Download the July 6 edition of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Clergy invited to continue bolstering their discipleship
Meet congregational excellence team, learn from a new playbook
Jurisdictional committee recommends electing 3 bishops in November
UMC releases its annual state of the church report
United Methodists worldwide are standing with Ukraine

Remembering your call -- and savoring mountaintop moments
Mentoring registration for candidates, local pastors will open on Friday
BOOM scholarships open for fall ‘22, winter ‘23
Worship resources offered for election season
After sermon series workshop, clergy will have 6 months of material

Camp Horizon offering bricks in 75th anniversary campaign
Absaloms return to discuss discipleship in webinar series
Set vision for children's ministry this school year during July 9 webinar

Reflections from a squeaky bunk bed
Registration deadline for Living Stones Holy Land trip coming up

NAMI conference kickoff scheduled for July 21
Great Plains to join in new number for suicide prevention line

Nebraska United Methodist Foundation offers ministry grants 
July 15 is deadline for KMF  2022-23 seminary scholarships

Narrative budget course returns; pre-registration available now
General Commission on Status, Role of Women unveils e-newsletter

VBS decorates sidewalks outside Wichita memory care unit
In other news


Clergy invited to continue
bolstering their discipleship

As a continuation of the “Reimagine Discipleship” theme from the 2022 annual conference session, the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford and the Rev. Dr. Shelly Petz are inviting clergy to consider their own discipleship in this season so they can build on their leadership for their congregations.
They’re “going on the road” to invite conversation with several groups of clergy and are conducting some one-on-one interviews with a few more leaders. All are invited to watch videos of their conversations to learn more. And then clergy are invited to join in some Q-&-A sessions in small groups via Zoom in the fall.
The first video is available now, and two more will be released later this summer. Stay tuned for more information about the Q-&-A sessions with the Rev. Dr. James Bryan Smith and the Rev. Michael Tomson-DeGreeff!

  • Shelly and Ashlee talk first with Smith, associate professor of religion and Dallas Willard Chair of Spiritual Formation at Friends University in Wichita, and Tomson-DeGreeff, senior pastor at Trinity UMC in Hutchinson. Watch the video here.
  • Another episode coming July 2022!

Read more about this series and find previous episodes here. For questions, reach out to Ashlee or Shelly

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Meet congregational excellence
team, learn from a new playbook

The Congregational Excellence team of the Great Plains Conference began a new chapter on July 1, as the Rev. Jeff Clinger became its new director.

Have you wondered what congregational excellence does, and what resources it has to help your church?

Shane Warta, lay leadership coordinator, and Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator, represent the Congregational Excellence team in a video introducing the Local Church Playbook. This workshop was provided at annual conference, but due to difficulties with audio-visual materials in the large plenary space, the content of their workshop was reshot in our studio.

Watch the video here.

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Jurisdictional committee recommends
electing three bishops in November

The South Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy has decided, in consultation with its bishops, to recommend that the jurisdictional conference elect three new bishops in November 2022.

With three elections, the South Central Jurisdiction – which includes the Great Plains Conference -- would have a total of nine bishops available to be assigned to nine of the 10 current episcopal areas.

Citing missional reasons, the committee decided the 10th episcopal area will be left open with episcopal coverage to be determined after jurisdictional conference, Nov. 2-4. 

Read more here.

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UMC releases its annual
state of the church report

The United Methodist Church has released the 2021 State of the Church Report, which centers around the theme of claiming our identity. Beginning with Jesus' question to Peter in Matthew 16, “Who do you say that I am?” the question is posed to the UMC, “Who do we say that we are?” as the church seeks to affirm the basis of its identity in faith and service to Christ.

Read more from United Methodist Communications.

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United Methodists worldwide
are standing with Ukraine

United Methodists in Eastern Europe have been welcoming Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of their country. Be it providing short- or long-term shelter, daily necessities, help securing lost legal documents or finding schools or employment, churches are offering hope in a hurting world. UM News reporter Joey Butler and photographer Mike DuBose traveled to Eastern Europe in late May to share stories of United Methodists’ humanitarian ministry. 

View photo essay.

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Clergy Excellence

Remembering your call --
and savoring mountaintop moments

July is the beginning of the church year, with new appointments, new retirements, new ministerial statuses and new things to think about, writes the Rev. Dr. Shelly Petz, clergy health and wellness consultant.

It's also a time, Petz writes, for clergy to remember their call, whether they're in a new situation or not.

"Maybe it remains the same. Maybe it is to continue to gain tools for the journey. It is a reminder that I simply need to be faithful to God with my one next step," she writes in her blog. "That is enough."

Read more here.

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Mentoring registration for candidates, local pastors will open on Friday

Registration will open Friday, July 8, for 2022-23 group mentoring for certified candidates and local pastors.

