Download the printable version of the June 17 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

United Methodists to unveil ‘Dismantling Racism’ initiative
Voices of GP African American clergy is focus of June 27 webinar
Website page dedicated to racial justice; tell us what you're doing
News in the stand for racial justice from the Great Plains and beyond
Coronavirus adds to stress, depression, anxiety for pastors
Topeka First staff member Harris among ‘IT heroes’ in UMNS article
News about coronavirus from beyond the Great Plains

Bishops are guests on newest episode of ‘Threshold’ this Thursday
Scholarships offered to pastors for mediation skills training

LSM offers laity scholarships, launches endowment fundraiser 
A year to remember for graduates and college students
Readiness 360 Surveys give a snapshot of your congregation

Webinar on Social Principles is scheduled for this Sunday

Finance Friday is on summer vacation
Free Starter Kit available for joining WW through Great Plains Conference
June 30 is application deadline   for local pastor scholarships
Application deadline approaching for Nebraska UM Foundation scholarships 

How to resume ‘care-filled’ in-person worship is subject of new guide
Consider these safe summertime social-distancing activities

Gingerich remembered for works in, out of ministry
In other news
Blogs and commentaries



United Methodists to unveil
‘Dismantling Racism’ initiative

United Methodist Church leaders will launch a plan of action to galvanize church members and others to actively stand against racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd and protests across the United States. 

The “Dismantling Racism: Pressing on to Freedom” initiative is a multi-level effort throughout the denomination to initiate a sustained and coordinated effort to dismantle racism and promote collective action to work toward racial justice. The church-wide effort will kick off this Friday, June 19, 2020, to coincide with Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. An announcement from members of the United Methodist Council of Bishops will be broadcast at 11 a.m. CDT on and Facebook.

Participating in the event will be Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of the Louisiana Episcopal Area, president of the Council of Bishops and the first Hispanic woman to hold that post; Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi of the Pittsburgh Episcopal Area; Bishop Bruce Ough of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area; Bishop Gregory Palmer of the Ohio West Episcopal Area; and Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the New York Episcopal Area.

"Words are great, words are important, but action is really important," said Bishop Harvey. "Pick up your pen, pick up your voice, pick up your feet, and do something."

A day of prayer and worship will follow on June 24 with an online service to be broadcast at noon CDT on and Facebook. There will also be a denominational virtual town hall event July 1, with more details to come as that date approaches.

Regional and local worship events and town hall meetings involving community partners will subsequently take place, either online or in keeping with social distancing protocols. 

United Methodist Communications has launched a national advertising campaign on social media and news websites across the United States as well as digital billboards in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Houston, and Louisville. The ads direct viewers to a website,, where they can find resources to help them learn more and take action.

The United Methodist Council of Bishops has asked all United Methodists to join in prayer at 8:46 a.m. and p.m. for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time the officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck, for at least the next 30 days. 

Advocacy and worship resources will seek to equip leaders, members, and the public to join in this important racial relations work. To encourage wide participation, a variety of materials will be made available in English, Korean, Spanish, French, and Portuguese translations.

The denomination has a long-standing history of advocating for justice. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church recognize racism as a sin and commit to challenging unjust systems of power and access.

Additional information and resources are available online at
Read more at this link.

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Voices of GP African American
clergy is focus of June 27 webinar

A webinar, “A Time to Listen: Voices of African American Clergy in the Great Plains Conference,” is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 27.

The Rev. Dr. Rose Booker-Jones, a retired district superintendent from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference who now lives near Wichita, will be the facilitator.

Panelists are Ronda Kingwood, Wichita Heart of Christ UMC; Rev. Darryl Burton, Church of the Resurrection; Rev. Harry Christian, Topeka Asbury Mount Olive UMC; Rev. Dr. Wayne Reynolds, Crete Grace UMC; Rev. Dr. Charlotte Abram, retired in Omaha; and Rev. Cynthia Smart, Kansas City Mason Memorial UMC.

The webinar is coordinated by the Rev. Dee Williamston, Salina-Hutchinson District superintendent; and the Rev. Nicole Conard, congregational excellence.

The link to register for the webinar is here. Laity and clergy are encouraged to register and attend.

Download the flyer here.

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Website page dedicated to racial
justice; tell us what you're doing

Some United Methodists in Kansas and Nebraska may want to help in the push to bring true racial equality to our country, but they may not know how.

The Great Plains Conference is sharing some tips provided by conference staff and by leaders in our denomination’s general agencies. You’ll find those resources at

If your church is involved in some kind of racial-justice ministry, please share what you’re doing with us by sending an email to David Burke at

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News in the stand for racial justice
from the Great Plains and beyond

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Coronavirus adds to stress,
depression, anxiety for pastors

Facing the coronavirus pandemic for the past three-plus months has taken a mental toll on many of us.

