Download the printable version of the July 29 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Conference, Gateway District ask Nebraska to protect meatpackers
More news about coronavirus from beyond the Great Plains
2nd 'Time to Listen' webinar focuses on international voices
More in the stand against racism from beyond the Great Plains
New district superintendents to be installed in virtual ceremony Aug. 16
Intern from Africa helps Omaha Hanscom Park grow garden, mission

Special session of annual conference canceled amid COVID-19 concerns 

For Your Life (virtual) clergy retreat set for Sept. 14-15
Thursday’s episode of ‘Threshold’ discusses educational partnerships

Digital church planting training is subject of upcoming webinar series
Youth Ministry certification course offered for lay persons
Virtual coaching foundations course to begin this weekend 
Connect your high school graduates with campus ministry programs

A summer of growing plants, growing justice and growing faith
United Methodist Women podcast on ‘Dismantling Racism’ available

Kansas foundation seminary scholarship deadline is Friday
Pathways for Discipleship Grants made available to Kansas churches
Nebraska UM Foundation offering ministry grants

Commission on Religion, Race launches online anti-racism course
United Methodist Men offers book of prayers

In other news
Blogs and commentaries


Conference, Gateway District ask
Nebraska to protect meatpackers

The Great Plains Conference and the Gateway District are among 25 organizations calling for greater coronavirus protection for workers in Nebraska meat and poultry plants. 

“We have seen more than three months of slow and insufficient action by meat and poultry plants to proactively institute COVID-19 safety protections,” the letter, dated July 23, reads. “As cases continue to rise, we can't afford to navigate the next six months without clear protections.” 

Read more here.

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More news about coronavirus
from beyond the Great Plains

Our coronavirus page gets you up to date with information on worship tools, online communication, church life, giving, clergy resources, social distancing and more.

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2nd 'Time to Listen' webinar
focuses on international voices

The second in a three-part webinar series, "A Time to Listen," focused on four international clergy who serve the Great Plains Conference.

Watch the video that includes the Rev. Kibum Kim, Pastor Angie Vertz, Rev. Charles Murithi and Rev. Ever Mudambanuki.

Read a recap of the webinar.

The third and final segment of the series, "Where Do We Go From Here?" will be from 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8. Panelists will include Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., as well as the Rev. Kathy Williams, Holton UMC; Rev. Dr. Jeff Gannon, Wichita Chapel Hill UMC; Rev. Andrew Finch, Hiawatha UMC; and the Rev. Chris Jorgensen, Omaha Hanscom Park UMC. 

Download a flyer for the next webinar.

Register for the webinar.

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More in the stand against racism
from beyond the Great Plains

Our racial justice page has resources for you to learn about ways you can help in the stand against racial injustice.

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New district superintendents to be
installed in virtual ceremony Aug. 16


Three incoming district superintendents -- two newcomers to the cabinet and a third with new responsibilities -- will be celebrated in a virtual ceremony at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16.

Rev. Tom Brady, serving Five Rivers and Parsons Districts; Rev. Jenny Collins, Flint Hills and Topeka districts; and Rev. Dee Williamston, who has added the Hutchinson District to her duties with the Salina District, will each speak and receive gifts for the new appointive year. The combined worship service will a joint online service for all six districts. 

Download the flyer with Zoom registration information.

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Intern from Africa helps Omaha
Hanscom Park grow garden, mission

When Peter Kanjara told the Rev. Chris Jorgensen that he was looking at internships including one in the Great Plains Conference, "I just thought, that was it, he’s coming to Hanscom Park," the church in Omaha where she's beginning her fourth year as pastor, she said.

The two have a friendship that extends six years, when he was a student at Africa University and she was a visiting seminarian.

Read more about Peter Kanjara and Hanscom Park.

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Annual Conference

Special session of annual conference
canceled amid COVID-19 concerns 

The special session of the Great Plains Annual Conference session scheduled for Oct. 1-4, 2020, in Grand Island has been cancelled due to uncertainty about future coronavirus-related gathering restrictions. 

