Download the printable version of the May 6 issue of GPconnect.
In this edition:
THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Bishops look at financial sustainability of denomination
Hamilton among panelists for webinar on reopening churches in UMC?
Piano side Sundays, daily snow domes are a part of ministry for Omaha pastor
More coronavirus news from the Great Plains and beyond
'Social Media During Social Distancing' returns for a second round this Friday
Workbook available online or ordered from website
Council of Bishops urge organizers to pay attention to 2021 rescheduling
Mainstream UMC calls for moratoriums until 2021 General Conference
Clergy Conversations begin Thursday with creativity, comparison, coping
'Discover the Disciple You Are Meant to Be' webinar series begins tonight
Information on House Churches now available from conference
Three Great Plains camps taking precautions during COVID-19 pandemic
Learn about coaching in sessions from Great Plains laity, Eureka Partners
MERCY & JUSTICE
Prepare for Peace with Justice, coming up on Sunday, June 7
Haitian college student thanks Great Plains Conference for support
Disaster Response making important donations during pandemic
More than $40,000 awarded to Nebraska churches for COVID-19 relief
Nebraska UM Foundation awards New Start/New Faith Community Grants
Nebraska UM Foundation has more than $30,000 in scholarship funds
Nebraska UM Foundation announces scholarship program for local pastors
Cleaning considerations to take before churches reopen
Churches with PPP loans should keep in contact with their lender
This week's Finance Friday takes on scenario planning
‘Connected People of God’ digital material is now available
‘We are Here’ video, online resource offers encouragement
Celebrate Mother’s Day with free, shareable social media graphics
New #IGiveUMC campaign asks for donations honoring inspirational figures
ACROSS THE CONNECTION
In other news
Blogs and commentaries
Bishops look at financial
sustainability of denomination
During their first virtual meeting, the Council of Bishops planned to name a task force that will examine ways to prevent their funding from going in the red.
Read more from United Methodist News Service.
Pandemic tests church’s justice commitments.
Bishops told connection is key in pandemic fight.
Bishop Saenz elected as chair of congregational vitality leadership team.
Bishop Harvey makes history as first Hispanic woman to lead Council.
Hamilton among panelists for
webinar on reopening churches in UMC
The Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, will be among the panelists for the webinar "The Road to Reopening the UMC," at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 13.
Other panelists include the Rev. Paul Rasmussen, Dallas Highland Park UMC; Rev. Jenn Stiles Williams, Orlando St. Luke's UMC; Rev. Rob Fuquay, Indianapolis St. Luke's UMC; Rev. Tom Berlin, Herndon, Virginia, Floris UMC; Rev. Tom Harrison, Tulsa Asbury UMC; and the Rev. Ed Robb and the Rev. Susan Kent, Houston Woodlands UMC.
They will discuss topics such as strategies to decide timing of re-opening our spaces, how to safely gather for worship, communication to the community, and other important topics to consider.
Register here for the webinar.
Piano side Sundays, daily snow domes
are a part of ministry for Omaha pastor
The Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede at Omaha St. Paul Benson UMC knew worship wouldn't look the same during our time of sheltering in place. So she chose to embrace a different look and feel. With the Rev. Jerry Brabec on piano and others joining in helping with the worship time as needed, a "piano side" service was born.
Then, for a daily devotion, she decided to use her husband's collection of more than 3,500 snow domes as the inspiration for sharing a thought or two each day with her congregation.
Hear about these unique endeavors in Todd Seifert's "In Layman's Terms" podcast.
More coronavirus news from
the Great Plains and beyond
Our stories of ministry amid coronavirus continues with a 10-year-old in charge of a Kansas church’s livestreaming, and a pastor who is using Zoom to get to know the youngsters and adults in her congregation.
Download the four-page best practices for returning to our houses of worship, from the Great Plains congregational and clergy excellence staff.
Our coronavirus page includes suggested guidelines for reopening your church, worship tools, online communion, church life, giving, clergy resources, family resources and social distancing.
