Download the Sept. 21 edition of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Omaha St. Andrew's UMC celebrates its 30th anniversary
Partnership brings FHSU literacy center under campus ministries' roof
Grassroots groups talk up The United Methodist Church

Rest, restore, recharge during fall clergy retreat, set for Oct. 24-26
Preacher’s Toolkit session to focus on impact of short stories
Social media images available for health sermon guides

Final webinar with Absalom is scheduled for next week
Sign up now available for devotions through November

Meetings set to discuss payday loan reform in Kansas
World Church Council supports State of Israel

No UMCOR relief kits are currently needed

Great Plains PAUMCS chapter meets for workshops in Salina
Deadline for foundation's Justice Ministry Grants extended to Oct. 14
Sept. 30 is deadline for NUMF ministry grant applications 
Optional Benefits Open Enrollment continuing through Sept. 25

October's almost here: How to show pastors your appreciation
Laity Sunday sermon series available, with preaching suggestions
Small-group studies available related to anti-racism podcast
Church members can work together to help raise funds for scholarships

Nebraska UMC opens arms to Ukrainian family
Hooper church, older than town itself, celebrates 150
In other news


Omaha St. Andrew's UMC
celebrates its 30th anniversary

These days it's among busy shopping centers and restaurants along Omaha's Maple Road. But when St. Andrew's UMC was in its early stages, it was surrounded by farmland.

“I was appointed to come here basically with a vacant lot and a phone book,” the Rev. Al Winseman, founding pastor of the church, recalled with a laugh.

St. Andrew's, one of the largest UMCs in Omaha, celebrated its 30th anniversary last weekend.

Read more and see a photo gallery.

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Partnership brings FHSU literacy
center under campus ministries' roof

Fort Hays State University’s Language and Literacy Institute was looking for a new home. FHSU’s United Methodist Campus Ministries was looking for students with a reason to enter its building. 

Both of those needs are being met with a marriage of the two, stoked by the marriage of their leaders. Dr. Sarah Broman Miller is assistant professor of teacher education and director of the institute, and Troy Miller is campus pastor at Fort Hays State. 

“My basic strategy, if you will, for outreach, evangelism, church growth, whatever, is the more comfortable I can get them in the building, the more I can connect with them personally, the greater opportunity I have to build relationships with them,” said Troy Miller, who has been campus pastor since October 2021. “And then when they need something of a spiritual nature, hopefully I’m on their radar to seek out.” 

The center opened to the public last week, with Miss Kansas speaking of a special teacher who changed her life.

Read more and see a photo gallery.

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Grassroots groups talk up
The United Methodist Church

A handful of U.S. conferences that are seeing considerable discussion and action around disaffiliation also have seen the emergence of grassroots groups advocating for churches to remain United Methodist. They go by such names as Celebrate UMC, Stay UMC, Abide South Georgia and That We May Be One. 

Read more from United Methodist News Service.
Related story: Churches discern whether to stay or go.

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Clergy Excellence

Rest, restore, recharge during
fall clergy retreat, set for Oct. 24-26

Clergy of the Great Plains Conference, you are invited to take some time away from the routines and challenges of ministry and be attentive to your relationship with God. We hope you will consider attending “Roots for Your Soul,” a spiritual formation retreat planned just for you.

The only cost to you is $50 to reserve your spot for this two-night, three-day retreat. Contact Hours for Continuing Education Units are available. Scholarships are available upon request. See the registration form for details. 

The retreat is Oct. 24-26, at St. Benedict’s Center, Schuyler, Nebraska
Presenter: Seanne Emerton, LMFT, LIMHP, LPC.
Theme: Restore. Rest. Recharge.
Click here to register for the Fall 2022 retreat by Oct. 10. 
Read bios of Roots for Your Soul presenters 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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Social media images available
for health sermon guides

During its sermon planning workshop in July, the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund heard from several churches that social media images would be a helpful tool for churches to have when promoting a sermon series.

Now all Health Fund sermon guides have social media tiles for each weekly theme -- they're sized for Facebook and Twitter.

