Download the printable version of the Aug. 26 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Great Plains pastors talk about returning to in-person worship
Other news about the coronavirus pandemic from beyond the Great Plains
‘Color of Law’ author visits podcast, tells of racial injustice in housing 
News in the fight against racism from the Great Plains and beyond
Fresh Expressions offers ‘Steeple to Street’ webcast to Great Plains Oct. 23
Old friends reminisce, look at future in newest ‘Potluck’ episode

Poverty during pandemic topic of newest ‘Threshold’ podcast 
Next week is deadline to register for For Your Life (Virtual) Retreat

Fontanelle’s pumpkin patch, corn maze to open Sept. 20
'Reimagined' Fontanelle BBQ scheduled for Sept. 20

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 75 years after nuclear bomb drop

Offering prayers, financial support as hurricane nears Louisiana, Texas
Conference donates sanitizer to Washburn
KDHE outlines risks of lead poisoning in kids

Clergy Open Enrollment for 2021 will be Sept. 11-25
Beware of scam email supposedly coming from bishop
Nebraska UM Foundation awards local pastor, seminary scholarships
Nebraska UM Foundation offering ministry grants to churches, agencies
Pathways for Discipleship grants offered by Kansas UM Foundation

RESOURCES offers courses for CEU credit
Hamilton hosts 'Preparing for Advent in unparalleled times'

K-State Wesley has socially distanced welcome cookout
In other news
Blogs and commentaries


Great Plains pastors talk about
returning to in-person worship

As some United Methodist churches return to in-person worship, it seems likely that the virtual church experience will be the preference of some congregants going forward. This report from the United Methodist News Service includes interviews with the Rev. Amy Lippoldt and staff parish chair Jim Berg from Papillion St. Paul’s UMC, and the Rev. Andrew Conard from Topeka Susanna Wesley UMC.

Read more here.

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Other news about the coronavirus
pandemic from beyond the Great Plains

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‘Color of Law’ author visits podcast,
tells of racial injustice in housing 

Noted columnist and author Richard Rothstein started exploring how segregation impacted education. What he discovered was how detrimental policies set by federal agencies deliberately held down African Americans regarding housing. As a result, Black Americans have not been able to build wealth, they live near more environmental hazards and have continued to be treated as second-class citizens.  

Rothstein records his findings in “The Color of Law,” and he sits down with Todd Seifert, conference communications director, in the latest episode of the “In Layman’s Terms” podcast. In this episode, Rothstein walks through the major themes in his sobering yet easy-to-understand explanation of how the U.S. government carved out such a divide among people of different races.  

You'll quickly learn the tactics that not only maintained but expanded on racial inequality. 

Download the podcast

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News in the fight against racism
from the Great Plains and beyond

Our continuing "Responding to Racism" story is updated with a Nebraska pastor who notices that God has been left out of the racial discussion -- and the march at the state capitol on Sept. 4 that he is planning for clergy in the Blue River District and beyond.

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Fresh Expressions offers ‘Steeple to Street’ webcast to Great Plains Oct. 23

A webcast designed for the Great Plains Conference by Fresh Expressions US, “From the Steeple to the Street: A New Kind of Local Church for a New Kind of World,” will be offered from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT Friday, Oct. 23.

From the Fresh Expressions website: “Across the United States and beyond, the God who ‘makes all things new’ is up to something. Amid a Christian landscape that looks and feels like a desert of decline, new oases of the Spirit are springing forth. Inherited congregations, with long histories, deeply rooted in their traditions, are experimenting with new ways of being church. When these congregations commit to introducing new people to Jesus, new leaders (both lay and ordained) are discovering that they can start fresh expressions of church to reach those outside of the church AND that our existing congregational systems can be retro-fitted for a new future through a process of ‘remissioning.’

“Matt Lake and Michael Beck employ very different approaches, but their congregations are finding new life. They will explore the theological underpinnings for becoming a new kind of local church, as well as share practical tools, practices, and processes to help local congregations cultivate a new future.”

The cost is $5. Register at this link.

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Old friends reminisce, look at
future in newest ‘Potluck’ episode

“Potluck” host David Burke's friendship with the Rev. Brenda Davids, pastor of Council Grove Dunlap-Wilsey UMCs in Kansas, goes way back -- before they were born!