'Social Media During Social Distancing'
returns for a second round this Friday
By popular demand, a new session of “Social Media During Social Distancing – and Beyond” will be at 2 p.m. Friday, May 8.
Join Jayna McFarland, conference website and social media specialist, on Zoom. The session also will be recorded and posted to the Great Plains website.
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
Workbook available online
or ordered from website
The workbook for the revised 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.
Council of Bishops urge organizers
to pay attention to 2021 rescheduling
The Council of Bishops is pushing General Conference organizers to consider a petition from young United Methodists that requests a change in dates for the 2021 gathering. The Commission on General Conference sets the dates.
Read more from UM News Service.
Mainstream UMC calls for moratoriums
until 2021 General Conference
On what was supposed to be the first day of the 2020 General Conference, the leaders of the Mainstream UMC movement urged fellow centrists and progressives to not let their guard down for LGBTQ equality.
“Their hopes and dreams were waiting in the balance, and now they have to wait another year and a half,” said the Rev. Dr. Mark Holland, co-founder and executive director of Mainstream UMC.
Read more here.
Clergy Conversations begin Thursday with creativity, comparison, coping
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.
'Discover the Disciple You Are Meant
to Be' webinar series begins tonight
Abingdon Leadership presents the webinar series "Discover the Disciple You Are Meant to Be."
Gospel Discipleship looks through the lens of the last words Jesus speaks in each of the Gospels to find paths that define four approaches to living a life following Christ. Through the Gospel Discipleship assessment, individuals and churches can determine which understanding of discipleship has the greatest meaning for who they are and where they serve. Once you know your discipleship type, making a plan to follow Jesus with deep intention and meaningful focus clearly unfolds.
Author Michelle J. Morris will offer six webinars each Wednesday at 7 p.m. central time beginning May 6 to invite you into this journey of discovering the disciple you are meant to be. Join as an individual, or invite your church to watch along, all from the comfort and safety of home as we cover these subjects:
- May 6 - What is Gospel Discipleship?
- May 13 - Markan Discipleship
- May 20 - Matthean Discipleship
- May 27 - Lukan Discipleship
- June 3 - Johannine Discipleship
- June 10 - Discipleship Together as a Church
Most sessions will include a panel of people who have been living their discipleship with these, but we will also be seeking one panel member for each of the four types from people who are joining us for these webinars! There will also be drawings for free copies of the books, and a special book discount through Cokesbury for attendees as well. We would love to be part of your journey to Christ as we explore how the Gospels shape us into the people Christ calls us to be!
Information on House Churches
now available from conference
House Churches are intentional small groups that meet weekly at a home to worship together. This enables individuals to remain connected with the church, cultivate their relationships with God and others, and provide congregational care to one another.
The Great Plains Conference has developed this brief how-to guide to get you and your church started. Download the free PDF, which also can be found on our Virtual Church Life page.
Three Great Plains camps taking
precautions during COVID-19 pandemic
As of May 1, 2020, Camp Horizon has paused camper registration. We will announce our Summer Camp plans by May 18, 2020. Until then, we will closely follow the summer camp guidelines that are being released to determine when and how we can safely reopen camp with a modified schedule. In the meantime, be safe and please keep Camp Horizon and all summer camps in your prayers. Thank you to all of you who have reached out to show your support for the camp – we are thankful to know that our camp community remains strong during this time of trial.
--Joel Wilke, Camp Horizon director
Camp Fontanelle has canceled its May camps. More information on options is available at this link, as well as other coronavirus-related precautions being taken by Fontanelle.
Camp Norwesca is “paying attention, preparing, and staying positive,” director Ethan Porter says in camp newsletter.
Learn about coaching in sessions
from Great Plains laity, Eureka Partners
Join Great Plains laity and the Eureka Partners in making a discovery and learning the 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 the next informational zoom meeting with your questions and hear more about objectives. Informational meeting is scheduled for:
- 9 a.m. CDT Saturday, May 16. Register in advance at this link. 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. CDT Friday, July 31, and 9 a.m. to noon and 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 is now open! https://gp-reg.brtapp.com/FoundationsofCoaching
Watch this video to learn more.