The annual conference will still provide ways for us, together, to celebrate the lives of deceased clergy and clergy spouses, as well as celebrate the commissioning and ordination of pastors. We also will work together to approve a budget for 2021. 

The budget process will look different than years past. Here is the proposed procedure:? 

  • Aug. 15 to Sept. 11: Regional online budget sessions for clergy and laity members of the annual conference held to present the proposed 2021 Great Plains Conference budget. Dates for regional budget sessions to be announced soon. 
  • Oct. 5: The 2021 Great Plains Conference budget with ballots will be sent to clergy and lay members to the annual conference. 
  • Oct. 30: Final 2021 budget ballots will be due from annual conference voting members. 
  • Nov. 6: Final 2021 budget vote results will be reported to the conference. 

Clergy and Laity sessions 

An online Clergy Session will be conducted at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 2. More details will be announced as that date draws nearer. 

The Laity Session will be conducted at a time and date to be announced soon with a format fitting for an online delivery. 

Worship services 

The Memorial Service will be recorded and broadcast on the conference website and Facebook page at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2. The Rev. Morita Truman, pastor at First United Methodist Church in Great Bend, Kansas, will be the preacher. 

The Commissioning Service will be livestreamed on the conference website and Facebook pages at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, from St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Omaha. Physical attendance will be limited to those specifically invited. 

The Ordination Service will be livestreamed on the conference website and Facebook pages at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, from St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Omaha. Physical attendance will be limited to those specifically invited. 

Stay up to date with plans for these annual conference session-related events on the Great Plains website at

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Clergy Excellence

For Your Life (virtual) clergy
retreat set for Sept. 14-15

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted much of our typical day-to-day life, both personally and in the life of the church. Every leadership skill that clergy have developed in the past has been utilized, and new needs have emerged for many clergy. And, while it’s always been important to minister out of a depth of a relationship with Christ, it’s never been as critical as it is now to be rooted and grounded in the love of Christ. Would you benefit from having a two-day, guided virtual retreat to give you an opportunity to connect with others through (virtual) worship together, take an honest look at how you’re doing, and also walk away learn about creating a Rule of Life and Learning Plan for focusing your plan for growth?

For your Life: Giving your soul time and means to grow is a virtual retreat that will introduce you to the framework for creating a Learning Plan, give you resources, guide you in worship, and most importantly, give you space to spend time in solo reflection and/or connection with others. Participants will join by Zoom and we encourage you to join us from a place that you can have space to create an environment for reflection and rest for the whole time of the virtual retreat**. We will start at 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 14 and will meet at various times between then and 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15. While we will be meeting for worship, conversation, and feedback, the retreat will include several videos that will provide instruction and guidance for your solo work. The expectation is that you will be able to be fully engaged to the work of the For Your Life retreat during the length of the time we’ve identified, even if you are meeting from your home. The cost to participate in the For Your Life virtual retreat is $10 and includes a “Retreat in a Box” kit with resources, items for worship and a little bit of fun thrown in for good measure! The deadline for registering for the retreat is Tuesday, Sept. 1. 

To register and for more information, check out the website, or email the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford at

We will also be offering some mini-grants for those who might be interested in creating their own retreat setting at St. Benedict’s Retreat Center in Schuyler, NE. Individuals can make their own arrangements for a personal solo retreat and will reimburse the cost of one night after the event, minus $25. To request a personal mini-grant, contact Rev. Nancy Lambert,

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Thursday’s episode of ‘Threshold’
discusses educational partnerships

“At the Threshold: Ministry in Liminal Time” is a twice-monthly webinar and podcast hosted by the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator, and the Rev. Shelly Petz, clergy health and wellness specialist.

Upcoming topics:

  • The Church as an Educational Partner (July 30, 10:30 a.m. CT) — Part of our Wesleyan heritage is to support education as a way of impacting society in a positive way. School districts, teachers, and families navigating the changes of these last couple of months are stressed. How can churches partner to support this important work on behalf of our children? Shelly and Ashlee will be joined by the following: National Teacher of the Year Tabatha Rosproy, early childhood educator who directs a preschool in a nursing home in Winfield, and Grand Island Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Tawana Grover as we discuss positive partnerships between churches and schools. Register here.

