Workshop Descriptions & Speaker Bios


Seanne Larson Emerton, LIMHP, LMFT, LPC

Diving Deep for Resilience

Seanne Larson Emerton, LIMHP, LMFT, LPC

This workshop offers the opportunity to dive deep into designing a personalized action plan to pave the way for building and sustaining resilience. It will put wheels under the “Broaden and Build Theory” from "Faithful and Fractured" by Rae Jean Proeschold‐Bell and Jason Byassee. The format will be facilitative in nature and will include time for reflection, dialogue and input. Space is limited.

Participants will:

  • identify strategies to manage emotional states to help spiral up, rather than down

  • enhance understanding of your own emotional self‐awareness

  • be introduced to a variety of resiliency tools from the field of positive psychology

  • map your own “Depletion to Renewal Grid” as a guide to sustaining resilience

  • identify an accountability plan to optimize success

Seanne Larson Emerton, licensed marriage and family therapist, has been in private practice for 25 years and is owner of the group counseling practice and EAP, Family Resources of Greater NE, P.C. Seanne received her undergraduate degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University where she majored in humanities and religion. She received her masters in counseling degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She received further training in marriage and family therapy through Philadelphia Child Guidance Center and is a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Seanne and her husband, Tom, are lifelong United Methodists. She currently serves as the SPRC chair in her local church and enjoys the challenge of leadership in the local parish. Time with her two sons, daughters‐in‐law and their children in Boston and Fort Collins is a high priority for her.

Rev. Joy Freeman

Mindfulness ‐ Focusing on Taijifit & Labyrinth

Rev. Joy Freeman

Mindfulness and mindfulness practices are becoming a part of the self‐care vernacular. This workshop will introduce participants to what mindfulness is and how it can help one gain better holistic health through stress reduction and deeper spiritual connection. This workshop is an experiential workshop and participants will have the opportunity to engage various mindfulness practices while focusing on Taijifit, a form of Tai Chi that is accessible to people of all abilities, as well as use of a labyrinth.

Rev. Joy Freeman is an Ordained American Baptist Chaplain and is Board Certified with the Association of Professional Chaplains. She is a Staff Chaplain Certified at North Kansas City Hospital. She also holds credentials as a Veriditas Certified Labyrinth facilitator and is a Taijifit Instructor certified through Taijifit International.

She also has experience in the area of perinatal loss and infant death bereavement support and is a co‐editor of the book "Still A Mother: journeys through perinatal bereavement" and a contributor to the devotional book "Though the Darkness Gather Round: Devotions about Infertility, Miscarriage and Infant Loss." Outside of her professional life she is married to Collin and mother to one daughter, 11, and one child in heaven. She also enjoys blogging her contemplative thoughts and photography at

Rev. Adam Hamilton

Love to Stay: Six Keys to a Successful Marriage

Rev. Adam Hamilton

Based upon his book "Love to Stay: Six Keys to a Successful Marriage,' Adam and LaVon Hamilton will lead a marriage enrichment workshop. Drawing upon a survey of thousands of couples and singles, interviews with relationship and marriage therapists, the latest research in the field, and wisdom from the Bible, Adam and LaVon will share what it takes to create and sustain healthy, meaningful, romantic relationships across the course of a lifetime.

Adam Hamilton is the founding pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. He grew up in the Kansas City area, earned a B.A. degree in Pastoral Ministry from Oral Roberts and a Master of Divinity Degree from Southern Methodist University where he was awarded the B’nai B’rith Award in Social Ethics. He was named one of the “Ten people to watch in America’s spiritual landscape” by Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. For his work in racial reconciliation Adam was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award. Named United Methodist Person of the Year for 2012 by the United Methodist Reporter for his leadership within the United Methodist Church. He’s received numerous other awards for community service.

Hamilton launched The Church of the Resurrection with his wife and two children in 1990. It has since grown to over 20,000 adults and children in 2018 under his leadership. Today the church is the largest United Methodist Church in the United States with an average weekend attendance of over 12,000.

