AC 2018 Daily

Recap from June 15, 2018

Welcome to Wichita, Kansas, and the 2018 Great Plains United Methodist Conference Session!

Each day there will be a special edition of "GPconnect." You can expect to receive GPconnect Daily today through Saturday. Below you can find information on what attendees can expect during AC 2018, along with announcements and featured stories.

Watch the live streaming of the session at and on our Facebook page. See the official schedule to help make your viewing plans. View photos on our AC Flickr album, as we will update it daily. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to view additional photos and stay current with everything AC 2018. Don't forget to use hashtag #GPUMC and #GPAC18. Have a great week.

Bishop tells ordinands to find their north star

Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey recently went in search of a map.
As a welcome gift to a new staff member in her Louisiana Conference, Bishop Harvey went to six places, but couldn’t find “an old-fashioned, fold-up kind of map.”
Sure, most of us use apps to find our way anymore, but “you need to be able not to see where you are with a blue dot,” she said, “but where you are going.”
Mapmakers, Bishop Harvey told Great Plains Conference ordinands Friday night, first used Polaris, the north star, to center themselves.
Likewise, “we need to know where our north star is,” she added.
Mission, Bishop Harvey has stressed in the Louisiana Conference, should be the lead in everything they endeavor to do, and likewise that should be the goal of all pastors and churches.
With decisions regarding human sexuality issues facing United Methodists next year, Bishop Harvey said the church must stay united, serving the hungry, thirsty, those in prison, the sick “and continue to be on call as the body of Christ.”
Bishop Harvey told the ordinands to “find your north star.”
Comissioned as provisional elders were Darryl Andre Burton, Anne Christine Gahn, Hyun Ju Gil, Julie Dawn King, John Richard Lewis, Daniel Norwood, Lori Jo Patton, Christine Elizabeth Potter, Jeffrey Paul Potter, Darlene May Sheffer, So Yeong Son, Hui Angie Vertz and Younghwan Won.
Rachel Elizabeth Rigdon was comissioned as a provisional deacon.
Recognition as associate members was bestowed on Robert Stanley Ernest, Berniece Dawn Ludlum and Vernon Scott Olson.
Melissa Gepford was ordained as a deacon in full connection.
Ordained as elders in full connection were Andrea Anna Beyer, Isaac Chua, Orlando Gallardo Parra, Donna J. Hull Goltry, Molly Danielle Just, Brenda Jane Kostner Johnson and Lucas Frederick McConnell.
Amy Michelle Seifert was ordained and transferred from the Order of Deacons to full membership in the Order of Elders.

Black pastors gather for praise, fellowship

About 60 black pastors from the Great Plains Conference gathered Thursday night at the Southeast Campus of Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita to share their joys and comfort each other through tough times.

This is the second time the black clergy – both African-Americans and African natives – have gathered, according to the Rev. Dee Williamston, Salina District superintendent.

“This is just so beautiful, so awesome,” the Rev. Darryl Burton of Church of the Resurrection, ordained as an elder Friday night, said.

The Saint Mark praise team energetically provided music for the night, and many testimonials from pastors in the audience segued into songs as well.

“There’s something about us and the rhythm we have here,” said the Rev. Wayne Reynolds, pastor of Crete Grace UMC in Nebraska.

African pastors led the group in traditional song and dance, which they were asked to reprise for the Friday afternoon session.

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and his wife, Maye, made a surprise appearance, and answered questions from the pastors.

“I want to encourage you and thank you for your ministry,” Bishop Saenz told them. “We really enrich our ministry with what you bring to the table.”

The pastors asked if they could bless the Saenzes, and surrounded them with prayer led by the Rev. Cynthia Wilson, associate general secretary of Discipleship Ministries. 

Youth lead morning worship

Youth from this year's Amp It Up! worship band camp at Southwestern College provided the praise music to open Friday's session.

