Because of the Thanksgiving holiday
next week, there will be no GPconnect. Conference and district offices
will be closed Nov. 24-25.

Download the Nov. 16 edition of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Lincoln's new justice group sets name, priorities, leader
New bishop, Great Plains colleague get close shaves
Listen, learn at border encounter next March
Bishop Saenz receives Perkins Distinguished Alumni Award

Veloso talks about clergy discipleship during final installment Thursday

Signups now available for devotions for December through February
Children’s ministry online workshop set for Nov. 19
Grants available for emerging ethnic ministries

Nebraska UM Foundation awards $100,000+ in ministry grants for '23 

Advent studies now available on DVD, book
November is Native American Heritage Month
3 bishops, multi-campus pastor focus on 'new beginning' in webinar
RMN launches new website, resources, mission statement

Roast beef dinner funds community outreach for Nebraska church
Pastor takes pies to face to celebrate attendance challenge
In other news


Lincoln's new justice group
sets name, priorities, leader

In the space of a 70-minute community problems assembly last week, Lincoln and Lancaster County’s new justice organization determined its two top priorities, elected officers, selected its name, and announced a Great Plains Conference clergy as its lead organizer.

Justice in Action, the name selected by the 300 people attending the assembly at Eastridge Presbyterian Church, is partially funded by the conference’s $2.1 million Doing Justice Initiative. Of the 21 congregations involved in the first efforts, 12 are United Methodist churches.

Read more here.

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New bishop, Great Plains
colleague get close shaves

Be careful what you say when you're a candidate for bishop.

This summer, the Rev. Dee Williamston said that if she was elected to the episcopacy, she would shave a cross-and-flame in her hair. The Rev. Jeff Clinger, director of congregational excellence, said he'd join her.

And so, nine days after she became Bishop Dee Williamston, she made good on her promise at a Topeka barber shop.

Read more and see a photo gallery.

Bishop Williamston's mother, Henrietta Hysten-Taylor, died over the weekend. She was 81. Read the obituary here.

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Listen, learn at border
encounter next March

Your Great Plains Conference Mercy & Justice Team is focused on assisting our local churches in their ministries of both mercy and justice as we work to cultivate a culture where justice is as normal as mercy! We see and hear from individuals and churches across the conference interested in the work of God’s justice and people are ready to move from study to action! This movement to action calls for leadership development and the 2023 Justice Encounters immersion experiences are the first phase of a bold and innovative initiative for the work of racial justice in our conference. The immersion experience prioritizes building relationships and networks of people across the conference, intercultural leadership training and development, and will culminate in faith-based responses as members of the Body of Christ.

The cost for the trip is anticipated to be around $1,400 per person. The Mercy & Justice Team has committed to funding the first $700 per person participating in this Justice Encounter to the U.S./Mexico border in March and we have 40 spots available on the team. Additional scholarship assistance may be available -- don’t let funding get in the way of your participation. You can check the box on the registration link below and a team member will contact you.

Is God nurturing a call in your heart? Are you feeling a nudge to take the next step on your discipleship path? Do you see leadership gifts in someone else and want to see those gifts nurtured for your local church? You don’t want to miss this opportunity!

Justice Encounter: Border Immersion

March 23-28, 2023, to the Rio Grande Valley: McAllen, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico

This border immersion is intentionally designed to provide a comprehensive spectrum of views about immigration and the borderlands by:

  • Providing first-hand experience with the complexity of border issues.
  • Visiting with immigrants and people who live in a border community.
  •  Visiting local ministries and organizations working with immigrant populations.
  • Meeting with government officials to hear about border protection and law enforcement.
  • Learning about immigration policy and laws.
  • Building an understanding of US policies and realities affecting people on the border.

Participants are encouraged to come with open minds, proactively engage in the provided learning materials before, during, and after the experience, and draw upon their faith as disciples of Jesus to inform their follow-up actions.

Link to apply:

Have questions or need more information: reach out to team leader Rev. Anne Gahn at or call 402-499-4229 or check out the website at

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Bishop Saenz receives
Perkins Distinguished Alumni Award

Ten days after he was announced as the new episcopal leader of the Central and North Texas conferences, Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. of the Great Plains received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

“It was 30 years ago when I first came to the DFW area to live and attend Perkins,” recalled Bishop Saenz. “Now, to receive this honor on the heels of being assigned as the bishop of both the Fort Worth and Dallas episcopal areas is humbling.”

Read more from the Central Texas Conference.

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Clergy Excellence

Veloso talks about clergy discipleship during final fall installment Thursday

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 upcoming Clergy Discipleship Virtual Meet-Ups below:

  • Thursday, Nov. 17, 10-11 a.m. CT, Rev. Juan Carlos Veloso, Iglesia Comunitaria and Grace UMC, Omaha. Watch Juan Carlos’ testimony here and here. Register for the meet-up here.

We hope to see you for a bit of connection, sharing, and mutual encouragement!

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Equipping Disciples

Signups now available for devotions
for December through February

Our daily devotions are sent at 5 a.m. each day to more than 3,000 clergy, laity and conference staff in the Great Plains Conference and beyond.

For more than four years, we have relied on United Methodists in the bistate area to write devotions based on their own reflections and experiences. We welcome and appreciate contributions from people from all walks of life.

