Download the printable version of the Jan. 9 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

More than 900 hear ‘WORD’ at sixth-annual OneEvent in Salina
Church presents seminar this weekend on fighting human trafficking
Great Plains-Haiti partnership expands through medical mission
Struggle for unity is top United Methodist news story of 2018
Orders & Fellowship, with theme of ‘Living Well,’ set for next week at COR

Resources available as United Methodists await special session
Letter from Way Forward moderators advises delegates in St. Louis
LGBTQ churchgoers wary of letter from Council of Bishops

It's time to focus on raising up a new generation of leaders
Churches and mentor pastors sought for pastoral leadership interns

Confirmation rallies set for March 2 in McPherson, March 30 at NWU
Want a Camping Sunday at your church? Fontanelle can help!
Summer camp counselor positions available in Great Plains

Troubling the Waters for the Healing of the World – EAD 2019

Suggestions available for clergy regarding their income taxes
Huntoon Street opens for easier access to Topeka office

Manhattan First UMC's fund assists during government shutdown
Baker campus pastor begins new mission – in Antarctica
Ugly Christmas sweater tradition continues in two Kansas churches
In other news
Blogs and opinion


More than 900 hear ‘WORD’
at sixth-annual OneEvent in Salina

What do sand, bathmats, friendship and late-night dance parties have in common? They were just some of the elements of the sixth annual OneEvent, Saturday and Sunday in Salina.

More than 900 youth and their leaders experienced “The WORD” in the two days, through music, sermons, discussion – and plenty of time for fun.

The January episode of “Harvesting the Great Plains,” featuring OneEvent participants and performers, will be at our website early next week.

Read more about The OneEvent, and see our gallery packed with photos.

See a photo gallery from the Salina Journal.

Check out our Notebook with more about The OneEvent.

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Church presents seminar this
weekend on fighting human trafficking

The pastor and congregation of Liberal First United Methodist Church sensed an escalating problem in their southwestern Kansas community – a growth in human trafficking, whether in the sex industry or undocumented immigrants seeking employment. 

“We know we’re in an area where trafficking could be a problem,” said the Rev. Keith Anglemyer, the church’s pastor. “We thought it was time to really make an effort to do something, especially to raise awareness.” 

The church will host “Hidden in Plain Sight: Human Trafficking Symposium” from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at Liberal High School.

Find out more about the seminar.

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Great Plains-Haiti partnership
expands through medical mission

Extending the partnership between the Great Plains Conference and Haiti, we welcome Dr. William Hyppolite to Kansas and Nebraska this week.

When Hyppolite decided to go into medicine, there were two doctors for the 70,000 people on the Haitian island of La Gonave – now, he and his wife are among the 12-15 doctors that serve the area.

“I wanted to try and help people,” he said of his decision to go into medicine.
Still, he said, “Sometimes people have to travel three to four hours, sometimes walking, to get to the hospital.”

Hyppolite has met with Lloyd Hanna of the Medical Loan Closet in Wichita to obtain a hospital bed, wheelchairs and other items that can be used by patients in La Gonave.

The partnership is focusing on equipping young people in La Gonave through education and leadership development.

The Rev. Kalaba Chali, mercy and justice coordinator for the Great Plains Conference, speaks to Hyppolite about his mission – and what you can do to help it – in this 15-minute video interview.

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Struggle for unity is top United
Methodist news story of 2018

The struggle to hold The United Methodist Church together despite longstanding division over homosexuality was the denomination’s top news story of 2018.

The unity efforts by the Commission on a Way Forward and others have dominated discussions as The United Methodist Church moves toward a special called session of General Conference, set for Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis.

Read the top five stories, selected by United Methodist communicators.

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Orders & Fellowship, with theme of ‘Living Well,’ set for next week at COR

The 2019 Orders & Fellowship, the annual gathering of the clergy of the Great Plains Conference, will be next Wednesday and Thursday, beginning with a meet-and-greet scheduled for Tuesday night.

The event is being held at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kansas.

From 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday will be a time to meet and greet other clergy. 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 opens 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.

After lunch on Wednesday you will have the opportunity to select among 11 different workshops that will explore healthier living. 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 preach for this service.

Editor's note: Because the communications staff will be involved with Orders & Fellowship next week, there will not be a GPconnect email. The GPconnect will return Jan. 23, but we will keep updates on our social media.

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General Conference

Resources available as United Methodists await special session

Many people still have questions about proposals that will be discussed at the fast-approaching special session of General Conference in St. Louis. The Great Plains Conference has a number of resources compiled for use to help you better understand what will be discussed regarding human sexuality and the proposals offered by the Commission on a Way Forward.

Check out the home page for our resources at to find information about the process, a recording of the town hall hosted by Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. from November in Topeka, and links to more. 

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Letter from Way Forward moderators
advises delegates in St. Louis

Delegates should not reject the Connectional Conference Plan out-of-hand as too complicated or different, two of the moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward advised in a new letter. The commission said delegates should read the whole report before taking a position, noting that it provides context for understanding the three plans included in the report. 

Read the letter from Bishops Yemba, Steiner Ball.

