Download the printable version of the March 4 issue of GPconnect.
In this edition:
THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Bishop begins series of Lenten podcasts on Jesus' final words from the cross
Contribute to UMCOR to support tornado relief in Tennessee
Kansas Wesleyan to have workshop on pandemic planning for faith groups
New conference webpage gives information on Coronavirus
SCJ Episcopacy Committee discusses needs for next quadrennium
Two sermon planning retreats scheduled for July in Schuyler, Wichita
'Preparing for Your Future' workshop in Salina approaching next month
First Laity Summit is 17 days away; deadline for childcare is this Saturday
Applications are open for 2020-21 Conference Council on Youth Ministries
Conference grant opportunities available for churches, networks
Online survey tool mobilizes congregations, multiplies mission impact
Camp Fontanelle getting ready for busy spring, summer
Early bird price for Resurrection conference ends next week
Special needs bus driver sees Jesus daily in students
Registration open for Disaster Response Academy, Aug. 27-29
Great Plains' Tapley among panelists in flood discussion
‘Fill the truck’ to help stock UMCOR Depot in Salt Lake City
Do1Thing: Learn what to do when you hear the words 'Take shelter'
Webinars help communication issues such as social media, publicity
Kansas UM Foundation presenting Investing for the Future seminars
ACROSS THE CONNECTION
Lincoln Aldersgate UMC wins national award for ‘Sacred Grounds’
Winfield pastor among those asking for expanded Medicaid
In other news
Blogs and commentaries
The week ahead
Bishop begins series of Lenten podcasts
on Jesus' final words from the cross
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., episcopal leader of the Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church, is the featured guest for a special series of episodes for the “In Layman’s Terms” podcast with communications director Todd Seifert that explores the seven final sayings of Jesus from the cross.
In this first episode, Bishop Saenz explains why Lent is special to him, and he provides some reflection on the first of the seven sayings: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” New episodes will be posted by midday each Monday through Lent.
Download the podcast.
Contribute to UMCOR to
support tornado relief in Tennessee
When disaster strikes, The United Methodist Church is there to help. If you would like to contribute to the Nashville tornado relief efforts, please consider giving to UMCOR.
UMCOR has awarded a solidarity grant to the Tennessee United Methodist Conference. To join them in supporting our neighbors in Tennessee, please give to United States Disaster Response at Advance #901670: http://bit.ly/tennesseetornados
You can also check for updates from the Tennessee Conference.
As always, please do not self-deploy nor send material contributions at this time.
From UM News Service: Tennessee tornadoes take lives, damage churches.
Kansas Wesleyan to have workshop
on pandemic planning for faith groups
Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina will host a one-day workshop, Pandemic Planning for Faith-Based Organizations, on March 10 in Peters Science Hall. The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 113 and will be led by Dr. Lonnie Booker, KWU’s director of emergency management, and Prof. John Burchill, associate professor of criminal justice.
“The Center for Disease Control has called for organizations to ‘dust off’ their pandemic plans due to the spread of coronavirus,” offered Dr. Booker. “Too often, however, faith-based organizations and groups continue on as usual and do not understand the role they can play in a pandemic situation. We hope this workshop encourages faith-based groups to create a plan for these situations.”
The event will cover numerous topics including mitigation, response and recovery. There will be discussions on how to continue operations in the event of a pandemic. Attendees will also learn how to make plan templates that can help their organizations move forward should a pandemic occur.
There is a $30 per person cost to attend Tuesday’s event, and the fee includes a boxed lunch. For more information or to RSVP, call 785-833-4360 or email Dr. Booker at firstname.lastname@example.org. RSVPs are requested by Sunday, March 8.
New conference webpage
gives information on Coronavirus
While the Great Plains Conference is not anticipating an outbreak from the Coronavirus (COVID-19), as people of faith we are called to do no harm and to prevent further damage.
A new page on the conference website, www.greatplainsumc.org/coronavirus, includes information about that and other infectious diseases, including how it spreads, precautions, steps to handwashing and suggestions for houses of worship.
We will update the site as more pertinent information is available.
SCJ Episcopacy Committee
discusses needs for next quadrennium
The South Central Jurisdiction Committee on the Episcopacy conducted its spring meeting last month, and members discussed with the College of Bishops about episcopal leadership needs for the upcoming quadrennium.
Episcopal elections occur during Jurisdictional Conference every four years.
One of the committee’s duties is to recommend the number of bishops to elect. In a press release, the committee said it is mindful of various factors that could impact that recommendation, including actions taken by General Conference and subsequent annual conference sessions. Therefore, a final recommendation will be developed prior to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference, probably in late June.