Adam has written over 25 books, published by Abingdon Press and Harper Collins, and Convergent; including "When Christians Get it Wrong," "Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White," "The Way: Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus," "Making Sense of the Bible," "Revival," and his latest book "Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times." Adam and LaVon have been married 35 years and have two adult daughters and a granddaughter.

Rev. Sally Ruggia‐Haden

What is Spiritual Direction?

Rev. Sally Ruggia‐Haden

The practice of spiritual direction is relatively new among Protestants but has an ancient history in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Spiritual direction is a way of being intentional in exploring your relationship with God. St. Augustine said that everyone is born with a God‐shaped hole in their soul which cannot be filled with anything but God, even though human beings try to fill it with all kinds of things, like such as busyness, work, hobbies, family, alcohol or other drugs, or sex – in other words anything that can distract our attention from our relationship with God.

Spiritual direction gives us a chance to reflect deeply on our life experiences in the presence of someone we trust who is trained to help us listen for ways in which God is speaking to us. Spiritual direction is not really about being “directed,” although the director may make suggestions about ways to be open to God’s presence.

The privilege and responsibility of a spiritual director is to journey with you as you deepen your relationship with God. This journey takes place in the context of confidential one‐on‐one or group sessions with your spiritual director, usually monthly and an hour in length.

Sally spent 16 years in special education, before attending seminary and becoming ordained as a United Methodist minister in 1985. She served churches in North Texas for 9 years before moving to NE where she has served churches in Plymouth, Daykin, Grant, Palmyra, Cheney and New Hope in Lincoln. She fully retired as of July 31, 2018 and continues to be active at New Hope.

Sally has a passion for spiritual formation, serving on the Leadership Team in worship and music for the NE 5‐Day Academy for Spiritual Formation for a number of years. In 2012 she completed a 2‐year training program in Spiritual Direction (Seeking the Spirit Within – based in the NE Synod ELCA) and offers gifts of spiritual direction and retreat leadership.

Rachel Meyer

Pastor & Parish: A Resource for Re‐Orienting the Work of SPRC as Ministry

Rachel Meyer

The United Methodist Church proclaims its mission: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. But this work of discipleship cannot be undertaken by clergy alone. One of the earliest needs identified through the work of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative (CHI) was the imperative to better equip members of Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committees (S/PPRC), and to reorient their work away from a simple Human Resources framework of “managing” clergy leaders and towards an understanding and a calling to their collective work in the ministry of the church.

As a response to this need, CHI created Pastor & Parish, a 6‐session series for S/PPRCs that ties the committee's responsibilities back to their spiritual beginnings. Pastor & Parish combines short videos, workbook content, guided discussion, and complementary readings to help S/PPRCs navigate such topics as Sacred Bundles, Truthful Naming, and Stewardship of the Pastor.

As part of the 8‐Year Assessment, the Great Plains Annual Conference will be making Pastor & Parish resources available to pastors. Join this workshop to learn more about how to help guide the work of your S/PPRC, including ways to weave in meaning, social connections, and positive emotions among your committee members. Experience a preview of some of the sessions and learn how several clergies and S/PPRC members have been positively shaped through incorporating this tool into their ministry.

Rachel Meyer is on a mission to develop and implement sustainable holistic wellness programs for clergy and their congregations. She works as a program director for both the Clergy Health Initiative (CHI) and the Reimagining Health Collaborative at Duke Divinity School. Since joining Duke in 2012, Rachel has worked with CHI’s data collection, program development, and translation of research findings to broader audiences. Through the Reimagining Health Collaborative, Rachel engages churches in responding faithfully to such health challenges as mental illness, opioid use disorders, and inequities in the food system.

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys dabbling with a new food blog (, doting over her eccentric rescue dog, and traveling with her boyfriend.