Each sermon guide brings together scripture, theology, and health to help congregations connect their faith to health. Find the entire series at

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Equipping Disciples

Final webinar with Absalom
is scheduled for next week

We invite you to our final webinar from Alex Absalom, speaker from annual conference. The last webinar will be focusing on “Barriers to Embracing A Discipleship-Making Culture on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 11:30 a.m. CT. Register here for a link to join the webinar.

Though we heard some clear feedback in the evaluations from annual conference expressing a frustration with, and even at times offense at, places where the Absaloms articulate a theology different than some in our conference, we are grateful for their work in helping us think through intentional ways to share faith in relationship. As is often the case when reading or listening or learning, you are invited to filter those things that don’t directly align with the way you think, while discerning how the Spirit might still be speaking to you and even shaping and forming you in your discipleship and leadership through the Absaloms’ teaching.

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.” The webinars, short online videos, discussion questions and courses for a Sunday School class, small group, education teams and others can be found at the Seasons of Witness course. Check out the video and small group resources of the Season of Witness course and webinars to share with teams, small groups and classes here:

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Sign up 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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Mercy & Justice

Meetings set to discuss
payday loan reform in Kansas

Kansas borrowers are being charged exorbitant interests on small dollar loans in the state of Kansas. The Great Plains Mercy and Justice Team, in partnership with Kansans for Payday Loan Reform, is working to stop predatory lending in the state. Borrowers are being charged interest as high as 700% and on average 391%. That means a $300 loan can cost $750 within five months. Do you want to support putting an end to predatory lending while maintaining access to small loans for all Kansans?

Come to a “Stop the Debt Trap!” event near you so you can learn more about predatory loans and what we are doing to stop them.

Stop the Debt Trap! Event Series

  • Oct. 9 – 7 p.m., Topeka Countryside UMC
  • Oct. 13 – 6 p.m., Hutchinson at location TBA
  • Oct. 17 -- 7 p.m., KIFA (Kansas Interfaith Action) Faith and Public Policy Forum - Predatory Lending, via Zoom
  • Oct. 24 -- 7 p.m., Wichita Saint Mark UMC
  • Oct. 27 -- 7 p.m., Overland Park St. Mark UMC
  • Date TBA -- The Hub, Kansas City, Kansas

Can’t make it to one of these events or don’t live nearby? Check out for more information, then call your legislator this week to ask them to support predatory lending reform. You can find your representative and senator at

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World Church Council
supports State of Israel

“Seeking Justice and Peace for All in the Middle East.” This is the title of a statement the World Council of Churches released at their assembly a few days ago. Noting the systematic violation of human rights, an increase in forced displacements of Palestinians from their homes, the expansion of Israeli settlements and increased military presence, the statement says:

“We affirm the rightful place of the State of Israel in the community of nations and recognize its legitimate security needs. At the same time we affirm the right of the Palestinians for self-determination and that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1967, as well as settlement construction and expansion in the occupied territories, is illegal under international law and must be ended. We believe that it is only through an end to the occupation and a just, comprehensive and lasting peace settlement that the security of both Palestinians and Israelis can be assured.”

Resolution #6111 in the 2016 United Methodist Book of Resolutions states, “We seek for all people in the Middle East an end to military occupation, freedom from violence, and full respect for the human rights of all under international law.” The resolution lists many ways we can be active and support peace in the Holy Land and the Middle East from studying about the situation, engaging in interfaith dialogue, contacting our members of Congress and much more.

--Submitted by the Great Plains Holy Land Task Force

See coverage of the WCC General Assembly from UM News Service.

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Disaster Response

No UMCOR relief kits
are currently needed

With everything there is a season, and so it is so with the needing of UMCOR Relief Kits. Currently there are NO needs for kits. Each of our warehouses were over stocked for the recent disasters that have taken place. The warehouse that we will be working with from now on is the Missouri Conference’s Warehouse which they share with Church World Service, and that warehouse is at capacity at this time.

However, look for an announcement in late October for a specific number of Cleaning Kits which will be needed to restock the warehouse. Please do not make these up ahead of time unless you have the storage capacity, as there is no storage at the conference office. 

