Download the printable version of the Nov. 14 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Topeka District town hall draws nearly 300; two final sessions are Saturday
Town hall video from Topeka available beginning Sunday
Fresh Expressions Vision Days set for February in Omaha, Topeka
Offices closed Nov. 22-23 for holiday; no GPconnect email next week

Choirs, worship ensembles can audition online for 2020 spot in Minneapolis

2019 Orders & Fellowship will take place at Church of the Resurrection

Early-bird price deadline for The OneEvent is Thursday

Bishops respond to Central American migrant caravans

Group pushing for full inclusion of LGBTQ persons
In other news
Blogs and opinion
The weeks ahead


Topeka District town hall draws nearly
300; two final sessions are Saturday

Nearly 300 people representing churches in the Topeka District attended the bishop’s town hall meeting on Sunday at Topeka First United Methodist Church.

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. discussed the three plans that will go before a special session of the General Conference in February in St. Louis and took a variety of questions from the audience regarding the proposals.

Two town halls remain, both this Saturday. The Parsons District event will begin at 10 a.m. at Parsons Wesley UMC, 500 Leawood Drive; and the Five Rivers District session will be at 3:30 p.m. at the west campus of Lawrence First UMC, 867 U.S. Highway 40.

Read more about the Topeka town hall.

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Town hall video from Topeka
available beginning Sunday

For those who have missed any of the 18 town halls or who want to revisit any of the discussion by Bishop Saenz, a video of the Topeka session will be on the Great Plains Conference website beginning Sunday.

Information that was in handouts is available currently on our Commission on a Way Forward page.

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Fresh Expressions Vision Days set
for February in Omaha, Topeka

The Great Plains Conference will take two steps further into the Fresh Expressions movement with Vision Days in early 2019.

The Omaha Vision Day is Feb. 2 at Water’s Edge UMC in Gretna. The Topeka Vision Day is Feb. 9 at Topeka First UMC. Both are from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays.

A Vision Day is a one-day training event that provides an opportunity to discover what it means to be the church in new and creative ways, hear from Fresh Expressions practitioners, learn how to renew existing congregations through fresh expressions of church, and discern what this could mean for your region, community or neighborhood. There is active discussion as well as opportunity to build networks and relationships among those in your area.

Registration is available now for both at the Vision Days page of the Great Plains website.

Revisit the Fresh Expressions discussions in Olathe from Oct. 26  through our videos: Table Talk, Make Methodism Vile Again, Knowing Your Community and Leadership Conversation.

For more information, visit the new Fresh Expressions pages on our site, as well as the nationwide Fresh Expressions site

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Offices closed Nov. 22-23 for holiday;
no GPconnect email next week

Great Plains Conference and district offices will be closed Thursday-Friday, Nov. 22-23, so our staff may celebrate Thanksgiving. All offices will reopen on Monday, Nov. 26.

The GPconnect email will not be published next week, but will return on Wednesday, Nov. 28. Look for updates on our website and Facebook page.

We wish you a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving!

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General Conference

Choirs, worship ensembles can audition
online for 2020 spot in Minneapolis

United Methodist choirs and worship ensemble groups from around the world may now audition online for an invitation to perform at the 2020 General Conference, which meets in Minneapolis from May 5-15, 2020.

Get more information here.

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Clergy Excellence

2019 Orders & Fellowship will take
place at Church of the Resurrection

The 2019 Orders & Fellowship, the annual gathering of the clergy of the Great Plains Conference, will be Jan. 16-17, with a meet-and-greet scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 15.

It is an opportunity for you to refresh and renew, drawing deep upon the Living Water of Christ, so that you may Live Well in the next season of your ministry. The event is being held at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kansas.

From 6:30-8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 15, will be a time to meet and greet other clergy at Church of the Resurrection. Cookies and beverages will be provided. You can also register at this time as well as take a tour of the new worship space at COR.

Wednesday morning begins with worship and communion at 8:30 a.m. Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. will bring us the word for this service. Registration will be open at 7:30 a.m.

The plenary speaker for Wednesday and Thursday is Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, associate professor of global health at Duke University and research director of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative since 2007. She co-authored “Faithful and Fractured” with Jason Byassee. The book is about pastors taking care of themselves, setting priorities so that they have the space and time to do the ministry they love, and becoming healthier and more whole, to become whom God has created.

After lunch on Wednesday you will have the opportunity to select among 11 different workshops that will explore healthier living, whether it be spiritual, emotional, physical, mental or social health. Which one most resonates with you? Which is most “outside the box” for you? Which one most speaks to your least healthy place? What do you need to pay most attention to so that you become healthier in your ministry? Pre-registration is required so that we can have adequate space for each workshop.

Wednesday ends with a time for the Order of Elders and Deacons and Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members to meet with Bishop Saenz to learn about opportunities in the conference to strengthen your congregation and the vision for 2019.