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LGBTQ churchgoers wary of
letter from Council of Bishops

At the prompting of some church members, the Council of Bishops published a letter late last month lamenting harm to the global LGBTQ community. A number of LGBTQ United Methodists said the letter falls short.

Read more from the United Methodist News Service.

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Clergy Excellence

It's time to focus on raising
up a new generation of leaders

It’s a new year! Perhaps it’s time for your church to focus on raising up a new generation of leaders for your church and community. How are you doing at cultivating an environment for people to hear God’s call for their lives? Would you consider inviting the Staff Parish Relations Committee to spend some time in the year ahead with this focus?

Creating a Culture of Call means that the behaviors, beliefs and attitudes of your congregation/community readily support the members of the community to identify and explore a call by God to serve God as a lay, licensed, or ordained person. Not everyone who feels a call will work in a church, but as everyone seeks to live out his or her faith more deeply, we pray that everyone will consider their work in the world, and even their everyday interactions with other people, to be an opportunity to live out God’s call.

Check out our featured resource for January, a video and a handout that could be used by your SPRC to see how you’re doing on the Four Tasks of the SPRC in Cultivating a Culture of Call.

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Churches and mentor pastors
sought for pastoral leadership interns

As one plank in the strategy to help nurture great leaders for the Great Plains, the Call Team of the Board of Ordained Ministry in conjunction with the Clergy Excellence office supports a summer Pastoral Leadership internship program for young adults aged 18-22. This 10-week program will provide young leaders the opportunity to experience pastoral work in the most “hands-on” way possible while being supported by a mentoring pastor and a teaching congregation. We are currently inviting churches to apply to host a summer intern through this Conference program.

Read the full description and find the application here:

Commitments of the local church:

  • Desire to assist the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a young adult who is discerning a call to full time vocational ministry.
  • Willingness of the congregation to be a learning environment, where new ideas and exploration are welcomed and celebrated.
  • No change in senior pastoral leadership over the summer of the internship.
  • Ability to provide housing for the intern with a church family.
  • Budget of approximately $500 to cover some intern-related expenses for the summer.
  • Ability to provide own work space in the church. Intern can be expected to provide own computer.
  • Exposure to all facets of pastoral work over the course of the internship. Examples include making hospital visits, funeral preparation, preach and plan worship at least twice, attend committee meetings, meet with new members, teach a class or classes, shut-in visitation, VBS, youth group party, etc.
  • Flexibility in scheduling as ministry has irregular hour. The expectation is for a 40-hour work week with adequate and regular time off.
  • In a multi-staff environment, the intern can be given the opportunity to shadow and learn from multiple staff people, but the primary mentoring relationship will be with an ordained clergy person. Regular contact with the senior pastor is expected, at minimum a weekly meeting for reflection, questions and encouragement.

Deadline for churches to apply is March 15.

Additionally, do you know a college student who would benefit from a summer internship experience? Encourage them to apply by March 18. They can learn more here:

For questions, please contact the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator, at or 785-414-4216.

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Equipping Disciples

Confirmation rallies set for March 2
in McPherson, March 30 at Lincoln

Registration is now open for the 2019 Bishop’s Confirmation Rallies, set for March 2 at McPherson United Methodist Church, and March 30 at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.

Each session will open with lunch at noon, and rotating sessions on faith, service and leadership. Each will close with worship led by Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.

For more information and to register, go to

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Want a Camping Sunday at your
church? Fontanelle can help!

Is your church wanting to have more information on summer camping ministry and how your congregation can get involved? Camp Fontanelle can help.

The staff at Camp Fontanelle has been working on the 2019 summer camping season for a while and would like to have the opportunity to share how a church camp experience can help in faith development. 

The camp staff is eager to visit your congregation and share how a summer camping ministry can be an exciting time in the lives of children, youth and adults. They can fit the Camping Sunday to your wants and needs. Would you like a staff member to supply the message in the pulpit to the congregation? Would you like them to spend time in the Sunday school area with camp-like activities/games? Would you like to have a church dinner and have your congregation be able to spend a Q&A time with a staff member? Is a Wednesday night a better time for someone to come speak with your church members, during your Wednesday night church and youth activities? This is a good opportunity for members of your congregation, who have been to camp, to share their church camp experiences.

If you are interested in holding a Camping Sunday, please contact the camp,, to schedule a date. 

Summer camp registration is open. Complete information on this year’s program and the online registration can be found on the camp’s website,, under the summer camp tab. This year’s theme is Peace Works. 

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Summer camp counselor
positions available in Great Plains

If you are a college student or a high school senior who is interested in spending your summer investing in people's lives through a Christian summer camp, then check out our Great Plains United Methodist camps. We offer summer camp counselor positions, as well as many other Christian camp positions, job opportunities and internship positions. This summer camp job will be one that will impact your life for years to come!