Ginger Vaughn‐Pullin, DNP

Self‐Care for Caregivers

Ginger Vaughn‐Pullin, DNP

Caregiving is a hard job – a job that routinely requires putting the needs of others before the needs of ourselves. Caregivers often give so much of themselves that they have little energy left to turn inward and nourish their own bodies and spirits. In this workshop, we will discuss four key areas of self‐care that typically get overlooked when our focus is primarily on others: nutrition, movement, sleep, and stress management.

We will discuss the science behind why self‐care is so important, dive into how to create new habits in these areas and practice some easy techniques that you can use right away. When we take time to care for ourselves, we can better serve others and fully embrace the caregiving calling we have been given.

Ginger Vaughn‐Pullin, DNP is a Family Nurse Practitioner and Professor at Graceland University. In her clinical practice, she has spent time as a provider in the emergency room and neurosurgical ICU, in family practice, and in wellness coaching. Dr. Vaughn‐Pullin previously owned a functional medicine practice where the focus was on holistic lifestyle treatment through the use of nutrition, movement, stress reduction, and sleep strategies.

Currently, she works as a primary care pediatric provider and leads a clinical innovation team working on evidence‐ based strategies to promote health. Additionally, Dr. Vaughn‐Pullin teaches pediatric primary care, advanced health assessment, and epidemiology in the graduate and doctoral program at Graceland University. Her research focus is mindfulness‐based stress reduction in caregivers. She is married with three children (one son, one step‐daughter, and one foreign exchange student), and she and her husband spend any free time working on their non‐profit organization which will provide residential, vocational, and overall life experience for adults with special needs.

Ginger Rothhaas

Be Still and Know

Ginger Rothhaas

Learn tools and practices for applying mindfulness, breathing techniques, meditation, and self‐compassion into your spiritual practices. In this workshop you will learn about the latest research on the power of self‐compassion for caregivers, you will understand how important it is to show yourself the compassion you show to others, and you will be taught tools for increasing your levels of mindfulness, soulful breathing, and self‐compassion practices.

You will also be given scriptures to support each practice that you can share with your congregations in the form of sermons or classes. You will leave this workshop renewed with a sense of empowerment to care for yourself while you care more lovingly for others.

Ginger Rothhaas received an MDiv from Saint Paul School of Theology in 2017. Prior to seminary, she was a business consultant climbing the corporate ladder, but feeling no sense of meaning or purpose in her work. Seminary was a calling without a clear picture of what she would be called to do with her education. But, by saying yes to seminary, she found a calling to speak and teach others to uncover their own divine assignments. She writes and teaches classes for women’s ministry and serves as a Care Minister for Church of the Resurrection, as well as hosting non‐churched people in spiritual direction in a private practice setting. You can follow her on social media, @gingerrothhaas, and at

Rev. Bill Selby

Self‐Differentiated Leadership through Separate and Together

Rev. Bill Selby

That sounds so easy, to be a self‐differentiated leader just be separate of others while being together with them. But add a little anxiety to the system and everything changes, separated becomes detached and together becomes enmeshed. Of course, we are not talking about a mathematical problem or a scientific theory, what we are talking about is an emotional system. Your family, the families IN your church, and the family OF your church are all emotional systems. And when any of those systems get anxious, it is the most anxious that wants to call the shots. OK, now be a Self‐Differentiated leader! This is not a technique; this is a presence. This is not easy ‐ but so vital. Come and be reminded of the process and gain some insights into your presence. Uh, sorry, no quick fixes available.

Rev. Bill Selby is a teacher, engineer, businessman, and minister. He was ordained United Methodist Minister in 1974 and has led both small and large churches in Indiana, Wyoming, and Colorado, including a new church development in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Prior to ministry he was in research and development designing small arms for the military during Vietnam and taught in the engineering fields at the Eau Claire Technical Institute, the University of Wisconsin ‐ Stout, and finally at Indiana State University.

After leading and learning in four ministry settings, Bill founded and continues to lead The Center for Pastoral Effectiveness of the Rockies®. Centers have been in created in CO, UT, WY, MT, NE, IA, TN and KS with over 900 clergy alumni. He is most noted for his work in empowering leadership to be less reactive to the natural reactivity of their organizations as they seek to become self‐differentiated non‐anxious leaders and promote a healthier organization.

