Download the printable version of the Sept. 9 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Laity virtual session of annual conference happening in three weeks
Lenexa church creates first support group in KC for adults with autism
Virtual listening sessions about 2021 budget continue this week
Churches see working with U.S. Census as part of their mission
News about the coronavirus pandemic  
News in the stand against racism 

Go back to school with 'Threshold' for a three-part 'Theology 101'

Bitmoji classroom exercise teaches kids how to use their Bibles
Fresh Expressions offers ‘Steeple to Street’ session to Great Plains 
Summer without campers still productive at Lakeside
Leitourgia hybrid hopes to form next generation of worship leaders

Clergy open enrollment begins Friday, continues through Sept. 25
Kansas UM Foundation presenting seminar series via Zoom
Nebraska UM Foundation offering ministry grants

Topeka church talks about partnership with school
'Storyteller Looks at Parables' is next course from 

In other news
Blogs and commentary


Laity virtual session of annual
conference happening in three weeks

Registration is open for the Laity Session for the 2020 annual conference, which is moving to an online experience due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oct. 1-3 will include three special events — all hosted via the Zoom online conferencing software — to allow laity in the Great Plains Conference to meet, discuss subjects of interest and renew relationships.  

The three events include:

  • Oct. 1, 7 p.m. — The official Laity Session will feature an interactive format that will include worship, opportunities to celebrate mission and joys of ministries, as well as a moderated panel of the conference lay leadership answering questions from those in attendance.
  • Oct. 2, 5:30-6:45 p.m. — The Online Family Reunion Potluck will be a social time designated for laity to chat, catch up with friends and meet new people. Settle in with your dinner as you attend breakout rooms established based on districts, ministry interests and affinities. There is no formal program planned beyond chatting with our Great Plains family. This session will conclude in time for participants to view the Memorial Service, which will appear on the conference website and Facebook page at 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 3, 8:30-9:45 a.m. — Breakfast at the Festival of Booths will provide a time for laity to learn about resources available for ministry and to discover new information and connections around initiatives, mission and ministries. This virtual expo hall will feature a variety of conference groups, and laity will have the opportunity to chat with people and learn more about what they can take back to their home congregations.

Please send any questions to Lisa Maupin, conference lay leader, at

To Top

Lenexa church creates first support
group in KC for adults with autism

It wasn’t the intention of Lenexa St. Paul’s UMC to create what it believes is the only support group in the Kansas City area for adults with autism. 

The group grew out of St. Paul’s presence ministry, which provides dialogue in a relaxed setting rather than the sometimes-overwhelming world of a church service. 

Read more.

To Top

Virtual listening sessions about
2021 budget continue this week

A virtual listening session to discuss the proposed 2021 conference budget for clergy and laity continues with four more presentations:

  • 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
  • Tuesday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m. CDT/7 p.m. MDT, Great West, Hays and Dodge City 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: .

You can find a copy of the current budget proposal and “We’re Great Together,” a narrative version of the budget at

To Top

Churches see working with
U.S. Census as part of their mission

United Methodists across the United States are helping to make sure the census includes historically undercounted populations. In doing so, they hope to strengthen their communities. 

Read more from United Methodist News Service.

To Top

News about the coronavirus pandemic from the Great Plains and beyond

Our Coronavirus page includes updates on reopening churches, sample signs for face masks in your buildings and worksheets for safety plans.

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

Our Racial Justice page includes an invitation to action by Bishop Saenz, how individuals and churches can make a difference, and videos from the three-part "Time to Listen" series.

“The Color of Law” author Richard Rothstein talks about injustice in housing in recent "In Layman's Terms" podcast.


Clergy Excellence

Go back to school with 'Threshold'
for a three-part 'Theology 101'

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 three-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. One 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; Rev. Dr. Jonathan Redding, Assistant Professor of Religion at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Register here.
  • Sept. 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. Register here.
  • Sept. 24, 10:30-11:30 a.m. CDT:  Theology 101: Ecclesiology, Understanding the Church in a Season of Limited Gathering Dr. Amy Oden, Adjunct Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology; Rev. Austin Rivera, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, elder in the Great Plains UMC. Register here.

