Download the printable version of the April 3 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Flood response in Great Plains impresses UMCOR executive
Bishop’s regional gatherings head to Lawrence, Wichita this weekend
Roundtables begin this weekend; registration fee will be waived
‘Idol’ singer Phil Stacey performing at Beloit rally on Sunday night

Registration open for this year's sessions, May 29 to June 1 in Topeka

Future of United Methodists is quietly under discussion
Feedback sought on global Discipline effort
Seminary leaders stress inclusiveness after special session

Nebraska’s Laurel UMC receives Culture of Call grant

Despite floods, Fontanelle ready for campers this summer
Share your inspiration with others in our daily devotions
Who, what, where and when?

Training this month teaches how to prepare for, assist immigrants 

Do you have an emergency food supply?

Lasting Legacy workshops conclude next week in Hutchinson
Kansas UM Foundation announces April certificate rates


Wichita Calvary’s ‘Serve Sunday’ featured on KWCH
Olathe Aldersgate plans its first 'Serve Saturday' this weekend
K-State Wesley open house set for this weekend in Manhattan
In other news
Blogs and opinion
The week ahead


Flood response in Great Plains
impresses UMCOR executive

After two days touring the flood damage in Nebraska, UMCOR director of disaster response Cathy Earl said she was impressed with what the Great Plains Conference had already done.

“The conference has done a really good job of getting ahead of it,” Earl said Tuesday night. “You really have a deep desire to do all you can as a conference.”

Read more about the disaster efforts and the visit by UMCOR officials.

MONDAY: Churches raise $180K for flood relief; donations still needed
FRIDAY: Sitting water, infrastructure damage force delay in response to Columbus area
THURSDAY: Great Plains disaster response crews begin work in Columbus, Fremont
The Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator for the Great Plains Conference, is featured in the article U.S. Floods: How churches and other disaster-based groups are lending a hand after Nebraska disaster written by Emily McFarlan Miller of Religious News Service.

“We’re truly living our faith, being that quiet disciple and going in and doing what we can to restore a little bit of hope in these individuals’ lives,” Tapley said in the article. 

To Top

Bishop’s regional gatherings head to
Lawrence, Wichita this weekend

After a second and third regional gatherings in Olathe and Garden City in the past week, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. will continue his tour with two more stops this weekend:

  • Lawrence, 2:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Lawrence First UMC West Campus, 867 Highway 40
  • Wichita, 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Wichita First UMC, 330 N. Broadway

These gatherings will provide a time for the singing of hymns, reflecting on scripture, and communion. Following a brief presentation by the bishop on what transpired at General Conference, attendees will take part in small-group community building conversations that focus on our possibilities for the future of our mission in the Great Plains Conference.

These gatherings are related to the special session of General Conference, but they will not be a time to make speeches or to seek to sway others to any particular position regarding human sexuality.

The Olathe gathering, at Grace UMC, drew 250 people, and the Garden City date brought in more than 110.

Two regional gatherings, postponed because of flood conditions in Nebraska, have been rescheduled for Saturday, May 4: 10 a.m. at Omaha St. Andrew’s UMC and 2 p.m. at Columbus First UMC.

To Top

Roundtables begin this weekend;
registration fee will be waived

The Great Plains Conference will take its next steps in the Fresh Expressions movement with roundtables, beginning this weekend.

The $100 registration fee per church for the roundtables has been waived through district network strategy money and those who have already paid the fee will receive a refund. Online registration in advance is still required.

The roundtables are scheduled for:

  • Friday, 5-8 p.m., Derby Woodlawn UMC
  • Saturday, 4-7 p.m., Lexington UMC
  • Sunday, 2-5 p.m., St. Andrew’s UMC
  • Monday, 6-9 p.m., Conference office in Topeka

(A roundtable scheduled for Saturday in Colby has been cancelled.)

What happens at a roundtable and what can churches do to prepare? Those are among the questions we ask Mitch Marcello, a trainer for Fresh Expressions, in this video interview.

To Top

‘Idol’ singer Phil Stacey performing
at Beloit rally on Sunday night

A dozen years after his experience on “American Idol,” Phil Stacey thanks the talent contest for advancing his ministry.

“I love doing this. I love going to churches and partnering in ministry,” said Stacey, who will perform Sunday night, at the North Central Kansas Men’s and Boys’ Rally in Beloit. “I know that ‘American Idol’ is a good connection point to the community. Even if they don’t watch it now or have never watched it, they know what it is. It’s kind of a nice, interesting factor to hear an ‘American Idol’ guy is coming.”

