Download the printable version of the Sept. 2 issue of GPconnect.
In this edition:
THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Virtual listening sessions about 2021 budget set for September
Former Nebraska Bishop 'Woody' Hearn dies at age 89
Louisiana United Methodist churches recovering from Hurricane Laura
Spread of COVID sees increased online worship, strained finances
More news of coronavirus pandemic from beyond the Great Plains
#30DaysAntiRacism campaign continues through September
More about the stand against racism from the Great Plains and beyond
Resurrection's 'Art of Hospitality' is subject of 'Potluck' podcast
Church plants retain momentum, but not numbers, UMC expert says
Clergy retreat scheduled for Nov. 2-4 at St. Benedict’s Center
‘Season of Uncertainty’ is subject of newest ‘Threshold’
Take survey to help grow kids, youth ministry in conference
‘Steeple to Street’ webcast offered to Great Plains on Oct. 23
MERCY & JUSTICE
Kansas-based Faith in Democracy voter drive to kick off Sept. 17
Being informed can make a big difference during an emergency
CDC graphic shows how to select, wear, clean your mask
Conference recommends church not offer lay employees tax deferment
Workers’ comp, property renewal questionnaires are due Sept. 15
Clergy Open Enrollment for 2021 will take place from Sept. 11-25
Fall invitational tools available at a discount from UMCom
ACROSS THE CONNECTION
Brown featured in webinar with Wichita Saint Mark’s Johnson tonight
Topeka church partners with school for learning on remote days
Wichita State campus ministry kicks off with Welcome Week
In other news
Virtual listening sessions about
2021 budget set for September
A virtual listening session to discuss the proposed 2021 conference budget has been rescheduled for clergy and laity in the Great West, Hays and Dodge City districts.
The new date will be 8 p.m. CDT/7 p.m. MDT Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Here are the times for the other districts:
- Tuesday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m. CDT: Gateway, Prairie Rivers and Elkhorn Valley districts
- Thursday, Sept. 10, 7 p.m. CDT: Blue River, Missouri River and Kansas City districts
- Tuesday, Sept. 15, 7 p.m. CDT: Topeka, Flint Hills, Five Rivers and Parsons districts
- Thursday, Sept. 17, 7 p.m. CDT: Salina, Hutchinson, Wichita East and Wichita West districts
If you are unable to attend the session for your region, you are welcome to participate during one of the other listening sessions. To join the webinar go to this link at the scheduled time: https://zoom.us/j/92968937592 .
You can find a copy of the current budget proposal and “We’re Great Together,” a narrative version of the budget, at www.greatplainsumc.org/conferencebudget.
Former Nebraska Bishop
'Woody' Hearn dies at age 89
United Methodist Bishop J. Woodrow “Woody” Hearn led annual conferences in Nebraska and Texas and traveled the world as president of the Board of Global Ministries. He died Monday at age 89. Colleagues recalled his commitment to missions and ecumenical work.
Read story from UMNS.
Nebraska colleagues praise Hearn’s faith, focus, fairness.
Louisiana United Methodist churches
recovering from Hurricane Laura
Hurricane Laura may not have brought the widespread devastation that was feared, but southwest Louisiana was clobbered by its powerful winds. Pastors reported damage, some of it extensive, to a handful of United Methodist churches in and near Lake Charles.
Report from UM News Service.
Video: Louisiana Bishop Cynthia Fiero Harvey assesses damage.
Use this link to donate to the Louisiana Conference by website or text.
Spread of COVID sees increased
online worship, strained finances
The spread of COVID-19 has made an impact on United Methodist finances and online worship attendance. At its August meeting, the board of the General Council on Finance and Administration got an update on both. The board also named a new general counsel.
Read more from United Methodist News Service.
More news of coronavirus pandemic from beyond the Great Plains
continues through September
Join the General Committee on Religion & Race for 30 Days of Anti-Racism. Each day we will engage in an activity that helps us to become more anti-racist in the ways we think and act. Share your progress with a picture or a reflection using #30DaysAntiRacism.
Encourage your friends, members of your congregation, Sunday school class, pastors, and community partners to join this 30 day.
More about the stand against racism
from the Great Plains and beyond
Resurrection's 'Art of Hospitality'
is subject of 'Potluck' podcast
The warm welcome that visitors get when they enter the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood is all by design and — two of the hospitality leaders of the church say — is a reflection on the church's founding pastor, the Rev. Adam Hamilton.
