AC 2017 Daily

Recap from June 9, 2017

Bishop Saenz gives charge to new ordinands
Laity and clergy learn more about discipleship in Friday workshops
Bishop invites discussion on Way Forward Commission
Straw poll gets pulse of conference on clergy insurance decision
Delegates approve minimum salary increases
Conference raises $10,000, fills thousands of kits for UMCOR
Fisher gives farewell during her final congregational excellence report
Campus ministries celebrated at dinner
Presentation available for Mission Partnership lunch

Bishop Saenz gives charge to new ordinands

Though he gave an admittedly lengthy address to his first class of ordinands during the Great Plains Annual Conference on Friday night, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. brought the secrets of ministry down to four words.

“Love Jesus. Love People.”

In a sermon frequently punctuated with humor, Bishop Saenz told the ordinands they were entering “adventurous times” in the history of the church.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked with a laugh.

Entering the ministry, Bishop Saenz said, goes beyond a job or a career.

“Christ has summoned you. You have been called,” he said.

Bishop Saenz showed a top-10 list of the careers that bring the most meaningful and personal reward, from Topping the list was clergy, “because it makes the world a better place.”

Ordained as elders for 2017 were Ashlee Alley, Chad Boling, Douglas Gahn, Christine Jorgensen, Tyler Kaufmann, Mari King, Teresa Lucas, Kyle Nelson, Kyle Reynolds, Austin Rivera and Kimberly Shank.

Provisional elders commissioned were Emmanuel Afful, Michelle Byerly, Michael Evans, Jeff Goetzinger, Rebecca Mohr, Stefanie Hayes, Daniel Kipp, Sang Hak Lee, Curtis Magelky Jr., Javier Martinez Osuna, Jordan McFall, Elizabeth Oberdorf, Matthew Sigler, Amanda Pouget and A.G. Turner Jr.

Hannah Ebling-Artz was commissioned as a provisional deacon.

Laity and clergy learn more about
discipleship in Friday workshops

An Olathe, Kansas, native ordained in the former Kansas East Conference, the Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady returned to the Great Plains to lead a workshop titled "A Problem of Magnitude: Worship in the United Methodist Church" during Friday morning's sessions.

Through video clips and results from his surveys and interviews, he shared findings of how to attract young people to church.

Other workshops offered included “Self-care as a Spiritual Discipline,” led by the Rev. Dr. Anne Gatobu; “How to Grow Closer to God: Advice from John Wesley,”
led by the Rev. Dr. Hal Knight; “Disciples Making Disciples: The Wesleyan Way of Disciple-making,” led by the Rev. Dr. Steve Manskar; "Membership to Discipleship," led by Dr. Phil Maynard; “Narrative: The Most Important Thing About You," led by the Rev. Dr. James Bryan Smith; “Sabbath as Center in an Unstable World,” led by the Rev. Marjorie Thompson; and “TeamMates Mentoring Program," led by Brandon Leppke and Allyson Horne.

Several of the workshops were recorded and will be available in coming weeks on the conference website.

Bishop invites discussion on Way Forward Commission

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. invited discussion about the Commission on a Way Forward during the Friday afternoon plenary session during the Great Plains Annual Conference.

“The church has pressed the pause button” in discussion about LGBTQ issues, the bishop told conference delegates, with findings of the commission to be discussed during a special General Conference session in 2019 in St. Louis.

A video highlighted the commission and its members, and delegates were invited to discuss with each other their impressions about the commission and its work through five questions posed by Bishop Saenz.

Bishop Saenz told the delegates he was torn on his feelings toward a decision by the United Methodist Church.

“With much fear and trembling, this is part of my discernment process,” he said.

Bishop Saenz confided to the delegates that the LGBTQ issues facing the denomination were almost enough for him to withdraw his name from consideration as an episcopal candidate last year during the General Conference in Portland, Oregon.

But on the floor, he said, he heard impassioned pleas for unity from Great Plains Conference members.

“I want to help this body discern its right next step,” Bishop Saenz said.

