Download the printable version of the Jan. 31 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Way Forward: Mission is key to church’s future
‘Wesleyan Live!’ returns with new instructor
Orders & Fellowship videos now available on website

Peer coaching a new ministry for Great Plains clergy
Saint Paul offering more satellite courses in Hays

Great Plains to have 14 delegates at 2020 General Conference

Dates set for Bishop’s Confirmation Rallies, DEEP leadership training
GBCS seeks ethnic young adults for internships
Scholarships available for UM students to UMC institutions
Snapshot shows GBHEM developing leaders around the world

Mercy & Justice Team continues work on strategic plan
Immigrant Legal Center helps victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse

Ministry had a big year in 2017

Nebraska churches receive ministry grants totaling $60,000
Form available for retirees, disabled clergy for deferred expenses
UMC organizations to be listed on Guidestar

Syracuse UMC has building again after devastating fire
Wichita UMCs help Habitat for Humanity
In other news
Blogs and opinion
In memoriam
The week ahead

Way Forward: Mission
is key to church’s future

The moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward are urging United Methodists to engage in reflections on where they see mission at the heart of the denomination as well as seeing mission as significant for resolving conflict.  

Read more about the thoughts of the Commission.

What three words would you use to describe the United Methodist Church in 2018? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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‘Wesleyan Live!’
returns with new instructor

“Wesleyan Live!” a Lenten lectionary discussion that takes place both in person and in a livestream, returns with a new instructor.

The Rev. Jonathan Redding (pictured above), visiting assistant professor of religion at Nebraska Wesleyan University, will take over from the Rev. Dr. Robert Jewett, who is retiring from the program.

“Wesleyan Live!” will also return to its twice-a-year presence, with an Advent study this year about Daniel, about whom Redding is writing his doctoral dissertation.

Read more about “Wesleyan Live!” and watch a greeting from Redding.

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Orders & Fellowship videos
now available on website

Videos from the 10 Orders & Fellowship sessions with Rev. Dr. Clif Christopher and the Rev. Mike Slaughter from Horizons Academy are now available at the Great Plains Conference website.

Christopher and Slaughter challenged the 550 clergy attending Orders & Fellowship in Kearney to think more like an entrepreneur in preaching about money from the pulpit and approaching potential donors.

The videos also include the closing sermon by Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.

Here is a recap of Orders & Fellowship, with video links to individual sessions.

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Clergy Excellence

Peer coaching a new ministry
for Great Plains clergy

Have you ever thought it would be good to have a clergy colleague listen deeply to you as you reflect on your current work of ministry?

What about those times you have a passion and dream for something you want to do in your local church ministry; wouldn’t it be great to have an encourager help you create a ministry strategy?

Returning home from a Continuing Ed event with fresh ideas -- could you benefit from a process that helps turn ideas into actions?

When you are overwhelmed with all the demands of ministry, wouldn’t it be great to have someone on call to talk you through to your priorities?

If you’ve answered yes, then Peer Coaching may be beneficial to you. This new ministry of our Great Plains Conference Clergy Excellence team is created to support and assist you in practical ways to focus, strategize and unlock your deepest potentials in ministry. Coaching is not supervision, not mentoring and not consulting. The coaching process includes deep listening, powerful questions, reframing and expanding possibilities and action planning through a peer colleague trained in coaching. You drive the agenda. The coach, committed to the beliefs that we all are creative, resourceful and whole, walks alongside you with a supportive voice and encouraging relationship. The sessions are confidential.

Coaching sessions can be scheduled for one hour per month and, if beneficial, move toward 30 minutes twice a month. The sessions can be conducted in person, by video call or phone. Currently, 15 clergy from our Great Plains Conference are trained as peer coaches and are at work with clergy of all ages and locations throughout the conference.

The coaching agreement form is here.

Here is more information from the conference website.

If you are interested in joining this movement and taking advantage of this opportunity contact Nancy Lambert at or call 402-464-5994, Ext. 126.

