Download the printable version of the June 3 issue of GPconnect.
In this edition:
THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Black clergy called to lament together, strategize possible action at conference
UMC pastors a part of Salina NAACP prayer vigil to denounce racial injustice
More news on fight against racism from the Great Plains and beyond
Revised annual conference session approves sale of Comeca, disaffiliations
Handful of Great Plains churches are returning to live, in-person services
Coronavirus news from beyond the Great Plains
New ways of ministry is topic of this week's 'Threshold' clergy discussion, podcast
Gatobu offers video sermon to Great Plains
Four mediation skills training sessions offered via Zoom in 2020
When virtual space becomes sacred -- 2020 interns adapt to online fellowship
Camp Fontanelle introduces 'virtual camp' for summer of 2020
Foundations of coaching course to begin next month
MERCY & JUSTICE
Longing and acting for peace – June 7 is Peace with Justice Sunday
Micah Corps interns for 2020 are commissioned -- via Zoom
Be aware of, prepare for your family's unique needs
Finance Friday: Making sense of data in a world that doesn’t make sense
Nebraska UM Foundation announces scholarship program for local pastors
Nebraska UM Foundation scholarship application deadlines are at end of June
Understanding the safety of online giving
Tips to increase your church's online giving
ACROSS THE CONNECTION
In other news
Blogs and commentaries
Black clergy called to lament together,
strategize possible action at conference
“… and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8, NRSV.
This past week we experienced yet another brutal and senseless killing of a black man, George Floyd. His death happened at a time when we are already grieving the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We grieve with their families and lift them up in prayers. As Christian people, we are also called to do more than issuing statements and praying, we are called to act. Micah 6:8 reminds us that we are required to seek justice. We are called to dismantle the evil of racism in our society and heal the brokenness it causes.
Therefore, we invite all black clergy to a gathering of laments and to strategize possible actions that the Mercy & Justice Team will present to the October Annual Conference session.
The gathering will be held by Zoom at 7 p.m. Friday June 5.
Please, continue to pray for all the families who have lost loved ones.
If you have any questions, please reach out to one of us.
Peace and grace,
Rev. Dr. Anne Gatobu, Kansas City District Superintendent
Rev. Dee Williamston, Salina-Hays District Superintendent
Rev. Sarah Marsh, Chair of Mercy & Justice Team
Rev. Dr. Kalaba Chali, Coordinator of Mercy & Justice
UMC pastors a part of Salina NAACP
prayer vigil to denounce racial injustice
Several United Methodist pastors, including the Rev. Dee Williamston, Salina-Hays District superintendent, shown here, were among those who took part in a prayer vigil Saturday night in Salina. Williamston, religious affairs coordinator for the Salina NAACP, was among the organizers of the vigil.
Carly Redding, a Micah Corps intern from Winfield Grace UMC, was among those in attendance and shares her thoughts here.
More news on fight against racism
from the Great Plains and beyond
- Salina Journal: The Rev. Dee Williamston, Salina-Hays District superintendent, organizes Saturday night vigil in Salina.
View Salina Journal photo gallery.
- KLKN, Lincoln: The Rev. Kirstie Engel, pastor of Lincoln First UMC, commending peaceful protests.
- KPTM, Omaha: UMC pastors among faith leaders speaking out against local, national racial incidents.
- Listen to Nick Talbott, pastor of Salina University UMC, and his interview with Williamston in podcast.
- United Methodist News Service: UMs protest, preach, decry racism.
- National Council of Churches calls Floyd death ‘an outrage.’
- UMNS: Houston pastor connects through protest hymn.
- Council of Bishops: COB supports Minnesota bishop in fight against racism.
- UMW decries recent killings, continues justice work
- Rev. Junius Dotson to moderate “Navigating 2 Viruses: Regathering in the Midst of Racism & Pandemic,” at 10 a.m. CT Tuesday, June 9.
Revised annual conference session
approves sale of Comeca, disaffiliations
On what was supposed to have been the final day of the Great Plains Annual Conference session, a telephone conference call took place to vote on time-sensitive issues.
The session, for about three hours on Saturday morning, included approval of the sale of Camp Comeca, ratification of disaffiliation agreements for six churches, and the closing of 14 churches, two in Nebraska and a dozen in Kansas.
Read more here.