He said he would do his best to answer concerns via email at

Straw poll gets pulse of conference on clergy insurance decision

A straw poll taken Friday afternoon on the floor of the Great Plains Annual Conference helped to take the pulse of delegates regarding a change in clergy health-care coverage during a report from the conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits.

“The Board of Pensions just wants to see where the body is,” said Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.

The health care proposal, to be decided Saturday morning during the final session of the 2017 conference, will determine whether clergy continue to receive a health-care stipend or join into a group plan through one provider, in this case Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas.

With several changes made in insurance coverage since the stipend was introduced in 2014, the board “felt it was prudent to go outside and look at other options,” said chair Kathy Williams.

A document that compares the two plans can be viewed here. Blue Cross’ prescription drug formulary can be found here.

Delegates approve minimum salary increases

Great Plains Conference clergy and lay members approved a 2 percent increase in the minimum salary for pastors effective Jan. 1, 2018.

The minimum for full-time local pastors was increased to $36,156. The minimum for associate members was increased to $38,496; provisional elders to $40,836; and full-time elders to $43,176.

There were slight adjustments to make all of the salaries evenly divisible by 12 for monthly paychecks, said the Rev. Craig Hauschild, chair of the Personnel Committee.

Before presenting the salaries, Hauschild addressed Thursday’s decision to consolidate the three conference offices into one in Topeka, leaving some staff members uncertain about their futures.

People don’t fear change, Hauschild said, They fear loss.

“What we fear is losing connection,” he added.

Hauschild said the conference is dedicated to providing “support, care and healing” to employees affected by the decision, including aid in job searches and employee assistance programs.

Conference raises $10,000, fills thousands of kits for UMCOR

Attendees of the Great Plains Annual Conference session showed their support for people harmed by natural disasters or other difficult circumstances.

Monetary donations for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) totaled more than $10,000. An announcement that the total fell just short of that figure resulted in checks being offered from the stage by Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., the Rev. Nancy Lambert and the Rev. Nan Kaye-Skinner. Others were encouraged to continue making donations throughout the day.

Totals kits collected during the conference session in Grand Island totaled:

  • Health kits – 2,847
  • Cleaning buckets – 114
  • School kits – 1,493
  • Layette kits – 134
  • Bedding kits – 17

Lots of extra supplies will be delivered to the UMCOR West depot in Salt Lake City.

Fisher gives farewell during her final congregational excellence report

Nearing the close of her 40th and final annual conference, the Rev. Evelyn Fisher thanked her colleagues and received a standing ovation from the delegates.

"What a deep honor and privilege it has been to serve with you," said Fisher, retiring at the end of the month as director of congregational excellence. "I am moved by your faith, your loyalty and your commitment."

Fisher said she "could not be more pleased" than to hand the position to the Rev. Nathan Stanton, who will begin July 1.

She was the subject of a limerick from a conference poet laureate, Dirk Hutchinson:

To Evelyn we bid a fond adieu
And send her off with a big thank you
Fulfilling her title
Our churches are vital
She has blessed us all with great value.


Campus ministries celebrated at dinner

Bringing the United Methodist word to 13 colleges and universities in Nebraska and Kansas was celebrated Friday night at the Campus Ministry Dinner.

Grace Woods, a Tonganoxie High School graduate and incoming student at the University of Kansas; and Emily Logback, an Emporia State University campus ministries participant, talked about the importance of the program for students.

The Rev. Justin Jamis, nearing the end of his tenure as Kansas State campus minister, received the Francis Asbury Award. The Rev. Kurt Cooper, Emporia State campus minister, was given an award for 25 years of service to the students.

Campus pastors each introduced themselves and told of their work reaching students. Those wanting to make connections between the campus ministries and incoming students can fill out information at

Presentation available for Mission Partnership lunch

Susan Burton, director of women and children’s advocacy for the General Board of Church and Society, has provided her presentation. It will also be posted on the website after the annual conference session.

Facebook Twitter Instagram Subscribe Submit story Website

Lincoln office Topeka office Wichita office
3333 Landmark Cir. 4201 SW 15th St. 9440 E Boston
Lincoln, NE 68504 PO Box 4187 Suite 110
402-464-5994 Topeka, KS 66604 Wichita, KS 67207
  785-272-9111 316-684-0266