Download the Sept. 14 edition of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Special AC session approves disaffiliations, increased '23 budget
Bishop urges use of Upper Room as evangelism tool
Salina churches working together and with KWU to bolster each other
Catch up with four podcast conversations about future of UMC 

Campbell, Finnestad are guests for next week's Zoom clergy meet-ups
Academy for Small Membership Church Ministries receives grant
Preacher’s Toolkit session to focus on impact of short stories

Barriers to embracing discipleship culture is topic of final Absalom webinar
This Sunday is a big day at Camp Fontanelle
Signup now available for devotions through November

Optional Benefits Open Enrollment continuing through Sept. 25
Sept. 30 is deadline for NUMF ministry grant applications 

Prepare to celebrate Advent in talks with Hamilton, Robb
UMCom provides tips for securing media coverage
Local Church Historian School launches Sept. 26

In other news


Special AC session approves disaffiliations, increased '23 budget

After a special session vote of 96.5% to approve the disaffiliation of 55 churches from the Great Plains Conference, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. urged those remaining to strengthen their missions for Jesus Christ. 

“While some have chosen to go a separate way, we belong to Christ,” the bishop said Sept. 10, following a 579-12 vote, with nine abstaining. “The church will survive our missteps and whatever cultural trends happen around us.” 

Read more here.
Watch the video of the special session (approximately 80 minutes)

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Bishop urges use of
Upper Room as evangelism tool

 Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. shares a story about how he used The Upper Room devotional booklet as an evangelism tool when he served as pastor in local churches.

Learn how you might be able to use this tool as a means of reaching new people in your community.

Watch the video here.

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Salina churches working together
and with KWU to bolster each other

What started nine months ago as a way to boost the attendance of their youth groups has bloomed into a full-on collaboration between Salina Trinity and University United Methodist Churches. 

The two churches plan their services together, down to printing the same bulletin, and have grown into adult Bible study classes and other joint endeavors.

Many of them involve Kansas Wesleyan University, located across the street from University UMC, and collaboration with its students.

Read more and see a photo gallery here.

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Catch up with four podcast
conversations about future of UMC 

Todd Seifert, conference communications director, has completed his four-episode "In Layman's Terms" podcast series on the future of The United Methodist Church.

Episode one features the Rev. Adam Hamilton, founding pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. The second episode includes Rev. David Livingston, pastor of Fairway Old Mission UMC, and Randall Hodgkinson, associate conference lay leader and a lay delegate to the General Conference. The third episode includes Scott Brewer, conference treasurer and director of administrative services; Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, president of the conference Board of Trustees and pastor of Omaha Saint Paul Benson UMC; and Rev. Rick Just, a leader in the Wesleyan Covenant Association and Global Methodist Church and pastor of Wichita Asbury UMC, which was approved for disaffiliation during Saturday's special session.

The series concludes with a conversation with Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. with reflections on what has transpired in The United Methodist Church, the process of disaffiliations, and his hope for the future of the denomination.

Download and listen here.

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Clergy Excellence

Campbell, Finnestad are guests for
next week's Zoom clergy meet-ups


Clergy, have you had an opportunity to watch any of the conversations with some of our own GP Clergy as they share vulnerably about their own discipleship? We hope you’ll take some time to do so and reflect upon ways that God may be inviting you to consider your own discipleship. We’ve compiled some ways here, but we also want to provide small groups of clergy to connect (virtually) with one another and with one of the guests who shared his or her own experiences. Check out next week’s Clergy Discipleship Virtual Meet-Ups:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 20, 10-11 a.m. CT, Rev. Maria Campbell, Overland Park Heritage UMC. Watch Maria’s conversation with us here and here to hear about how mentoring nurtures her own discipleship and disruptions are an invitation to pay attention to what God is doing. Register here.

  • Thursday, Sept. 22, 10-11 a.m. CT, Dr. Craig Finnestad, Omaha Water’s Edge UMC. Watch Craig’s conversation with us here and here to hear about navigating his own spiritual life in the midst of his “toughest season of ministry.” He also shares three tensions that he experiences and how he experiences God calling him forward into God’s presence. Register here.

If these don’t work for you, please check out the full schedule of conversations through Nov. 17. We hope to see you for a bit of connection, sharing, and mutual encouragement!

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Academy for Small Membership
Church Ministries receives grant

The Academy for Small Membership Church Ministries has received a $30,000 grant from the Guy and Ruby Casebourn Murphy Charitable Trust to continue their training of lay pastors and develop innovative programs which support small membership churches.

Read more here.

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Preacher’s Toolkit session
to focus on impact of short stories

Preacher’s Toolkit: Short Story Sandbox is a peer group co-sponsored by the Great Plains Conference, UMC and the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence at SMU with virtual and in-person experience.

Pastors, are you interested in vitalizing your preaching in the year ahead? Short Story Sandbox is a five-session preaching peer group that is for you if you love stories and would welcome a chance to read something other than spread sheets and biblical commentaries(!).

Consider whether Short Story Sandbox may be just what the doctor ordered.

  • Virtual: 4 Zoom sessions, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CT (Oct. 25, Nov. 29, Jan. 24, and Feb. 21).
  • In-person: The final session (March 28, 2023), will be a face-to-face daylong capstone gathering in Salina (church TBA). 