They explain how their lives have intersected many times through the years, as well as her former career in baking and how she transitioned to becoming a pastor, plus how her churches are surviving and thriving during the pandemic.

Listen to the newest “Potluck” episode.

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Clergy Excellence

Poverty during pandemic topic
of newest ‘Threshold’ podcast 

The latest episode of the “At The Threshold” podcast invites us to dig beneath the surface on those who are experiencing poverty of material resources in this season of economic and health insecurity in which people with little financial insulation are finding themselves struggling for material resources.  

Hosts the Revs. Ashlee Alley Crawford and Shelly Petz invite listeners to learn about neighbors who are experiencing such difficulty. These people are our family and friends. They are us. We 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 & Justice Coordinator, and?Rev. Marcee Binder, the newly appointed Mission Outreach and Justice Ministries Coordinator for the Missouri River District.? 

Download the podcast. 

The next segment, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, Aug. 27, is “Discerning Spiritual Direction in a Season of Uncertainty.” Spiritual Direction as a Christian practice offers ways to root us and help us discern God’s presence in this liminal time. Join retired Great Plains pastors Rev. Dr. Connie Wilson and Rev. Stephen Griffith and lay person, Matthew Johnson of the Neighboring Movement, as they discuss ways to engage in the practice and also introduce it to others. Mark your calendar and register here.

“Back to Seminary: Theology 101” is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, September 10. As the first of a two-part series, the hosts are going back to school to think theologically about our current circumstances. They’ll visit with two professors of theology who can help us navigate some of the big questions during this season. Find out more — and register — here.

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Next week is deadline to register
for For Your Life (Virtual) Retreat

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 after the event, minus $25. To request a personal mini-grant, contact Rev. Nancy Lambert,

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Equipping Disciples

Fontanelle’s pumpkin patch,
corn maze to open Sept. 20

On Sunday, September 20, Camp Fontanelle will welcome guests to the pumpkin patch and corn maze. Preparations are moving forward with readying the camp with sanitizing measures, signs reminding people to social distance and a suggestion to wear masks.

The corn was planted before the country started making major decisions about social distancing and the design was created at about the time that the decision to suspend summer camp was made. The camp staff held onto the fact that corn and pumpkins were growing. The corn maze and pumpkin patch prepared itself for guests!

Wholestone Farms sponsor this year’s corn maze. Wholestone Farms is a pork processing facility located in Fremont. We are pleased to have this vibrant business sponsoring the maze this year.

How will things look different? The only event being offered this year is Search for Treats on Sunday, Oct. 25 from 2-4 p.m. All other special events, including Scary Maze Nights and the Annual Halloween Wilderness Run/Walk, have been canceled.

For 2020, the corn maze will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-6 p.m. from Sept. 20 to Nov. 1. The camp reserves the right to close for the season if directed health measures deem it necessary. Any changes to the schedule will be announced on the corn maze website at

The staff is prepared and ready to offer guests a wonderful experience this fall at the pumpkin patch and corn maze at Camp Fontanelle.

--Jane Van Horn, camp coordinator

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'Reimagined' Fontanelle
BBQ scheduled for Sept. 20

Are you tired of being indoors? Are you looking for outdoor options? Consider traveling to the country and visiting Camp Fontanelle on Sunday, Sept. 20.

After sending out a survey to the Camp Fontanelle family, the site council decided to move forward, with a downsized version of their annual BBQ and Auction. With the summer, on site, camping ministry canceled, Sept. 20, is a very important date. In a “normal” year, up to $40,000 is raised on BBQ Day. The site council is confident that camp supporters will support the camp with financial gifts, whether they attend the event or not.

This year’s BBQ is a BBQ reimagined! Being very conscious of following the Washington County Directed Health Measures, the BBQ will be all outdoors. The site council determined that it would be best to hold all activities up at the corn maze area; this includes the worship service, food service and the fundraising auction.

Worship will be held at 11 a.m. The grilling station will be open for service at noon. Based on health measures, the menu for the day will be hamburger or hot dog, chips, carrots, chocolate chip cookie bar and a drink. At this time, the grilling station is planned to be near the Camping Caves that allows social distancing.

