Download the July 20 edition of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Registration to open next week for special online AC session Sept. 10
Micah Corps members look back at memorable summer
Resurrection to add historic downtown KCMO church
Conferences diverge in handling church exits

Vacation time for clergy is a vital part of their spiritual formation
Clergy welcome to travel on spiritual tours in 2023
Clergy invited to continue bolstering their discipleship
Mentoring registration for candidates, local pastors is now available

Website additions, upcoming online courses focus on discipleship
SOW: Season of Witness discipleship course 
High school students invited to join new Leadership Lab

Piano scam is one of the latest ruses to hit churches
Grant opportunities from the Kansas Methodist Foundation

Learn how disaffiliation can affect pensions
Ten tips to help encourage, celebrate, lift up church laity
Expanding the reach of your small groups

In other news


Registration to open next week for
special online AC session on Sept. 10

Registration for the Saturday, Sept. 10, special called online session of the Great Plains Annual Conference should be available beginning next week, according to the Rev. Dee Williamston, assistant to the bishop and clergy excellence director.

A link for registration will be emailed to clergy and lay members.

The session will include:

  • Consideration of resolutions ratifying the disaffiliation of local churches from the United Methodist Church 
  • Consideration of action affirming the “GP Camps 2.0” governance model as adopted by Great Plains United Methodist Camps, Inc.
  • Consideration of the 2023 budget for the Great Plains Annual Conference.  

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Micah Corps members look
back at memorable summer

With the end of their summer internships coming up next week, we caught up with the members of this year's Micah Corps and their coordinator to learn more about their experiences this summer, including a memorable visit to Washington, D.C., and how what they've learned might change their career paths.

Read more here.

Read first-hand stories of the Washington trip from Odyssey Mann and Lumiere Bisisi.

Micah Corps members will be giving a presentation on their community asset map at 6:30 p.m. CT Wednesday, July 27, at Omaha Saint Paul Benson UMC. It can be viewed on the Micah Corps Facebook page or through this Zoom link.

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Resurrection to add historic
downtown KCMO church

The oldest Protestant congregation in Kansas City, Missouri, has voted to become a new location for Church of the Resurrection.

Central UMC, located in midtown KC, began in 1844 and was one of the congregations that helped launch Church of the Resurrection in 1990.

Central plans to transfer its assets to Resurrection in October and have a grand opening during Advent.

Read more in this news release from Church of the Resurrection.

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Conferences diverge
in handling church exits

With no formal separation plan, United Methodist annual conferences have a lot of leeway in administering church disaffiliations. Amid varied conference policies, the number of church departures is climbing. 

Read more from United Methodist News Service.

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Clergy Excellence

Vacation time for clergy is a
vital part of their spiritual formation

As clergy plan for this upcoming year and beyond, the Great Plains Clergy Excellence Team is honored to partner with you to support you in ministry. We love hearing the stories of clergy and congregations who are thriving and excited about the ministry before them.

Continuing Education/Spiritual Formation 

“A clergy member’s continuing education and spiritual growth program shall include professional formation leaves at least one week each year and may include at least one month during one year of every quadrennium.” (Bold added; 2016 Book of Discipline ¶350.2) 

For more information about continuing education events within the Great Plains Conference, you can click on this link.

The Great Plains Continuing Education Policy, including ideas for what can be included in continuing education and spiritual growth, can be found here.  

FYI: Time spent for continuing education and/or spiritual formation is NOT vacation time. Per the Great Plains Plan of Organization: 
“Pastors shall be given a minimum of 1 week (7 days, including 1 Sunday) of continuing education each conference year. Longer periods may be negotiated between the pastor and pastor/staff-parish relations committee in consultation with the district superintendent.” (In a previous paragraph in the Plan, “pastor” was defined for continuing education purposes to include all appointed clergy and assigned CLMs and DSAs.) 


Clergy shall receive paid vacation time in addition to paid time to complete continuing education and spiritual growth opportunities. In the Great Plains Conference, the clergy/CLM/DSA vacation policy states: 

 “All people serving churches shall receive a minimum of four weeks of vacation (28 days, including 4 Sundays). All persons are strongly encouraged to take their full vacation each year. However, persons can only accumulate or bank a maximum of 1½ times the total amount of vacation time they are allowed to earn."

View the full Great Plains vacation policy.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to members of the Clergy Excellence Team. We want to support the incredible clergy of the Great Plains Conference.

-- Clergy excellence team 
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Clergy welcome to travel
on spiritual tours in 2023

Rev. Kent Melcher, a retired Great Plains Conference elder and director of travel ministry for Educational Opportunities Tours, wants to help clergy travel to significant locations during 2023, including trips to the Holy Land, especially after travel has been cut back over the past two years.

More information is available in this letter and the Educational Opportunities website.