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Saint Paul offering more
satellite courses in Hays

Saint Paul School of Theology and Great Plains Conference launched a course of study via satellite in Hays in the fall. The satellite opened with three courses and we had 29 students registered in these courses.

This spring we have added two more courses: Theological Heritage 111: Medieval Reformation; and Bible I: Introduction.

Returning classes are: Bible IV: Prophets, Psalms and Wisdom Literature; Evangelism; and Administration and Polity.

The number of students who have currently registered is too low to continue with some of these courses in Hays, so registration has been extended for two weeks. Visit the Saint Paul course of study website and view the course descriptions. If you have questions feel free to contact COS Director Israel Kamudzandu.

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General Conference

Great Plains to have 14 delegates
at 2020 General Conference

The Great Plains Conference will be represented by 14 delegates at the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis.

It is an increase from the 12 delegates that represented the Great Plains at the 2016 General Conference (some of whom are pictured above), and will continue to do so at the 2019 special session in St. Louis to discuss human sexuality issues.

The 862 delegates for the 2020 General Conference were proportionately distributed among annual conferences by applying a statistical formula based on the number of clergy and professing lay members of each annual conference. These numbers are reported in the annual conference journal and confirmed through data comparisons.

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Equipping Disciples

Dates set for Bishop’s Confirmation Rallies, DEEP leadership training

The dates have been set for the Bishop’s Confirmation Rallies and DEEP Student Leadership Training – Feb. 17 in McPherson, Kansas, and March 3 in Lincoln.

Each event is from noon to 5 p.m.

The bishop’s rallies are where confirmation students can discover how to learn and lead in the United Methodist Church. The DEEP training is for high school students who want to become stronger leaders in their churches and their communities.

Laura Podschun, a Southwestern College student from Winfield, will be the opening speaker for the confirmation rallies. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. will give the closing sermon.

Zachariah Kirkham, who performed at The OneEvent in January, will be the worship leader. The Rev. Justin Lefto, pastor of The Benton Church in Kansas, will speak at the student leadership training, whose theme is “Deep Impressions.”

The cost is $10 per person, including lunch, and the deadline is one week prior to each rally. Register at

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GBCS seeks ethnic
young adults for internships

The General Board of Church and Society is in the process of recruiting for this summer's Ethnic Young Adult Program, to take place in Washington, D.C.

Complete information is available here.

Church and Society's Ethnic Young Adult (EYA) program will run from June 2 to July 28. This eight-week intensive program is designed for young justice-seekers who are willing to put their faith into action as they work in the intersections of faith, advocacy, and social change.
EYAs work four days a week with Church and Society's coalition and placement partners. At these placements, interns serve with advocacy, public policy, nonprofit and grassroots organizations. For an idea of where these placements could be our placement partners from last summer were: Creation Justice Ministries, Church World Service, FairVote, Interfaith Power and Light, Democracy Initiative, National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Results and the NAACP.

EYAs engage in weekly seminars designed to explore a wide variety of social issues, while also learning about The United Methodist Church's history of pursuing social holiness. Our Ethnic Young Adult interns get to visit a Methodist historical site, our offices in New York City and learn about the Church's role at the United Nations.

Interns come from all around the United Methodist connection this creates for a unique and formative experience as students live in community with one another and participate in weekly devotions. Interns are required to do reading and weekly reflections on what they are learning and experiencing while participating in our program. This is an opportunity for vocational discernment, learning more about of United Methodist connection and faith formation.

Program qualifications

  • Be a member of The United Methodist Church;
  • Be between 18-22 years old (Central Conference interns are accepted up to 24 years old);
  • Be at the academic level of rising sophomore, junior or senior in college/university studies or employed fulltime;
  • Show active leadership and participation in the local church/community and an involvement in social justice activities;
  • Self-identify as a person of color.

Apply by March 1. If you are someone you know is qualified this transformational experience have them apply today.

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Scholarships available for
UM students to UMC institutions

United Methodist students attending United Methodist-related institutions can apply for 2018 United Methodist Scholarships at

The application deadline is March 7.

