Because of a scheduling conflict,
there will be no GPconnect next week;
it will return on Oct. 19.
Look for conference news
on our social media pages.

Download the Oct. 5 edition of GPconnect.

In this edition:

THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Bishop Saenz issues plea for hurricane relief funding
Kansas foundation provides videos for stewardship campaigns
Leadership Institute includes guidance, hope -- and tractors
Lewis Center survey shows young elder numbers hit record low

CLERGY EXCELLENCE
You are not alone; personnel, services available to those in need
Monday is deadline to register for fall clergy retreat, set for Oct. 24-26
Emmert is next guest in online clergy discipleship discussions
Seven clergy take part in For Your Life retreat last week
‘Facing the Future’ webinar returning in November

EQUIPPING DISCIPLES
Camp Horizon to celebrate 75th anniversary on Oct. 16
Children’s ministry online workshop set for Nov. 19
Upcoming online workshops offer insights into ministry for young people
Grants available for emerging ethnic ministries

MERCY & JUSTICE 
Meetings discussing payday loan reform in Kansas begin this Sunday
KIFA hosting forum on protection of democracy
To do justice, the best way may be to partner up

ADMINISTRATION
Obaya is new camps account specialist for conference

RESOURCES
Here’s 15 ways to show pastors your appreciation this month
Help kids explore mystery of baptism
Revisiting the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina

ACROSS THE CONNECTION
Church blesses community in its first day of service
Summit Youth Academy to host poverty simulation event
Leawood UMC celebrates 20th anniversary of organ with concert
Omaha church in campaign to get its 1888 pipe organ restored
Omaha pastor among those standing up for abortion rights
In other news
Newsletters
Classifieds

 

Bishop Saenz issues plea
for hurricane relief funding

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. has issued a plea for United Methodists to donate to relief efforts for people impacted by Hurricane Ian. Read a letter from the bishop, which contains a link on how to donate directly to the The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Read the letter here.
From UM News Service: Hurricane recovery begins in Florida.

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Kansas foundation provides
videos for stewardship campaigns

The Kansas Methodist Foundation, in partnership with the Great Plains Conference, has prepared six videos on subjects ranging from why parishioners should give, how giving is part of our discipleship, and how to leave a legacy.
 
The videos are short in nature and may be a good fit for use in worship services as “ministry moments” or in other ways to assist pastors, finance committees and other church leaders as they prepare campaigns to determine budgets for the next year.
 
The videos all can be watched here. They can be downloaded for use by clicking the link for each video and then click the “Download” button under each video. Select the resolution that is best for your church (1080p is usually the best choice).

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Leadership Institute includes
guidance, hope -- and tractors

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, a part-time farmer for 21 years, drew on his sideline for a series of sermons this summer at Church of the Resurrection, as he explained last week at its Leadership Institute.

The sermon series was called "God and Tractors."

“What tractors are to farming, the Holy Spirit is to Christian life,” Hamilton told about 1,600 who attended in person and another 1,000 who watched online.

Speakers included leadership expert and author Tod Bolsinger, author of books including "Canoeing the Mountains."

Read more here.

Related stories:

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Lewis Center survey shows
young elder numbers hit record low

The Lewis Center for Church Leadership has published its annual report on clergy age trends in The United Methodist Church. The number of elders under age 35 is at a record low. Young deacon numbers are up slightly.

The Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr., senior consultant for the Lewis Center, has done an analysis of the trends.
Read full report
Read Weems’ analysis
Read report highlights

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Clergy Excellence

You are not alone; personnel, services
available to those who are in need

October is Mental Health Awareness month, and this week in particular is Mental Illness Awareness week, Rev. Dr. Shelly Petz writes in her clergy faith and wellness blog.

"These are individuals in our communities, in our churches, in our children's ministry and youth groups, within our clergy colleagues. If you or someone you know is affected by mental illness, you are not alone," she writes. "Mental health care is important and available."

Read more here.

