Download the printable version of the April 29 issue of GPconnect.
In this edition:
THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Conference provides guidelines for resuming public gatherings
Clergy Excellence personnel to lead conversations on liminal ministry
Health, social service organizations in Kansas adapting during pandemic
More coronavirus news from the Great Plains and beyond
Annual Conference workbook available online or ordered from website
Social media during social distancing is subject of webinar this Thursday
25th, final NUMB ride postponed until 2021
Nebraska pastor gets parishioners involved in online worship services
Online courses in stewardship, church finance available from Lewis Center
Online panel to discuss impact of COVID-19 in Thursday webinar
Amp It Up, Summit to combine this summer at Southwestern
Eureka Partners, Great Plains laity teach foundations of coaching
‘Catch Fire’ devotional series, Gospel readings continue during May
Readiness 360 Surveys are a way of connection for your church
MERCY & JUSTICE
Five young people selected as Micah Corps interns for 2020
Immigrant Legal Center advocates for victims of crimes
Inaugural Disaster Response Academy postponed to 2021
Donations to UMCOR are welcome beyond special Sunday
Information from GCFA, Wespath on PPP loan forgiveness now available
Finance Friday talks insurance with Sue Courtney
IRS issues guidance on COVID-19 payroll tax credits
Communicate with the unplugged thanks to advice from Resource UMC
Survey results give insight into connecting with spiritual ‘seekers’
Latest issue of Upper Room now available for free download
Connectional Table unveils its new website, umcct.org
ACROSS THE CONNECTION
In other news
Blogs and commentaries
Conference provides guidelines
for resuming public gatherings
With discussions beginning on lifting restrictions for public gatherings in Kansas and Nebraska, the time for churches to prepare to meet in person is now.
The Great Plains Conference's Congregational and Clergy Excellence staffs have prepared a four-page, downloadable PDF with recommended guidelines of gathering for churches, including sections on worship, sacraments of communion and baptism, cleaning between and after church services, entering and exiting the church, considerations for weddings, funerals and confirmations; and seven questions for church leadership to consider.
Clergy Excellence personnel to
lead conversations on liminal ministry
The Office of Clergy Excellence invites all clergy to join a series of conversations via Zoom hosted by the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford and the Rev. Shelly Petz to identify new realities, discuss questions, and encourage the heart of pastors during this new, uncertain season in the life of ministry.
The conversations will be around a common theme, “Ministry in Liminal Time,” and include a specific focus for each day. Being in a “liminal time” means that we’re on the threshold of transition, from the way things used to be to … well, we just don’t know yet. While this is a season of disruption and loss, it is also full of opportunity and growth. We want to acknowledge both.
The first three sessions are:
- Creativity, Comparison and Coping (May 7, 10:30 a.m.) Register here.
- Mental Health Check-in (May 21, 3 p.m.) Register here.
- Practical Questions for New Ways of Ministry (June 4, 10:30 a.m.) Register here.
- More will be scheduled every other Thursday, time TBA
Alley Crawford and Petz will introduce each subject, occasionally have a guest join in the conversation, and will facilitate a discussion among the clergy present. You’re welcome to join the call and share in discussion, just listen, or watch the recorded session following the live conversation. You can find out more information and access the registration link here: https://www.greatplainsumc.org/clergy-resources.
Feel free to reach out with possibilities or questions to email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Health, social service organizations
in Kansas adapting during pandemic
Three Kansas-based health and social service organizations have made adjustments because of the COVID-19 pandemic as they have all seen an increased need for their services.
All three — Genesis Family Health, with clinics in Garden City, Dodge City, Liberal and Ulysses; GraceMed, with clinics in Wichita, Topeka, McPherson and Clearwater; and Wichita-based United Methodist Open Door Ministries — have ties to The United Methodist Church and the Great Plains Conference.
Find out more here.
More coronavirus news from
the Great Plains and beyond
New to our ongoing series on ministry amid coronavirus is the Rev. Shelly McNaughton-Lawrence, pastor of Olathe Aldersgate UMC, having to perform her first funeral during the pandemic -- for her own mother. We thank McNaughton-Lawrence for sharing her deep, personal story.
Our coronavirus page keeps you updated with worship tools, online communion, church life, giving, clergy resources, family resources, social distancing and sharing your stories.
Annual Conference workbook available online or ordered from website
The workbook for the abbreviated Annual Conference sessions – to be conducted via a conference call on Saturday, May 30 – will be available soon online.
Those who wish to receive a hard copy may order one through this online form. The cost is $25, and payment must be received via online payment or check by May 15.
Social media during social distancing
is subject of webinar this Thursday
Join Jayna McFarland, conference website and social media specialist, on Zoom for a social media webinar at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 30.