Applying for individual scholarships now also makes you eligible for the United Methodist Allocation. You must apply now to be considered for both. Late applications will not be accepted. Scholarships range in value from $500 to $5,000. The average amount awarded is about $1,000.

Scholarship eligibility requirements:

  • Incoming or current freshmen, sophomores, juniors seniors or graduate students at one of the United Methodist-related colleges or universities
  • Member of any United Methodist Church for at least one year
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5

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Snapshot shows GBHEM
developing leaders around the world

Providing global leadership formation and development for our global church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) offers an array of programs, events and resources for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders. Fostering a culture of call and creating connections for leaders, our work supports the advancement and service of the church today and tomorrow.

Here is a two-page, by-the-numbers snapshot of the work that the GBHEM has undertaken in the past year.

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Mercy & Justice

Mercy & Justice Team
continues work on strategic plan

Besides regular monthly Zoom meetings, the Great Plains Mercy & Justice Team meets three times each year in person to do its work. The team has the primary responsibility of helping local congregations develop ministries to achieve our United Methodist mission of world transformation through ministries of mercy and ministries of justice (justice ministries address systemic issues of poverty, prejudice and other social concerns).

On Jan. 19-20, the team met in Kearney. Louise Niemann gave the opening devotion called “I’m Working for Justice, Lord Have Mercy.” The devotion was based on Luke 4:14-30 and Luke 5:1-11. Doing justice work is difficult and we will encounter opposition. But justice work is part of our Wesleyan heritage and DNA. “Has anybody wanted to throw you off a cliff?,” Niemann asked. We need to work alongside each other and keep doing what we are called to do, even when at times it seems it will be useless. The disciples followed Jesus’ invitation to throw their nets into the water again and when they least expected it, they caught an abundance of fish.

The time of the team was spent on a variety of tasks under the leadership of its chair, Rev. Sarah Marsh. We heard reports from our international partnerships in Nigeria (all Nigerian Conferences passed our new covenant agreement) and from Haiti. The team continued developing resources for congregations to engage in justice work to transform the world so all of God’s children can have abundant life. The time together ended with a meeting with Joey Hentzler from Kansas Appleseed as we are collaborating on a number of food forums focusing on hunger issues and advocacy in several Kansas locations. Similar events are also being planned for Nebraska locations in collaboration with Nebraska Appleseed. More information on these food forums will be coming soon.

For more information about the team’s work, go to:

-- Andrea Paret, Peace with Justice coordinator

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Immigrant Legal Center helps victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse

Editor’s note: This article is being rerun because of an incorrect link in last week’s story.

She had met women from the shelter like Linh before. They enter a room with hesitant steps, their eyes fixated on the floor, the faces shadowed with fear. Linh’s shoulders were hunched and wary, as if her whole being was braced for the next blow that life had taught her would be coming, sooner or later.

But Linh, thought Mindy Rush Chipman, Senior Managing Attorney for Immigrant Legal Center (ILC) (formerly Justice For Our Neighbors-Nebraska) stood out from the other women from the shelter in one particular way. Linh’s head was completely shorn of hair.

There were other people in the clinic that day. Linh seemed to feel their curious gazes. Self-consciously, as from a long-practiced habit, she raised her hand to smooth the dark stubble on her head.

This was only an initial consultation, but Mindy already knew she was going to take Linh’s case. Turning to the volunteer interpreter, she slowly and carefully learned Linh’s story.

To learn about Linh’s story and how her life has been transformed read here.

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Disaster Response

Ministry had a
big year in 2017

Your Great Plains United Methodist Disaster Response Ministry made a difference within our conference as we extended God’s grace in times of disaster during 2017. Your Early Response Teams (ERT) volunteered 11,040 hours in the Great Plains as a response to tornadoes, flooding, hail damage and wildfires. One-hundred-and-40 individuals were awarded grants totaling more than $200,000. Our Disaster Response Trainers have served many churches providing trainings covering ERT, Spiritual & Emotional Care, Connecting Neighbors, Active Shooter and Basic Disaster Planning.

