Culture of Call grants distributed to seven in Great Plains

David Burke


Four churches, two campus ministries and one camp are the recipients of the fall Culture of Call grants from the Great Plains Conference.

Campus ministries at the University of Kansas and Southwestern College were awarded grants, as was Camp Chippewa, three churches in Kansas and one in Nebraska.

“We continue to be excited to see the way that groups within the Great Plains UMC are envisioning what it looks like to support a Culture of Call in their churches, campus ministries and camps,” said the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator. “A number of the grants are finding ways to connect people who are exploring their faith with strong mentoring relationships. Also, internships continue to be an opportunity for someone to explore their calling.”

Here’s a look at the recipients and their plans, with information from their applications:

Wesley KU

The Seminary Student Innovation Internship would connect the campus minister, a seminary student and Wesley KU students with “opportunities to explore ways of living out their call in any setting – ‘home, work, church, and world’ – by providing opportunities to share stories of how God has been active in their lives. The seminary student will have the opportunity to explore their ministry gifts in the context of campus ministry, and to consider a call to campus ministry.

“We anticipate that this project will ‘spur imaginations’ for additional collaboration with seminary students on college campuses that could be possible in other settings across the Great Plains due to the many seminaries that allow for distance learning (Iliff, Saint Paul School of Theology),” wrote Susan Mercer, Wesley KU campus minister. “Through engaging with the seminary student, we anticipate that a new vision for seminary and professional ministry may emerge among some Wesley KU students who had not previously considered the option.”

Southwestern College

A retreat providing mentoring, vocational discernment opportunities and spiritual nurture for up to 15 Southwestern College female students and five women from the Winfield community.

“The purpose of this retreat is to empower women students to know more about who they are, who God is and what God is calling them to do in the world by providing the space for shared stories and conversation,” wrote the Rev. Molly Just, Southwestern director of discipleship. “We have many female college students who are looking for opportunities to build relationships with faithful Christian women in the Winfield United Methodist communities who have experience in Christian vocational discernment.

Camp Chippewa

A young person would discern his or her call into ministry through an Exploration of Personal Ministry class while serving as an intern at Camp Chippewa Conference and Retreat Center. The intern would learn in a class setting conducted by the Rev. Bud McCluney, site and outreach coordinator for the camp.

“This project will provide an individual the opportunity to deepen their faith and awareness of a call in their life,” McCluney wrote. “I (and Camp Chippewa) have a passion for young people. It is exciting to watch young people grow in their faith journey and see their excitement as they discover their call from God.”

Augusta UMC

A grant will be used as a salary stipend for a college-age youth ministry intern.

“As part of the internship, however, the intern would get hands-on experience in planning and facilitating many key activities for a youth ministry,” wrote Jessica Bates, children and youth ministry director. “When I was a college student I was given the opportunity to have an internship at a local church. This internship helped form and solidify my calling to youth ministry. By being awarded this grant our church will be able to do the same thing for other college students.”

Ellis UMC

The grant will aid the United Methodist Kid Fellowship and United Methodist Youth Fellowship at the Kansas church.

“First, in our growing United Methodist Kids Fellowship/United Methodist Youth Fellowship programs we will empower disciples through Bible verse sharing, parent-led age-appropriate prayer chain involvement, spiritual gifts assessments, and a congregational/Bible Buddy Christmas card exchange and reception,” wrote the Rev. Tricia North, pastor at Ellis-Palco UMCs. “Next, during a UMKF/UMYF-led worship service, we will collect a special offering for a community ministry. Third, we will explore various United Methodist Church ministries in our county by meeting with the Hays First United Methodist Church leadership and joining one of their youth events.”

Lincoln Horizons UMC

The Lincoln church wants to create mentoring relationships between church staff and children and youth who have felt called into ministry.

“We did a version of this with five guys age second grade-12th grade, and all five of these areas were hit,” wrote Derek Steinacher, director of children’s ministries. “They had all had an element of discerning already about being called to ministry, and we further talked to that. We also celebrated the time they spent with church leaders with the entire church – and how they were feeling that call. We mentored them to be able to preach at the Clark Jeary retirement community.”

Manhattan College Avenue UMC

The grant will fund overnight retreats for post-confirmation youth and for senior high-age youth. The post-confirmation retreat would focus on “My Calling to Fulfill,” while the senior high retreat would focus on utilization of spiritual gifts in ministry and listening for and answering God's call in their lives.

“Through a retreat setting the goal would be for the youth to understand the discipleship process in ministry; recognizing God's call in their lives and how to respond to that call whether that be as laity or through the ordination route,” wrote Peggy Riley, director of youth ministries.

Since 2016, 37 Culture of Call grants totaling more than $65,000 have been distributed by the conference.

“We hope that every church, campus ministry, camp, or other organization of the Conference would catch a glimpse of how they can create a culture of calling where they are, too,” Alley Crawford said.

More information about finding ways to nurture a Culture of Call can be found here.

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