  • Material Poverty in the Midst of a Pandemic (August 13, 10:30 a.m. CT) -- While the pandemic has impacted all of us, the materially poor among us seem to have been impacted the most. We’ll hear from two people who can help us see those who may be invisible and discuss ways that we might be able to share hope in tangible ways: Rev. Kalaba Chali, the Conference Mercy and Justice Coordinator and Rev. Marcee Binder, the newly appointed Mission Outreach and Justice Ministries Coordinator for the Missouri River District. Register for this important conversation here.

Mark your calendar for Aug. 27 and Sept. 10 at 10:30 a.m.! More topics and links to listen to past episodes are available here:

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Equipping Disciples

Digital church planting training is
subject of upcoming webinar series

A live, six-week webinar, “Digital Church Planting Training: Creating Faith Communities for Transformative Ministry,” will be from Aug. 4 to Sept. 8.
Presented by Discipleship Ministries, this new training that will equip you to offer an online worship service combined with a house-church network so that you can continue to offer transformative ministry during this season of Coronavirus and beyond.

Lead by experts in the field, this training will walk you through the new world of digital planting. Discussing how to create a budget and social media plan, as well as safe steps to take for reopening in the future.

Topics include:

  • Theological foundations of digital church planting
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Social Media
  • How to create a budget for an online church
  • Online Discipleship Options and Platforms
  • Multi-ethnic church planting

The cost is $200 per planter, including live access and a digital bundle of resources.

More information and registration is available here.

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Youth Ministry certification
course offered for lay persons

The Institute for Discipleship and Youth Ministry Institute are partnering to offer a Certification in Youth Ministry that is designed to equip lay people who work with youth in local churches – both paid staff and volunteer. Four, six-week courses and one, 12-week practicum provide solid instruction and best practice in topics ranging from teaching the Bible to understanding adolescent development, with youth ministry veterans providing content and coaching from start to finish.

Working with youth can sometimes create a feeling of isolation among those who serve them. Past studies have noted that up to 80% of youth pastors have reported feeling unqualified and frequently discouraged. A recent certification student noted that “I really liked the interaction with the other students in my courses -- it made me feel not so alone in the journey.” Each of the IFD/YMI courses includes regular interaction with peers and instructors, as well as topical video conversations that allow students across the country to connect and support each other.

Each six-week course costs just $125, and the 12-week practicum with personal coaching is $325 – the entire program can be completed in just 18 months. Part-time and full-time youth workers, youth sponsors, and dedicated volunteers will benefit from this learning experience. For more information or to enroll today, visit

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Virtual coaching foundations
course to begin this weekend 


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 6-9 p.m. CT 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 at this link.
What is coaching
If you have questions, email Shane Warta, lay leadership coordinator, at

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Connect your high school graduates
with campus ministry programs

For pastors, youth ministers, and amazing youth mentors, if you have high school graduates heading to college in the fall, give them the gift of connection by connecting them with the United Methodist Campus Ministry at their school.  While the school year has been different help them live into the next chapter of their lives.

Simply enter their name(s) here 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  

-- Rev. Nicole Conard, young adult leadership/campus ministries

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Mercy & Justice

A summer of growing plants,
growing justice and growing faith

As the summer is coming to an end and it been a good summer despite COVID-19 as a Micah Corps intern, I have learned so much about so many topics and one topics lingers at the back of my head. Maybe it is because I am not good at this particular thing or maybe it is because before Carol Windrum, I just never enjoyed talking or learning about Creation Care.

Rev. Carol Windrum introduced us (probably just me) to and on this wonderful website there is an blog post titled “52 Ways To Care for Creation,” which is the best thing since sliced bread for people like me who don’t know where to start when it comes to caring for our creation.

