Download the printable version of the October 9 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Bishop Saenz to preach outside Arrowhead before Chiefs game 
Kansas Wesleyan offers 50% tuition break for United Methodists
New 'Potluck' podcast features Lincoln Neighbors UMC and pastor Trever Rook
Curriculum is key to reaching children through Sunday schools

Youth makes impact on church, community thanks to grant
Show appreciation to pastors who helped you on your spiritual journey
Deadline nearing for spiritual formation retreat, Nov. 4-6 at St. Benedict Center

Creative Worship Conference set for Nov. 15-16 in Topeka
Pumpkin patch, corn maze among activities this month at Camp Fontanelle
Mission Insite to unveil new features in webinars
Share your gifts, graces by writing for our daily devotions
Nominations accepted through Dec. 1 for Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award

Immigrant Legal Center (formerly JFON) celebrating its 20th anniversary
How you, your church can help in protecting refugees

Next local church communications workshop is Saturday at Salina Trinity
UMMen Give Day coming on Oct. 21; text, online, phone giving all welcome

Silver Lake's Harvest Home has been fall tradition since 1926
In other news
Blogs and commentaries
The week ahead


Bishop Saenz to preach outside Arrowhead before Chiefs game 

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. will be the guest preacher for a special worship service prior to kickoff in the parking lot outside Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday. 
The bishop will preach as part of a service hosted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the Pavilion on the south side of the stadium, just across from the Tower Entrance. The service had been led by the Chiefs team chaplain prior to games with noon kickoffs, but after a sermon series last year titled “Faith and Football” by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, lead pastor of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, the Chiefs approached the church about partnering with the team to lead the service. The first worship service led by the Church of the Resurrection, prior to the team’s home opener Sept. 22, had 170 people in attendance. 
The worship service includes music led by one of the church’s praise bands, a video testimony from a Chiefs player and a live sermon. 
Anyone who has purchased a parking pass for the Truman Sports Complex parking lot for that day’s home game against the Houston Texans is welcome to attend the worship service. The service starts with a prelude at 9:45 a.m. and is scheduled to conclude by 10:35 a.m. 

Kansas Wesleyan offers 50%
tuition break for United Methodists

There’s good news for United Methodists wanting to attend Kansas Wesleyan University – beginning next spring, all members of the UMC will receive a 50% tuition scholarship from the Salina-based school.

See more in this article from the Salina Journal.

New 'Potluck' podcast features Lincoln
Neighbors UMC and pastor Trever Rook

Trever Rook, the founding pastor of Lincoln Neighbors UMC, is the guest for the second episode of “Potluck,” a Great Plains Conference podcast premiering Friday morning.

Rook talks to host David Burke about the origins of Neighbors, how Rook’s own experience as a radio host and a standup comedian come into play in his role as pastor, and how Fred Rogers provided hope and inspiration not only for Rook but for the Neighbors church.

“Potluck” is one of three new podcasts introduced this fall by the Great Plains Conference, as well as "In Layman's Terms" with Todd Seifert, and an audio version of "Harvesting the Great Plains" with Jayna McFarland.

Click here to listen to "Potluck."

Curriculum is key to reaching
children through Sunday schools

Reaching children with the word of God begins with parents, but Sunday schools using United Methodist Publishing House curriculums can also play an important role.

Read more from the United Methodist News Service.




Clergy Excellence

Youth makes impact on church, community thanks to grant

Culture of Call grants from the Great Plains Conference provide funding to those churches who want to spark an interest in ministry. The fall grant recipients will be announced next week. Here is what a church accomplished with a grant it received earlier this year:

At Laurel UMC in Laurel, Nebraska, we applied for a Culture of Call grant early this spring. We wanted to create a summer internship for a young person to explore their calling and get to experience what ministry is like in the church. And Maddy Graham, one of the youth in our church, applied and worked as an intern for the summer. Maddy just began her freshman year in high school.

We had a great summer working with her as she helped plan worship, lead prayers, attend committee meetings, and help administratively in the church office among many things. As a culmination of her internship, she preached her first sermon at both Laurel and Logan Center UMC. It was a great encouragement to the congregation to see a young person rise up in ministry. Almost the entire community knew about her sermon. And since we have also been streaming our services to Facebook, the week where she preached the number of views was over 1,200 times. And that is plenty compared to our regular Sunday of about 50 views.

Here at Laurel UMC, we are grateful for the opportunity of the Culture of Call grant that began this process for Maddy. And we are excited about the impact that she is already having to the community from such a young age. We pray she continues to discover her call and be a faithful servant of the Lord all her life!

-- Rev. Isaac Chua,
Laurel-Logan Center UMC

Show appreciation to pastors who
helped you on your spiritual journey

October is clergy appreciation month. The Rev. Shelly Petz, in her monthly Faith & Wellness blog, asks clergy and pastors to think of a clergy person who has been instrumental in their faith journey.

"What would our conference look like if every pastor knew and experienced that they were appreciated?" she writes. "Maybe that appreciation would be multiplied just because you took the time to tell someone they made a difference in your life and you are grateful."

Read her blog here.