Read our interview with Stacey and find out how you can see him perform in Beloit.

To Top


Annual Conference

Registration open for this year's
sessions, May 29 to June 1 in Topeka

Registration is now open for the 2019 Annual Conference sessions, May 29 to June 1 at the Expocentre in Topeka.

Here are some details about this year’s Annual Conference:

  • Meet and Greet will be 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 29. Clergy and laity will meet in separate spaces which make it easier to meet persons who have submitted profiles for election to the delegation
  • Clergy and lay delegate profile documents will be available when the pre-conference workbook is released in early May, if not earlier. Workbooks can be purchased at that time.
  • Register for the Therefore GO! 5K run on Saturday morning, June 1 when you register for annual conference – just follow the link.
  • Three offerings will be received at annual conference: Celebration of Worship and Table (Wednesday) -- GP Disaster Response. Money received in this offering will assist in the response to the recent flooding in Nebraska; Youth Worship (Friday) – Youth Service Fund (YSF). These funds are distributed by CCYM to projects planned and led by youth groups throughout the conference; Ordination (Friday) – Crounse Fund. The Crounse Fund is designated for critical or emergency needs of clergy and/or clergy families. The bishop and cabinet disperse these funds in response to grants requests received. If your congregation would like to take a special offering for any of these, please make a check out to  and include a notation indicating which offering the gift is for (DR – Disaster Response; YSF – Youth Service Fund; Crounse – Crounse fund).
  • Clergy are invited to robe and process in for the Memorial Service. Please bring a white stole if you will be joining in the procession.  Space will be provided at First United Methodist for clergy to gather and robe.

NOTE: A mission opportunity will not be planned for Wednesday afternoon as the Rev. Hollie Tapley is deployed to the mission field, managing our response to the flooding.

To Top

General Conference

Future of United Methodists
is quietly under discussion

Discussions about the future of The United Methodist Church are quietly occurring among denomination leaders after a recent General Conference that underscored deep divisions over homosexuality. Centrists and progressives -- including the Rev. Adam Hamilton from Church of the Resurrection, pictured here -- have begun to meet, and separate talks are underway between some who backed the Traditional Plan and some who favored the One Church Plan.

Read more from the United Methodist News Service.

To Top

Feedback sought on
global Discipline effort

The fallout of the special General Conference has slowed a project to determine what in the Book of Discipline is adaptable in Africa, Europe and the Philippines. Instead of a vote on proposed revisions, church leaders plan to ask the 2020 General Conference for feedback.

Read more from the UM News Service.

To Top

Seminary leaders stress
inclusiveness after special session

Leaders of most United Methodist seminaries in the U.S. that train clergy for the denomination are stressing their inclusive policies after the special General Conference affirmed the church's LGBTQ bans.

Read more from the UM News Service.

To Top


Clergy Excellence

Nebraska’s Laurel UMC
receives Culture of Call grant

Laurel United Methodist Church in Nebraska has received the spring Culture of Call grant.

The grant will go toward an internship for a young person to explore ministry.

“This project will allow a young person to explore aspects of ministry within the church and discern where God might continue to be calling them as they get opportunities to serve in various capacities,” the church’s pastor, the Rev. Isaac Chua, wrote in the grant request. “This project will also nurture spiritual growth (particularly for the intern) via regular meeting with a spiritual mentor focusing on paying attention to God in their life and learning more about themselves.”
Examples of past Culture of Call grant recipients can be found on the Culture of Call page of our website.

The deadline for the fall cycle of grants is Sept. 15.

To Top

Equipping Disciples

Despite floods, Fontanelle
ready for campers this summer


Camp update: Flood information: “The camp is great,” says the staff at Camp Fontanelle. While much of the area around camp was adversely affected by raging flood waters, the camp, located on the bluffs of the Elkhorn River, was spared. “The bottoms of the camp, where there are hiking trails, was flooded. The buildings are all in great shape and the county has repaired the county road to the camp,” says Communications Coordinator Jane Van Horn. “No one needs to worry about summer camp. We may have to give detour directions for some people coming from the west, but we expect a great year again at Camp Fontanelle.”