Reading short stories can spark preachers’ imaginations and make us better at our craft. Sessions will focus on various aspects of storytelling (theme, tone, plot, point of view, imagery, scene and character). The cost for registration is $100 and includes the in-person gathering in Salina.

Participants will read one or at most, two, short stories for each session. Sessions will consist of a time of teaching by one of the leaders, followed by discussion of a short story and sharing of brief reflections by group members.

The faculty for Short Story Sandbox are Dr. Larry Parsley, Dr. Alyce McKenzie and Dr. Lee Ramsey. Read more about the faculty, learn about why short stories are such a powerful tool for preachers, and register here: The group will be capped at 12 people, so register today!

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Equipping Disciples

Barriers to embracing a discipleship culture is topic of final Absalom webinar

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 this fall season. Check out the last upcoming live webinar at 11:30am CT Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The final webinar will be focusing on “Barriers to Embracing a Discipleship-Making Culture.” Alex Absalom has offered several other resources and webinars in the past months, including the book "Discipleship that Fits: The Five Kinds of Relationships God uses to Help Us Grow.” Review the past resources here: Invite someone to join you in the webinar to talk about discipleship-making!

Register here for a link to join the webinar:

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This Sunday is a big
day at Camp Fontanelle

Sunday, Sept. 18, is a day that many Camp Fontanelle supporters look forward to arriving. They know it is the day they can get Pigs in a Blanket, have the opportunity to bid on amazing quilts and silent auction items; It is a time to meet up with old friends, share camp stories and share what has been happening since last they met. It is a time to support Camp Fontanelle and have fun while doing it.

It is a day where guests praise God under the Big White Tent and later may find themselves finding their way through the corn maze. Sept. 18 will be an amazing day to be at Camp Fontanelle.
Plan to come out to camp and help raise money for the ministry at Camp Fontanelle. This is the major fundraiser for the year and if you are unable to attend, donations may be made online through the auction website the camp uses. Be a force in the ministry at Camp Fontanelle; celebrate the successful summer ministry, the future of the ministry and the growth of the camp.

Worship begins at 11 a.m. Food service begins at noon at the Grilling Station or purchase your tickets, in advance, for a sit-down meal at noon or 1 p.m. The Silent Auction also begins at noon. The live quilt auction begins at 2 p.m. The corn maze opens for the season at 1 p.m. It will be open until 6. Guided tours of the Olson Lodge Construction Project will be held at noon, 1:30 and 3.

New activities include a corn hole tournament. There are two age categories and there will be an opportunity to get a week of camp each for the winning teams. There are some quality gift baskets from some great company sponsors and at the corn maze a new rock wall will provide another activity for guests.

We thank God for those who support Camp Fontanelle through their time, talent and treasures. And we look forward to celebrating Camp Fontanelle while raising money for its ministry. 

-- Jane Van Horn, Camp Fontanelle

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Signup now available for
devotions through November

Opportunities to sign up to write daily devotions for the Great Plains Conference through the end of November are now available.

Go here to sign up for a day.

The SignUpGenius page includes a link to the Vanderbilt lectionary if that is helpful to you.  Scroll down to see the dates and verses at the end of the year. 

Write a meditation on the scripture around 300 words and a two sentence prayer for reflection.

Submissions should be sent to and are appreciated at least 5 days before the publish date. 

Devotion readers have asked to send emails of appreciation of those who write.  If you would not like to be contacted please indicate when emailing your devotion. 

If you would like to write but not sign up for a particular date you can submit devotions here and we will publish them as they are needed. 

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Optional Benefits Open Enrollment
continuing through Sept. 25

2023 Open Enrollment will continue through Sept. 25, 2022. The 2023 Open Enrollment Guide is attached for you. This will be a passive enrollment meaning you only have to sign the second page of the benefit statement you will receive by email and return to me at and your district administrative assistant. The emails will come either from my assistant, Adryan Eubanks ( or from myself.

Please review the 2023 Open Enrollment Guide for Surency Vision has had a small price increase for 2023. I will not hold a group open enrollment Zoom meeting this year. Instead, you can call me at my direct number, 785-414-4206, between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays or request a one-on-one Zoom meeting.

To request a one-on-one Zoom meeting, email me at Include your name and available times and I will set up a meeting and send you an invite.

--Peggy Mihoover
Conference benefits officer

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Sept. 30 is deadline for
NUMF ministry grant applications 

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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Prepare to celebrate Advent
in talks with Hamilton, Robb

Amplify Media plans to present two new Advent studies during a webinar at 1 p.m. CT Thursday, Sept. 15. The webinar will include a conversation between the Revs. Adam Hamilton and Susan Robb. Hamilton's new study is “Prepare the Way for the Lord: Advent and the Message of John the Baptist,” and Robb's new study is “The Angels of Christmas: Hearing God's Voice in Advent.” 

Learn more and register.

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UMCom provides tips for
securing media coverage

Every week, United Methodist churches share good news and engage in serving their local communities. Effectively communicating with the local news media is one of the best ways to get a church's story in front of the public. United Methodist Communications interviewed religion reporters about their tips for securing coverage.

Read story

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Local Church Historian
School launches Sept. 26

The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History is offering a Local Church Historian School for anyone interested in telling the story of their church. The curriculum will cover a wide range of skills necessary to research and write about the heritage and legacy of a church. A free, self-directed course is available, and there’s also a guided course with continuing education credits for $150. The school begins on Sept. 26.

Read press release

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 Across the Connection

In other news

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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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