Download the printable version of the July 8 issue of GPconnect.
In this edition:
THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Great Plains churches' response to racism is subject of new series
Anti-racism education/advocacy grants are available from conference
'A Time to Listen' to continue July 25 with voices of international clergy
News of the coronavirus pandemic from beyond the Great Plains
Conference in need of information from its retirees
Covenant Community planned for 5 Day Academy veterans
Lombard Mennonite Peace Center offers online events
Yearlong plan for young discipleship announced
Share your faith stories with us in daily devotions
MERCY & JUSTICE
Micah Corps interns hosting worship Sunday on Facebook Live
Nebraska UM Foundation offering ministry grants
Kansas foundation invites new partners to invest in loan ministry
Commission on Religion and Race offers suggestions of racial action books
ACROSS THE CONNECTION
Seminary scholarship connects retired pastor with student
Saint Mark pastor to co-host Bible study with Pentecostal leader
In other news
Great Plains churches' response
to racism is subject of new series
Tragic events of the spring and summer of 2020 have brought to the forefront something that Black Americans have known for some time: The struggle for equality is still very real.
With a mission for mercy and justice in Nebraska and Kansas, the Great Plains Conference is committed to non-violent expressions against racism and bigotry, as well as educating our communities about a Christian commitment to equality.
In a new, ongoing story on our website, which we will update as warranted, we will focus on the work that is being done by our churches to inform their communities and actions they take to stamp out racism.
Our first example comes from Omaha, where churches are combining their efforts for an online book club that discusses titles related to racism and white privilege.
If your church has an innovative or impactful method in the stand against racism, contact David Burke in our communications department, email@example.com.
grants are available from conference
Grants for anti-racism education and advocacy are available through the congregational excellence team of the Great Plains Conference.
These grants are meant to help our congregations and networks learn about white privilege and structural racism and develop strategies to overcoming these. We call on congregations, on pastors and on laity in leadership positions “to educate themselves about the root causes and manifestations of racism, ethnocentrism, and tribalism within communities of faith and to develop strategies for overcoming these kinds of social divisions.” (UM Revised Social Principles, Other Social Issues, L, p. 29) It is expected that the grant receiver will send a short report about the project which can be shared through GPconnect. Maximum grant: $300.
To apply for a grant go to:greatplainsumc.org/serving-with-others-grant.
Check out these grant recipients to spark an idea for your area:
- Great West and Gateway districts, with 112 churches, 11 networks and 70 pastors, are striving for one-fourth of pastors to participate in book discussion groups followed by conversation for deeper understanding and relationship with white pastors and pastors of color. The first book will be a book study on “White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” by Robin DiAngelo.
- Columbus First UMC in Nebraska has a Christian Social Witness Team who is offering Zoom conversation on racism for the Columbus congregation to express concerns and feelings about Black Lives Matter protests. After the listening session, purchasing study materials for group members and for church library. The goal is to educate about the deep history of racism in U.S. The ultimate goal will be to have group of folks who feel they can speak out about racism and take informed action.
- Greely UMC in Nebraska is providing multicultural Christian books for children, male/female Hispanic and black dolls in nursery, for youth Deep Blue Faith and Culture and book on racism for adults to be able to read to supplement sermon about all of God’s children on racism. The books to be read are to help educate our congregations and if they receive a non-white pastor, they will be more educated on what to do and not do. This will be done before school begins.
Do you have an idea? Apply today.
'A Time to Listen' to continue July 25
with voices of international clergy
The second in a series of webinars, "A Time to Listen" will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 25.
The subject will be international and immigrant clergy serving in the conference, and panelists will be the Rev. Denise Sawyer, Lee Memorial Health System, Cape Coral, Florida; Pastor Angie Vertz, Bison-LaCrosse-Otis UMCs in Kansas; the Rev. Kibum Kim, Wichita Pleasant Valley UMC; the Rev. Charles Murithi, Nebraska City UMC; and the Rev. Ever Mudambanuki, Bennington-Solomon, Kansas.
Log-in information is available here.
Watch the first Time to Listen webinar from June 27 and read a recap.
From United Methodist News Service: Unsnarling U.S., church racial history.
Our Racial Justice page includes ways to bring messages of nonviolence and harmony to your communities.
News of the coronavirus pandemic
from beyond the Great Plains
Our coronavirus page includes material from the CDC and Kansas and Nebraska health departments, as well as worksheets for safely reopening church buildings.
Conference in need of
information from its retirees
Many of our Great Plains Conference retired clergy have asked for a better way to reach out to and stay in contact with their colleagues, so our communications team and district administrative assistants have embarked on a project to make that possible.
The first step is making sure our information is as current as possible.
So, if you are a retired pastor, please contact your district office by July 31 to ensure we have the most current information for the following items — all of which is already published in the conference journal on our website:
- Current residential address
- Email address
- Phone number — home and cell if you have one
This will help us populate an online database that will be searchable by name and by district.
Please contact your district office by that July 31 deadline so we can help facilitate communication between retirees!
Covenant Community planned
for 5 Day Academy veterans
Those who have attended a 5 Day Academy for Spiritual Formation at any time are invited to take part in a covenant community of persons who meet six times a year in a retreat setting. Attached are a letter of invitation and the schedule for the upcoming 2020-2021 community.
If you have attended but not received an invitation, please contact the Rev. Michelle Reed in Aurora, Nebraska.