Handful of Great Plains churches
are returning to live, in-person services
With prayer, caution and proper sanitization, a handful of churches in the Great Plains Conference have returned to in-person services.
The churches, all in western Kansas and western Nebraska, began in-person worship throughout May. They all followed the list of precautions and recommendations from Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. and the conference staff before returning to live worship.
The pastors of six of those churches talk about what it took to reopen their buildings and what changes had to be made.
Read their story.
United Methodist News Service: Churches should practice caution before reopening.
Relaunching youth ministry after COVID has been added to our coronavirus page and virtual church life page.
Coronavirus news from
beyond the Great Plains
New ways of ministry is topic of newest
'Threshold' clergy discussion, podcast
“Practical Questions for New Ways of Ministry” (10:30 a.m. CT Thursday, June 4) will be the topic of the next Zoom webinar in the series “At the Threshold: Ministry in Liminal Time,” hosted by the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator, and the Rev. Shelly Petz, clergy wellness specialist. Several Great Plains pastors will identify some of the questions — and opportunities during this new season. Register here.
The Bishops on Spiritual Leadership (10:30 a.m. CT Thursday, June 18) -- Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. will be joined by retired bishops Ann Shearer Simpson and Bruce Blake to share how they themselves are navigating this season and offer their perspectives on Spiritual Leadership during this new and challenging season. Register here.
Mark your calendar for July 2, 16, and 30 for 10:30 a.m.! More topics announced soon!
Past discussions can be found on our podcast page. Listen at this link.
Feel free to reach out with possibilities or questions to Ashlee, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Shelly, email@example.com.
Gatobu offers video
sermon to Great Plains
The Rev. Dr. Anne Gatobu, Kansas City District superintendent, is offering a video sermon to any churches in her district or the Great Plains Conference.
“Wrestling with God” is approximately 27 minutes and is based on Genesis 32:22-32. The scripture is read by the Rev. Nicole Conard, young adult leadership and campus ministries coordinator for the conference, and the congregational excellence team liaison to the KC District.
Watch the video here.
Four mediation skills training
sessions offered via Zoom in 2020
The Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders, presented by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, will continue with four Zoom sessions later this year: Aug. 3-7, Aug. 31 to Sept. 4, Oct. 5-9, and Nov. 16-20.
Conflict is an inevitable and normal part of life, occurring in the home, church, school and workplace. Mediation Skills Training Institute equips pastors and other church leaders with the skills necessary to deal effectively with interpersonal, congregational, and other forms of group conflict. Active and practical in focus, the daily sessions emphasize hands-on skills training and real-life role-plays based on the kinds of conflicts faced by participants.
A $200 tuition discount is available for all sessions. Detailed information, including discount deadlines and a registration form, is available on the current MSTI brochure.
When virtual space becomes sacred --
2020 interns adapt to online fellowship
When plans for 2020 were in the making, no one could have known how different this year would be. The annual summer internship orientation and spiritual retreat couldn't take place in the usual way. So, the leaders got creative.
They transformed the usual retreat into a virtual retreat.
Find out more in this video, also available for download.
Camp Fontanelle introduces
'virtual camp' for summer of 2020
With in-person camping experiences called off for the summer of 2020, the program director at Camp Fontanelle begin to think of ways that camp could be delivered for those who wished they were spending time away from home.
Find out how Fontanelle's first Virtual Camp came to be.
Foundations of coaching
course to begin next month
Would you like to make a discovery and learn the foundations of coaching? The new coaching foundations course aims to equip laity with the skills and methods for successful leadership and coaching practice.
The virtual coaching foundations course will be from 6 to 9 p.m. CDT Friday, July 31, and 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 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
What is Coaching? https://www.dropbox.com/s/67uiu92oyc2ylyh/Foundations%20promo-zoom.mp4?dl=0
If you have questions, email Shane Warta, lay leadership coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mercy & Justice
Longing and acting for peace –
June 7 is Peace with Justice Sunday
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
June 7 is this year’s Peace with Justice Sunday, one of the designated Special Sundays in our denomination.
As our country struggles with so much upheaval and such ingrained and institutionalized injustice for so many of God’s beloved children, it is important to remember that working for peace and justice is our call from God.
Prayer (shared by the Rev. Stefanie Hayes)
Holy God, I pray that when I see faces and names scrolling through my feed, I see you.