Read more from the South Central Jurisdiction.
Two sermon planning retreats
scheduled for July in Schuyler, Wichita
Would you like to give your sermon planning a refresh? Have you ever considered taking some time away to work on six months to a year of sermons in a prayerful context? Consider marking off five days in July with other pastors committed to the same purpose. You have the opportunity to join with others or work on your own and be encouraged by a seasoned mentor at A Time Apart: Preaching and Worship Planning Retreat. A Time Apart, led by Rev. Dr. Theresa Mason, is an invitation to develop an intentional plan for preaching in the year ahead. The dates for 2020 are:
- July 6 (8 p.m.) to July 10 (2 p.m.) at the St. Benedict Center in Schuyler, Nebraska
- July 20 (8 p.m.) to July 24 (2 p.m.) at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita
The cost is $150 if registered by April 1 (includes lodging and meals). The cost is $200 after April 1. Space is limited, so register early!
To register and for more information, check out the website, https://www.greatplainsumc.org/atimeapart.
'Preparing for Your Future' workshop
in Salina approaching next month
The Great Plains Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits, along with the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, invite you to “Preparing for Your Future,” April 20-22 at Salina Trinity UMC.
For any participants who need lodging, the UMC Board of Pensions will cover the cost of the Monday and Tuesday stay at a hotel. If you indicate on the registration form that you need lodging, the UMC Board of Pensions will make the arrangements. You will not need to make your own reservations.
The Monday night meal, Tuesday lunch and dinner will be provided by the Great Plains Conference Board of Pensions. The event begins at noon Monday and ends at noon Wednesday.
Download the seminar brochure here for more information.
Register for “Preparing for Your Future.”
First Laity Summit is 17 days away;
deadline for childcare is this Saturday
The inaugural Laity Summit will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at Kearney First UMC. This is for all lay persons, lay servants, lay leaders, and laity discerning a call for more of a leadership role. It will be a one-stop leadership gathering with worship, workshops, childcare, and food! The aim is that all in attendance network, learn and obtain resources for leadership.
For more information, details and to register go to this link.
The cost is $15 per person and that includes lunch, materials from workshops and walk-away resources for opportunity. Childcare will be provided at the church for $5 per child; registration for childcare closes this Saturday.
Hear about the summit on Todd Seifert's "In Layman's Terms" podcast.
Read about the first-ever summit.
Applications are open for 2020-21
Conference Council on Youth Ministries
The Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM) is now receiving applications for high school students who are curious about leadership, their spiritual journeys, and serving young people in the Great Plains! The 2020-2021 term begins July 1, 2020, and continues through June 30, 2021.
CCYM is ministry of, by, and for the youth of the Great Plains Conference of the UMC. The upcoming year, we will focus on theological and spiritual growth, call discernment, and leadership development as we seek to support local youth ministries throughout the conference.
Please encourage your young leaders to apply here!
Conference grant opportunities
available for churches, networks
Is your network or church pondering an idea for ministry?
Check out these grants that focus on your network, Serving with Others, Education Partnership, Youth Service Funds, Youth Worker Training Grants, and more.
Use these monies to help spark the imagination and inspire new ways to reach new people in your area.
Find out more here.
Online survey tool mobilizes
congregations, multiplies mission impact
Readiness 360 is an online survey tool for mobilizing congregations to multiply in ministry and missional impact. R360 measures a congregation’s spiritual intensity, missional alignment, dynamic relationships and cultural openness.
Churches have found it helpful to take a snapshot of where the congregation’s current realities, use with leaders, and begin visioning. Coaches are able to help interpret data and create next steps with key leaders. All of this is free.
If you would like a code to take the survey at your church, email the DS to get set up today.
Find out more here.
Camp Fontanelle getting
ready for busy spring, summer
Winter is winding down and Camp Fontanelle is gearing up for a busy spring/summer. The camp is pleased to bring back Easter Family Fun Day. Scheduled for April 5 (Palm Sunday), this is day will be filled with activities for the young and the young at heart. Bring your family out for Easter Egg hunts, tree climbing, ziplining, Barrel Train rides for the young and the camp will have supplies for egg dyeing.
Find out more here.
Early bird price for Resurrection conference ends next week
The Art of Hospitality Conference takes place April 23-24 at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood. The Early Bird price of $159 is good through next Friday, March 13. Register today for the best price and availability.
Participants will learn key principles and methods key to becoming an outwardly focused church, including: attracting visitors, effective followup and volunteer training.