Questions? Email Shane Warta, lay leadership coordinator, at email@example.com.
Mercy & Justice
Prepare for Peace with Justice,
coming up on Sunday, June 7
Peace with Justice Sunday is observed the Sunday after Pentecost which is June 7 this year. But it can be celebrated on any Sunday that works for a congregation. A new toolkit is available with many resources.
Why focus on peace with justice? Do we have to ask? We worship God who created all humankind and calls us to be God’s hands and feet in creating God’s beloved community here and now. During the COVID-19 pandemic under which we are living now, we are experiencing very drastically how interconnected we are across the world. Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Let us take action for peace with justice speaking out when we see injustices happen and getting involved in movements working towards the beloved community where all are treated with dignity.
-- Andrea Paret, Peace with Justice coordinator
Haitian college student thanks
Great Plains Conference for support
I am David Junior, originally from Dieulce, communal section of Pointe a Raquette, arrondissement of La Gonâve. I am professing member of the Methodist congregation of Dieulce. Currently, I am a second-year student in economic and administrative sciences at QUYSQUEYA University in Port au Prince.
My dream is to become an economist since during my classical studies, unfortunately, I did not have the chance to cross the barriers of the university to be able to realize this precious dream, because my parents were deprived of necessary financial means to send me to pursue my university studies. I had to spend almost six years trying to find my way to pursue higher education. Thanks to the Great Plains Conference’s scholarship, that allows me to start realizing my dream. This opportunity for higher education will open up a better tomorrow for me.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the churches of the Great Plains Conference, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for the invaluable support, the fact of offering me a full scholarship for my university studies. I assure you that your help will not be in vain. I pray that God in his love may grant you all graces and blessings to continue working in his ministry.
My most fraternal greetings.
Second Year student
Disaster Response making
important donations during pandemic
COVID-19 has not stopped your Disaster Response Ministry. While we have not been actively volunteering in our normal ways, we have assisted eight counties and two hospitals with the donation of 2,860 N95 mask and 433 Tyvek suits. During the 2019 Floods in both states, the Kansas Department of Emergency Management purchased some N95’s for us as we were preparing to have AmeriCorps assist us with the Kansas flooding. We did hold back sufficient personal protective equipment for our volunteers in case of a natural disaster.
There are ways that you can help during this challenging time. Our Food Banks in both states are in need of financial donations in order to continue their support with individuals and families in need of food. With the slowdown in business and individuals being laid off or phased out, the need for food is greater than normal. I am honored to serve with Food Bank of the Heartland (NE), President and C.E.O. Brian Barks on the Nebraska Governor’s Food Task Force. Brian reports to us that the cost of purchasing food for the food banks have gone up tremendously, while it takes up to eight weeks for an order to arrive. If you feel called to support our Food Banks, reach out to them directly: Kansas: Harvesters and Kansas Food Bank. Nebraska: Food Bank of the Heartland, Food Bank of Lincoln and Mid-Nebraska Food Bank.
Just a reminder that since Annual Conference will not be meeting in person, the UMCOR Truck will not be available. If you have or are currently working on UMCOR Relief Kits, you will need to hold on to them for a while. Thank you for your patience as we continue into our new normal.
We were looking forward to hosting our first Great Plains & UMCOR Disaster Response Academy in August, yet with the uncertainty of our states re-opening as planned, it is best to postpone at this time. Even if our states re-opening plans goes as scheduled, gathering in contained spaces is not a good idea. We are looking at some spring dates in 2021 to bring this experience to the Great Plains.
--Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator
More than $40,000 awarded to
Nebraska churches for COVID-19 relief
Due to the generosity of individual donors and contributions from the Foundation’s Gifts from the Heart Program, the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation was able to award over $40,000 to more than 140 churches in Nebraska that have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Grants in the amount of $300 were made to assist churches in mission, ministry and greatest needs.