Thursday morning will end with worship to send us on our way home. Rev. Kevass Harding, Wichita Dellrose UMC, will be the preacher for this service.
Many hotel blocks are set up for the meeting that are near the Church of the Resurrection. To view more details about hotels, click "Lodging" on the left side of the screen. All hotel reservations must be made by Dec. 21 to receive the discounted rate.

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Equipping Disciples

Early-bird price deadline for
The OneEvent is Thursday

The countdown to The OneEvent is on! We’re 52 days away from gathering at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina for two days of worship, service and big-time fun!

The first deadline for early-bird pricing – at $59, the lowest ticket price offered – is Thursday, Nov. 15. The price goes up to $69 per person, from Nov. 16 to Dec. 15.

All registration must be completed online at The event is open to youth in grades 6-12 and their leaders.

The 2019 OneEvent, Jan. 5-6, includes worship leaders Bonray; the Rev. Michelle Manuel, associate pastor of the Loft at the Woodlands UMC in Houston; the return of DJ Big Al Cherry; comedian Daren Streblow; and sand castle artist Joe Castillo.

Workshops will be led by the Rev. Molly Just and the Rev. Lora Andrews, Castillo, Zumba instructor Latasha Gibbs and the Rev. Dr. Gary Nelson, pastoral counselor, who will talk about teen depression.

Copies of The OneEvent brochure are available here.

Keep up to date through The OneEvent Facebook page.

Adult volunteers are still needed to make The OneEvent happen.

Watch and share our Facebook video.

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Mercy & Justice

Bishops respond to Central
American migrant caravans

The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, the College of Bishops of the Methodist Church of Mexico, the Supervising Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Honduras, and the President of the Iglesia Metodista de El Salvador released a statement regarding the caravans traveling towards our southern border from Central America.

“These migrant sisters and brothers have been villainized, yet as we have sought to minister to them along their perilous journey, what we have seen on the whole is human beings of great courage and deep faith who have placed their lives in God’s hands as they seek the basic necessities for life – food and shelter for their children and above all, safety from those who seek to do them harm.  Their faith in God has strengthened our faith, and their human suffering has convicted our souls that we must accompany them and seek to advocate for their safety and their rights.”

Church members, church groups or congregations who want to support these migrants can contact Sandy Sypherd at or Andrea Paret at They are both members of the South Central Jurisdiction Immigration Task Force which was started out of an initiative of the Council of Bishops’ Immigration Task Force. Staff from The General Board of Church and Society works closely with these task forces and with other organizations on best ways to send funds and possibly volunteers to support the migrants as they travel north towards our border. More information will come soon.

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Across the Connection

Group pushing for full
inclusion of LGBTQ persons

The Rev. Mark Holland, former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, is leading the Mainstream UMC movement, advocating the One Church Plan at the special session of the General Conference in February.

Last week’s elections of a lesbian to a House of Representatives seat in suburban Kansas City and a gay governor in Colorado “shows the secular community has moved on from this issue a while back,” in a report on the Mainstream UMC rally at Prairie Village Asbury UMC.

Watch the report from WDAF-TV, Kansas City.

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In other news

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United Methodist Student Day is Nov. 25

Think about the young people in your congregation. Maybe some are venturing away from home for the first time as college freshmen. Perhaps others are pursuing graduate studies. Put names and faces to those students as you prepare for United Methodist Student Day on Nov. 25. 

By promoting generosity on this special Sunday of The United Methodist Church, you nurture tomorrow’s Christian leaders. 

Now is the time to share this message with your congregation and church leaders so that they, too, have the opportunity to ensure a brighter future for United Methodist students. 

Download the United Methodist Student Day pastor’s kit today for all the tools you will need to celebrate on Nov. 25. You’ll find sermon starters, social media images, e-books, videos and much more to inspire your congregation about this special day. 

To enhance your observance, order leaflet offering envelopes and posters at or call 1-888-346-3862. 

Together, we will enrich the lives of United Methodist students as they continue on their faith journeys. 

Read more about United Methodist Student Day.

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Blogs and opinion

  • Judicial Council decision shows schism already here: The Rev. Stephen Rankin (pictured above), a United Methodist elder and chaplain at Southern Methodist University, believes the recent Judicial Council decision on the three Way Forward plans “compellingly shows that our denomination is in schism.” Rankin, a self-described traditionalist in theology and morality, uses the same blog post to take issue with how the One Church Plan is being advocated.
  • News coverage of displaced peoples: United Methodist News Service is telling the world how the church is responding to one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time: the movement of displaced peoples around the globe. The denominational news agency is also reporting on the efforts of United Methodists to fulfill Christ’s mandate of welcoming the stranger and caring for the poor and needy, writes Tim Tanton, chief news officer for United Methodist Communications.

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The weeks ahead


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