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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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Mentoring registration for candidates, local pastors is now available

Registration is open 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.) 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, 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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Equipping Disciples

Website additions, upcoming
online courses focus on discipleship

The Congregational Excellence Team introduces a new section on the conference website dedicated to Reimagining Discipleship: Here you will find follow-up material from Alex and Hannah Absalom’s presentation at annual conference and links to other resources. You will find resources like the following on this page: 

SOW: Season of Witness discipleship course 

This course is designed to help you more fully develop an intentional pathway of discipleship in your unique context.? 

As your presenters, our prayer is that you are inspired and practically equipped to grow both as a disciple of Jesus, and simultaneously as a maker of disciples for Jesus! 

We’re praying for you and cheering you on! 

--Alex & Hannah Absalom, 

Three upcoming discipleship webinars with the Absaloms: 
Alex and Hannah Absalom presented at annual conference 2022. Were you interested in learning more? If your heart was stirred about discipleship, carry their message into the new year check out the upcoming live webinar 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! 

More Intentional Discipleship Resources 
UMC Discipleship Ministries 
"Intentional Discipleship," by Rev. Hollie Tapley 
"Developing an Intentional Discipleship System: A Guide for Congregations,"?by Junius B. Dotson 

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High school students invited
to join new Leadership Lab

High school students are invited to Leadership Lab – a choose-your-own-adventure Christian Leadership experiment for youth in the Great Plains Conference.

In Leadership Lab, they'll engage in a web of relationships, resourcing, and experiences that culminate in eligibility for a trip to the Holy Land!

We know that growing in discipleship and leadership requires more than just sitting in meetings and talking about ministry – and this new opportunity is designed with that in mind. Students will complete a series of “Quests” each year – quests that they get to choose. During each quest, they will learn something, experience something, and then lead something – all with the help of a mentor that they get to choose!

For more information and to apply, go to

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Piano scam is one of the
latest ruses to hit churches

In the ever-growing list of scams perpetuated on church members comes a new warning, from a pastor outside of the Great Plains Conference:

“(T)here is a new scam targeting schools and churches. We were approached by someone wanting to donate her deceased husband’s baby grand piano somewhere, so I put her in touch with a pastor friend whose church needs a piano. She seemed very legitimate, but we missed several red flags: she wouldn’t talk with us on the phone, didn’t tell us how she knew our church, etc. She communicated via e-mail only. The long and the short is that she put my friend in touch with a supposed moving company called Chris and Chris Movers and he paid them via a cash app (another red flag we missed) and it turns out there is no piano, no such moving company and while my friend was able to talk with the movers on their phone number, we couldn’t match it with any existing business or person. A fraud report has been filed with the police, but my friend and his church are out $580. Since then, I’ve received two other offers of pianos using people’s e-mail addresses, but they have gone to my spam filter. Be on the lookout. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

We would add: Always be vigilant, check the email addresses on what might be suspicious correspondence, and contact the sender if anything seems amiss.

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Grant opportunities from the
Kansas Methodist Foundation

The Kansas Methodist Foundation is offering Pathways for Discipleship Grants to Kansas churches and organizations in four key areas of ministry: Justice Ministries, Children and Youth Programs, Ministry and Outreach, and Leadership Education.

The matching grants are awarded to churches and organizations across Kansas to advance ministries, especially in ways that are creative, innovative, and new. Grant applications will be accepted until Sept. 1. For more information, visit

The Kansas Methodist Foundation is grateful for the individuals and families who help make the ministry grants possible. If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved in supporting ministries across Kansas to meet the needs of our changing world by exploring new possibilities, contact Tyler Curtis at or 620-664-9623.

If you have any questions, contact KMF at or 620-664-9623.

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Learn how disaffiliation
can affect pensions

Wespath, the church agency that handles pensions, is offering a video explaining how pension plan funding can be affected when churches choose to disaffiliate from the denomination.

The video, also available as a podcast, answers questions such as whether clergy pension plans are fully funded and why a disaffiliating church is required to make a payment to the conference it is leaving.

Read press release and watch video
Listen to podcast

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Ten tips to help encourage,
celebrate, lift up church laity

How does your church encourage, celebrate and lift up laity who serve in various ministry roles? A little bit of recognition, celebration and gratitude goes a long way to encourage not only those who have served but also those who might serve in the future. Certified Path 1 coach Kay Kotan lists 10 tips to help recognize and equip disciples more intentionally.

Read tips

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Expanding the reach
of your small groups

The intimacy of smaller gatherings deepens relational bonds, nurtures trust and provides a safe space for spiritual exploration, learning and growth. How can you prevent your small groups from becoming inwardly focused and impenetrable to newcomers? Doug Powe and Ann Michel of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership outline four strategies to help groups maintain an outward focus and an invitational posture.

View resource.

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Across the Connection

In other news


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