7:24 Update: It has been a long process, but progress is being made on the repair of the 7:24 Shelter after the fire in November. 
A fire on Nov. 17 did extensive damage to the newest structure at Camp Fontanelle, the 7:24 Shelter. After getting through insurance process and finding contractors for the clean-up and repair, things came to a halt when the clean-up contractor said they were unable to do the work. Back to find another crew! As of this week, HardSteel is out replacing the roof and indoor clean-up is getting done. The 7:24 should be ready for summer campers to praise the Lord and fill the 7:24 with song, prayer and laughter. “I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: The World English Bible translates the passage as: "Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock.” Matthew 7:24

Easter Family Fun Day Canceled: Camp Fontanelle wants to remind the public that The Easter Family Fun Day, originally scheduled for April 14, has been canceled. With the road damage on Highway 30 and Highway 91, staff determined it would be best to cancel for this year.

Early Bird Discount extended: With the impact the flooding has had in the area, Camp Fontanelle has extended the Early Bird Discount for its Guardian Angel and SonShine Camps. The discount, which offers 50% off the adult/child camps, will run through Easter Sunday, April 21. If there are questions about registering, please contact the camp at 402-478-4296, or Jane Van Horn at 402-278-0526.

Day of Service: Camp Fontanelle is holding its service day on Saturday, May 4. Beginning at 9 a.m., it is a chance for volunteers to help get the camp ready for summer campers. It is a spring cleaning where trails will be checked, windows washed, tree pruning and minor repairs. There is a lot to do to get the camp ready and all the help is appreciated. Lunch will be served. Volunteers should check in at Riverview Lodge for their work.

--Jane Van Horn, Camp Fontanelle

To Top

Share your inspiration with
others in our daily devotions

Michael Turner, pastor of Auburn UMC in Kansas, is the latest person in the Great Plains to share their thoughts with the rest of Kansas and Nebraska through our daily devotions.

The devotions have provided insight, comfort and perspective from a variety of voices in the Great Plains Conference.
And we’d like to add your voice as well!

Go to the link at to select a date. The recommended lectionary is listed for each day, but you are free to use your own verses for inspiration.

For more information, contact communications administrative assistant Lisa Soukup,

To Top

Who, what, where and when?

Why is Lay Servant Ministries so important? Who should take part? What does it include?

Those are some of the questions asked and answered by Gloria Louch, director of LSM for the Great West District, in this week’s blog entry.

To Top

Mercy & Justice

Training this month teaches
how to prepare for, assist immigrants 


United Methodists in the Great Plains Conference have been involved in reaching out and welcoming refugees and immigrants for many years.

When the raids happened last summer in O’Neill, Nebraska, more congregations asked for training and how to prepare for and support the immigrant community if and when raids happen. There are many different ways to welcome the stranger.

The conference's Immigration Rapid Response Team invites you to "Faith Communities as Sanctuary: Standing with migrants for justice" for two consecutive evenings of training to explore ways congregations can welcome and stand with migrants for justice.

The training will be from 6-8:30 p.m. April 11-12 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 511 Elm St., in Grand Island. Dinner is included. Download the Grand Island flier.
A similar training is planned for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 13 at First United Methodist Church, 7020 Cass St., in Omaha. Lunch is included. Download the Omaha flier.

Participants will discuss the following topics for our current situation:

  • Migration and the Bible.
  • How does US Immigration work? Laws and legislative updates
  • How can congregations prepare and respond? Rapid Response and different forms of sanctuary. The presenters will share personal stories of people who have been in sanctuary. We will explore different ways welcoming congregations can support immigrants.

Presenters will include Rebecca Cole, director of organizing with the General Board of Church and Society (pictured above), and Jennie Belle from the Church World Service Immigration and Refugee advocacy team.

Please RSVP to ensure accurate numbers for our meal by sending an email to Sandy Sypherd at  or Andrea Paret at

To Top

Disaster Response

Do you have an
emergency food supply?

Have an emergency food supply that will meet the needs of your household for three days without outside help.

Buy a three-day emergency food supply for your household.
Put aside a three-day supply of food for disasters. Follow the BUS rule to help you. BUS stands for balance, usability and shelf-life.

Take steps to make sure food in your refrigerator and freezer will stay safe.
During an extended power outage, temperatures in your fridge and freezer will begin to rise, even if the doors stay closed. As the temperature rises, harmful bacteria may begin to grow on your food.

Make sure you can meet any special dietary needs in your household.
Some people are on special diets for health reasons. There can be serious effects if the right food is not available during a disaster.

To Top



Lasting Legacy workshops
conclude next week in Hutchinson

The Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation will offer the last Leaving a Lasting Legacy Workshop in at Trinity UMC in Hutchinson from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 9. The workshop is open to all clergy and lay leaders. Lunch will be provided for all registered attendees. 