The Great Plains Bucket Challenge resulted in 6,340 UMCOR Cleaning Kits shipped via four semis to UMCOR Sager Brown Depot. It was my honor to help load one of the containers with Cleaning Kits that was delivered on Thanksgiving Day in Puerto Rico.

Our ministry would not be what it is if it wasn’t for each of you! Thank you for your donations, prayers, hosting work teams, meals, homemade cookies and just stopping by a work location to share a smile.

As our spring storm season approaches, please keep us in mind! It is because of your prayers and financial gifts that we can be the “hands and feet” of Christ to all people in the Great Plains Annual Conference.

--Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator,

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Nebraska churches receive
ministry grants totaling $60,000


The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation would like to announce and congratulate the recipients of their Ministry Grant Program for 2018. These grants are made available through the generosity of fellow United Methodists contributing to the Foundation’s Gifts from the Heart Endowment Fund. This fund, established in 2001, works to support five separate areas, covering needs ranging from youth ministries to pastoral education. 

The Foundation’s Board of Directors and staff would like to thank the many Nebraska United Methodists who continue to strengthen our Gifts from the Heart Program. Due to your generosity, the Foundation was able to award over $60,000 in grants to Nebraska churches and their ministries. The application materials for this annual ministry grant program are available on the Foundation’s website each June, with a deadline for submission of Sept. 30.

The following is a list of recipients of the ministry grants for 2018: 
Alliance UMC, Arapahoe UMC, Bellevue Aldersgate UMC, Cairo UMC, Camp Fontanelle, ConnectioN Point, Cozad UMC, Curtis UMC, Dakota City UMC, Epworth Village, Fremont UMC, Geneva UMC, Gibbon Faith UMC, Grand Island First-Faith UMC, Great West/Gateway Districts, Kearney Faith UMC, Lincoln Aldersgate UMC, Lincoln Christ UMC, Lincoln Horizons UMC, Lincoln Lakeview UMC, McCool Junction UMC, Falls City Nemaha UMC, Omaha Dietz UMC, Omaha First UMC, Omaha Living Faith UMC, Omaha Living Hope UMC, Omaha Rockbrook UMC, Omaha St. Paul UMC, OshKosh UMC, Relased and Restored, Scottsbluff UMC, United Campus Ministry - UNK, Urban Abbey, Wahoo UMC, Wymore UMC

The majority of gifts supporting this initiative were established through estate planning. The Foundation offers services to speak in Nebraska churches about the benefits of estate planning. We are also available to speak with individuals one-on-one if you should wish to explore options on how you can impact your church. For more information, please contact Anita Crisp at 402-323-8842 or toll-free at 1-877-495-5545. You can also email the Foundation

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Form available for retirees,
disabled clergy for deferred expenses

A resolution adopted in 2016 by the Great Plains Annual Conference authorized retired/disabled ministerial members to exclude, within limits, deferred salary received during the 2017 calendar year expended for house rent/home mortgage loan and utilities.

Here is a form for those individuals’ tax returns.

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UMC organizations to
be listed on Guidestar

The Legal Services Department of the General Council on Finance and Administration is announcing that in response to the many calls they receive about having United Methodist churches recognized on national donor platforms, local churches and United Methodist organizations covered under the United Methodist group ruling can now be listed on Guidestar through the website. 

Steve Lambert, General Counsel of GCFA, said “this move responds to requests from local churches to be listed as a charitable organization on a platform recognized by donors as reliable.  We are happy to provide this solution to what has been a continuing issue for UMC organizations.” 

Read more.

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Across the Connection

Syracuse UMC has building
again after devastating fire

Nebraska’s Syracuse United Methodist Church celebrated Sunday its first service in its new building, which replaces a 100-year-old facility that was destroyed in a fire four years ago.

Construction of the new church building began last May and was completed this month.

