AC 2014 Daily

June 13, 2014

Each day there will be a special edition of "GPconnect." Below you can find information on what attendees can expect during AC 2014, along with announcements and featured stories.

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It’s not easy, but it’s worth it
Friday opens with songs of praise
Faithfulness requires community, abiding and pruning
Institutions share progress
Pension and benefit ammendment passes by two votes
Rev. Jorge Acevedo headlines Hispanic Ministry lunch
Task force to study resolution eliminating three districts

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it


By the Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, Lincoln South Gate UMC.
The Rev. George Acevedo greeted those being ordained and commissioned and invited those in attendance to listen in on his sermon. Citing his decision to return to intentional daily bible reading in 2001, he lifted up six texts from the Apostle Paul which describe the work of the pastor, and then concluded with two suggestions for a way forward. 
After a caution to listeners to not become depressed, Acevedo began with an acknowledgement of the pressure of pastoral ministry, referencing 2 Corinthians 11, where after a list of burdens, Paul ends, by adding to the list, the pressure of caring for the church and the community it serves. He then moved to Galatians 4:19, and spoke of the heartbreak of living in the space between a desire for spiritual growth, and the reality of seeing spiritual immaturity among those about, and for whom, pastors care. This was followed by an acknowledgement of the pressures on clergy families, as referenced in 1 Tim 3-5.
Additional concerns lifted up by Paul include the task of protecting unity (1 Cor 1:10), the temptation of comparisons to others (2 Cor 11:5) and the anguish of feeling betrayed and abandoned, as described in Tim 4:9-11.
After this list of formidable challenges, Acevedo moved to two powerful suggestions. Reminding those to be ordained of Paul’s return, time and again, to his Damascus road story. Acevedo urged those present to never forget their call, asking, “what brings you joy” and then ended with a call to remember the significance of the work ahead.
Acevedo presented a video from a recent baptism at his church. He used the story of a young woman named Venesia to illustrate the power of faith in each person’s life, and concluded by affirming that it is the good work and privilege of being a pastor to the people that makes the work worth it. 

Those commissioned as provisional elders include: Lora Lee Andrews, Emily Elizabeth Spearman Cannon, Andrew Michael Frazier, Benjamin Christopher Hanne, Changsu Kim, Hyeayoun Kim, Joohyang Kim, Teresa Lynn Lucas, Joseph McColligan, Jose Manuel Miranda, Charles Augustine Rivera and Kimberly Anne Shank.
Those commissioned as deacon include: Katherine Elizabeth Ebling and Melanie Nord Martin.
Those recognized from another denomination include: Jaiseong Pi and Sergio Tristan.
Those ordained as deacons include: Susan Barham and Barbra J. Lenz.

Those ordained as elders include: Amanda Lee Bennett Baker, Brenda Jo (Fasse) Davids, Natalie Kay Faust, Claire Elizabeth Gadberry, Alan W. Gager, Trudy Hanke, Andrew Barnes Yantis Hargrove, Ezekiel Kimutai Koech, Linda Kusse-Wolfe, Patrick McLaughlin, Wendy Mohler-Seib, Nicole Jean Schwartz and Blair Elizabeth Thompson.

Friday opens with songs of praise

Dr. Michael Tully, director of music at Trinity UMC in Lincoln, Neb., opened several days of the Great Plains Annual Conference Session with music performed Tully and the Trinity UMC's worship band.

Faithfulness requires community, abiding and pruning

By the Rev. Bill Fitzgerrel, retired clergy from the Kansas City area.
“It’s my juice every Friday night.” That’s the reaction of one of the many who are engaged in ministry at a dynamic Friday night service at Grace United Methodist Church in southwest Florida. The Rev. Jorge Acevedo has been pastor there for 18 years saw the Lord grow the church from an early attendance of 400 to a multi-campus complex with 2,600 in attendance. He credits prayer for building this congregation that exhibits “Healthy … Inviting … Abundant.” His special prayer was: “Lord, send us the people no one else wants.”
On Friday morning, Pastor Acevedo gave a special preaching-teaching session to the Great Plains Conference to lead the conference into fruitfulness. He told of snatching an apple from a display of fruit when he was a child — only to discover it was artificial fruit. “A lot of churches have artificial fruit,” he said. Teaching from the Upper Room Discourse in John 13-16, he gave the conference one transferrable truth: “Faithfulness precedes fruitfulness.” He gave the conference three necessities for faithfulness.
First, “Faithfulness requires community.” The sayings of Jesus in John 15 about the vine use the plural. As a southerner, he explained, “It’s not “you,” it’s “ya’ll.”  We need rich, deep community relationships. The greatest problem for pastors is loneliness. He disclosed that he involves himself in small groups, covenant groups, a 12-step program and sees a spiritual coach weekly — all to stay connected.
Second, “Faithfulness requires abiding.” He told how Dale Junior (Earnhart) ran out of gas half a lap before the end of a race. We can also run out of gas. We keep our tanks full by regular devotions. He listed four reasons why he does devotions: they help him listen to God; they dethrone self; he experiences insight at 5 a.m., that will be for someone he sees at 2 p.m.; and a devotion “creates space for innovation.”
Third, “Faithfulness requires pruning.” God prunes through discipline that cuts away things which keep one from faithfulness. He told of how God spoke to him recently not to worship anything — including the “spiritual” things like a church, a worship leader, a book — but God. God also prunes through deliverance. To explain deliverance, he described how vine dressers would lift up the low-hanging fruit that had slumped into the dirt and clean it and prop it up. He then told of his own recent experience on Sabbatical. After 18 years of ministry, he needed to be picked up out of the dirt, cleaned off and propped up. With help from his counselor he experienced God’s heartbeat of love, much as the Apostle John leaned on Jesus’ breast and heard Abba’s (“Daddy God”) love.
Pastor Acevedo asked each one of his listeners how were they doing in developing faithfulness through community, abiding and God’s pruning. For faithfulness precedes fruitfulness.