Featured Speakers, Executive Director Debi Nixon and Senior Director Yvonne Gentile, co-authors of “The Art of Hospitality,” will lead participants through the program, complete with techniques and strategic planning to help churches apply the concepts to their ministry context. The Art of Hospitality will effectively change how churches do church, leaving guests surprised, delighted, and eager to return.
Pastors, staff and volunteers engaged in the ministry of welcome, hospitality, visitor care, outreach, connections or membership are all encouraged to attend.
Visit cor.org/conferences for more information. Questions, contact Kathy Carter at email@example.com or 913-544-0272 or Kari Burgess at firstname.lastname@example.org or 913-232-4139.
Special needs bus driver
sees Jesus daily in students
Where do you find Jesus? For Bob Riggin, Flint Hills District lay servant director, it’s in his part-time job as a bus driver for students with special needs.
“What the kids have shown me is their love for one another,” Riggin writes in this month’s Lay Servant Ministries blog. “It is truly a blessing to be able to drive these students to and from school. We truly see Jesus in each one of them as we interact with them on the bus.”
Read his blog here.
Registration open for Disaster
Response Academy, Aug. 27-29
Registration is now open for the Great Plains and UMCOR Disaster Response Academy, Aug. 27-29 at Rock Springs 4-H Retreat Center, south of Junction City.
Disasters are no stranger to the Great Plains Conference. 2019 was an extremely busy year for our volunteers and those churches and communities affected by flooding or tornadoes. The outlook for 2020 looks to be no different. In being the example of Jesus to the individuals hurting and displaced, it takes the entire Annual Conference to make a difference!
The Academy is open to all individuals, laity and clergy! Local churches can learn about Connecting Neighbors, what is expected if a disaster happens in your community. Currently active ERTs can attend level 200 trainings to strengthen their capacity in serving. Long Term Recovery Groups and Emergency Managers are invited to learn what it means to establish relief and recovery well, so that individuals are empowered to participate in their healing on the road to a new normal. Our leadership track with empower local clergy, administrative staff and others to know the delivery of sequence before, during, and after a disaster.
All attendees will worship together, fellowship around the table for meals, and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Plenary sessions will cover Foundations of Disaster, Ministry of Caring, and a keynote by Cathy Earl, Director of UMCOR.
Cost is $250 per person, which includes meals, lodging, materials, and meeting space. For those commuting, the cost will be $150 per person, which includes meals, materials and meeting space.
Register for the Academy here.
Great Plains' Tapley among
panelists in flood discussion
The Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator for the Great Plains Conference, will be among the panelists for a NET Nebraska discussion on last year’s flooding in the state.
The panel will be recorded on Thursday night and air on NET Nebraska television and radio on Thursday, March 19.
Read more from the Fremont Tribune.
‘Fill the truck’ to help stock
UMCOR Depot in Salt Lake City
The Great Plains Conference will “fill the truck” to go to the Salt Lake City UMCOR Depot during the Annual Conference sessions.
The truck will be located outside the box office of the Stormont Vail Events Center in Topeka from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 28.
Donors should bring complete kits only for cleaning, hygiene and school use. Box and label each box with the number of kits inside.
For more information, contact the Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator, at email@example.com.
Do1Thing: Learn what to do
when you hear the words 'Take shelter'
Know how to respond safely when instructions are given to evacuate or take shelter.
Identify the best storm shelter in your home and practice getting to the shelter with your family. Choosing the best place in your home or workplace to shelter from a tornado isn’t always easy. Many newer buildings don’t have a really good shelter area.
Learn how to safely shelter in place. In an emergency like a chemical spill, you may be told to “shelter in place”. This means to make the place where you are a safe place to stay until the danger has passed.
Make a Go Bag for emergency sheltering. Emergency shelters will be opened when people are displaced from their homes. In most areas emergency shelters are operated by the American Red Cross.
Webinars help communication
issues such as social media, publicity
When you’re seeking information about a specific topic, peruse the on-demand webinar library from United Methodist Communications. Experts share helpful tips and answer questions about topics such as social media and publicity. The timely information is perfect for beginners, as well as those more familiar with the subject at hand.
Find them here.
Great Plains Conference communication staff give instruction on website do's and don'ts, social media best practices, multimedia worship tools and low-tech tools at greatplainsumc.org/communications-workshops.
Kansas UM Foundation presenting
Investing for the Future seminars
The Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation is presenting a series of Investing for the Future seminars, March 16-18.