Apply now to be a part of one of the six Great Plains camps' summer staff in 2019! Visit our website to learn more:

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Mercy & Justice

Troubling the Waters for the
Healing of the World – EAD 2019

At the 2018 EAD, Rev. Orlando Gallardo from the Great Plains Conference, second from right, was invited to participate on a panel of Dreamers

Come join hundreds of people of faith from across the nation and as well as some international visitors at Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. The event will take place April 5-8 in Washington, D.C. The scriptural basis for this year’s theme comes from John 5, 1-9 (the angel of the Lord stirring the water at the pool in Bethesda to make people well) and Isaiah 43: 1-9.

“In 2019, we gather at a time in which people of faith and conscience are again called to stand in the prophetic stream of those who have come before us, those who were not afraid to stir up #GoodTrouble for the sake of God’s kingdom.”

Each year, representatives from the Great Plains Conference participate in this powerful gathering of people of faith. Peace with Justice Ministries is making generous scholarships available.

Sandy Sypherd, a Certified Lay Minister, attended Ecumenical Advocacy Days last year. “It was an amazing experience and I learned so much,” she reports, sharing about a workshop on human trafficking. The last day of the event, visits on Capitol Hill are made, a powerful way to make our voices heard. Scholarship recipients return and share what they learned with others in their congregations and other groups they are a part of.

To find out more, click here.

If you are interested in a scholarship, contact Andrea Paret, peace with justice coordinator, at

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Suggestions available for
clergy regarding their income taxes

The filing of tax returns can be a difficult subject for some clergy. Federal government rules have changed over the years, and some tax laws differ from state to state.

While the conference does not provide tax advice, there are some resources available to help clergy get started in the process for filing taxes to ensure the experience is as painless as possible.

Check out our web page dedicated to clergy taxes at

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Huntoon Street opens for
easier access to Topeka office

In welcome news for the Great Plains Conference staff, as well as those who travel to our 1207 SW Executive Drive offices in Topeka, construction on Huntoon Street from Wanamaker Road to our cul-de-sac was completed a few days before Christmas.

Construction began in June to improve Huntoon and the Interstate 470 exit, resulting in detours and roundabouts for the staff to arrive at the office each day.

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Across the Connection

Manhattan First UMC's fund
assists during government shutdown

Manhattan's First United Methodist Church has set up a $15,000 fund for those affected by the partial federal government shutdown. "Most of us live paycheck to paycheck," said the Rev. Troy Bowers. "With that paycheck not coming in and the uncertainty of when it will come in, we figured we needed to help the community." Bryan Richardson reports for The Manhattan Mercury.

Read more here.

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Baker campus pastor begins
new mission – in Antarctica

Our campus minister at Baker University has headed south -- far south -- for two months to serve as chaplain in Antarctica. Check out this Lawrence Journal-World story about the Rev. Kevin Hopkins, who also serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Kansas Air National Guard.

Read more about the mission for the pastor Baker students call “Rev. Kev.”

See video about Hopkins from WDAF-TV, Kansas City.

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Ugly Christmas sweater tradition
continues in two Kansas churches

A tradition that started as a suggestion from a Global Board of Discipleship Advent series in 2017 has started to take root at Mitchell Chapel UMC.

The Rev. Jeff Goetzinger encouraged his two congregations in 2017, Mitchell Chapel and Fairview UMC, to wear Christmas shirts or an Ugly Christmas sweater. When Pastor Jeff’s appointment changed, he decided to continue the tradition with Mitchell Chapel UMC (photo above) and Little River First UMC (photo below). Declaring that the fourth Sunday of Advent would be ugly Christmas sweater Sunday. 

After several members made the comment, “I don’t think that there are any ugly Christmas sweaters.” Pastor Jeff changed the wording to Christmas sweaters of your choosing. A handful of members at both congregations joined in the holiday spirit and all had fun with the idea. One member even had a necklace of Christmas lights reminding Pastor Jeff of his mother’s Christmas light earrings from his childhood days. 

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In other news

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App can help set foundation for bold faith goals

Have you set a faith goal for the new year? Maybe you should, and you can get some help to track progress from the Great Plains Conference app.
Todd Seifert, communications director for the conference, shares some reflections from a podcast he recently heard that stated “Goals are statements of faith.” One way to set some bold goals is to have a firm foundation of faith, and you can track the disciplines needed to form such a foundation with our app.

Download the app and then give yourself a point each time you complete one of the spiritual disciplines. Compare your results week to week or month to month to see if you are staying on track. Learn more by reading the blog.

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Blogs and opinion

  • ‘Foundational principles’ about unity: The word “unity” has been used many times and in many ways in sermons, speeches and articles in recent months as The United Methodist Church ponders its future. The Rev. Jean Hawxhurst (above), ecumenical staff officer with the Council of Bishops, offers some foundational principles about unity “upon which all sides in our denominational debate likely agree,” she writes.
  • Cooperation without compromise?: Even though the One Church Plan doesn't require clergy to officiate at a same-sex marriage, many clergy may find they cannot be part of a denomination that blesses behaviors "incompatible with Christian teaching," writes the Rev. Bob Phillips, a retired Navy chaplain. Just as chaplains must know their ethical boundaries, he says, clergy may resign their membership in a church they no longer ethically can serve, even at great emotional and financial cost.

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PO Box 4187
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