Evangelism is job for everyone, annual conference told

“Evangelism is a word that makes people feel uncomfortable, something where we feel like it’s only for those people who have that special gift to be an evangelist and who ought to be doing it. Is this right? No, this is wrong! It is bias!” the Rev. Dr. Mark R. Teasdale proclaimed Friday to Great Plains Conference attendees.

Teasdale was the keynote speaker at the 2018 Great Plains Annual Conference session held in Wichita. Under the title “Evangelism for Non-Evangelist,” Teasdale shares techniques for those who feel they have the call to proclaim the gospel even if they see themselves as non-evangelists.

Read more about Teasdale's keynote presentation.

Workshops offer variety of learning opportunities

Friday morning, those at the annual conference session attended a listening session led by the Rev. Dr. Mark Teasldale and chose one of eight workshops. Those worships were:

Anatomy of Peace led by Rev. Nathan Stanton, director of congregational excellence

The book, “The Anatomy of Peace,” asks, “What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause? What if we systematically misunderstand that cause?” This workshop lays the foundation for understanding how having a “heart of peace” can help our relationships go right, whether the other person is a family member, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger. The alternative is to have a “heart at war,” meaning we view others as objects instead of persons. Learn how to change your way of being with others.

Bloom where you’re Planted: Church Growth for Small and Mid-sized Churches led by Rev. Kimberly Pope-Seiberling

Not everyone’s church has thousands or even hundreds of people (I’m not insulting large churches it’s just a fact), but that does not mean your church is unable to reach people for Christ. Don’t let the size of your congregation determine your God-sized dream. This workshop discussed critical markers for growth, how to identify gaps and how to make strategic changes in your church. You will also learn about some things you can do today to take the first steps toward church growth.

Contextualized, Holistic Evangelism for the 21st Century led by Rev. Heather Lear

Using the material developed for their Evangelism for Non-Evangelists webinar series, Heather Lear took a deeper dive into ways that our congregations can articulate their faith and share the Good News in authentic ways. This workshop built on Mark Teasdale’s plenary, and took a comprehensive look at congregations’ evangelism and discipleship practices and evaluate how current ministry offerings connect with their communities. Attendees moved past relying on best practices to creatively discern how God has gifted and placed your congregation “for such a time as this.”

Fresh Expressions led by Rev. Michael Beck

This workshop provided a basic introduction to the Fresh Expressions movement, explored the connections between the early Methodist revival, and considered the implications for local churches. Some practices and processes were offered on how to mobilize your local congregation as a mission force.

How to Be Practically Christian — Covenant Discipleship Groups in Church and Community led by Rev. David Watson, Five Rivers/Parson districts superintendent

Maybe the best way to grow the church is to shrink it (Honey, I shrunk the church!). Strange as it may sound, this has always been the “Method of Methodism:” small, focused gatherings of those who desired to be faithful Christians. It was where the earliest Methodists enjoyed fellowship and community — but most importantly — where they held each other accountable in their Christian life. “Watching over one another in love” is how they put it. And Wesley considered it a “prudential means of grace” — a practical, sensible way to grow in discipleship as profound as it was simple. This workshop focused on the “why” and the “how” of Covenant Discipleship as a model for vital ministry both in our congregations and communities. Attendees re-discovered the “Method of Methodism” — and saw what being “practically” Christian is all about.

Local-Church Marketing Plan Tool led by Rev. Ashleigh Joyner, United Methodist Communications

It’s important that we tell the stories of our churches as a means of connecting with people in our communities. United Methodist Communications has developed a marketing tool that helps promote the local church. But first, it helps churches determine their dreams, discern the needs of their communities and then helps congregations develop ministries that provide the outreach necessary to better serve as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world today. This workshop walked attendees through the web-based tool, so they and their congregation can gather data that helps in ministry.