In an effort to bring positivity to this unique time, the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation staff has issued a ‘selfie challenge.’ Once a church receives the grant check, they are challenged to post a selfie with the check to the NUMF Facebook page or Twitter page with the hashtag #NEMethodistStrong. Any church that shares the selfie throughout the month of May will be entered into a drawing for a gift basket that includes a matching $300 grant. The drawing will take place via Facebook Live on Friday, May 29. Visit our Facebook and/or Twitter pages to follow along with the fun.
For a complete list of churches who received a Covid-19 grant or for more information on the Foundation’s Gifts from the Heart program, please call 877-495-5545 or visit www.numf.org.
Nebraska UM Foundation awards
New Start/New Faith Community Grants
The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation would like to announce and congratulate the following recipients of their New Start/New Faith Grant Program for 2020:
- Neighbors Church, Lincoln
- Christ UMC - ConnectioN Point, Lincoln
- St. Paul Benson UMC, Omaha
Due to the generosity of donors supporting congregational development, the Foundation was able to award $50,000 in New Start/New Faith grants.
These grants are available to enhance and support new church development as well as to alleviate some of the financial burden.
Grants are awarded annually. For more information on the New Start/New Faith Grant Program or if you would like to talk to the Foundation about how you can grow these types of grants, please call us at 877-495-5545 or visit our website at www.numf.org.
Nebraska UM Foundation has
more than $30,000 in scholarship funds
The Foundation has scholarship applications available online for seminary students, undergraduate students, pursuing a career in church leadership at www.numf.org. Application deadline is June 30.
Through this program, the Foundation has over $30,000 available in scholarship funds for the 2020-2021 academic year. The following is a list of scholarships available:
- Albert R. Murdoch Ministerial Scholarship
- Alice Kruse Ministerial Scholarship
- Alice Kruse Seminary Scholarship
- Alva Clark Seminary Scholarship
- Andrew & Nevabelle Howe Scholarship
- Baldwin F. & Amy L. Kruse Scholarship
- Ben & Martha Simmons Scholarship
- Charles & Marilyn Humphrey Seminary Scholarship
- Cowles United Methodist Church Memorial Scholarship
- Floma Taylor Ministerial Scholarship
- Harlan & Mabelle Wyrick Memorial Scholarship
- Murdock Ebenezer UMC Professional Church Leader Scholarship
- Myrtle E. Williams Seminary Scholarship
- Scahill Family Scholarship
- Verl & Sylvia Miller Memorial Scholarship
- Tither’s Scholarship
- Women in Ministry Scholarship
Those students applying for the scholarships listed above will also subsequently be considered for the following scholarships: Cal Leeds Scholarship, Darrell & Joyce Pickett Scholarship, Rev. Albert W. Winseman Scholarship and Atherton Memorial Scholarship. Please read the criteria and guidelines for each scholarship carefully prior to applying.
The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation would like to acknowledge the generous gifts donors have made to make these scholarships possible. Thank you for being our partner in ministry. If you would like to talk to someone about how you can honor the memory of a loved one through a named scholarship or provide further financial assistance for a seminary student, call the Foundation at 877-495-5545.
Nebraska UM Foundation announces scholarship program for local pastors
The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation is pleased to announce a new scholarship program to support local pastors. Applications are available online for at www.numf.org. Application deadline is June 30.
Through this new and young program, the Foundation has $5,500 available in scholarship funds for the 2020-2021 academic year. The following is a list of scholarships available:
- Frederick and Esther Paulus Local Pastor Scholarship (three scholarships, $1,500 each)
- NUMF Gifts from The Heart Local Pastor Scholarship (1 scholarship for $1,000)
The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation would like to acknowledge the generous gifts donors have made to make these scholarships possible. Mr. Paulus and his late wife have had a passion through the years for supporting post-secondary education. By setting up an endowment fund at the Foundation, they have been able to fulfill this dream of supporting students. Thank you for being our partner in ministry.
The Foundation’s own Gifts from The Heart Program continues to support five areas: Missions, Youth & Camping, Pastoral Education & Support, New Start/New Faith Communities, and Greatest Needs. We are honored to put the good work and generosity of United Methodists in action through this new scholarship opportunity.