There are several options. Find out more about mentoring in the Great Plains here: -- 201 or 301 groups will be best for most people. We have lots of great mentors, so sign up early to get your first choice! (Links will be emailed to you later this week and will be in next week’s GPconnect.) Local pastors participating in residency do not need to sign up for group mentoring — Residency fulfills the mentoring requirement. If you are in a Clergy Community of Practice group or would like to set up a one-on-one alternate plan, please email Heather Clinger ( or Rev. Karen Jeffcoat ( for instructions and approval.

If you believe you are exempt from mentoring, please email Heather or Karen to verify your exemption. And if you think you should be in a mentoring group but didn’t get the email that went out last week, contact Heather so we can make sure you’re on our list!

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BOOM scholarships
open for fall ’22, winter ’23

Applications are now being accepted for seminary scholarships for the fall semester and winter term.

Priority will be given to applications received by July 15, and the deadline to apply is Nov. 30. The scholarship amounts are the same for 2022-2023 as in 2021-2022.

The MEF scholarship (for certified candidates and local pastors) is $100/credit hour, up to 15 hours per scholarship period and the Seminary Trust Scholarship (for any GPUMC member) is $50/credit hour, up to 15 hours per scholarship period. Links to applications can be found at There’s also information about the scholarships and eligibility requirements, and other scholarship opportunities.

Contact Rev. Karen Jeffcoat ( or Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford ( if you have questions.

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Worship resources
offered for election season

We’re increasingly learning that the more civically engaged a community is, the healthier the community. Unfortunately, Kansans are not voting in local elections at healthy levels. According to the Civic Health Index of 2016, authored by the Kansas Health Foundation and the National Conference on Citizenship, Kansas ranks just 41st in the country in adults who report they vote in local elections. The report highlights: “Even more concerning is that certain population groups in Kansas exhibit even lower levels of political involvement, including Kansans with lower levels of income, education, and those from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds.”

With the understanding that civic participation is tied to community health and that Kansans are not politically active – especially at the local level – we see an opportunity to improve community health by improving civic engagement. That’s why we are excited to share this sermon guide and toolkit to help support civic engagement.

Tending the Civic Soil was written by the Neighboring Movement team with the preacher and worship planner in mind. This tool was designed as a one-stop shop for all the worship components you may have in your congregation. Each week includes ideas and suggestions to fill your bulletin, including songs, prayers, children’s sermon, exegesis, sermon ideas, and creative responses to the sermon.

The sermon guide and toolkit are available at

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After sermon series workshop, clergy
will have six months’ worth of material

Pastors are invited to join the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund (Health Fund) for a free online sermon workshop: “Connecting Faith and Health: A Sermon-planning Workshop for Preaching with Impact.”

The Health Fund is dedicated to improving the health and wholeness of Kansans. Over the past year, the Health Fund has worked in partnership with Lisa Hancock, Ph.D, to develop a series of sermon guides that bring together scripture, theology, and health to help congregations connect their faith to health.

Each sermon guide contains multiple weeks; each week includes a call to worship, hymn selections, children’s sermon, call to action, and benediction, in addition to an exegesis and sermon notes section based on the week’s scripture passage.

Lisa Hancock will lead the workshop. Participants will learn more about each guide, have time for writing and group discussion, and will leave with up to 25 weeks of their liturgical sermon calendar planned.

When: Tuesday, July 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT
Cost: Free
Who: Any UMC pastor is welcome to attend
Questions: Email

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Equipping Disciples

Camp Horizon offering personalized
bricks in 75th anniversary campaign

Camp Horizon, near Arkansas City, Kansas, is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a campaign to purchase engraved bricks and pavers that lead to Inspiration Point on the campgrounds.

The cost is $150 for a personalized brick and $250 for a personalized paver.

The deadline for ordering the bricks is Aug. 31.

More information here.
Link to brick order form.

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Absaloms return to discuss
discipleship in webinar series

Alex and Hannah Absalom presented “Five Practices That Will Refresh Your Disciple-making Pathway” at annual conference 2022.

Were you interested in learning more? If your heart was stirred about discipleship, you can carry their message into the new year by checking out a series of upcoming live webinars the last Wednesdays of the month at 11:30 a.m. CT. The first webinar will be an overview of the book “Discipleship that Fits: The Five Types of Relationships God Uses to Help Us Grow” by Alex Absalom and Bobby Harrington. Over 500 copies of this book were given out at annual conference. Invite someone to join you in the webinar to review this book together!

The first live webinar with Alex and Hannah will be at 11:30 am CT Wednesday, July 27. Register here for a link to join the webinar.

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Set your vision for children's ministry
this school year during July 9 webinar

Great Plains children’s ministry volunteers, staff and pastors are invited to join us in dreaming about kicking off the 2022-2023 school year!

