Download the July 27 edition of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Registration now open for special session of annual conference
Ukrainian finds love, hope as part of UMC pastor's family in Omaha
Micah Corps members presenting community asset map tonight
COR hosting forum on abortion prior to Kansas vote on Aug. 2

Ten students complete Licensing School to serve churches
Monday, Aug. 1 is deadline for Clergy Renewal Leave Grants
Help congregants take control of their financial lives
‘Connecting Faith and Health’ workshop recording available

First discipleship study complete; two others on schedule
Garden is evidence of God's love, faith

Haitian DS to visit Great Plains next week

Great Plains PAUMCS will meet Sept. 14 in Salina for workshop
Business cards available for Great Plains clergy
Nebraska United Methodist Foundation offers ministry grants 

GCFA offers guide with discounts, resources for ministry
Course helps churches create impactful imagery

Tiny horse brings big joy to preschoolers at Nebraska UMC
In other news


Registration now open for special
session of annual conference

Registration for the special session of the Great Plains Annual Conference is now open. There is no fee for this special session.
The deadline to register is Friday, Aug. 26. It is critical that all voting members of the annual conference register before or by the deadline because our voting will be online, and time is needed to properly prepare that system.
The special called session of the annual conference will be a Zoom webinar Saturday. Sept. 10, 2022, and starts promptly at 9:30 a.m. CDT/8:30 a.m. MDT.
An abbreviated workbook with legislation to be considered during the special session will be published and available for download on the conference website by Aug. 10. We will send an email with that link when the workbook has been published.
All voting for the special session in September will be done electronically, just as when we conducted the 2021 annual conference online. Once you register for the special session, you will receive an email with the webinar link to the annual conference session. You will receive a unique voting code closer to the time of the special called session. We also will send a link to an instructional video that will walk you through the voting process and how to request to speak during the webinar.
A live practice session on how to use the VVoter system has been scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. CDT/6 p.m. MDT. More details will come in a future email, including the link to the practice session and the kinds of devices you will need to participate. It is recommended you have two devices or windows open on your computer — one to watch the webinar and one to vote.
We want to remind everyone that the special session of annual conference is a Zoom webinar, so the bar of the conference will be the Zoom webinar only. The event will be livestreamed on the conference website, but there will be a slight lag. Therefore, if you are a voting member, you must log into the Zoom webinar to ensure you will be able to vote in a timely fashion. The chair will not delay timing on votes for those watching the livestream.
So, in summary, register today for the special session using the link below. And watch your email for the following information in days and weeks to come:

  • Your unique voting code. This will be necessary for you to vote, and it is particular to each person, so do not share your code with anyone else.
  • An instructional video explaining the VVoter system we will use Sept. 10.
  • Information about a short practice session so you can familiarize yourself with the VVoter system.
  • A link to download the workbook with legislation we will consider during the special session.

Register by clicking here!
Or go to

--Rev. Delores ‘Dee’ J. Williamston
Assistant to the Bishop/Director of Clergy Excellence

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Ukrainian finds love, hope as part
of UMC pastor's family in Omaha

The first 15 years of John Finch's life were dominated by physical and verbal abuse at an orphanage in Ukraine. But after arriving in America, after a few rocky months, he found a family in the Rev. Andrew Finch and his wife, Meagan, who adopted him.

Meet the Finches and find out why they don't let John watch the news and what the 20-year-old says about the country's invasion by Russia.

Read more here.

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Micah Corps members presenting
community asset map tonight

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.

As the Micah Corps wraps up its summer learning about justice, read essays from Emily Smith and John Finch.

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COR hosting forum on abortion
prior to Kansas vote on Aug. 2

The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood will host a forum on faith and abortion from 6:30-8 p.m. CT today. The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor, will moderate a discussion featuring female panelists, including medical professionals, a legal scholar, a judge and a former Kansas legislator. Videos from leaders on different sides of the issue will be shown. The event will be in the sanctuary and will be livestreamed as well.

To learn more and watch.