A Wespath Institutional Investments representative will share information on investing for the long-term, helping your church align with its mission, resources for sustainable investing, and strategies amidst volatile times. This seminar is an opportunity for all churches and UM-related organizations in Kansas regardless of your current fund management. If your church currently partners with the Foundation, it is a great opportunity to learn more about the investment options and new Wespath Fund option, the Balanced Fund. If your church does not currently partner with KAUMF, the foundation invites you to learn strategies amidst volatile times and how this connectional option could strengthen shared ministries across Kansas.
Investing for the Future Seminars will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. at the following locations:
- Monday, March 16, at Wichita Aldersgate UMC
- Tuesday, March 17 at Hays First UMC
- Wednesday, March 18 at Leawood Church of the Resurrection (in the Wesley Chapel)
Registration is not required, but encouraged. Please register at www.kaumf.org/register.
If you have any questions or are interested in the seminar, but not able to attend, contact the Foundation Office at 1-888-453-8405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Across the Connection
Lincoln Aldersgate UMC wins
national award for ‘Sacred Grounds’
Lincoln Aldersgate United Methodist Church is one of the five national Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) 2020 Cool Congregations Challenge winners. The annual contest accepts applications from religious congregations around the United States that are working to address global warming by shrinking their carbon footprint and creating models of sustainability within their communities.
Aldersgate UMC won the Sacred Grounds award for transforming its 1.9 acres of lawn into a neighborhood arboretum with a nature-based playground. The vision is to benefit the environment and serve the community by providing habitat for wildlife, immersion in nature, and nature-based play for children. With public streets and sidewalks bordering three sides of its property, Aldersgate has an ideal location for creating a small neighborhood park.
Since 2017, the church has planted 94 trees, 396 shrubs, 436 perennials, 129 grass plants and 3,500 native grass plugs. This includes many different varieties of plants; most are native to this area. A 1,000-square-foot raingarden intercepts runoff from the church’s roofs and an acre of land. The nature-based playground features an 11-foot, 1.5-ton section from an ash tree as a climbing structure, and the upper deck of a nearby fort reaches into the branches of a large tree. A sand pit measuring 10-by-6 foot, a toddler swing, and a 7-foot hill slide provide other play opportunities.
The trees already planted will sequester an average of 1.4 tons of carbon per year over the next 25 years. In 50 years when the trees are mature, they will sequester 8 tons per year.
“We are thrilled to receive a first place award. For many years the congregation has made environmental issues and energy efficiency a priority. It is nice to be recognized for our efforts, but much work still remains to be done,” said the Rev. Joseph Rafique, pastor at Aldersgate.
“Aldersgate United Methodist Church and the other four national winning congregations are casting a vision for the kind of world in which they want to live, and then carrying out that vision with practical actions that make a real difference in creating lasting solutions to climate change,” said the Rev. Susan Hendershot, President of Interfaith Power & Light.
The Cool Congregations Challenge shows that people of faith are united by concerns about climate change and are taking action – with or without support of government policies. The winners provide strong moral role models for their communities, and their activities have a ripple effect with people in their own homes.
Winfield pastor among those
asking for expanded Medicaid
Charles McKinzie, pastor of Winfield Grandview UMC, was among the faith and health care leaders who met with Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday, talking about Medicaid expansion in the state.
McKinzie told of his family’s health and financial difficulties, including a medical debt in tens of thousands of dollars.
“This is the right thing to do,” McKinzie said. “Not only is it good for the state from a financial standpoint, but this is the moral, right thing to do.”
Read more in this story from KAKE, Wichita.
In other news
- Leading Ideas, March 4, 2020
- GCFA Collaborator, March 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: young people’s ministries, March 3, 2020
- Safe Gatherings, March 2020
- A sermon for every Sunday, March 3, 2020
- Song Select by CCLI, March 2020
- IMPR/REHACE special edition, “Hugs with hope,” March 2020
- MyCom, March 3, 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: worship, March 2, 2020
- Connectional Giving, February 28, 2020
- Discipleship Ministries, Equipping Disciples Newsletter, February 27, 2020
- UMCOMtigo (Spanish), February 27, 2020
- Ministry Matters, February 26, 2020
- Slingstones (Korean), March 1, 2020
Blogs and commentaries
- Departing annual conferences, remaining local churches: Annual conferences have important roles to play in managing the assets held by local churches — about 90% of all United Methodist assets, writes David W. Scott, director of mission theology for UMC Global Ministries. In the latest of his series on United Methodist assets, Scott addresses the complexity of the relationship between annual conferences and local churches concerning property.
- ‘Trust God no matter what’: For seminary students, learning how to submit to God's call and wisdom for their lives is a pivotal part of their educational experience. Those anxious over the future of The United Methodist Church might want to do the same, writes the Rev. Kent Millard, United Theological Seminary president.
The week ahead