Lombard Mennonite Peace
Center offers online events
The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center has announced new online events for the rest of 2020.
Five, 90-minute webinars, three one-day workshops and two major training events have been scheduled, via Zoom conferencing.
More information is available here.
Yearlong plan for young
The Great Plains Conference’s congregational excellence team is releasing an annual plan for discipleship for young people and their families, beginning with back to school activities in August and continuing through the summer of 2021.
“Pastors and ministry leaders can start to think about incorporating this into their year-planning process,” said the Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford, intergenerational discipleship coordinator.
Download the annual plan here.
Share your faith stories
with us in daily devotions
Want to start your day with some inspiration? Get our daily devotions delivered to your email!
Do you want to share your story of faith with others in the Great Plains Conference? Join our talented group of writers from among the clergy, laity and staff of the conference.
Daily lectionary verses are available for inspiration, but if there is a verse that is on your heart, please feel free to use it instead. Write a meditation on the scripture of about 300 words and a two-sentence prayer for reflection.
We welcome a variety of experiences and viewpoints -- you do not have to be a seminary scholar to share your view of God's grace and Christ's love!
Use this link to sign up.
Mercy & Justice
Micah Corps interns hosting
worship Sunday on Facebook Live
The Micah Corps interns will be hosting a worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday, July 12, on their Facebook Page. They will be talking about what they have been learning about this summer and how we are all connected through our faith.
There will be more information on the Micah Corps Facebook page as the week progresses.
Nebraska UM Foundation
offering ministry grants
The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation is pleased to announce a ministry grant opportunity available to Nebraska churches and affiliated agencies of the Great Plains Conference.
The Foundation is able to award these grants due to the generosity of donors to our Gifts from the Heart Endowment Fund. These grant dollars are available to enhance and expand your ministries. The ultimate goal of these awards is to provide assistance, both for new ministries and thriving ministries wishing to grow.
These grants are made for programs and activities and include operating expenses and supplies necessary for those programs or activities. They are not made for building repair, replacement, or expansion.
The application deadline is Sept. 30. For application materials and more information, please visit https://www.numf.org/scholarships-grants.
If you have questions about the application process or would like to talk to the Foundation about how you can help grow these types of grants, please call 877-495-5545.
Kansas foundation invites new
partners to invest in loan ministry
The Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation invites you to partner with us in the Church and Ministry Loan Program through a Certificate of Participation.
A Certificate of Participation, CP, helps fund loans to churches and organizations throughout the Great Plains Conference. Through investing in a CP, you will partner with the Foundation in the work God is doing across our connection through ministry expansions, building renovations, new church starts, refinancing, and more.
Churches and individuals in Kansas and Nebraska are able to invest in a CP with the Foundation. The current rates, as of July 1, 2020, are a 1.00% for a 2-year CP and 0.75% for a 1-year CP. Learn more about the loan ministry and partnering with the Foundation at www.kaumf.org/loans.
Commission on Religion and Race
offers suggestions of racial action books
As United Methodists are being urged to take action against the sin of racism, one place to begin is by reading books from a variety of perspectives. No shortage of such books exists, but the United Methodist Publishing House and Commission on Religion and Race have some recommendations for beginning the journey.
Read more about the books.
Across the Connection
Seminary scholarship connects
retired pastor with student
Stonewall and Betty Jackson of Tucson, Arizona, recently made a scholarship gift to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, in honor of Rev. Norton “Butch” Ritter of Baldwin City, Kansas. Maria Penrod (pictured here) of Overbrook, Kansas, will receive the scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year and Garrett-Evangelical will match the Jackson’s gift.
Read more about the scholarship, Ritter and Penrod.
Saint Mark pastor to co-host
Bible study with Pentecostal leader
The Rev. Robert Johnson, pastor of Wichita Saint Mark UMC, and Pastor Jeff Ready, director of promotions for multicultural ministries for the United Pentecostal Church International in Kansas City, will host an online Bible study at 7 p.m. today on the Saint Mark Facebook page.
“We were both born in ‘60’s. We grew up, together, in the deep South -- Mississippi, in fact,” Johnson wrote on his Facebook page. “We went to the same schools. He’s white, and I’m black. Both of us are pastors. I’m a United Methodist. He’s a Pentecostal. Somehow, by the sovereignty of God, we have both found our way to the Midwest. We rediscovered each other a few years, ago, and have become good friends, in spite of our occasional disagreements about some political issues. According to the expectations and reasonings of society, our friendship wasn’t supposed to happen. So, how did it happen? What’s the power or reality that has brought us together?”
The virtual online Bible study will share how Jesus guides the two men’s friendship and why Jesus “is highly relevant for these challenging and revolutionary times in which we are living,” Johnson wrote.
In other news
- Leading Ideas, July 8, 2020
- UMY Institute, July 2020
- GCFA Collaborator, July 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: Children’s Discipleship, July 6, 2020
- A Sermon for Every Sunday, July 6, 2020
- MyCom, July 6, 2020
- Mission Link with Dr. David Upp, July 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: Worship Planning, July 6, 2020
- GHEM Resources, July 2, 2020
- UMCOMtigo (in Spanish), July 2, 2020
- Ministry Matters, July 1, 2020
- Camp Chippewa, July 2020
- Camp Norwesca, July 2020
- Great Plains United Methodist Men, July 2020