Perhaps none more so as your pastor.

“They’re absorbing the anxiety of the system a lot more,” said the Rev. BIll Selby, founder of the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness of the Rockies.

An article new to the Great Plains Conference website today discusses the added stress for pastors, healthy and unhealthy ways they may have of coping, and what those in the congregation can do to alleviate the stress.

Read more here.

Clergy Faith & Wellness with Rev. Shelly Petz: Pondering the faith, wellness connection.

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Topeka First staff member Harris
among ‘IT heroes’ in UMNS article

A United Methodist News Service story about information technology “heroes” during the coronavirus pandemic focuses on Austin Harris, director of worship and communications for Topeka First UMC.

“Every week brings a new set of challenges and opportunities,” Harris says in the report, with also interviews the Rev. Jeff Clinger, senior pastor.

Although UMNS did not include a picture of Harris with its story – we have included one here.

Read about him and other “IT heroes.”

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News about coronavirus
from beyond the Great Plains


Clergy Excellence

Bishops are guests on newest
episode of ‘Threshold’ this Thursday

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 in the latest webinar/podcast for “At the Threshold: Ministry in Liminal Time.” The discussion will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 18. Register here.

The next episode, at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, July 2, will be  “Death in the Time of COVID.” It will feature three different voices and perspectives of death during this challenging season: Dr. Steve Short, a physician in Manhattan who served for a couple of weeks in Brooklyn during the height of the coronavirus crisis; Rev. Shelly McNaughton-Lawrence, pastor of Aldersgate UMC in Olathe; and Rev. Becky Johnson, chaplain at University of Kansas Medical Center. You can register here.

A new page for the webinar/podcasts is available here.

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Scholarships offered to pastors
for mediation skills training

The Clergy Excellence office of the Great Plains Conference is offering 15, $100 scholarships for clergy who attend Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders, led by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, before the end of 2020.

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. Leaders in all walks of life have a responsibility to lead others through conflict.  This training will equip church leaders with skills to help them deal effectively and healthily with group conflict.  The training will help you in leading the church, in managing interpersonal conflict, and helping other groups resolve conflict in ways that strengthen rather than divide, that bring peace rather than anger. 

The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center has just released dates for this fall, with notice that these trainings will be done by zoom.  Because of this decision, they have reduced the tuition, normally $895, by $200 to $695 for early registrations!  With no travel costs or motel, your actual cost to attend this excellent training is even lower.    

You will find information about this training and instructions for registering in the June 3, 2020, issue of GPconnect, or on the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center website at  

Are you interested?  If so, please apply for the Clergy Excellence scholarship here. Please know that the application will accept more than 15 applicants.  That way, in case one of the first 15 people later decide not to attend, the scholarship can be awarded to the next person in line.   You will be notified if you are in the first fifteen applicants and guaranteed the scholarship.  

If you have questions, please talk with your District Superintendent or Rev. Nancy Lambert at

-- Rev. Nancy Lambert, clergy excellence director
and assistant to the bishop

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Equipping Disciples

LSM offers laity scholarships,
launches endowment fundraiser 

The Great Plains Conference is making available funding for lay persons wishing to further develop their leadership and discipleship skills. These funds are available to any lay person in the Great Plains Conference. The only qualification is that they must not be clergy. Lay servants at all levels are also eligible for this financial support, but these scholarships are not intended to be used for Basic or Advanced Lay Servant Ministry courses or Certified Lay Ministry training. An example event might be the Leadership Institute offered by the Church of the Resurrection. To apply for the scholarship, complete the application form

Lay Leadership Development Endowment Fund 
An endowment fund has been established to perpetuate funds for Lay Leadership Development Scholarships beyond the initial grant-supported project. The goal is $100,000 to be placed in an endowment to support scholarships for at least 20 lay persons seeking advanced training. 

The endowment will be managed by the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation. Funds for the scholarships are matched with conference mission shares dollars. Contributions can be made in several ways such as credit card, check, or consider dedication to a long-term plan such as $200/year for 5 years which results in a total of $1,000. Contributions are made through the Nebraska Foundation. 

More information can be found at our website.

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A year to remember for
graduates and college students

For pastors and amazing youth mentors, if you have high school graduates and college who have been connected to your congregation who are heading to college in the fall, give them the gift of connection by connecting them with the United Methodist Campus Pastor and ministry at their school.  While the school year has been different help them live into the next chapter of their lives, you can help give a gift of connection to a student’s life this fall.

