Download the printable version of the Dec. 12 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Keynote speaker invites clergy to 2019 Orders & Fellowship, Jan. 16-17
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!
Delegation thanks Great Plains Conference for prayers, feedback
Churches keep Way Forward discussion going after town halls

Nationwide, opinions still vary on Way Forward plans
Some bishops launch new website touting One Church Plan
Judicial Council sets docket for February special session

Give yourself the gift of peer coaching as you enter your ministry in 2019

Early-bird price deadline for The OneEvent is this Saturday
Online training can help your church foster faith in young adults
Lay Servant Ministries receives grant for leadership

Love Knows No Borders/National Week of Action for Migrant Justice
What is the view from the border? How can we journey in hope amid suffering?

Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation offers donor-advised funds
Nebraska UM Foundation awards nearly $70K in small ministry grants for 2019
Growth, innovation highlighted in State of the Church report

Discovery leads to art showing ‘true meaning of Christmas’
In other news
Blogs and opinions

Keynote speaker invites clergy to
2019 Orders & Fellowship, Jan. 16-17

To her amazement, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell has been studying clergy health for 11 years.

“One minute, someone was asking me if clergy were unhealthy,” she says in this video invitation. “And then it seems like I blinked, and it was 11 years later.”

The granddaughter of United Methodists from Nebraska, Proeschold-Bell – research director of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative since 2007 – is the keynote speaker for the 2019 Orders & Fellowship gathering, Jan. 16-17 at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas.

Proeschold-Bell says she will discuss heart disease – a problem for clergy and nonclergy, she says – as well as what she calls “the mystery of positive mental health.”

“I promise not to tell you to just think positively,” she said.

Watch Proeschold-Bell’s video here.

Clergy, have you registered for Orders & Fellowship yet?

Have you reserved lodging? Two hotels are full, and the remaining seven must have reservations completed by Saturday, Dec. 15, to receive the conference rate.

Here’s everything else you need to know about Orders & Fellowship.

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From our family to yours,
Merry Christmas!

The staff of the Great Plains Conference is wishing you a Merry Christmas in this video.

In order of appearance, you’ll find Jayna McFarland, Patrick McKaig, Jan Swift, Nicole Guthrie, Adryan Eubanks, Shane Warta, Heather Clinger, Lisa Soukup, Donna Ernest, Todd Seifert, Rev. Nancy Lambert, David Burke, Rev. Nathan Stanton, Julie Kohr, Eugenio Hernandez, JoEllen McGranahan, Barbara Black and Tamara Shoop-McGinnis.

Play the video now.

A reminder that conference and district offices will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

The last GPconnect of 2018 will be published next Wednesday, Dec. 19. It will return to your email on Wednesday, Jan. 9.

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Delegation thanks Great Plains
Conference for prayers, feedback

The Great Plains Conference delegation to the special session of General Conference has issued a letter thanking United Methodists in Kansas and Nebraska for their prayers and for feedback as this group of clergy and laity continues the discernment process. 
The delegation can be reached via email at
Please continue to lift them up in your prayers as the date for this important meeting of worldwide delegates of The United Methodist Church draws nearer.
Read the delegation’s letter.

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Churches keep Way Forward
discussion going after town halls

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has completed his town hall tour explaining the proposals regarding human sexuality that will be brought before a special session of the General Conference in February.

But the discussion is continuing in churches throughout the Great Plains.
Find out more about what churches are doing, and the bishop’s overview of the experience in this article.

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General Conference

Nationwide, opinions still
vary on Way Forward plans

United Methodists are lining up behind the Way Forward plan that they see as the correct direction for the denomination in advance of the special session of the General Conference, Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis. Some think preserving unity is the most important point. Among those mentioned in this United Methodist News Service story is the Rev. Mark Holland (pictured above), a Great Plains pastor on sabbatical and founder of Mainstream UMC.

Read more from the UM News Service.

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Some bishops launch new
website touting One Church Plan

A group of United Methodist bishops who support the One Church Plan has put together a website to answer questions about the proposal, one of multiple possibilities before delegates to the special General Conference in St. Louis.

The site includes a “Frequently Asked Questions” page, a summary of the plan, blogs, videos and podcasts featuring interviews with various bishops about their support. While most of the content, such as the blogs and videos, can be found on other sites, the bishops wanted to put the information in a central location.

Read more about the website in this story from UM News Service.

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Judicial Council sets docket
for February special session

When the United Methodist Judicial Council holds a special session in February, the agenda will include its first administrative appeal. But a request for a partial reconsideration of the top court's unanimous ruling in October on two proposed plans for the denomination's future was denied. 

Read more from the UM News Service.

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Clergy Excellence

Give yourself the gift of peer coaching
as you enter your ministry in 2019

Do you have your gift shopping all done, or have you barely started? What about considering a gift for yourself? Give yourself the gift of peer coaching for 2019! 