"This new day is fresh with possibility," the Rev. Gary Ganger said to 112 church members who attended, according to this story, photos and video from the Lincoln Journal Star

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Wichita UMCs help
Habitat for Humanity

Two United Methodist churches volunteered on Martin Luther King Day of Service at Habitat for Humanity in Wichita.
University and East Heights (pictured above) UMCs joined with more than 100 other volunteers at the Bob Brown Expo Hall to frame the walls of a home for a family. The family, who built alongside volunteers, will purchase the home on a 20-year, zero-percent interest rate loan. They immigrated to Wichita from the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a better life and the education opportunities our city offers.  

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In other news


New in the Resource Center: Did you know that when we hope for the impossible, it involves more than praying for God’s transcendent power? There are two components to every miracle: divine action and human responsibility. Each of us has been given specific talents and abilities. For a real miracle to take place, God expects us to apply these talents and abilities—acting with God to perform divine work. By examining biblical examples of how to use your God-given gifts for God’s glory, author and pastor Mike Slaughter helps you discover that you, too, were “Made for a Miracle.”

The six-session DVD features Slaughter presenting to a group in his challenging and engaging style. The video segments are approximately 10-12 minutes each and, when combined with the six book chapters, make an ideal six-week group study for Lent and beyond. All videos sessions are closed captioned.
The kit includes the book, a comprehensive leader guide, a DVD and a youth study book.
Ash Wednesday memes for social media

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Blogs and opinion

  • Hurricane didn’t stop Texas churches: The Rev. Robert Lopez, superintendent of the Coastal Bend District in the Rio Texas Conference, has written about his gratitude for the churches he supervises. Since getting battered by Hurricane Harvey, they’ve paid their apportionments and continued to do ministry.
  • Be accountable like Jesus: Accountability starts close to home, writes church consultant the Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter. “It’s about taking responsibility for fulfilling our own giftedness and maximizing our own potential,” she says. “Just as Jesus was accountable to the Father for fulfilling his call, we, too, are called to live fully into the gifts we have received.”

In memoriam

  • The Rev. A. George Edgar, 86, retired clergy, died Jan. 27. Edgar was the first certified chaplain at Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, DeEtta. Memorials are suggested to Lincoln Christ UMC, Lincoln Garden Club or Camp Comeca.
  • Phillip Charles James, 83, spouse of a retired associate clergy member, died Jan. 24. A U.S. Army veteran, he was married for 57 years to the Rev. Carol James, who served Nebraska churches in Norfolk, Friend-Dorchester and Clearwater-Neligh-Oakdale. Memorials are suggested to the June E Nylen Cancer Center, 230 Nebraska St., Sioux City, IA 51101.
  • The Rev. Dr. Philip Kaye, 97, died Jan. 10 in Lincoln. Dr. Kaye served as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy and in United Methodist churches in South Dakota. He was chair of the communications studies department at Nebraska Wesleyan University, where he served for 34 years before retiring in 1990. Survivors include his daughter, Rev. Nan Kaye-Skinner, pastor of Lincoln Trinity UMC. Memorials are suggested to the Nebraska Wesleyan communications and theater department.
  • Luella Lowe, 86, a surviving clergy spouse, died Jan. 9 in North Carolina. She was a nurse and nursing instructor, as well as serving as conference president of the United Methodist Women. Memorial donations may be made in her memory to New Beginnings Program-NUMC, Attn: Director Senovia Ewers, 1200 West Apache Street, Building 17, Farmington, NM 87401.
  • Pastor Vickie Lynn McDaniel, 63, a local pastor, died Dec. 21. She was associate pastor of Wichita Saint Mark UMC at the time of her death, and was active with prison ministry, prayer ministry, congregational care and care for the ailing.
  • Robert Dale (Bob) Stout, 82, a retired pastor, died Jan. 19. He served the church for 21 years, and one of his favorite ministries was the Boots and Bible church camp at Camp Lakeside. Survivors include his wife, M’Lou, and two children. The family requests a memorial to Camp Lakeside in care of Fidler-Orme-Bachman Mortuary, 212 S. Fowler St., Meade, KS 67864.

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