This time of necessary social distancing has been a wake-up call for many of our churches. How can we best use this powerful tool for ministry now – and into whatever comes next? Gain some new ideas to reach out and minister to your community in this webinar. If you have tried some things and had good results, we also welcome you to bring your ideas to share.
The webinar will begin with ideas for using Facebook for outreach, information and community building. After a time of questions and discussion, those who would like to learn Facebook basics are invited to remain on the call for further instruction.”
Register here: https://gp-reg.brtapp.com/Socialmediaduringsocialdistancing
25th, final NUMB ride
postponed until 2021
What was to be the 25th and final Nebraska United Methodist Bike Ride for Hunger – also known as NUMB – is being postponed.
“Hunger is still our mission and we look forward to continuing that work with NUMB 25 in June of 2021,” ride organizers, including the Rev. Bill Ritter, director and co-founder as well as retired Blue River District superintendent, wrote to participants.
NUMB will offer full refunds to participants, as well as giving them the option of putting the money toward the 2021 ride or donating it to hunger projects already supported by the ride.
Planned for June 27 through July 1, NUMB had planned for a route from Elkhorn Hills to Ashland, David City and Fremont, recreating the first, nearly 400-mile trek.
Past NUMB rides have had as many as 150 bicyclists, last year surpassing the $1 million mark for fundraising for hunger organizations.
Riders are asked to post pictures of themselves on wheels for the NUMB Facebook page.
Nebraska pastor gets parishioners
involved in online worship services
In the latest episode of the podcast "In Layman's Terms," host Todd Seifert talks to the Rev. Stefanie Hayes of Sargent and Ord First United Methodist churches in Nebraska. Hayes shares how she decided to get more people involved in recordings of online worship. Instead of just recording herself giving a sermon at her kitchen table, she recruited others in her congregation to record themselves saying prayers, reading liturgy or reading scripture.
From those smartphone videos, she stitches together a worship service each week while she and her congregation shelter in their homes using just her iPad. Hear how she started this way of worship and how she has continued to do so each week amid the pandemic.
Click here for the podcast.
Online courses in stewardship, church
finance available from Lewis Center
Join the Lewis Center's Dr. Ann A. Michel and Dr. Lovett H. Weems for their online summer courses from Wesley Theological Seminary. Michel and Weems are leaders in the field of congregational stewardship and finance and have taught and written extensively on the topics. Each course is 1 academic credit hour or 1.5 CEU credits.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, sound stewardship and financial practices are more important than ever. Michel and Weems emphasize best practices that can sustain a congregation through thick and thin.
Find out more and register here.
Online panel to discuss impact
of COVID-19 in Thursday webinar
An online panel, “The State of the Church: You Are Not Alone,” will be at 2 p.m. CST Thursday, presented by Amplify Media.
After surveying more than 1,000 church leaders about the impact COVID-19 is having on their ministries and communities, Amplify Media found that many are challenged in the same ways. Join host Lisa Yebuah and panelists Justin Coleman, Mary Louis McCullough and DJ de Rosario as they discuss these challenges with researcher Mark McPeak and give hope and ideas for thriving through them.
Amp It Up, Summit to combine
this summer at Southwestern
Like all ministries in this time, adaptation is the name of the game. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Amp It Up Camp and the Summit Youth Academy, both housed at Southwestern College, are working to make their experiences still accessible for high school youth.
Amp It Up, previously scheduled for early June, will be combining with the Summit this summer, and the programming for the week will be shortened from seven days to four days. The new dates for the combined experience are July 21-24. There will still be unique elements to each experience, and students can choose their breakout classes based on interest.
The format remains flexible: it may be in person, online or a hybrid based on recommendations from health officials. We will determine the format by May 15 and publish costs according to the week’s platform. Registration is available for the graduating classes of ’21 and ’22 and is open until June 30. Students nominated from a church in the Great Plains Annual Conference are eligible for a $100 scholarship.
Information is available at www.summityouthacademy.org and www.sckans.edu/ampitup.
-- Miranda Priddy, Southwestern College
Eureka Partners, Great Plains
laity teach foundations of coaching
The coaching foundations course aims to equip laity with the skills and methods for successful leadership and coaching practice. If you are interested, attend one of the following informational zoom meetings with your questions and hear more about objectives. Informational meetings are scheduled for:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
The virtual coaching foundations course will be from 6-9 p.m. Friday, July 31, and 9 a.m. to noon, 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1. The cost is $20 per-person which includes online learning, nine hours of training, coaching relationships, and a book. Registration coming soon!
Watch this video to learn more.
Questions? Email email@example.com.
‘Catch Fire’ devotional series,
Gospel readings continue during May
In the month of May, there is a series that coincides with the Great Plains Daily Devotionals called “Catch Fire in 50 Days: Joining the Movement of God’s Mission in the World.” Based on Blake Busick and Christy Latona’s book, the series includes sermon outlines, multimedia support, small group templates and daily devotionals at www.greatplainsumc.org/catchfire.