Holy God, may I know that the blood in the streets is your blood.
Holy God, may I feel your suffocating final moments on the cross every time I see the words, “I can’t breathe.”
Holy God, may I believe that one day justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.
Holy God, may I know that you call us to be a part of your rolling justice and flowing righteousness.
In the words of The UMC Confession and Pardon,
I confess that I have not loved you with my whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
I have not done your will,
I have broken your law,
I have rebelled against your love,
I have not loved my neighbors,
and I have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive me, I pray.
Free me for joyful obedience,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
At Special Sundays, offerings are taken. These funds received for Peace with Justice are then made available to support churches and church groups as they engage in peace with justice work. During COVID-19, you can mail a check to your local church or the Great Plains Conference (indicate in the subject line that the check is for Peace with Justice Sunday). You can also give electronically here: http://www.umcgiving.org/ministry-articles/peace-with-justice-sunday. This is also where you can find many resources for this Special Sunday.
Micah Corps interns for 2020
are commissioned -- via Zoom
It's a year of many firsts in the Great Plains Conference, and that includes the commissioning of Micah Corps interns via Zoom video.
The commissioning was conducted by Maddie Johnson, pastor of Winfield Grace UMC.
Find out more in this article from Micah Corps intern Sam Redfern.
Be aware of, prepare for
your family's unique needs
Do 1 Thing is a 12-month program that makes it easy for you to prepare yourself, your family, and your community for emergencies or disasters.
Every household is different. Is there an infant or young child in your home? Does someone in your family have a medical condition that requires medication? Do you have a pet? Before disaster strikes, talk to your family about your household’s unique needs. Make a list of special items you may need in a disaster.
Read more here.
Finance Friday: Making sense of
data in a world that doesn’t make sense
On this Week’s Finance Friday, conference treasurer and director of administrative services Scott Brewer reviews data from the Great Plains and what it does and doesn’t tell us about our people and churches. Join the live webinar this Friday at noon CT/11 a.m. MT by going to: https://zoom.us/j/93991853257.
For an archive of past shows and slide decks, go to www.greatplainsumc.org/financefridays.
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, call the Foundation at 877-495-5545 or visit website at www.numf.org.
Nebraska UM Foundation scholarship
application deadlines are at end of June
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.
safety of online giving
News reports about security leaks and identity theft can make many people hesitant to participate in online giving. Churches can help members confront their concerns and once addressed members will understand how easy it is to support church ministry efforts. The Rev. Jeremy Steele, teaching pastor at Christ UMC in Mobile, Alabama, offers some tips.
Read more here.
Tips to increase your
church's online giving
Online giving is more important than ever in a time when congregations are unable to physically gather. The Rev. Jeremy Steele of Christ UMC in Mobile, Alabama, offers some tips to ensure generosity thrives during and beyond the days of social distancing.
Read more here.
Across the Connection
In other news
- Discipleship Ministries: Path 1, June 3, 2020
- Communications Essentials, June 3, 2020
- Camp Horizon, June 2020
- Leading Ideas, June 3, 2020
- Peace with Justice Sunday, June 2, 2020
- The Source, June 2, 2020
- A sermon for every Sunday, June 2, 2020
- Camp Fontanelle, June 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: Generous Living, June 1, 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: Worship Planning, June 1, 2020
- United Methodist Now, June 1, 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: Slingstones (in Korean), June 2020
- Larry Kies Update from Mutare, May 2020
- Faith in action, May 28, 2020
- Compass, May 28, 2020
- Ministry Matters, May 27, 2020
Blogs and commentaries
- The risk the white church must take to address racism: “The single greatest obstacle for the white church's response to racism isn't silence, it's being lukewarm. It's being shallow and timid in how we address racism in the church,” writes the Rev. Eric Mayle, minister of community justice at Centenary United Methodist Church in Macon, Georgia. He said it's time to talk about the systems of oppression that produce the incidents making headlines today.
- Making the most of your first Sunday back: The Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter writes about how a congregation's first Sunday back in its building is cause for celebration. But she also suggests ways to make the most of the milestone while COVID-19 continues to pose risks.
- The risks of reopening and not reopening church: The Rev. Teddy Ray, a United Methodist pastor from Lexington, Kentucky, writes that church leaders need to consider a number of risks — both in reopening churches and staying closed.