No. 15: Start a Garden, Indoors and Out! on the list resonated with me because of my upbringing. A little bit on me, I grow up in a missionary area called Mulungwishi in D.R. Congo, and in Mulugwishi almost every household had a garden at back of their house, but I have never been a fan of gardening. I thought it was too much work but my sister apparently didn’t. She enjoyed it so much that when she moved here even though the weather is way different and she didn’t really have good soil on the ground she learned how to improvised, and worked really hard to get her garden to flourish and today we are eating the vegetables from her garden.\

All this is to say even though I am not a fan of gardening I will show my appreciation by helping out a little more whenever I can and there are many more things I can do to participate in creation care like No. 20: Advocate for Environmental Justice, 28: Make Your Next Shopping Trip Green and 46: Invest in a Reusable Water Bottle as well as 34: Spend Time Outside This Week.

Like Carol said, “You can’t protect something you don’t love.”

--Sheka Appoline Olenga
Micah Corps Intern

The final podcast from this summer’s Micah Corps interns is available here.

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United Methodist Women podcast
on ‘Dismantling Racism’ available

A podcast of last week’s “Faith Talks: Dismantling Racism” is now available at or on the UMW website at

The videotaped killing of George Floyd has focused the world on the racism steeped into our nation’s founding and poisoning our institutions for too long. Enough. We must end racism now. We cannot burden another generation with this. Listen in on this Faith Talks conversation as we talk about the United Methodist Church’s Dismantling Racism: Pressing On to Freedom initiative. -- Panelists: Bishop Cynthia Harvey, Louisiana Annual Conference; Erin M. Hawkins, General Commission on Religion; Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Board of Church and Society; Harriett Olson, CEO, United Methodist Women; and Sally Vonner, Transformation Officer, United Methodist Women.

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Kansas foundation seminary
scholarship deadline is Friday

Applications for the fall KAUMF Seminary Scholarship are due July 31, 2020. The full eligibility guidelines and application are available online.

The scholarship is available to seminary students who are a certified candidate for ministry or a provisional member of the Great Plains Conference from churches in Kansas.

The Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation Seminary Scholarship Fund was started by the Kansas West Conference with the goal of raising $4 million to help persons called into ministry graduate from seminary without debt. We are honored to continue helping seminary students in the Great Plains Conference.

If you are interested in helping to raise up the next generations of church leaders or if your church has resources dedicated to helping students go to seminary, but do not currently have students in the church to support, we would be honored to partner with you. Please contact the Foundation at 888-453-8405,, or

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Pathways for Discipleship Grants
made available to Kansas churches

What ministries could be possible with the support of a matching grant? The Kansas Area Foundation is offering Pathways for Discipleship Grants to Kansas churches and organizations in three key areas of ministry, children and youth programs, ministry and outreach, and leadership education. Applications for a 2020 grant are due on Sept. 1. The application is available at

Children and youth program grants are available to support all aspects of programming for children, youth and young adult ministries. The grant assists with the development of new, unique programs to attract children, youth, and young adults to the church through local church, district, campus ministry or conference experiences.

Ministry and Outreach grants help support churches in reaching the community in activities such as, programming, mission trips, and outreach ministry

Leadership Education grants support education and leadership development of clergy and lay leaders. Grants may also assist in providing trainings for a church, network, or regional gathering.

If you have any questions, please contact the Foundation at or 620-664-9623.

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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 our website at

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.

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Commission on Religion, Race
launches online anti-racism course

The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race is launching “You Are Here: First Steps for White Christians on Race and Racism,” an online course for Christians who want to acquire a fundamental understanding of race and racism from a biblical perspective. The four-part self-directed course begins Aug. 1 and special preregistration discounts are available. 

Register for course.

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United Methodist Men
offers book of prayers

United Methodist Men has published a free collection of prayers, “United Methodist Men Pray for Peace With Justice.” 

Download the prayer book.

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Across the Connection

In other news


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Blogs and commentaries

  • Online worship makes evangelism less intimidating: One apparent advantage of online worship is that people seem to be more inclined to extend and respond to invitations to check out church online. The Rev. F. Douglas Powe and Ann A. Michel from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership offer tips for virtual evangelism.
  • Lowering the wall of separation: The U.S. Paycheck Protection Program lowered the wall of separation between church and states in a significant way, writes the Rev. Robert J. Harman. The retired mission executive outlines possible implications for United Methodist entities that accepted funding through the federal loan/grant program.

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