Every Sunday is a Gospel reading. The Gospel readings offer an opportunity to have a fresh encounter with Jesus. It is this encounter which can reignite a Holy Spirit fire within you. Pray that we might have a fresh encounter with Jesus; that the power of Christ’s resurrection might again be set loose in the world through the fire of the Holy Spirit within us. Pray in prayer and reflection we might have a lasting impact on our congregations and communities.
- May 3 – John 10:1-10 (Day 22), Acts 5-6: Shine Brightly
- May 10 -- John 14: 1-14 (Day 29), Acts 7-8: Fan the Flame
- May 17 – John 14:15-21 (Day 36), Acts 9-10: Spread Wildly
- May 24 -- John 17: 1-11 (Day 43), Acts 11-12: Start More Fires
- May 31 -- John 7:37-39; Acts 2:1-13 (Day 50): Acts 2 Pentecost
Readiness 360 Surveys are
a way of connection for your church
As you look for a way to relaunch and consider visioning in the future for the congregation, here is an online survey tool that can help guide your congregation at this time.
The survey is conducted all online and invitations and codes are sent via email. This is a great time to catalyze the online communication, use the time we have, and spend 20 minutes our time in meaningful reflection on the congregation.
If you are a pastor who signed up at Orders & Fellowship, your congregation already has a code that staff are willing to help you activate. Taking the survey can help foster a sense of community, learn about the church, reflect meaningfully and propel us to about the future of the church.
If you would like a code today, contact your district office. It is a free resource with free coaching with a leadership team, all available online. Updated resources and information are listed on www.greatplainsumc.org/readiness-360.
Contact your Congregational Excellence staff person for your district if you would like more information or code for your church:
- Blue River, Elkhorn Valley, Missouri River – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Salina, Hays, Topeka – email@example.com
- Flint Hills, Kansas City, Prairie Rivers – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dodge City, Great West – email@example.com
- Gateway, Wichita East, Wichita West – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hutchinson, Five Rivers, Parsons - email@example.com
Mercy & Justice
Five young people selected
as Micah Corps interns for 2020
Five young people, four from Kansas and one from Nebraska, have been selected as Micah Corps interns for the summer of 2020.
This program is designed to give young adults opportunities to:
- grow in their spiritual walk with God
- link faith with social justice action
- learn from social justice experts in Nebraska, Kansas and Washington, D.C.
- strengthen leadership skills, and
- connect with Great Plains United Methodists across Nebraska and Kansas
Most of the summer's experiences are framed around tearing down the walls (of poverty, environmental degradation, violence, nativism and food scarcity) that have been built up around the fish pond and figuring out who polluted it.
Meet the Micah Corps members.
Immigrant Legal Center
advocates for victims of crimes
In 2020, Immigrant Legal Center's top policy priorities include helping the passage of LB 745 in the Nebraska Legislature, a bill that would benefit certain victims of crime.
To help a wider audience learn about this bill and join in the advocacy, Alexis Steele, ILC policy staff attorney, compiled information that was shared at the Ecumenical Legislative Briefing Day in February at Christ UMC in Lincoln.
Read more about it here.
Inaugural Disaster Response
Academy postponed to 2021
The inaugural Disaster Response Academy, scheduled for Aug. 27-29 at Rock Springs 4-H Center near Junction City, has been postponed until 2021.
The Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator, said the decision was made after consulting with the Kansas and Nebraska state health departments, several emergency managers and the Great Plains Disaster Response team.
“The days, weeks, and months ahead of us are so full of unknowns, and your personal safety is more important at this time,” Tapley said. “Even when the very best scenario it is looking like mid-July before most restrictions will be lifted. And I think we all know that pretty much must be perfect adherence to State and County Health Orders. We do not want to take the chance even in August to bring people together in confined spaces.”
More information will be announced on a rescheduled date, likely in the spring of 2021, she said.
Donations to UMCOR are
welcome beyond special Sunday
Even though UMCOR Sunday was March 22, donations may be given year-round during worship or online, through umcgiving.org/giveUMCOR. You can also access UMCOR Sunday contributions at its website.
Information from GCFA, Wespath on
PPP loan forgiveness now available
New General Council on Finance and Administration and Wespath on PPP loan forgiveness is now available on the conference website at www.greatplainsumc.org/ppp. Questions covered by the document include: What constitutes Payroll Costs that are eligible for PPP loan forgiveness? Can you include Payroll Costs that are incurred “with respect to” the eight-week forgiveness period but not yet paid? and Can the government audit a UMC annual conference, local church or other organization that receives PPP loan funds?