In the past, there was a silent auction and a live quilt auction. To avoid people congregating, the silent auction will not be held in 2020. The live auction will offer quilts, as well as quality made items. The auction will be online, at a minimum. This means bidding can take place before hand. At this time, there is a plan to have a live auction, on the stage, at the Petting Barn at 2 p.m. More information will become available when the auction website is up and running.

If a person is not able to attend on Sept. 20, donations may be made online by going to the camp’s website

Quilts and other items are still needed for the auction. If a person has a quilt or an item to be considered for the auction, please contact camp coordinator Jane Van Horn at 402-278-0526 or

--Jane Van Horn, camp coordinator

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Mercy & Justice

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 75 years after nuclear bomb drops

This August was the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and three days later on Nagasaki. The number of human lives lost is beyond imagining. On the days themselves and then over the next two to four months, the effects of the atomic bombings killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki. Many more died in the following months. Every one of these victims was a beloved child of God.

Read more here.

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Disaster Response

Offering prayers, financial support
as hurricane nears Louisiana, Texas

As Hurricane Laura heads toward the Louisiana and Texas coast, the Great Plains Conference is offering support and prayers, the Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator, said.

“We will assist as we are invited to do so,” Tapley said.

Tapley said UMCOR relief kits will not be needed at the present time, and she will communicate the need for them.

As of mid-Wednesday afternoon, Laura was a Category 4 hurricane.

Those who want to contribute to UMCOR can do so on its secure website.

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Conference donates
sanitizer to Washburn

The Great Plains Conference has donated two, 50-gallon drums of liquid sanitizer to Washburn University for use by its students, faculty and staff.
Picking up the drums are, from left, Jeremy Foxhoven, gardener; Mike Jauken, ground chief; the Rev. Hollie Tapley, conference disaster response coordinator; and Heather Dunlap, emergency management director.

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KDHE outlines risks
of lead poisoning in kids

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment wants to encourage parents and caregivers to understand the risks of lead poisoning in children and when to ask for a blood test.

Read more here from the KDHE.

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Clergy Open Enrollment
for 2021 will be Sept. 11-25

Clergy appointed to churches three-fourths to full-time are eligible for optional benefits through the Conference. This is the time to explore what Great Plains Conference offers in optional benefits. All benefit coverage and cost can be found on the GP website:
Your individual benefit letters and statements that will be mailed this week and on Sept. 8 you will receive and email from ADP notifying you about open enrollment.
Watch for the Open Enrollment Guide on GPconnect on Sept. 9, providing information regarding optional benefits, enrollment dates and assistance for obtaining health plans and Medicare for 2021.
Two Zoom Meetings are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sept. 10 and 1 p.m. Sept. 11 to review the Open Enrollment Guide and to answer any questions you have regarding benefits. Zoom Meeting information will be sent out through Brick River email on Friday, Sept. 4. 

--Peggy Mihoover, conference benefits officer
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Beware of scam email
supposedly coming from bishop

We’ve said it once, but unfortunately we need to say it again: The bishop does not want you to buy gift cards on his behalf.

A few clergy across the Great Plains reported this week receiving another email mimicking the bishop’s name asking for help in purchasing gift cards. This is something the bishop will simply not do. If you receive such an email purporting to be from the bishop or from your district superintendent or pastor, read it carefully and always check the “from” line to see if it is legitimate. Todd Seifert, conference communications director, wrote a blog about this subject about two years ago that contains helpful information for identifying “spoof” emails.

In general, if you doubt the validity of an email, please call the person directly to verify the information in the email. But in the vast majority of cases, it is a good practice not to ever purchase anything based on an email request alone.

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Nebraska UM Foundation awards
local pastor, seminary scholarships

The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation Board of Directors is pleased to announce the Foundation was able to distribute nearly $30,000 in scholarships to 15 students pursuing the ministry. The following is a list of scholarship recipients for the 2020-2021 academic year:

  • Mandy Barkhaus: Harlan and Mabelle Wyrick Memorial Scholarship
  • Caitlin Bentzinger: Cowles UMC Memorial Scholarship
  • Rebecca Borgman: Scahill Family Scholarship, Cal Leeds Memorial Scholarship
  • Matthew Borland: Floma Taylor Ministerial Scholarship, Harlan and Mabelle Wyrick Memorial Scholarship, Cowles UMC Memorial Scholarship
  • Jenice Epp: Frederick and Esther Paulus Local Pastor Scholarship, Gifts from the Heart Local Pastor Scholarship
  • Elizabeth Graverholt: Alice Kruse Ministerial Scholarship, Alva Clark Seminary Scholarship
  • Kayla Houck: Floma Taylor Ministerial Scholarship
  • Kalingwishi Anny Kapundu: Harlan and Mabelle Wyrick Memorial Scholarship, Ben and Martha Simmons Scholarship
  • Albert Longe: Floma Taylor Ministerial Scholarship, Verl and Sylvia Miller Memorial Scholarship
  • Cameron Miller: Alice Kruse Ministerial Scholarship, Alice Kruse Seminary Scholarship, Harlan and Mabelle Wyrick Memorial Scholarship, Myrtle E. Williams Seminary Scholarship
  • Karissa Miller: Andrew and Nevabelle Howe Scholarship
  • Lami Oladimeji: Baldwin F. and Amy L. Kruse Scholarship, Floma Taylor Ministerial Scholarship
  • Helen Paus: Harlan and Mabelle Wyrick Memorial Scholarship, Charles and Marilyn Humphrey Seminary Scholarship, Alice Kruse Ministerial Scholarship
  • Maria Penrod: Women in Ministry Scholarship, Rev. Albert W. Winesman Scholarship, Rev. Richard Atherton Memorial Scholarship, Darrell and Joyce Pickett Scholarship
  • Victor Peterson: Floma Taylor Ministerial Scholarship, Albert R. Murdoch Ministerial Scholarship

These scholarships would not be possible without donors. Thank you to all the donors and their families for relieving the financial burden of our future pastors. If you are interested in setting up a Scholarship Fund in honor of or in memory of a loved one, please contact the Foundation by calling 877-495-5545.

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Nebraska UM Foundation offering
ministry grants to churches, agencies

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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Pathways for Discipleship grants
offered by Kansas UM Foundation

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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offers courses for CEU credit

Since 2018, United Methodist clergy and other church leaders have taken one-hour continuing education classes at In addition to admission into live sessions, registrants receive a video recording of the webinar and a certificate representing 1-hour CEU credit. The cost for each session is $25.

A session scheduled for today is by Olu Brown, “Leading Your Church Toward ‘Destiny Living’ Instead of ‘Default Living.’”

Upcoming courses:

  • Sept. 1: “Lead Your Congregation to Make Disciples Like Jesus,” Phil Maynard
  • Sept. 17: “A Storyteller Looks at the Parables,” Charles Maynard
  • Sept. 2: “Engaging the Congregation – Tips for Powerful Preaching,” Bishop Sharma Lewis
  • Sept. 29: “Developing Effective Communication to Grow Your Congregation,” Kevin Slimp
  • Oct. 6: “Planning for Advent and Christmas During COVID-19,” Anne Bosarge
  • Oct. 13: “More Than a Sermon – Tops to Becoming More effective as a Pastor,” Quincy Brown
  • Oct. 15: “Effectively Encouraging Your Congregation to Become Risk-Takers,” Rebekah Simon-Peter

Hamilton hosts 'Preparing for
Advent in unparalleled times'

How can church leaders imaginatively prepare for the Advent season without the traditions of its typical events and rituals? The Promise of Advent webinar series, hosted by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, will discuss church leaders' hopes and concerns around Advent planning with a panel of pastors, theologians and worship leaders. The four-part series began Tuesday (available on demand here) and concludes Sept. 3.

Learn more and register here.

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Across the Connection

K-State Wesley has socially
distanced welcome cookout

K-State Wesley held a social distance version of its traditional Welcome Cookout on Aug. 16.

Wesley board members provided the food and did the grilling for the students.

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In other news


Blogs and commentaries

  • Becoming part of the solution to racism: Confessing to being part of the problem of racism is a first step toward being part of the solution, writes the Rev. Ryan Dunn, minister of online engagement with United Methodist Communications. “The racism I need to root out is present in my attitude of exceptionalism — that the acceptable way of being is in being like me.”
  • Young adults urged to ensure fair elections:  National Justice for Our Neighbors communication manager Laura Sonnenmark encourages young people to register as poll workers, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic means many older adults will not be able to serve. "Now is the time for the younger generation, those who are not medically compromised, and especially those who speak a language other than English, to step up to ensure a safe, fair and orderly election for all voters," she writes.

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