Making New Disciples in New Places (Lay Missionary Planting Network) led by Rev. Bob Crossman and Rev. Dr. Douglas Ruffle, Discipleship Ministries

This workshop introduced Making New Disciples in New Places (LMPN), a key resource that supports the vision of planting one new church every day. Outcomes desired from the use of this resource:
Existing congregations and groups within the church can find value in its contents (e.g., a congregation in rural Nebraska or a remote village in Asia sees how it can apply the principles of this book)

  • It helps move people from discipleship to apostleship
  • People will be mobilized to start new ministries to make new disciples
  • It will articulate an ecclesial understanding of the gathered and scattered church
  • It will help people understand how Christology leads to Missiology and Ecclesiology

VBS Horizon Style led by Rev. Jason Kennedy and Derek Steinacher, Horizons UMC in Lincoln

This workshop shared the primary components of what makes a VBS successful — from vision setting to promotion, structure, design, and other strategies. Horizons hosted 591 participants in 2017 with the help of 375 volunteers. Numbers are anticipated to be over 600 this year. Not only do children come for VBS, but significant numbers of families come back and become a part of the church. Horizons’ VBS also puts the church on the map in the minds of community people, which is especially helpful when being located within a neighborhood.

Lunch celebrates youth, campus ministries

Youth and campus ministries were celebrated in a lunch Friday.
Students from the Conference Council on Youth Ministries and those involved in campus ministries in the Great Plains Conference gave testimonies about what each program has meant to them in their faith journeys.

Five youth – Kailie Hamilton, Hesston, Kansas; Arianna Jacobson, Fremont, Nebraska; Emily Robinson, Andover, Kansas; Te Gatobu, Lincoln; and Roy Koech, Hays, Kansas – were commissioned to attend the Global Young People’s Convocation, July 18-22 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shayla Jordan, a former delegate to the convocation, is organizing a legislative forum in South Africa.

The Susanna Wesley Award of Excellence was presented to Mary Conrad, retiring this month as campus ministry and new church development accountant.

The Rev. Nicole Conard, coordinator of young adult ministries, received the Francis Asbury Award, given through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

Conference hears more about Way Forward

Members of the Great Plains Annual Conference heard Friday afternoon more details about the human sexuality issues facing United Methodists and leading into a Special Session of the General Conference next February in St. Louis.

Much of the time included a video of the Rev. Tom Berlin, a pastor from the Virginia Conference and a member of the Commission on a Way Forward, explaining the three proposals being put before the delegates in detailed and sometimes-amusing ways. (The video will be posted on the Great Plains Conference website later this summer.)

The Rev. Nathan Stanton, director of congregational excellence, discussed the book “Anatomy of Peace,” which is being recommended for discussion on the issues, looking at the reasons for disagreement and options for achieving harmony.

The conference’s delegates for the Special Session, all of whom were delegates for the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon, were introduced and blessed by the attendees. Oliver Green, Topeka, leads the laity, and the Rev. Adam Hamilton, from Church of the Resurrection, leads the clergy.

Also on Friday afternoon, the conference:

  • Voted to close churches in Upland, in the Gateway District; Glade and Gove, in the Hays District; Gardner First Light, in the Kansas City District; and Cedar Vale, in the Parsons District.
  • Gave a voice and vote to the Peace with Justice coordinator, as part of the lay equalization plan, for future Annual Conference sessions, including the remainder of this year’s conference.
  • Tabled the addition of a resolution committee until next year’s conference.
  • Defeated a resolution to encourage investment in Wespath’s “Social Values Choice” suite of funds.

UMCOR truck loads nearly 4,000 kits


A truck headed for the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, Louisiana, has nearly 4,000 kits thanks to contributions from the Great Plains Conference.

The truck and driver, donated by ACI Motor Freight of Wichita, carried 430 cleaning kits, 1,783 hygiene kits and 1,785 school kits – a total of 3,998 kits.

Those who did not assemble kits donated money totaling $10,237.19 to benefit UMCOR.

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