Yvonne Gentile and Debi Nixon have written a book, "The Art of Hospitality: A Practical Guide for a Ministry of Radical Welcome," that is meant to help churches develop a culture to truly become a warm, welcoming place for people seeking an encounter with the Holy Spirit.
Download and listen here.
Church plants retain momentum,
but not numbers, UMC expert says
Like seemingly everything else in 2020, new church starts have stalled because of the pandemic. In fact, the Rev. Paul Nixon, a new church strategist for The United Methodist Church, says fewer conferences have planted this year than at any other time in his ministry.
Nixon spoke to eight pastors in various stages of new church development Aug. 27-28 — two attending online and six in person at Topeka First UMC, one of the first in-person training sessions since the pandemic began.
Read more here.
Clergy retreat scheduled for
Nov. 2-4 at St. Benedict’s Center
The Roots for Your Soul clergy retreat has been scheduled for Nov. 2-4 at St. Benedict’s Center near Schuyler, Nebraska.
The Covenant Team of the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Clergy Excellence Team of the Great Plains Conference recognize the importance of creating time to tend to your soul and have partnered to plan this retreat. In addition to intentional learning around spiritual formation and soul care, there will also be a spiritual director on hand to meet with you if this could benefit you in your ministry or personal life.
Read more in this letter to clergy.
‘Season of Uncertainty’ is
subject of newest ‘Threshold’
“Discerning Spiritual Direction in a Season of Uncertainty” is the subject of the latest “At the Threshold” webinar/podcast hosted by the Revs. Ashlee Alley Crawford and Shelly Petz.
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 Matthew Johnson of the Neighboring Movement as they discuss ways to engage in the practice and also introduce it to others.
Download the podcast here.
Watch the discussion on YouTube.
Back to School -- Theology 101
Clergy Opportunity for Contact Hours for CEUs in September 3-part series of At the Threshold
September marks a time of going back to school in a variety of ways this year. Clergy, there is a great opportunity for you to receive Contact Hours and engage with exceptional professors. "At the Threshold" for September has been updated to a 3-part series to go "back to school" to think theologically about our current circumstances. College and Seminary professors will help us navigate some of the big questions that we are facing personally and professionally during this season.
You can register for one session or all three. 1 Contact Hour is available for each of the sessions that you attend.* There is no cost to register. All sessions will be held on Zoom.
Sept.10, 10:30-11:30 a.m. CDT: Theology 101: Creating a Theological Framework for Preaching and Teaching: Dr. Jackson Lashier, Assistant Professor of Religion and Chair of the Social Sciences division at Southwestern College. Register here.
September 17, 10:30-11:30 a.m. CDT: Theology 101: Theology of Psalms and Lament: Gnashing of Teeth, Nurturing of Soul: Dr. Kris Kvam, Professor of Theology at Saint Paul School of Theology
September 24 10:30-11:30 a.m. CDT: Theology 101: Ecclesiology, Understanding the Church in a Season of Limited Gathering
Each conversation will be shared in a podcast format several days after the initial conversation. Search for ”At the Threshold” on Podbean or Apple Podcasts or check out individual episodes here.
*The contact hour is only available if you register and attend the conversation in its scheduled time.
Take survey to help grow kids,
youth ministry in conference
We are excited to grow connections for kids ministry and youth ministry leaders across the Great Plains Conference! We anticipate these connections opening doors for us to encourage, support and inspire one another. As a first step, we're inviting you to take this 5-minute survey to ensure we have your current contact information and to inform how we can best support you. Looking forward to the connections your responses will enable!
--Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford
Intergenerational Discipleship Coordinator
‘Steeple to Street’ webcast
offered to Great Plains on 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.
Mercy & Justice
Kansas-based Faith in Democracy
voter drive to kick off Sept. 17
Join together with congregations and partner organizations from across Kansas on Sept. 17 to kick off the 2020 statewide Faith in Democracy voter mobilization effort.
Organizers will provide resources and hold a short training on its Voter to Voter program. Voter to Voter is a non-partisan, crowd-sourcing effort to increase voter turnout in Kansas, with an emphasis on reaching those who are underrepresented in the political process.
Leaders will walk you through the online tool and the steps you need to successfully turn your networks out to vote.
Faith in Democracy is co-sponsored by The Voter Network, the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund and the Neighboring Movement.
Register today: https://www.thevoternetwork.org/faith_in_democracy_kickoff_2
Being informed can make a big
difference during an emergency
Make sure everyone in your household can receive, understand, and act on information received in an emergency.