Photo: The Rev. Jorge Acevedo leads the morning worship on Friday, June 13,

Institutions share progress

The plenary meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Friday focused on new changes and the important connections between Mission Agencies and the churches and communities they serve.

Read about that progress at Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas Wesleyan University, EmberHope, Justice for Our Neighbors and Wesley House.

Pension and benefit ammendment passes by two votes

By the Rev. Nancy R. Pauls, pastor of congregational care and prayer at the Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kan.

In a heartwarming moment at the Great Plains Annual Conference Session, Mary Lou Reece introduced her mother, Mary Nell Reece, who has been the lay member to annual conference from Scandia UMC, in Scandia, Kan., for many years. Mrs. Reece is also serving as the patient mother-in-law of Bishop Jones.
The Rev. Jason Kennedy, pastor at Horizons UMC, in Lincoln, Neb., and graduate of Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Co., introduced Dr. Tom Wolfe, president and CEO of Iliff. Dr. Wolf said that while challenges are great and anxieties can run high, we are no different from any other generation that serves the church. Iliff has a strong and growing student body and is an intellectually alive and spiritually deep theological seminary that embodies the essence of the church. Iliff is currently undergoing renovations to upgrade the facility and is creating creative partnerships and new ministries that can live fully into the ever-increasing diversity of the world.
Kelly Williams, Pensions and Benefits Team chair, gave the pension report. This summary of what appears in the Annual Conference journal every year, was distributed for adoption by the conference. The movement to suspend the rules passed.,The only change from the work completed at Uniting Conference last August was the 2 percent increase in the past service rate. The motion to amend the clergy portion of the health insurance premium to no more than 3.5 percent of their salary initially failed. When a counted vote was taken, the motion passed by 444 in favor and 442 opposed.

Williams noted that the 2015 comprehensive benefit funding plan is 124 percent funded, and the conference also has ample reserves to protect clergies’ pension plans due to instability in the stock market. In the discussion on clergy health insurance, it was noted that all of the churches in the Great Plains Conference share the responsibility for providing clergy health insurance, and they also are called to pray for one another as these difficult decisions are made. 

Rev. Jorge Acevedo headlines Hispanic Ministry lunch

Serenading by Hector and Sherri Sanchez blessed everyone approaching Saint Paul UMC in Lincoln, Neb., to attend the Great Plains Hispanic Ministry lunch on Friday, June 12. Colombian harpist William Sanchez further blessed attendees as they gathered and proceeded through the buffet of pulled pork, potato salad and fresh fruit. Cesar Garcia Rodriguez and Miriam Peralta de Garcia welcomed everyone, alternating between Spanish and English. Among the nearly 200 attendees were the Micah Corps interns, CCYM members and other youth, Congregational Excellence staff and Bishop Scott Jones and Mary Lou Reece. A video highlighted each of the dozens of Hispanic congregations and outreach ministries across the conference and the pastors, evangelists and other people serving within them.

Read more about the lunch on the Great Plains Conference website.

Photo: Hector Sanchez is a local pastor appointed to Nueva Vida (New Life), Evangel UMC, in Holton, Kan. Juan Espinoza is a local pastor serving at Centro de Alabanza y Adoración in Gering, near Scottsbluff, Neb. Sylvia Romero is a local pastor with Grace UMC in Olathe, Kan. César Garcia Rodriguez is a local pastor at Resonate in Papillon, Neb., and Miriam Peralta de Garcia is a Certified Lay Minster serving Grace UMC in Omaha, Neb.

Task force to study resolution eliminating three districts

By Kathy Lefler, director of communications, East Heights UMC, Wichita, Kan.

A resolution seeking to reduce the number of districts in the Great Plains Conference from 17 to 14 and reallocate the funds saved by this reduction to campus ministries was the focus of a lively debate before the motion was amended and referred to a task force for study.

The Rev. Andy Hargrove of Berryton UMC, in Berryton, Kan., and the Rev. Austin Rivera of First UMC in Emporia, Kan., presented the resolution, which was not an original agenda item for this year’s Annual Conference Session. The two Kansas pastors first presented the idea on Thursday and formally brought it before the conference this afternoon. Rivera said this action would streamline the conference and have a huge, positive impact on campus ministries. He said he and Hargrove wanted to see this action taken before Bishop Scott Jones’ term as bishop ends because Jones is knowledgeable about the districts and it would be better for him to organize the redistricting, instead of his successor.

During discussion, a motion was made to refer the matter to a task force for further study by the Rev. David Livingston of St. Paul's UMC in Lenexa, Kan. Issues of concern raised by Livingston and others included impact on rural areas, if funds would go primarily to large universities, the role and standing of campus ministry in our conference and also how this has worked in other states that have taken this action.

Those who spoke to the need to pass the resolution today said by deferring, a year would be lost and the change needs to happen now. College students also spoke to the need for the passage of the resolution as it was presented. A young woman who will attend seminary in the fall said she would not have discerned her call to ministry had it not been for campus ministry. "It resurrected my dormant faith," she said.

An amended resolution that would have a Connecting Council task force study the matter and the number of districts and bring it before the 2015 Great Plains Annual Conference Session overwhelmingly passed.
Editorial Policy: The content, news, events and announcement information distributed in GPconnect is not sponsored or endorsed by the Great Plains Methodist Conference unless specifically stated.

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