He grew up in a very small town in Illinois and married the girl across the street, Sherilee. They have one son, Chris. Bill loves to rebuild and drive his ‘72 MG Midget, golf, and play and watch sports. He especially enjoyed a “bucket list” experience of participating in the Colorado Rockies Fantasy Baseball Camp in 2012.

Lacey Spallitta

Tips to Start Getting Healthier

Lacey Spallitta

We have all been there....time starts to get away from us and we get out of the habit of eating healthy and moving. Lacey Spallitta, certified personal trainer and health coach, will discuss how to start getting back on track to a healthier lifestyle with nutrition and exercise advice that you can utilize in your busy day. This will be a great workshop for beginners or those who have already been working on their health. Join us for this great discussion on a topic that most of us can relate to!

Lacey Spallitta is a Certified Personal Trainer and a Health Coach. Lacey is a mom of 2 little kids and knows how hard it can be to find the balance of getting healthy and family. That is why Lacey focuses on helping men and women with their fitness and nutrition goals so they can be the best parent, friend, co‐worker, spouse, or grandparent by starting to get healthy again.

Rev. Michael Tomson‐DeGreeff

Leadership Coaching For High‐Capacity Pastors

Rev. Michael Tomson‐DeGreeff

Would it be useful to have someone listen deeply and ask powerful questions as you reflect on your current ministry challenges?

When you have a vision for a new ministry, would you benefit from working with someone to refine your strategy for implementing it?

The demands of ministry can be overwhelming at times. Wouldn't it be great to have someone who can help you set priorities and stick to them?

This is the role of leadership coaching. This workshop will demonstrate how leadership coaching works and explain how you can begin a coaching relationship. Coaching sessions are confidential and available to pastors at a minimal cost. The Great Plains Conference has invested in training a diverse group of 15 clergy as coaches for clergy in the Conference and they are ready to help you become more creative, resourceful and whole.

Leadership coaching is different than mentoring, supervising or counseling. The coaching process includes deep listening, powerful questions, re‐framing, expanding possibilities, setting goals and following up. You drive the agenda while the coach walks alongside you with a supportive voice and encouraging relationship.

Additionally, you will learn about Coaching for Congregations in this workshop. The coaching process for a congregation is created to support and assist local church leadership teams in practical ways to focus, strategize, and unlock the church’s deepest potential for ministry. The congregational team drives the agenda for the coaching session. Through deep listening, powerful questions and attention to strategic actions, it is the desire of the coach to help you reframe and expand possibilities for ministry in your setting as we walk alongside you with a supportive voice. This team coaching is led by Revs. Rick Saylor, Linda Louderback, and Jim Akins. These three retired clergy are trained coaches and former District Superintendents, so they deeply understand the dynamics of congregational change.

Michael Tomson‐DeGreeff is very passionate about leading revitalization in the local church and has helped lead three churches out of decades of decline into new seasons of growth. After benefitting from the advice and guidance of many mentors, coaches and teachers in his ministry, Michael is now a trained coach working with clergy in our conference to become more creative, resourceful and whole.

Michael studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, and spent about a decade pursuing a professional music career as a drummer. He has a degree in Religious Studies from the University of Kansas and a Masters of Divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology.

Michael is married to Steffani, a Social Worker, and they have four boys ranging from 11 to 19 years of age. He has been serving at Wamego First UMC in Wamego, Kansas, since 2013.

Becoming an Effective Stress Manager

Facilitator: New Direction Behavioral Health, EAP provider

Multiple studies suggest that stress negatively affects people’s health and can take a heavy toll on the mind and body if left unchecked. This workshop will help you recognize stress symptoms and learn strategies to minimize its disruptive impact on your life. Reducing the effects of stress and the stressors in life (where possible) can help you maintain your blood pressure and weight at a healthier level as well as improve your overall well‐being.