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Monday is deadline to register for
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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Emmert is next guest in online
clergy discipleship discussions

The Rev. Dr. Bruce Emmert, a recently retired elder and founder of Forge CMC consulting, will be the guest of Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford and Rev. Shelly Petz next week in the continuing series of online Zoom meetups to discuss clergy discipleship.

Register here.

Other Zoom interviews in the series:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2-3 p.m. CT, Rev. Dr. Reuben Langat, Clay Center UMC, Clay Center, KS. Register here.
  • Thursday, Oct. 20, 2-3 p.m. CT, Rev. Michael Tomson-DeGreeff, Trinity UMC, Hutchinson. Register here.
  • Thursday, Oct. 27, 10-11 a.m. CT, Rev. Amy Lippoldt, St. Paul’s UMC, Papillion. Register here.
  • Thursday, Nov. 17, 10-11 a.m. CT, Rev. Juan Carlos Veloso, Iglesia Comunitaria and Grace UMC, Omaha. Register here.

Read more about this series and find previous episodes here. For questions, reach out to Ashlee or Shelly. Subscribe or follow for easier listening opportunities on the following platforms:
Apple Podcasts
Podbean

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Seven clergy take part in
For Your Life retreat last week

From Sept. 25-27, seven Great Plains clergy joined three retreat leaders for the For Your Life retreat at Heartland Spirituality Center in Great Bend, Kansas, a retreat offered to clergy to spend some time to “fix some part of every day for private exercises … read and pray daily. It is for your life … Do justice to your own soul: give it time and means to grow,” advice from John Wesley’s advice to a young preacher in 1760.

The retreat guides pastors in times of prayer, conversation around creating a Rule of Life, and the beginning of creating an intentional plan for growth. Clergy are invited to consider a self-guided version of this retreat or mark your calendar for next April 30 to May 2, where the retreat will be held at St. Benedict’s Center in Schuyler, Nebraska.

You can learn more about the retreat or register for the self-guided retreat here: https://www.greatplainsumc.org/foryourlife.

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‘Facing the Future’ webinar
returning in November

The General Commission on Race and Religion is hosting its first Cross-Cultural/Cross-Racial webinar, “Facing the Future,” from noon to 6 p.m. CT Wednesday, Nov. 16.

After a brief hiatus during the pandemic, “Facing the Future” is returning. Facing the Future is the premier conference for anyone engaged with or discerning cross-racial/cross-cultural/multicultural ministry. You will learn skills to support the CRCC ministry context, personal self-care, and professional development. You will experience meaningful worship and workshops from sought-after leaders and professionals. We are looking forward to seeing you there.

Learn more and register here.

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Equipping Disciples

Camp Horizon to celebrate
75th anniversary on Oct. 16

Camp Horizon will celebrate its 75th anniversary from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, including a brief worship service at Inspiration Lodge at 3 p.m.

Guests are invited to come and see all the improvements over the years and take a look at how God has been changing lives at camp.

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Children’s ministry online
workshop set for Nov. 19

Whether we are volunteers, part time staff, or working full time in Children's Ministry, God has placed a call on our lives to care for the faith needs of our community's kiddos.
 
With all that Children's Ministry can bring, how do we know what to say "yes" to? How can we discern where God is going and what God wants us to do in ministry?
 
"Pruning our Passions" is a 90-minute opportunity to begin the discernment process of how to stay healthy in ministry with kids! Join our children's ministry regional coordinators and Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford from 9-10:30 a.m. CT Saturday, Nov. 19, on Zoom for a moment of peace, reflection and care.

Registration is free and now open at  https://gp-reg.brtapp.com/PruningOurPassions2022

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Upcoming online workshops offer
insights into ministry for young people

How can you adapt, innovate in, and improve your youth ministry? 

Three free, upcoming online workshops in October and November give churches, youth workers, and clergy a chance to hear what experts in the field have to say, at no cost. These workshops will offer ways to assess and tweak your youth ministry to best serve the teens in your congregation and community.