If you are interested in learning more about Gifts From The Heart, we would be honored to partner with you and continue to grow these funds as added resources for our churches. Please call the Foundation at 877-495-5545 or visit our website at www.numf.org.
to take before churches reopen
As churches are making decisions on when to open back up for their worship community, they should also consider a thorough cleaning to keep everyone safe.
Although this information comes from a national cleaning service with several locations in the Great Plains, it is not meant as an advertisement, but includes a list of considerations to make in cleaning the church building.
Read more here.
Churches with PPP loans should
keep in contact with their lender
Last week, the US Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA) announced new guidance on the forgiveness of loans issued through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The guidance stipulates that entities must be able to demonstrate need for the funds in order for their loans to be forgiven and that high levels of liquidity and access to other capital could disqualify some entities from getting loans forgiven.
Some of these guidelines raised concerns among church leaders that their PPP loans may not be forgiven due to significant reserves held by their congregations. If your church is concerned that its level of assets might pose a problem for your loan forgiveness, please contact your lender to discuss your concerns and make sure that your lender has been provided all of your financials, particularly the balance sheet. Keeping in regular contact with your lender continues to be the most important thing you can do to ensure as much of your PPP loan is forgiven as possible.
-- Scott Brewer, treasurer/director of administrative services
This week's Finance Friday
takes on scenario planning
On this week’s Finance Friday, Scott Brewer, conference treasurer and director of administrative services, will talk about some of the basics of scenario planning and some questions churches should consider as they build strategies and budgets for 2021 and beyond. Join the weekly webinar this Friday at noon CDT/11 a.m. MDT at https://zoom.us/j/93991853257.
‘Connected People of God’
digital material is now available
Now through May 15, the People of God campaign is focusing on the digital connections that continue to bring our faith communities together. Be a part of the campaign by downloading graphics for your church’s website and social media pages! Learn more in a new asset usage guide.
‘We are Here’ video, online
resource offers encouragement
A new video and online resource collection is reminding people that The United Methodist Church connection continues to be there for them. Share the video and resource webpage with those who need to feel the encouraging presence of the church.
Celebrate Mother’s Day with free,
shareable social media graphics
Recognize the special love of mothers and mother figures on social media. Download free shareable graphics and post them on your church’s Instagram and Facebook pages. They can stand alone, or they can accompany Scripture passages, words of appreciation or links to online gatherings.
New #IGiveUMC campaign asks for
donations honoring inspirational figures
A new giving campaign, #IGiveUMC, is inspiring United Methodists to donate to local churches in honor/memory of someone who’s made a difference to them. Then, donors are posting on social media and encouraging others to make a gift of their own. Bring this campaign to your church! Explore a kit of resources, including a detailed how-to guide and promotional tools.
Across the Connection
In other news
- Discipleship Ministries: Path 1, May 2020
- Leading Ideas, May 6, 2020
- Camp Horizon update, May 2020
- A sermon for every Sunday, May 5, 2020
- The Source, May 5, 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: worship planning, May 4, 2020
- United Methodist Now, May 4, 2020
- Connectional Giving, May 1, 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: local church racial/ethnic ministries grants, May 1, 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: Slingstones (Korean), May 2020
- GBHEM, April 30, 2020
- Safe Gatherings, April 30, 2020
- Camp Norwesca, May 2020
- Camp Fontanelle, April 2020
- Communication Essentials, April 29, 2020
Blogs and commentaries
- The difficulties are real, but no one is alone: If you are struggling to find a sustainable rhythm or sense of balance in this time of isolation, know that you are not alone. The Rev. Lenora Rousseau, a pastoral director and chaplain from San Antonio, offers suggestions for dealing with the stress and responding positively to God.
- Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!: The celebration of May 1, Iowa Bishop Laurie Haller notes, began in Europe in the 19th century. But it’s taken on new meaning as words of distress, and with the coronavirus pandemic still at the forefront, it’s time to take stock and see how we can embody the love of god in light of deep disappointment and intense grief.