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Clergy Excellence

Ten students complete
Licensing School to serve churches

Ten students from two conferences (Great Plains and Iowa) completed the 2022 Great Plains Licensing School on Saturday, July 23. Licensing School is an intensive course designed to prepare people called to serve in pastoral ministry. After completion of licensing school (and certification as a candidate/approval for license as a local pastor by a District Committee on Ordained Ministry) participants can be appointed to serve in local churches as Licensed Local Pastors.
Licensing School focuses especially on the pastoral behaviors, practices, and theological framework necessary to enable new clergy to thrive as pastoral leaders under appointment in the United Methodist Church. Topics covered include preaching, worship, Christian education, spiritual formation, pastoral care, United Methodist traditions, mission/evangelism, administration/leadership and “Next Steps” for credentialing/education. Additionally, Great Plains students separately complete Right Start Orientation and Boundary 101 training. Great Plains Licensing School is completed in a hybrid format meaning students participate in two 2.5 day in-person sessions and have approximately 20 hours of pre-work completed for each of the in-person sessions. 
Licensing school leadership was provided by co-deans Mary Scott and Kathy Symes. Administrative assistance was provided by Karen Jeffcoat and Heather Clinger. Topic instructors are recruited each year. For 2022, instructors included Stephanie Ahlschwede, Jim Bendorf, Eduardo Bousson, Richard Fitzgerald, Karen Jeffcoat, Marta Wheeler and Delores Williamston.
Completing Licensing School were (front row) Jean-Marc Mutwale, left, Dawn Duryea, Tiffani Brewer and Michelle Bonewell; (back row) Bryan McBride, Melissa Kelly, Joe Pacheco, Jeff Moszeter, Dan Hutton and Matt Borland.

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Monday, Aug. 1 is deadline for
Clergy Renewal Leave Grants

The Office of Clergy Excellence announces the third round of Clergy Renewal Leave Grants for grants distributed in 2023. Clergy renewal leave is one way that the Great Plains Conference invests in developing, equipping, and empowering today’s leaders for the church of tomorrow. Is God calling you into an extended season of attentiveness to your own soul so that you might be faithful to the work that Christ is calling you to in your congregation(s) and community? Consider whether a Renewal Leave or Clergy Wellbeing Mini-Grant might be a resource for you. And read more about Clergy Faith and Wellness here
Renewal Leave is a period of time (usually about 12 weeks) that is granted by one’s local church for pastors to take an extended length of time to take a respite from the normal pastoral ministries for the purpose of renewing one’s vision, restoring one’s soul, and refocusing for the season of ministry and life ahead. The Clergy Renewal Grants are up to $3,000 and are available for full or associate members of the Great Plains Conference or local pastors who have completed course of study who have served at least 6 consecutive years under appointment. Past grant recipients have used the funds to cover pulpit supply while they’re away or travel or program expenses for a program of their own design for their season of renewal. 
The process of applying for the Renewal Leave grant is one that includes approval from the District Superintendent and one’s local church. The inquiry form about eligibility for the grant is now available and once it is identified that pastors are eligible, they’re encouraged to begin creating a proposal for coverage of ministry responsibilities and plans for renewal during the time away. All Renewal Leave plans must be jointly approved by the District Superintendent and PPRC/Administrative Board of the church/charge. Grant applications for 2023 will be received through Aug. 1, 2022, and applicants can expect to hear within a month about whether their application has been approved. Late applications received after Aug. 1 deadline will be considered on a rolling basis while funds are still available.  
You can read more about Renewal Grants (including FAQs) at our website and hear from some past grant recipients here.  
All clergy serving under appointment in the Great Plains UMC are eligible for a Clergy Wellbeing Mini-Grant, up to $450. The next grant cycle will open July 1 and will be open through Nov. 1 with eligibility to be used through the end of 2022. Learn more here

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Help congregants take
control of their financial lives

Your congregation and community know poverty. In Kansas, more than 1 in 10 people are in poverty. In Nebraska, it's nearly 1 in 10.

How can we bridge the gap between charity and long-term change? Charitable giving is an important element of the church, but through client-centered work we have the opportunity to empower individuals to reach their financial goals.

The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund has partnered with Interfaith Housing and Community Services to provide a special opportunity for Great Plains Conference churches to increase financial wellness in their communities and congregations.

Interfaith’s Take Control Collaborative Coaching promotes financial wellness through client-centered, behavior-based education which can help anyone reach their financial goals through healthy decision-making. This online training equips your staff or volunteers to move beyond short-term, crisis assistance to building relationships and walking alongside individuals toward their goals for economic sufficiency with dignity.

Take Control covers strategies including management of personal finances, successful navigation of the financial market, access to financial products and services, and encouragement and support to practice positive financial behaviors that help people achieve their goals, including:

  • Regulating spending in order to increase household cash flow
  • Managing debt and leveraging credit in order to maintain positive credit profiles
  • Implementing intentional savings in order to gain security and protection for the future
  • Making disciplined decisions in order to execute financial plans and reach financial goals

When: Thursdays, Aug. 11 and 18, from 9 a.m. to noon CT. Participation in both sessions is required to complete the training.

Where: Online

RSVP: by Aug. 4 or until filled

This training is open at no cost to members of any Great Plains United Methodist congregation. Please contact with any questions.