  • Oct. 11 – Assessing Your Youth Ministry: 3 Big Questions that Change Every Teenager -- Dr. Kara Powell from Fuller Theological Seminary and Fuller Youth Institute share what research says are the three major questions young people are looking for answers to, and how these questions can shape and improve the youth ministries you offer.
  • Oct. 25 – Helping Young People Hear God’s Voice – Are you actually teaching young people how to hear God’s voice? Rev. Wendy Mohler-Seib from Friends University in Kansas shares what she’s learned about helping young people develop the ability to listen to God, and practical methods you can use in your own ministry.
  • Nov. 8 – Innovation in Youth Ministry -- What’s next on the youth ministry horizon? Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean from Princeton University shares some of the trends and creative innovations that have been successful in youth ministries over the past five years.

Each workshop is one hour long and features short teaching videos from the speakers and short, guided discussions among participants. Recordings are not possible with this format and will not be available after the workshops; however, the workshop content will eventually be available at TimothyCircle.com. You can register for a workshop to be notified when these resources are available.

Registration is free and open to all, thanks to a grant from the Texas Methodist Foundation. Learn more at www.TimothyCircle.com/live-learning/

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Grants available for
emerging ethnic ministries

The Vital Congregations team is offering grants for emerging ethnic ministries. Any emerging (new or developing) ministry to or with ethnic minority communities in the Great Plains can be considered.

Applications are being received through Dec. 1 and grants will be awarded before the end of the year. Applications can be completed here -- and questions can be directed to Rev. Jeff Clinger, Director of Congregational Excellence.

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Mercy & Justice

Meetings discussing payday loan
reform in Kansas begin this Sunday

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 – 4 p.m., Topeka Countryside UMC -- a change from the previously announced time
  • Oct. 13 – 6:30 p.m., Hutchinson Trinity UMC
  • 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 kspaydayreform.wixsite.com/website 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 https://openstates.org/.

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KIFA hosting forum on
protection of democracy

Kansas Interfaith Action’s Faith & Public Policy Forum series will continue at 7 p.m. CT Thursday, Oct. 13, with a discussion on protection of democracy.

Speakers include David Pepper, author of "Laboratories of Autocracy"; Mark McCormick, ACLU of Kansas; Heather Ousley, Shawnee Mission School District and Rabbi Moti Rieber, KIFA, moderator.

RSVP at this link or through the KIFA Facebook page.

Other forums will be on payday loan reform, Oct. 17; and climate and clean energy, Oct. 18.

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To do justice, the best
way may be to partner up

Looking for new ways to share God’s love this fall? Maybe now is the time to consider or expand justice work at your church. 

Imagine this: your mission team, your church council, or another small group prayerfully considers the passions of your congregation. With your church context in mind, together you research and select a partner (an organization, coalition, or network) who can provide opportunities for action. You create a plan for how to invite your entire church to participate as opportunities arise to attend webinars and learning events, to call and email legislators, or to attend lobby days or rallies. You find ways to track your congregation’s participation along the way, so you can build momentum and celebrate each faithful step you take to answer God’s call to make a difference together. 

Here is a list of partners your church or your network might want to connect with. Look up their websites, check out their social media to see what they have been up to lately, and open yourself up to what amazing work of justice the Holy Spirit might have in mind for you.

And don’t forget, you can apply for social justice seed money grants through the Conference as you work to build ministries to transform the world! Click here to apply: https://gp-reg.brtapp.com/SocialJusticeSeedMoneyGrantApplication 

-- Rev. Sarah Marsh, Mercy and Justice Coordinator 

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Administration

Obaya is new camps account
specialist for conference

Sylvia Obaya is the new camps account specialist for the Great Plains Conference, beginning work on Monday.

A Topeka native, Obaya graduated from Washburn University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She has previously worked for Goodyear and Kansas Health Solutions.

Obaya has four daughters, ranging from 10 to 26.