Churches who have received PPP loans should keep in mind some of these suggestions from Jared Hecht in Inc. magazine:
- Review what loan uses will be forgiven,
- Understand how your loan forgiveness can be reduced by reductions in your payroll costs or employee headcount,
- Document all of your loan expenses – particularly your payroll records and documentation of payments for mortgage interest, rent, or utilities, and
- Follow the specific guidelines given to you by your lending institution.
Finance Friday talks
insurance with Sue Courtney
There’s simply no better way to spend an hour of your May Day than talking about local church insurance.* The conference’s insurance broker, Sue Courtney, joins Scott Brewer to discuss local church insurance, managing liability during the pandemic, and answer your questions. Join the weekly webinar this Friday at noon CT/11 a.m. MT at https://zoom.us/j/93991853257.
*OK, there might be better ways. That’s why we have an archive of past shows and slides at https://www.greatplainsumc.org/financefridays.
IRS issues guidance on
COVID-19 payroll tax credits
Today, the IRS issued the following guidance: Employers who are filing Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19 should read the instructions carefully and take their time when completing this form to avoid mistakes.
Using a reputable tax preparer – including certified public accountants, enrolled agents or other knowledgeable tax professionals -- can also help avoid errors. Mistakes can result in a processing delay, which means it may take longer to get the advanced payment.
Here are some common errors to avoid when filling out Form 7200:
- Missing or inaccurate Employer Identification Number. Each EIN should be exact. Taxpayers must complete this box.
- Check only one box for the applicable calendar quarter. Only one box should be checked for the correct quarter.
- Check only one box for Part 1, Line A.
- Make sure to complete Part 1, Line B. In Part 1, Line B check either Yes or No.
- Complete Part II, Lines 1-8 using actual dollar amounts. Part II should be completed using dollar amounts, not the number of eligible employees. All lines in Part II should be completed with an actual dollar amount.
- Check the math. Taxpayers should make sure they check the math on lines 4, 7 and 8.
- Sign the form. Taxpayers should remember to sign the form. Failure to sign the form will result in an automatic rejection.
More pandemic-related information from the IRS:
Communicate with the unplugged
thanks to advice from Resource UMC
COVID-19 has meant online church and virtual communications for United Methodists. But how do churches stay in touch with those who aren't online or smartphone savvy? Resource UMC offers suggestions including calling circles, handwritten letters and sidewalk chalk.
Read more suggestions here.
Survey results give insight into
connecting with spiritual ‘seekers’
A new survey of U.S. spiritual "seekers" ages 25-49, conducted by the Barna Group on behalf of United Methodist Communications, found willingness to visit a United Methodist church rose to 42% in 2019 among U.S. adults seeking more spirituality in their lives and who are aware of the denomination. That's up from 28% in 2017.
Find out more here.
Latest issue of Upper Room
now available for free download
Since churches are unable to meet and gather safely in their buildings during the coronavirus pandemic, The Upper Room is offering the May/June 2020 issue, both in English and Spanish, as a free, downloadable PDF. The Upper Room also has created a web page featuring resources to help create and maintain spiritual wellness during anxious times.
Download Upper Room, find resources.
Connectional Table unveils
its new website, umcct.org
The Connectional Table of The United Methodist Church has launched a new website, www.umcct.org, to provide a clear understanding of its work and resources for ministry throughout the connection. The Connectional Table coordinates the mission, vision and ministries of the denomination.
Read more about the site.
Across the Connection
In other news
- Leading Ideas, April 29, 2020
- A sermon for every Sunday, April 28, 2020
- MyCom, April 28, 2020
- Camp Fontanelle, April 28, 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: Worship Planning, April 27, 2020
- Leading Ideas Talks, April 25, 2020
- GBHEM, April 23, 2020
- Connectional Giving, April 23, 2020
- Compass, April 23, 2020
- Ministry Matters, April 22, 2020
- Immigrant Legal Center, April 22, 2020
Blogs and commentaries
- Over-proofing the dough: Lessons learned from her brother, a former manager and trainer for Pizza Hut, have come in handy for Kim Hurley Andrews, pastor of Stafford, St. John and Antrim UMCs in Kansas. “I certainly never imagined I’d be sitting in my dining room on Sunday mornings in my jeans, strumming my guitar, talking into an iPad screen, singing solos to help my three congregations—and anyone else out there, in Facebookland—worship, and come into the presence of God. But, here we are!” she writes in the Leavenworth Times.
- Sharpening the blade: After the first round of coping with the COVID-19 crisis, Philadelphia Area Bishop Peggy Johnson counsels that United Methodist pastors and leaders need to take time for rest and recovery. “Rest, rejuvenation and Sabbath are essential Christian disciplines, and they should be no less a part of our life as a church now, during this time of turbulence and readjustment,” she writes.