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.

To Top


Equipping Disciples

Bitmoji classroom exercise
teaches kids how to use their Bibles

September’s Intergenerational Discipleship Resource is an interactive Bitmoji classroom with activities and teaching points for kids on how to use their Bibles, hosted by the Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford, intergenerational discipleship coordinator.

To Top

Fresh Expressions offers ‘Steeple to
Street’ session 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.

To Top

Summer without campers
still productive at Lakeside

Friends and Family of Lakeside,

What a year it has been for all of us here at Camp Lakeside. Earlier this year, we made the heartbreaking decision to put the health of our campers and their families first. Needless to say, it has been a much different summer than most of us envisioned, but we want to remind you of something: the Holy Spirit is moving in a powerful way here at camp.
Here are some updates about the happenings at camp that bring us hope as we are looking for positive news in our lives:

1. Over 300 campers were touched by our camp in a box initiative. The Lord is so good! Even without children and youth on-site, we were able to plant the seeds of Jesus Christ's Love in many households. We are even considering a winter/Christmas camp in a box. Keep an eye in your Facebook feeds and email inboxes later this year to get a taste of Camp Lakeside to get you through the wintertime.

2. Bless our Mess! It has been a busy year for our maintenance team this year. Recently, we have started two bigger projects around our site. First, we are adding 4 RV spots for public rental to our site. These sites will have 30-amp hookups and water. These new sites are near the chapel and campfire area. The sites are already usable, but we are making progress towards adding gravel for parking and signage to better advertise their location and purpose. Give Camp Lakeside a ring if you would like to spend some time at the lake with us!

3. Our second big project is upgrading the reflection pond in the back of the east canyon. We intend to put in a water pump to bring water up to that area. When we look to the future, we plan on adding more seating for personal or group reflection time.

4. We have also had our share of contractors on site this summer. Three bigger projects were underway this summer. First of all, we replaced the rooves on nearly all our buildings. This was from an insurance claim from a hailstorm last year. Needless to say, the roofs look tremendously better and rain is no longer leaking in. The second project was a mandatory upgrade to our water system. We have experienced a tremendous improvement in our water pressure. In addition, our water is safer to drink. The third project is upgrading the pool. This project is still in the works, but we have already began upgrading equipment in the pump house as well as installing a VGB Act compliant main drain cover. Our hope for the next stage of work on the pool is to get the gutters operational again. This will be a financially bigger project and we are working on matching grants that can help support our cause.

The Holy Spirit is moving indeed here at Camp Lakeside! May the Lord pour out His Love on you and keep you and your loved ones healthy and happy as we all navigate these strange times.

God Bless!

-- Ross Janovec, Camp Lakeside Director

To Top

Leitourgia hybrid hopes to form
next generation of worship leaders

Leitourgia (light org ee ah) Hybrid is a fully funded, year-long, intergenerational, mentorship opportunity for churches seeking new ways to incorporate youth into the worship life of their congregations. Participants not only discover the depth of Christian worship practices but will develop their own talents through hands-on training from seasoned leaders in the church. It is created by Seattle Pacific University.

Here are some quick highlights of what a participant can expect:

  • Cultivating a deeper understanding of Christian worship in all its diversity
  • Forming practical skills for worship leadership (not only music) with special attention given to the new needs brought about by COVID
  • Engaging in a digital community through regular rhythms of worship
  • Resourcing teenagers to think biblically, theologically and pastorally about the link between worship and justice

Throughout the program, students will have the opportunity to focus on particular areas in which they wish to grow. Topics include dance, drama, songwriting, spoken word, visual art, song selection, prayer ministry, the public reading of Scripture, facilitating online services, and hospitality. Participants will be provided access to curriculum through a new, interactive and engaging online platform. Best of all, the entire program is free. If you know of a high-school age student in your congregation who might be interested in this program, please check out more details at

To Top



Clergy open enrollment begins
Friday, continues through Sept. 25

Clergy appointed to churches three-quarter time 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 Great Plains website:  

Clergy currently enrolled in benefits have received an email from ADP System, notifying them that open enrollment has started. Clergy wanting to continue their 2020 benefits with no changes are emailing or mailing their benefit statements to their District AA and the Benefits Officer. 