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Resources

Here’s 15 ways to show pastors
your appreciation this month

October is Pastor (or Clergy) Appreciation Month with the second Sunday designated as Pastor Appreciation Day. The Louisiana Conference's Office of Clergy Excellence has put together a list of 15 ways individuals and congregations can show their support, including with prayer.

Read more here.

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Help kids explore
mystery of baptism

Baptism is one of the few things that almost every Christian has experienced, either through their own baptism or by witnessing others go through the ritual. Caregivers don't have to be experts to answer a child's big questions about God. United Methodist Communications offers some suggestions for having these conversations.

Read more here.

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Revisiting the spiritual
practice of Lectio Divina

Each month throughout 2022, the Rev. Nancy Dibelius, assistant director of vital congregations for spiritual life for the Upper New York Conference, has offered opportunities to engage in spiritual practices with video discussion and instruction. The latest video revisits the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina using Psalm 139:1-5.

Watch video.

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Across the Connection

Church blesses community
in its first day of service

Basehor UMC in Kansas had its first “Bless Basehor Day” on Sunday, with members of the congregation going into the community to serve.

The day included, according to the church’s Facebook post:

  • Over 100 hours of volunteering
  • $800 in $10 gift cards handed out to bless neighbors
  • 50 Veterans bags assembled
  • 410 teacher/staff appreciation bags assembled
  • 60 first responder bags assembled, plus 64 more to hand out to other community organizations
  • A flagpole was put up to help to give a BUMC member a smile
  • The walking trail was cleared of debris for our community to walk and enjoy
  • Limbs/sticks/debris cleared at Glenwood Cemetery
  • Trash picked up along 158th
  • Lots of Thank You cards colored and written
  • Baked goods prepared for our teachers and first responders
  • Serving lunch in Kansas City, Kansas, with Bridges of Hope mission

Rev. Kyle Reynolds is the church’s pastor.

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Summit Youth Academy to
host poverty simulation event

The Summit Youth Academy is hosting a poverty simulation event for high school youth groups from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13 at Rose Hill United Methodist Church in Rose Hill, Kansas.

Through a role-playing experience, participants will be faced with challenges that help them better understand what it may be like to live with minimal resources. As God calls each of us to care for our neighbors, youth will identify specific gifts and passions within themselves that can be used to make a difference for others, now and in the future.

There is no charge for this event, thanks to the generous support of the Great Plains Conference through the Culture of Call grant.

For more information and to register your group, go to www.summityouthacademy.org/povsim.

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Leawood UMC celebrates 20th
anniversary of organ with concert

In celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Berghaus organ at Leawood United Methodist Church, the community is invited to a special concert on at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, at the church, 2915 W. 95th St., Leawood.

The concert features Lori Adami, principal organist and pianist at Leawood UMC and Dr. Elisa Bickers, principal organist and associate director of music at Village Presbyterian Church, as well as musicians from the Kansas City Horn Club and the Leawood UMC Bell Choir.

Along with music by Grieg, Stolzel, and Bruhns, the concert includes new works for organ by local composers. All are welcome to attend this free community concert.

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Omaha church in campaign to
get its 1888 pipe organ restored

Celebrating its 150th anniversary this Sunday, Omaha Dietz UMC includes a pipe organ that was built in 1888 and has been silent since about 1965.

A newlywed bride – the great-great granddaughter of the church’s first pastor -- lamented not having a pipe organ at her wedding and is helping raise $125,000 to return the organ to its former glory. It is claimed to be the oldest organ in Nebraska still in its original home.

Read more in the Omaha World-Herald.

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Omaha pastor among those
standing up for abortion rights

Rev. Debra McKnight, pastor of Omaha Urban Abbey, is among the religious leaders who say perceptions regarding faith and abortion are sometimes incorrect.

McKnight attended a Planned Parenthood rally last year, for example, wearing her clerical collar.

Read more from the Omaha World-Herald.

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In other news

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Newsletters 

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Classifieds 

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

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