Simply enter their name(s) at to receive a direct personal connection with a campus minister. 
If you prefer to connect them directly with the campus minister with an email or conversation with information at

Thank you for your ministry and work in investing in youth and giving them the gift of the United Methodist connection throughout the Great Plains. 

For more information, check out the list of campus ministries in our Great Plains Conference at

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Readiness 360 Surveys give
a snapshot of your congregation

Surveys are a great way to get a snapshot of where the congregation currently is. The summer is a great time to invite people to take a survey and have a wealth of information to jump off of for the fall.  
Leadership teams can take it in these summer months and expand the invitation to the congregation.  The Readiness 360 Survey also provides a baseline data for pastoral transitions and ways to talk about the current areas of the church. There are two open-ended questions that leadership can choose what they would like to ask, in addition to four key areas of cultural openness, spiritual intensity, missional alignment, and dynamic relationships. It is a free resource with free coaching with a leadership team, all available online. Updated resources and information are listed on
Contact your Congregational Excellence Staff person of your district if you would like more information or how to get started today:


Mercy & Justice

Webinar on Social Principles
is scheduled for this Sunday

Do you know what the United Methodist Social Principles are? Do you want to know more about them? Want to provide a resource for your congregation to learn more? Join the Micah Corps Interns at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, June 21, for their webinar about the Social Principles! We will stream the webinar live on our Facebook page (Micah Corps) with Wichita College Hill UMC. We will be answering questions like: What are the Social Principles? How are they used? Who writes them? And how can churches use them at the local level?

In 1908 the Methodist Episcopal Church decided to take a stand on workers’ rights in what they called a Social Creed. Since then the church has taken a stand on many issues like Environment, Economics, Politics, the Global and Social communities, and many other injustices in our world. Be sure to join us and learn more about where the UMC stands on social justice issues.

-- Carly Redding, Micah Corps

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Virtual march against systemic
racism is scheduled for Saturday

The Mass Poor People's Assembly and Moral March on Washington, billed as a "digital justice gathering," will take place online Saturday, June 20.


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Finance Friday is on summer vacation

Finance Friday is taking the summer off. Look for new episodes this fall that promise to be full of exciting charts, graphs and endless blather.

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Free Starter Kit available for joining
WW through Great Plains Conference

A free WW Starter Kit is available for a limited time for those who join online through the Great Plains Conference with a 50% subsidy for half-, three-quarter and full-time clergy and their spouses, conference full-time lay staff and their spouses.

June is Men's Health Month, and here is a handy list of wellness checks that should take place for men and women.

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June 30 is application deadline  
for local pastor scholarships

The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation is pleased to announce a new scholarship program to support local pastors. Applications are available online for at 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

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Application deadline approaching for Nebraska UM Foundation scholarships 

The Foundation has scholarship applications available online for seminary students, undergraduate students, pursuing a career in church leadership at 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.

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How to resume ‘care-filled’ in-person worship is subject of new guide

"Resuming Care-filled Worship and Sacramental Life During a Pandemic" is a 35-page guide for churches as they prepare to return to in-person worship halted because of COVID-19. An ecumenical team convened by three United Methodists, two of them from Candler School of Theology, produced the guide. It draws on a range of experts, including the Centers for Disease Control.

Read more.

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Consider these safe summertime
social-distancing activities

The summer months offer opportunities for families and churches to leave their screens and move activities to the outdoors — all while continuing to practice social distancing and taking necessary precautions to protect the most vulnerable. 

Check out the ideas.

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Across the Connection

Gingerich remembered
for works in, out of ministry

The Rev. John Gingerich, a retired clergy member who died this month at age 98, led an active life in and out of the ministry. He served on the Kansas East Conference staff as program director and later director of the Council of Ministries.

Earlier, while in Oklahoma, he bridged cultural divides with the first integrated service mission for Caucasian, African American and Cherokee students as the director of the Wesley Foundation at Oklahoma State University. His work at unity, however, lost him his position at OSU.

In his retirement years, he was founder of the Lawrence chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Read his obituary here, and watch a video from the OSU Wesley Foundation.

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In other news

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Blogs and commentaries

  • Ridiculous ‘logic’ of white supremacy: The killing of George Floyd is the latest in a long train of abuses rather than a surprising development, and theology has too often been misused to defend white supremacy. The Rev. Christopher P. Momany from Michigan writes that the church must decide between self-justifications for racism and honest claims to justice.
  • Whites need to join racism fight: The Rev. Erin Day of Palmer, Alaska, urges her fellow white clergy to no longer be silent about racism and repent. She writes that "silence is complicity." 

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