Here is a new link to sign up for devotions from December through February. Thank you!

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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 closed for the event, but those who still want to be included in the Zoom meeting can contact Donna Ernest,

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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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Nebraska UM Foundation awards
$100,000+ in ministry grants for '23 

The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation would like to congratulate the recipients of their Ministry Grant Program for 2023. These grants are made available through the generosity of fellow United Methodists contributing to the Foundation’s Gifts from The Heart Endowment Fund.

The foundation’s Board of Directors and staff would like to thank the many Nebraska United Methodists who continue to strengthen our Gifts from The Heart Program. Due to your generosity, the Foundation was able to award over $100,000 in grants to Nebraska churches and their ministries.

The following is the list of Ministry Grant Recipients for 2023: Alliance UMC, Aurora UMC, Bellevue Aldersgate UMC, Bellwood UMC, Benedict UMC, Big Springs UMC, Brady UMC, Camp Fontanelle, Camp Norwesca, Chadron UMC, Columbus First UMC, Creighton Faith United Church, Crete Grace UMC, DeWitt UMC, Eddyville Grace UMC, Epworth Village, Ericson UMC, Gothenburg First UMC, Grant UMC, Hastings First UMC, Kearney First UMC, Lincoln Aldersgate UMC, Lincoln Christ UMC, Lincoln Horizons UMC, Lincoln Lakeview UMC, McCool Junction UMC, Minden UMC, Omaha Clair Memorial, Omaha Dietz Memorial UMC, Omaha TRI-Community UMC, Omaha Union Memorial UMC, Omaha Urban Abbey, Omaha Water’s Edge UMC, Orchard UMC, Overton UMC, Oxford UMC, Papillion St. Paul UMC, Ralston Trinity UMC, Raymond UMC, Schuyler Christ UMC, Scottsbluff UMC, Seward UMC, Stromsburg UMC, Superior First UMC, The Big Garden/UM Ministries, Wahoo First UMC, Walthill UMC, Waterloo UMC, Waverly First UMC, Williamsburg UMC.

Grants will be mailed by Dec. 1 and are used to support ministries in 2023. For churches and ministries interested in 2024 funding, the program will open up on June 1, 2023, with a deadline of Sept. 30. More information will be on the foundation’s website at that time.

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Advent studies now
available on DVD, book

Advent is 11 days away, and the United Media Resource Center has an abundance of DVDs and books available.

DVDs include two volumes of a video Advent calendar; “Drive Thru History: Bethlehem to Caesarea” and “Story of Advent: Speed Sketch Bible Stories.”

Books available include “Behold! Cultivating Attentiveness in the Season of Advent” by Pamela Hawkins, “Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus” by Daniel Darling, and “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Advent and Christmas with Charles Wesley” by Paul Wesley Chilcote.

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November is Native
American Heritage Month

While The United Methodist Church observes Native American Ministries Sunday on the third Sunday after Easter, United Methodists are also encouraged to celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November. Native American history was made this month, as Bishop David Wilson (who will be serving the Great Plains Conference beginning Jan. 1) was named as the first Native episcopal leader.

Find worship resources here. 

Read Bishop Wilson’s 11 Facts about Native People in Society and The Church.

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3 bishops, multi-campus pastor
focus on 'new beginning' in webinar

The Rev. Matt Miofsky, lead pastor of The Gathering, a fast-growing multi-campus United Methodist church in St. Louis, will serve as a keynote speaker at the sixth annual Inclusiveness webinar, scheduled for 9:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT Saturday, Nov. 19. People can begin checking in on Zoom at 9 a.m. Speakers also include Council of Bishops President Thomas J. Bickerton and Bishops Julius Trimble and Karen Oliveto. Their focus topic is “A New Beginning: An Inclusive United Methodism.”

Learn more 
To register

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RMN launches new website,
resources, mission statement

Following a historic period of growth post-General Conference, Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) has built an improved website; updated its virtual resources to better serve its global Reconciling community; and updated its governing statements for the organization’s more intersectional approach to justice.

Features of the robust new website, still located at, include an interactive map and list of Reconciling Ministries around the world; a vetted resource library aimed at the movement’s most frequently asked questions about LGBTQ+ justice in the Church; a new events calendar that provides dates for important RMN events and more; and a job board to connect Reconciling Ministries with Reconciling United Methodist job seekers.

Read more here.

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Across the Connection

Roast beef dinner funds community
outreach for Nebraska church

The United Methodist church in the northeast Nebraska village of Winside brought people together again this year for its annual roast beef dinner.

The funds raised will go to the church’s outreach, including after school programs.

See more from News Channel Nebraska.

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Pastor takes pies to face
to celebrate attendance challenge

Bob Wynn challenged his congregation at O’Neill UMC to have 100 people at Sunday services on Nov. 6 and 13. If they did, he said, he’d take a pie to the face.

That’s what happened Sunday as the church, which averages about 70 in services, hit the century mark.

Wynn, who also pastors churches in Atkinson and Amelia, said he dared his previous congregation in Louisburg, Nebraska, to do the same.

Before he got hit, Wynn said, he had to teach the dozen or so children who participated to place the whipped cream of the pie gently on his face and not slam it.

“The kids did great,” he said. “They loved it.”

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In other news

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