What is peer coaching, you might be asking? There is a team of experienced pastors from our conference who have received specialized training to serve as coaches. Coaching has been shown to be one of the most successful means of transformation and you are invited to work with a coach to further develop your skills for ministry. Here is some information about the coaching relationship: 

  • Coaches are not mentors, teachers, supervisors or counselors 
  • Coaches offer a sounding board for you to bounce ideas off. Coaches listen carefully, ask good questions, help process ideas and set goals 
  • Coaches are not the experts. You are creative, resourceful and whole. The ideas and answers come from you 
  • Coaches follow up with you to reinforce the goals that you set for yourself 
  • Coaching is confidential 
  • Coaches are available for high-capacity pastors who want to push themselves to be better 
  • Everyone can benefit from having a coach, no matter how experienced or trained or educated they are 
  • Coaches do not need to have experience in the ministry setting that you are in. The skills of coaching can be applied to any person in any situation because it is about asking you the right questions 

The cost for Peer Coaching is $150 for six hours of coaching. This can be once per month, or twice per month, in 30- or 60-minute time blocks. You decide what works best for you! If you are ready to register click here.

You can find additional information about coaching, biographies of the Great Plains clergy coaches, and the link to register on the Conference website at here. 

Lay persons are welcome to take advantage of our Peer Coaching as well, whether to help you as a leader in your local congregation or in your employment.  

Questions? Contact the Rev. Nancy Lambert or 785-414-4213.

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Equipping Disciples

Early-bird price deadline for
The OneEvent is this Saturday

The deadline for $69 per person registration for The OneEvent is Saturday, Dec. 15. From then until the Jan. 5-6 happening at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina, the cost will be $79 per person.

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

Check out our Facebook Live reveal of The OneEvent T-shirts!

The 2019 OneEvent 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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Online training can help your
church foster faith in young adults

Foster a sense of purpose and call in your young people with the $45 online class “Culture of the Call: Congregational Life.” Every person is called to serve God in their own unique way. Any layperson or clergyperson from your church can enroll in the $45 online class and learn practical ideas for creating a call-friendly culture in your own church. Learn what other churches are doing, share your own experiences, and make connections with area camps and campus ministries.

Or, be a mentor to young people and learn how to have conversations with them about faith and calling in the “Timothy Circle Mentor Training” online course, also $45. Never fear -- you don’t have to have all the answers. Simply being a listening ear and a sounding board with years of life experience can mean the world to a young person in your church or community.

Both courses are a part of the Timothy Circle program, which brings all parts of the church together to support young Christians hear and follow God’s voice, and are available at

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Lay Servant Ministries
receives grant for leadership

The Great Plains Conference Lay Servant Ministries Committee has been awarded a grant from the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation. The purpose of the grant is to support the development of leadership in laity of the conference. Initially, the money will subsidize the cost of lay persons attending the Leadership Institute at the Church of the Resurrection. The long-range purpose is to establish an endowment to be used for leadership development opportunities and could be expanded to include other lay leadership training events. 

-- Mary Feit, CLSp,
Great Plains Conference director of Lay Servant Ministry

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Mercy & Justice

Love Knows No Borders/National
Week of Action for Migrant Justice

Many United Methodists are among the people at our southern border this week speaking out for dignity and justice for migrants fleeing violence and hunger. And it is not too late to join with solidarity actions in our own neighborhoods and communities. At the worship service Sunday evening in San Diego, United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño (above, right) shared the story of an 11-year-old boy from Honduras. His mother had sent him north with the hope of protecting him from violence, hunger and the threat of a premature death. But once he crossed the border, he was so exhausted he became unconscious and died, probably from thirst and hunger. When his body was prepared, a note was found taped to his belt. It said who he belonged to and where he was going. Bishop Carcaño asked us to reflect on these two critical questions: “Who do you belong to?” and “Where are you going?” Do we belong to a God who is love and who loves all of humankind? Love has no borders.

To register an event and to learn more:

Click on these links for Global Migration Sunday resources , “Love Knows No Borders,” a global call for migrant justice and Ways United Methodists can stand with migrants.

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What is the view from the border? How can we journey in hope amid suffering?

There are many organizations working with migrants on both sides of the US/Mexico border. In November, Joanna Williams (pictured), the Director of Education and Advocacy at the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona, and Sonora, Mexico (, was part of a panel at the Education Day at Creighton University in Omaha. Being surrounded by hurting and suffering people, she asked how we can still journey in hope. A mural in their center shows the last supper with Jesus and those surrounding him dressed like migrants with their backpacks nearby, just taking a rest and getting strengthened before continuing on their journey.

Watch the presentation by Joanna Williams and the stories she shared about migrants coming to the border arriving in Nogales having traveled many miles from the south or arriving after having been deported from the U.S. 

