders & Fellowship gathering in February in Lincoln.

“I’m kind of calling them an ‘imagination grant,’ hoping they’ll spark the imagination of folks to consider what they might be able to do in their congregations,” Alley said.

All of the grants going to churches will help fund internships to help support individual calls into the ministry:
  • At FirstLight, an 11-year-old congregation, three already identified members of the church – age 35 to 19 – to help them grow in their ministry leadership.
  • At Lenexa, funds would help provide internships for those expressing interest in the workings of the church.
  • At Tonganoxie, the grant will fund a “Call” Pathway similar to the Discipleship Pathway, where an intern will publicly chronicle his or her experiences.
The Great West District, the largest geographic district in the Great Plains Conference, is putting its grant to use for a retreat at Camp Norwesca near Chadron, Nebraska, that will connect interested people with mentors. The time would include learning sessions, personal reflection, mentoring opportunities and prayer.

The Rev. Kay Alnor, superintendent of the Great West District, said the geography of the district – essentially, the western third of Nebraska – prevents many with an interest in any level of ministry from getting involved.

“We have a very unique district with a lot of challenges – depopulation and population in other areas. And the call to ministry takes on many forms out here,” Alnor said. “It’s very unique that we’re addressing some of those needs head-on.”

The Great West includes 53 churches in 30-plus parishes, including several three-point charges.

“A lot of people are being called into certified lay ministry track, and then some eventually become pastors,” Alnor said. “There are a lot of unique transitions into ministry that some other districts might not have.”

Alley said she was pleased with the first year of the grant applications and that she hopes to continue the program.

“We’d love to see it become an ongoing opportunity,” she said.

Contact David Burke, communications coordinator, at dburke@greatplainsumc.org.

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