Great Plains communications team wins 7 top awards


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 — — and on its Facebook page. The annual meeting and awards banquet scheduled in March was postponed because of health concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jayna McFarland won three first-place honors — in the website, mobile app, and presentation slideshow categories. The slideshow accompanied her workshop on social media in the local church presented throughout the conference at regional sites in the fall of 2019. She also won second place for her work on the conference’s Instagram account.

Eugenio Hernandez won first place honors in the promotion category for his work on a video to promote signups for contributors to the conference’s daily devotions. He won first place for the livestream of the 2019 annual conference session in Topeka. He also won second place for his video story on Great Plains Disaster Relief’s response to flooding in Nebraska.

David Burke won first-place honors for his news series on the flooding response in Nebraska that featured stories about rebuilding parts of Fremont, Nebraska; Women in Wahoo leading the effort to fulfill post-flooding needs; and St. Edward United Methodist Church turning itself into the community’s “own little Walmart.

Todd Seifert won best in class in the audio category for the “In Layman’s Terms” podcast. He received first-place honors for his podcast episode titled “A Town’s Resurrection Story,” about the effort to rebuild Greensburg, Kansas, after the 2007 tornado. He also won third place in the nonfiction story category for a report about disaster response efforts in central Nebraska and third place in the blogs category for a series he presented about copyright concerns and worship tools.

He won the best in class award in the special presentations category the previous year for the PowerPoint presentation shared at regional gatherings about plans presented for the future of The United Methodist Church leading into the 2019 special session of General Conference.

“I’m so proud of our team and am very appreciative of them receiving this recognition,” Seifert said. “The team is focused on helping the local church succeed in its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to transform their mission fields. The stories we tell are of people in action serving as the hands and feet of Christ.

“Each of our team members has an area of expertise, but we all help each other as needed to accomplish the tasks at hand. Our administrative assistant, Lisa Soukup, helps keep us all organized. Even while we’ve been forced to work apart from one another these past couple of months, it’s been great to see how we’ve stayed in contact and kept moving forward to help our local churches.”

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