Leaders across Nebraska and Kansas will be gathering to discuss how we can continue to impact the kids in our churches and in our communities. Choose from breakout sessions including:

Session 1 Choices:

  • World Changers – Kids are world changers! Explore different ways for kids to lead in missions by serving their neighbors near and far!
  • Where it Begins – There are so many curriculum options to choose from these days! In this breakout session you’ll learn how to select and evaluate the best curriculum for your ministry.
  • Help Needed! – Good volunteers make ministry a joy! Learn how to train, recruit, & appreciate those who are working with your kids.
Session 2 Choices:
  • Fall Planning & Outreach – The “why” and “how” of events like Blessing of the Backpacks, 3rd Grade Bibles and Trunk or Treat.
  • Kids in Worship – How can kids be incorporated into the worship life of your congregation? In this breakout session we’ll talk about some best practices for including children in worship.
  • Family Ministry – Faith formation is strengthened at home! Join us as we explore ways to equip parents and families to help their children grow in their faith.

We hope you will join us!

--Great Plains Children's Ministry Regional Coordinators: Ashley Prescott Barlow-Thompson, Rebecca Hjelle and Derek Steinacher

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Mercy & Justice

Reflections from a
squeaky bunk bed

The first time Micah Corps traveled in person in Washington, D.C., in two years was during a tumultuous time in the nation's capitol.

"We were witnesses to many profound and vulnerable moments, and in these moments, I was reminded of the compassion and perseverance that made this time in our lives possible," writes coordinator Mariah Fusco, in the first of a series of essays by this year's Micah Corps.

Read more here.

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Registration deadline for Living
Stones Holy Land trip coming up

The Great Plains Holy Land Task Force is excited to share that Rev. Lyle Schoen is inviting anybody interested to join him and his wife Susan on a Living Stones Holy Land Trip November 8-17. It is a journey to understanding, peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land.
The deadline to register is July 26. If you are not able to decide by then, there might be a late fee.

The trip is called “Living Stones” in reference to Resolution #6031 Holy Land Tours (Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church 2016) which urges us to visit the “living stones,” the indigenous Christians, besides visiting the historical sites of Jesus’ time.

The trip includes visiting many biblical sites as well as Bethlehem Bible College, Hope Secondary School, Sabeel, a Christian Peace Center, and the village of Ibillin and its school that Archbishop Elias Chacour founded. Some of you might remember Chacour’s visit at our annual conference in Topeka in 2016.  
Attached is the final flyer. For additional information, feel free to reach out to Rev. Lyle Schoen at

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Disaster Response

NAMI conference kickoff
scheduled for July 21

NAMI Kansas’ Pathways to Hope Conference Kick-Off will be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CT Thursday, July 21 online.

More information is available here.

The Pathways to Hope Conference is scheduled for Aug. 26-27.

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Great Plains to join in new
number for suicide prevention line

On July 16, the Great Plains will join the rest of the United States in beginning to use the 988 dialing code. 988 will be the new three-digit number for call (multiple languages), text or chat (English only) that connects people to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, where compassionate, accessible care and support are available for anyone experiencing mental health–related distress. The chat feature will be available through the Lifeline’s website.

People can use 988 if they are having thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crises, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

Read more here.

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Nebraska United Methodist
Foundation offers 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 United Methodist Conference.

The Foundation is able to award these grants due to the generosity of donors to the 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, call us 877-495-5545.

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July 15 is deadline for KMF 
2022-23 seminary scholarships

The Kansas Methodist Foundation is pleased to announce seminary scholarship applications are currently being accepted for the 2022-23 academic year.

  • The KMF Seminary Scholarship provides support for ministerial students who are from or serving in Kansas and working toward ordination in the Great Plains Conference.
  • The Pass the Torch Scholarship is a ministry of retired clergy of the Great Plains Conference as well as their spouses and surviving spouses who are committed to providing funds to educate quality seminary students to lead the church. The scholarship is open to seminary students from the Great Plains Conference.

For more information on these scholarships, visit

The deadline to apply is July 15.

The Kansas Methodist Foundation is grateful for the many individuals, families, and churches who have given to make these scholarships possible. If you are interested in helping raise up the next generation of church leaders by supporting one of these scholarships or creating a named scholarship to honor your ministry, a mentor, or a loved one, contact Tyler at or 620-664-9623.

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Narrative budget course returns;
pre-registration available now

With the success Discipleship Ministries saw last year, it is rereleasing the online teaching course, Narrative Budget: The Story Behind the Numbers.

Designed to teach you the nuts and bolts of constructing a narrative budget, this course consists of 8 self-paced sessions, so you can take the course at your own speed. Pre-register now, and Discipleship Ministries will let you know when the course is live.

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General Commission on Status,
Role of Women unveils e-newsletter

The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women has introduced Wisdom Talks, an e-newsletter that communicates information to facilitate the advancement of women at all levels of the life and mission of The United Methodist Church. The agency has also released a video celebrating its 50th anniversary.

View resource
Watch video

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Across the Connection

VBS decorates sidewalks
outside Wichita memory care unit

Fifth-graders from Wichita East Heights UMC’s vacation Bible school brightened a memory care unit last week.

With colored chalk, they decorated the sidewalks outside Chisolm Place in Wichita.

“We actually started chalking the walks here in 2020 during COVID when they couldn’t get out at all, and no one could go in really and see them,” Paige Nelson, director of youth ministries, told KSN.

Read more here.

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In other news

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