Here are the links for each UMCOR Kit:
Cleaning Kit:
Hygiene Kit:
Menstrual Hygiene Kit: (This kit is replacing the School Kit as demands for school items have been on the decline for the past couple of years.)

--Rev. Hollie Tapley
Disaster response coordinator

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Great Plains PAUMCS chapter
meets for workshops in Salina

The Great Plains Chapter of Professional Administrators of the United Methodist Connectional Structure (PAUMCS) met on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at Grand Avenue United Methodist Church, Salina.

There were 12 people in attendance from both Kansas and Nebraska.

Presenters included Angela Fairbanks speaking about “Christian Self-Care.” Carol Rubino explained “Setting Up Your Office Feng Shui Style” and devotions were given by Penny Birdsong. 

The next workshop will be on March 14-15, 2023, at Grand Avenue United Methodist Church in Salina, Kansas. Mark your calendars now. 

--Connie Christopher, president
Great Plains Chapter of PAUMCS

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Deadline for foundation's Justice
Ministry Grants extended to Oct. 14

The deadline for the Kansas Methodist Foundation’s Justice Ministry Grants has been extended to October 14, 2022.

The Justice Ministries pathway provides matching grants for programs focused on healing racial divisions, increasing equity among God’s children, encouraging inclusion, and broadening people’s understanding of diversity and bias. Grants are awarded to churches and organizations across Kansas to advance ministries, especially in ways that are creative, innovative, and new. For more information, visit

The Kansas Methodist Foundation is grateful for the individuals and families who help make the Pathways for Discipleship grant ministry 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, please contact KMF at or 620-664-9623.

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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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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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October's almost here: How to
show pastors your appreciation

Pastor Appreciation Month in October is a time to say “thank you” to the people who may be most visible as preachers and teachers, but who, in reality, are on-call 24/7 standing with congregants and others to offer spiritual and other support in times of confusion and transition, times of heart-wrenching sorrow and times of overwhelming joy. They laugh, cry and pray with those whom they shepherd and serve.

How can you show your appreciation? Find out here.

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Laity Sunday sermon series available, with worship, preaching suggestions

Laity Sunday is observed each year on the third Sunday in October — Oct. 16 this year. The United Methodist Church celebrates the ministry and witness of laypersons everywhere through a special service. The Greater New Jersey Conference's Breakthrough Worship ministry is offering a Laity Sunday sermon series, complete with worship and preaching suggestions as well as graphics for social media.

View resource

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Small-group studies available
related to anti-racism podcast

The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race has released small-group study guides for each episode in the first season of “Expanding the Table,” the agency’s award-winning podcast on practicing anti-racism. Additionally, the agency has added full transcripts for each episode to aid in accessibility.

View resource

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Church members can work together
to help raise funds for scholarships

The United Methodist Dollars for Scholars award, offered by the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, is a unique program that kicks off with a $1,000 scholarship from an applicant's church. For some congregations, however, money is not readily available but the desire to support students is. The foundation offers tips for raising that $1,000.

See tips

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Across the Connection

Nebraska UMC opens
arms to Ukrainian family

Family connections and a war overseas have brought Nebraska’s Aurora UMC together to show Christ's love. Since the family arrived, church member Patti Kell applied for a Mustard Seed Migration Grant through UMCOR which has raised another $2,000 of support.

“There was a group of us that had been discussing how we can do this?” Kell told the Aurora News Register. “Would refugees feel comfortable in Aurora, Nebraska, without any Ukrainians around? What can you do? You can always give money to an agency, but if you want a personal involvement how do you do that?” 

Read more here.

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Hooper church, older than
town itself, celebrates 150

Faith United Methodist Church in Hooper, Nebraska, celebrates its 150th anniversary this weekend.

The church was established in 1872, four years before the town of Hooper was incorporated. Church history showed “grasshoppers came in vast armies to devour all vegetation.”

Rev. Lew Kaye-Skinner, who grew up in the church, will deliver the anniversary sermon this Sunday.

Read more in the Fremont Tribune.

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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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