At the workshop, Rev. Dr. Dustin Petz, the president and CEO of the foundation, will share on having a Legacy (Endowment) ministry in the church and inviting persons in the congregation to leave a lasting legacy. The workshop will provide tools and knowledge on how the Foundation can partner with the churches in their work. 

To register, visit here or email

To Top

Kansas UM Foundation
announces April certificate rates

The Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation announced the Certificate of Participation rates for April. The rate will be 1.75% for a two-year certificate and 1.45% for a one-year certificate. 

Through purchasing a Certificate of Participation, a church or individual can help build the future through investing in the Foundation's work to provide loans to local churches. 

If you are interested in a Certificate of Participation or have questions, please email or call 620-664-9623.

To Top


Bilingual edition of mentoring guide available
“Mentors as Instruments of God's Call: Biblical Reflections” by Justo L. González is now available as a special bilingual edition. Readers can follow along in English or Spanish in the new edition of this mentoring guide published by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Read press release
Video series can help win disciples
A new teaching series offers instruction in making disciples for Christ by emphasizing relationships and stopping attempts to fix churches. The "See All the People: Discipleship Begins with Relationship" course is free and available online.
Read press release
Guidebook offered for church financial management 
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A guidebook for managing church finances, aimed at pastors and lay leaders, is now available from the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. "Church Finances for Missional Leaders: Best Practices for Faithful Stewardship" was written by Bonnie Ives Marden.
Read press release

To Top


Across the Connection

Wichita Calvary’s ‘Serve
Sunday’ featured on KWCH

Wichita Calvary UMC had its second “Serve Sunday” last weekend, bringing 200 of its members in community service to 15 different locations in the city.

“Serving doesn’t have to take rocket science,” the Rev. Ashley Prescott Barlow-Thompson, the church’s director of outreach, told KWCH-TV. “It doesn’t have to take a special skill, that all of us can use who we are to serve the world.”

See this report from KWCH.

To Top

Olathe Aldersgate plans its
first 'Serve Saturday' this weekend

What’s the Christian response to uncertainty? This was the question which motivated a campaign by the worship design team at Olathe Aldersgate UMC to serve its community. The actions of General Conference and of the larger world left the team looking for a response to this big question. Its answer: We serve in the name of Christ.

On Saturday, April 6, more than 100 volunteers will fan out around Olathe and the Kansas City area to serve our neighbors. All participants will wear their new blue mission T-shirts which encourage everyone to connect, grow and serve in ministry to each other.

All ages and abilities will find a way to serve this Saturday. Church members will be serving at Children’s Mercy Hospital by putting Happy Bags together for children. They will be serving ice cream sundaes to the clients of the Kids Learning Center (KidsTLC). They are working at the New Hope Presbyterian Food Pantry restocking the shelves and bringing donations into the pantry. Preschool families are collecting peanut butter, cereal, boxed potatoes and spaghetti sauce for the food pantry, and members are working at the Crosslines Store.

Others are making blankets for children at social service program or painting happy rocks for the Olathe Kindness Rocks campaign. They are putting together hygiene kits for students in transitional housing in schools. They will be assembling breakfast bags for public school students.

All of these efforts are an opportunity to do something good in the face of so many things which feels overwhelming in the world today. They will start their morning with a breakfast, a brief worship with every choir in the church singing and then be commissioned to go out and serve.

To Top

K-State Wesley open house
set for this weekend in Manhattan

K-State Wesley will have an open house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 1001 Sunset Ave., Manhattan.

Prospective students and their parents are invited to tour the K-State Wesley Christian living community and enjoy a barbecue lunch.

To Top

In other news


To Top

Blogs and opinion

  • A church’s lost integrity: The Rev. Stephen Rankin (pictured above), chaplain at Southern Methodist University, argues that resistance to the decisions of the recent General Conference illustrates a loss of integrity within The United Methodist Church.
  • Facing the future together: In an open letter to Native United Methodist churches, the Rev. Anita Phillips reflects on the 2019 special General Conference. Phillips served for 14 years as executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan. "As we watch, learn and discern how this painful conflict is resolved, let us keep our options open to new possibilities for our Indigenous/Native American Christian community," she writes.

To Top


The week ahead

To Top



To Top

Facebook Twitter Instagram Subscribe Submit story Website

Conference Office
1207 SW Executive Dr.
PO Box 4187
Topeka, KS 66604