CDC graphic shows how to
select, wear, clean your mask
Masks help stop the spread of COVID-19 to others. Visit the Center for Disease Control's new web page to learn How to Select, Wear, and Clean Your Mask. Wear masks in public settings around people who don’t live in your household and when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others.
Making a decision about selecting a mask can be confusing. This new website provides tips on how to choose your masks.
Conference recommends church
not offer lay employees tax deferment
Based upon a review of the guidance from tax and legal professionals, Great Plains Conference Administrative Services recommend that local churches should NOT offer their lay employees the payroll tax deferment made available by President Trump’s August 8, 2020, executive order.
Read more from conference treasurer Scott Brewer.
Workers’ comp, property renewal
questionnaires are due Sept. 15
This is a reminder that all Workers’ Compensation renewal questionnaires are due no later than Sept. 15. Also, the property/liability renewal questionnaires for the former Kansas East Conference churches is also due no later than Sept. 15. If you haven’t received your packet, please contact our broker, Assured SRA. Call Karen Hoskins at 913-236-3015 or Sue Courtney at 913-236-3017.
Clergy Open Enrollment for 2021
will take place from Sept. 11-25
Clergy appointed to churches three-fourths to fulltime 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: www.greatplainsumc.org/2020optionalbenefits.
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
Fall invitational tools available
at a discount from UMCom
The United Methodist Communications' promotion is running out! For a limited time Great Plains Conference can get $150 of free Fall Invitation Tools
. You need to hurry since there are less than 200 slots left.
The promotion only works once per church, so try to maximize your $150 discount. No minimum spend necessary and this offer ends when the funds run out.
Pick a Fall Design
, Customize Online, add to cart, and checkout with promo code
Across the Connection
Brown featured in webinar with
Wichita Saint Mark’s Johnson tonight
Rev. Olu Brown, senior pastor of Impact United Methodist Church in East Point, Georgia, one of the fastest-growing Black churches in the country, will be the guest of Rev. Robert Johnson for a webinar at 7 p.m. CDT today on the Wichita Saint Mark UMC Facebook page.
Brown, who began Impact Church in 2007 and moved it into a 76,000 square-foot warehouse in 2014, is the author of “4D Impact: Smash Barriers Like a Smart Church” and “Leadership Directions from Moses: On the Way to the Promised Land.”
Topeka church partners with
school for learning on remote days
Topeka Susanna Wesley UMC has partnered with Auburn-Washburn USD 437 to give Indian Hills Elementary students a safe place to study on remote learning days.
The church launched the “Learning Lab,” a hybrid environment for Indian Hills Elementary students and children of staff members.
The Rev. Andrew Conard, Susanna Wesley pastor, said the partnership with the school has new meaning this year.
“They’ve offered us the use of their desks as well as some other tangible supplies to help us make this happen,” he said. “We just want to do what we can to partner with them to help serve our community and they’ve been very gracious in helping us make it possible.”
Watch video from WIBW.
Wichita State campus ministry
kicks off with Welcome Week
Wichita State University is back in session and campus ministry is here. We were out during Welcome Week sharing hope and blessings with the students as they headed to and from class. There is a different atmosphere on campus compared to most semesters. There is a quiet calm instead of the rush of energy that is normally here. Part of the difference is the change to more hybrid and online classes so students are not leaving their dorms as often as they would. This allowed us to have more one-on-one conversations with the students as they passed compared to other semesters.
We finished off Welcome Week with our annual Bingo event. We moved to online this year to promote and maintain social distancing. We had 15 students participate, only four were returning students. We had seven winners. Fun was had by all! We look forward to what this semester will bring and helping students during these times.
--Melissa Hasty, campus pastor
In other news
- Discipleship Ministries: Path 1, September 2, 2020
- Connectional Giving, September 2, 2020
- Leading Ideas, September 2, 2020
- Camp Fontanelle, August 2020
- A Sermon for Every Sunday, September 1, 2020
- MyCom, September 1, 2020
- Slingstones (Korean), September 2020
- Discipleship Ministries: Worship Planning, August 31, 2020
- United Methodist Now, August 31, 2020
- Leading Ideas Talks, August 29, 2020
- Released and Restored, September 2020
- GBHEM Communications, August 27, 2020
- Compass, September 2020
- UMCOMtigo, August 27, 2020
- Ministry Matters, August 26, 2020