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‘Connecting Faith and Health’
workshop recording available

The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund worked in partnership with Lisa Hancock, Ph.D., to develop a series of sermon guides that bring together scripture, theology and health.

You can learn more about each guide by viewing the recording of "Connecting Faith and Health: A Sermon-Planning Workshop for Preaching with Impact.” Watch the entire workshop or skip ahead to a particular sermon guide discussion.

Sermon guide topics include mental health, overall health and early childhood development, among others.

The recording is available at

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Equipping Disciples

First discipleship study
complete; two others on schedule

The first of three webinars with the Revs. Alex and Hannah Absalom took place on Tuesday.

Here is the link to Tuesday’s “Discipleship That Fits” Bible study.

The second seminar, “Barriers to Embracing a Disciple-Making Culture,” will be at 11:30 a.m. CT Tuesday, Aug. 23. Register here for the August webinar.

The third seminar, “Transitions Between Contexts,” will be at 11:30 a.m. CT Tuesday, Sept. 27. Register here for the September webinar.

More information is available at

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Garden is evidence
of God's love, faith


A longtime gardener, Bob Riggin faced challenges when he and his wife moved to a new home nine years ago, and thoughts of Matthew 13 about Jesus as the sower of the seed kept coming to him.

"My garden showed me God's love and faith in so many other ways," Riggin, Flint Hills District director of Lay Servant Ministries, writes in the latest LSM blog. " I wanted to be grounded in the Bible with the faith of God being with me at all times from the greatness of the soil of the earth."

Read the blog here.

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Mercy & Justice

Haitian DS to visit
Great Plains next week

Rev. Gélin Rosamour, District Superintendent of La Gonave, Haiti, will spend three days in Kansas next week, Aug. 2-4, as one of the key Haitian leaders working with the Great Plains in living out our conference partnership with the Methodist Church of Haiti. Rev. Rosamour has been instrumental in ensuring the success of the six university students from La Gonave currently receiving full scholarships from the Great Plains Conference to study at the University of Port-au-Prince (Rev. Rosamour far right, with the college students).

United Methodists are invited to join Rev. Rosamour in conversations about Haiti over a hearty barbecue dinner at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2 at Susanna Wesley UMC, 7433 SW 29th St. in Topeka. All are welcome to share in a Great Plains welcome for Rev. Rosamour. RSVPs are required by noon Aug. 1 to Rev. Sarah Marsh, Mercy and Justice Coordinator for the Great Plains, at

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Great Plains PAUMCS will meet
Sept. 14 in Salina for workshop

The Great Plains chapter of Professional Administrators of the United Methodist Connectional Structure, or PAUMCS, will have a workshop from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, at Salina Grand Avenue UMC, 304 W. Grand Ave.

“Christian Self Care – Beyond the Basics: Prioritizing Body, Mind and Soul Care” will be led by Angela Fairbanks, a Midwest entrepreneur and president of Janzen Marketing.

The cost of the workshop is $20, with $15 for membership dues for current administrators and $7.50 for retired administrators.

More information, including a registration form, are available here.

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Business cards available
for Great Plains clergy

Business cards containing the conference logo and Cross and Flame are available for clergy in the Great Plains, especially those who began a new appointment this month.

Use this link to make your order.

A link to review the proof will be sent directly from the printer,, for the pastor's approval or changes. Any changes in artwork are subject to a surcharge. The printer will send the cards directly.

The price reflected on the website includes set-up charge from the printer for a first-time printing.

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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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GCFA offers guide with
discounts, resources for ministry

The General Council on Finance and Administration has released its updated Ministry Resource Guide. The free guide features special offers, discounts and programs from vetted ministry partners and is designed to help local churches and other United Methodist ministries.

Read press release
Read Ministry Resource Guide

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Course helps churches
create impactful imagery

A new course from United Methodist Communications aims to equip church leaders to easily create graphic designs and videos for social media, presentations and more. "Outreach and Design Using Canva" is scheduled for Aug. 15 to Sept. 9. Designed with busy schedules in mind, the course will be delivered in a self-paced online format. Optional live web session gatherings are set for 1 p.m. CT Tuesdays and Thursdays. Registration will run through Aug. 10.

Learn more
To register

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Across the Connection

Tiny horse brings big joy to
preschoolers at Nebraska UMC

The Little Disciples preschool at Cozad UMC recently got a tiny visitor -- a 30-inch tall therapy horse named Jet.

Read more in this story from Flatwater Free Press.

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In other news



Classifieds are posted for 30 days unless otherwise requested.?Please allow three business days for your classified to appear on the website. Email to update or renew your classified. Submit your classified here.

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