The event was co-sponsored by Great Plains Peace with Justice Ministries, the Omaha Area Sanctuary Network and Immigrant Legal Center, as well as many Creighton University groups and departments.

FROM THE UM NEWS SERVICE: Faith leaders struggle to bring message of hope to migrants.

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Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation offers donor-advised funds

A donor-advised fund is like having your own foundation for the sole purpose of supporting charitable organizations you care about. When you contribute cash, securities or other assets to a donor-advised fund, you are generally eligible to take an immediate tax deduction. The fund is invested for tax-free growth, which permits you to make annual gifts of income and principal while you are alive. Once your account is open, you are ready to begin giving. The distributions from your donor-advised fund will benefit your favorite charitable organizations and/or church, while additional contributions may be added to the fund at any time and with any amount.

Donor-advised funds are the fastest-growing charitable giving vehicle in the United States because they are one of the easiest and most tax-advantageous ways to give to charity.

To learn more, contact your Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation at 1-888-453-8405,, or

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Nebraska UM Foundation awards nearly $70K in small ministry grants for 2019

The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation would like to announce and congratulate the recipients of their Ministry Grant Program for 2019. These grants are made available through the generosity of fellow United Methodists contributing to the Foundation’s Gifts from The Heart Endowment Fund, which 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 nearly $70,000 in grants to Nebraska churches and their ministries. The application materials for this annual 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 2019:
Alda First UMC, Allen UMC, Alliance UMC, Arapahoe UMC, Bellwood UMC, Callaway -- Morning Star UMC, Camp Fontanelle, ConnectioN Point, Cozad UMC, David City St. Luke's UMC, Epworth Village Inc., Falls City - Nemaha UMC, Fremont Calvary UMC, Geneva UMC, Great Plains Conference on Lay Servant Ministries, Great Plains United Methodist Men, Hooper Faith UMC, Humboldt UMC, Lincoln Christ UMC, Lincoln New Visions Community UMC, McCool Junction UMC, Missouri River District -- Nino Con Vida Summer Program, Omaha Dietz Memorial UMC, Omaha Faith Westwood UMC, Omaha First UMC, Omaha Hanscom Park UMC, Water's Edge, United Methodist Ministries -- Big Garden, Wahoo UMC, Wood River UMC and 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 the Foundation toll-free at 1-877-495-5545. You can also email the Foundation at

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Growth, innovation highlighted
in State of the Church report

A new report from The United Methodist Church on the state of the church says that 50 years after the creation of the denomination through the merger of The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church, the church’s ministries around the world are thriving.

"This 2018 State of the Church report is a story of our mission. As this report will show, we are seeing growth and innovation across our worldwide connection,” states the report. Worldwide, there was a 12 percent increase in membership from 2006 to 2016 -- nearly 1.4 million members -- and the number of congregations grew from 47,390 to 54,623.

The report shares information about the work of the Commission on A Way Forward in preparation for a called session of General Conference in 2019, the Council of Bishops' recommendation of the One Church Plan and the subsequent actions of the Judicial Council.
More findings include:

  • The largest membership growth was recorded in the Congo, where membership surged by 147% over 10 years, followed by the Africa Central Conference with a 67% increase.
  • In 2017, United Methodists gave about $133.2 million to support connectional ministries around the world, about $1.8 million more than in the previous year.
  • A record high number of U.S. annual conferences paid 100 percent of their apportionments – 29 out of 56. Nine Central Conference episcopal areas paid at least 100 percent apportionments.

Read the complete State of the Church report.

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Across the Connection

Discovery leads to art showing
‘true meaning of Christmas’

When the Rev. Venedith Vargas discovered 20 canvas art prints that depict the story of Christmas, she knew she had to share it with her congregations and the communities of Elm Creek, Williamsburg and Overton. The prints will be displayed during three events at the three churches of the ECOW Parish United Methodist Church.

“It’s to unwrap the true meaning of Christmas, and what gifts can we share then with others, with the community, with brothers and sisters? So that’s a way that we can share. It’s a gift to the community from us as a church,” she told the Kearney Hub.

Read more in this story from the Hub.

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In other news


Take the Advent, Christmas music quiz

The Peanuts gang sings a Charles Wesley hymn in the final scene of "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Can you name the hymn? 

Test your knowledge in this quiz from United Methodist Communications.

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Blogs and opinions

  • In Layman’s Terms: Easter people celebrating Christmas — If this is the season of Christmas, why do I see so many references to Easter? Todd Seifert, conference communications director, asked that question as he ran across various scriptures about death and resurrection while preparing for Advent and Christmas. He shares some reflections of how the concept of life — on earth and for eternity — links Christmas and Easter.
  • Signs it’s time for a new vision: The Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter, a United Methodist church consultant in Casper, Wyoming, reflects on three signs a church or denomination needs a new vision. She adds that she sees those signs at work in The United Methodist Church.

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