Two Zoom Meetings are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, Sept. 10 and 1 p.m. CDT Friday, Sept. 11 to review the Open Enrollment Guide and to answer any questions regarding benefits. Zoom Meeting information has been emailed through Brick River. 

Explore the Open Enrollment Guide filled with information on optional plans, EAP, Weight Watchers, Virgin Pulsefinding ACA qualifying health plans and Medicare Supplemental Plans along with important enrollment dates. 

To Top

Kansas UM Foundation
presenting seminar series via Zoom

This fall the Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation will kick off a new seminar series, “Learn & Grow.” Topics for the free, monthly seminar will vary. The schedule for this fall is below.

  • Tuesday, Sept. 22 -- How the Foundation Can Support Your Ministry, 2-3 p.m., via Zoom. Presenter: Rev. Dr. Dustin Petz. In the September seminar, Dustin Petz, president of the Foundation, will share ways the Foundation supports ministry of churches through the pandemic and beyond. The Foundation believes there is strength in partnerships and together we can make a difference across our state
  • Tuesday, Oct. 20 -- Understanding the CARES Act and Charitable Giving in 2020, 10-11 a.m., via Zoom. Presenter: A local CPA
  • Wednesday, Nov. 18 - Visioning for Your Church During Times of Change, 11 a.m. to noon -- via Zoom. Presenter: Mark Queen

For additional information and to register for a seminar, please visit

If you have any questions, please contact the Foundation at 888-453-8405 or

To Top

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

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.

To Top



Topeka church talks about
partnership with school

Last week, we told you about Topeka Susanna Wesley UMC and the partnership that the church formed with its neighborhood school to provide a learning lab for students who otherwise might be left home alone.

In this article in Ministry Matters, children’s ministry director Jaymie Genovese and the Rev. Andrew Conard, pastor of Susanna Wesley, talk about the steps they took to make the plan a reality.

Genovese and Conard will be among the panelists for a discussion on partnering with schools during COVID, from 7-8:15 p.m. CDT today. Follow this link to register.

To Top

'Storyteller Looks at Parables' is next
course from 

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 Storyteller Looks at the Parables” is the next session, scheduled for 2-3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17.

It is led by Rev. Charles Maynard, author of “Tidings of Comfort and Joy” and “A Storyteller Looks at the Parables,” and pastor of Cokesbury UMC in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Upcoming courses:

  • 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

To Top


Across the Connection

In other news


To Top

Blogs and commentary

  • Kansas needs Medicaid expansion: Kansas, like most other states, is facing a sharp loss of state revenue due to the economic impact of COVID-19, David Jordan, president of the United Methodist Health Fund, based in Hutchinson, writes for Gannett newspapers in Kansas. Yet, now more than ever, Kansas can’t afford not to expand Medicaid.
  • What happens to agencies in a post-separation church?: Two reserve delegates to General Conference 2021 from Alaska argue that the current church agency structure isn't sustainable if The United Methodist Church splits. Lonnie D. Brooks and Kelly T. Marciales write that it is time to develop a sustainable framework that enhances the church's mission.
  • Changing the conversation about money, church: Money conversations can be difficult in churches. But the Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr., author of several books on church leadership, suggests two principles that can change the tone of stewardship conversations: Never talk about people's money apart from their discipleship, and never talk about the church's money apart from its mission.
  • Video: Pandemic is not punishment: The Rev. Randy Maddox, a United Methodist elder and a professor at Duke Divinity School, wants people to know that they shouldn't view the coronavirus pandemic as a punishment from God for sins. He commented during a recent video webinar on the pandemic held by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

To Top


Facebook Twitter Instagram Subscribe Submit story Website

Conference Office
1207 SW Executive Dr.
PO Box 4187
Topeka, KS 66604