Deadline nearing for spiritual formation
retreat, Nov. 4-6 at St. Benedict Center


Roots for Your Soul is a spiritual formation retreat, designed to provide clergy with some time away from the routines and challenges of ministry and time and space to intentionally focus on their relationship with God. This retreat will be held Nov. 4-6 at St. Benedict Center, near Schuyler, Nebraska. 
The intention of this retreat is to offer a place to ground oneself in the roots of our soul, give thanks for the many fruits of our labor, and explore the fullness of who God created us to be.
During the retreat, there will be times of worship and communion, study and reflection, and time to do what is needed in order to flourish and thrive. ?In addition to intentional learning around spiritual formation and soul care, there will also be spiritual directors on hand for more directed work on one’s spiritual life.
Leadership for Roots for Your Soul will be provided by Seanne Emerton, a licensed mental health professional, and the Rev. Thomas Leitner, director of St. Benedict. Emmerton will lead sessions on “Mindful Self-Care” and “Resiliency.” Father Thomas will lead participants in the practice of “Living in the Presence of God” advocated by Brother Lawrence who lived in the 17th century. He believes it is possible to cultivate the deep presence of God in daily living so the awareness of God permeates every moment. 
The only cost to clergy for this three-day, two-night retreat is $25. The retreat is from 2 p.m. Nov. 4 to noon Nov. 6.  
Reserve your spot by clicking here. The deadline for reservations is Oct. 18.


Equipping Disciples

Creative Worship Conference
set for Nov. 15-16 in Topeka

The Creative Worship Conference, a hands-on learning experience designed to bring creativity to congregations of any size means and worship style, will be Friday-Saturday, Nov. 15-16 at the Great Plains Conference office in Topeka.

The times have been updated: 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15; and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16.

Jason Moore (pictured above) from Midnight Oil Productions will be the presenter, and Chris Aytes and the praise band from Wamego First UMC will lead worship. Come away with new ideas and create your 2020 worship plan. Hear about Culture, Art, Team and Technology.

The first 50 participants will receive free coaching on worship and implementation for the next year.

Register at this link and watch a video invitation from Jason Moore here. Download the updated brochure.

Pumpkin patch, corn maze among activities this month at Camp Fontanelle

There is still plenty of time to get out to Camp Fontanelle's pumpkin patch and corn maze. The special event days are still to come. Not only will you find that there is a lot to do during the fall at Camp Fontanelle, your attendance benefits the summer ministry through your admission, ticket purchases and concession stand purchases.

Special activities include:
Search for Treats – Oct. 20 and 27. Bring a new toy with a minimum of $5 value you will get free admission. On the 20th, toy donations will go to Toys for Tots and on the 27th, your donation will go to Camp Fontanelle's Christmas Camp. Dress up in costume and search for treats in the maze from 2-4 p.m. The maze hours for the day are 1-6 p.m. There is no additional cost, just donate a toy or pay for your admission.

Halloween Wilderness Run/Walk – Oct. 26. This event is a fun and challenging 5k or 1.25-mile course. Runners will run the trails at camp, which gives the runners a chance to see a part of the camp that is not seen by the corn maze guests. Walkers will be able to take a leisurely walk in the possible crisp, cool morning. The run/walk begins at 9 a.m. Check-in begins at 8 a.m., and a meal will be served afterwards during the awards ceremony. Registrants will also receive a free pass to the corn maze and if registered by Oct. 12t, you'll get a LS run/walk T-shirt. Cost is $30. Contact Trent Meyer with any questions: 402-459-0686.

Scary Maze Nights – Oct. 18, 19, 25. This fun, and maybe, scary event is the opportunity to go through the maze at night. Is that rustling of corn because of the breeze or is a scarer sneaking up on you? Maybe it is both! Don't worry, it is all in your head! Scarers will not touch you, only give you a fright. There is also night zipline rides and movies at the Petting Barn. There is no additional cost to these nights, just pay the regular admission. The maze goes dark from 7-10 p.m. on the Scary Maze Nights. Contact Trent Meyer with any questions: 402-459-0686

Contact the camp for any questions about these special events. 402-478-4296.

Mission Insite to unveil
new features in webinars

Mission Insite has added some new features, including a new mapping interface, and will be conducting webinars for users to introduce the new features.  

The live webinars, via Zoom, will be at noon CT Tuesday, Oct. 22 and noon CT Thursday, Oct. 24.

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Share your gifts, graces by
writing for our daily devotions

The Great Plains Conference is looking for talented devotion writers from across Kansas and Nebraska. Submissions can be a traditional Upper Room style format or creative, out-of-the-box submissions such as original poetry, inspiration from a piece of art or song that resonates with your faith life. 

Is there a particular place that you have taken a photo of that connects you to your faith? Do you experience your faith through photography or the video lens?  Is there a spiritual practice that is important to you that you could share with the conference? Is there a podcast that resonates with your faith?

Everyone has a story, we would love to share yours. How could your story impact the faith of our Nebraska and Kansas neighbors?  I think you might be surprised.

Go to this link to sign up, and encourage a friend to share as well!

Nominations accepted through Dec. 1
for Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award

Nominations for the 2020 Perkins School of Theology Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award are now being accepted through Dec. 1.

The annual award is presented to a layperson in the United States who exemplifies an exceptional commitment of service to Christ through faith and action in the church, community and world. Awarded first in 1993, the award has been presented to more than 45 distinguished laypersons throughout the years.

Find out more here.



Mercy & Justice

Immigrant Legal Center (formerly
JFON) celebrating its 20th anniversary

This month, the national Justice for Our Neighbors network, an immigration ministry started by The United Methodist Committee on Relief, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. 

When Rob Rutland-Brown, the executive director of National JFON, was asked about the greatest successes from the past 20 years, he was quick to point to the clients and their stories:

“The greatest successes, of course, are the stories of those clients whose lives have been changed through our ministry. The dad who gets to be with his four daughters here, permanently, after years of separation. The teenager who can remain here safely with her aunt and not be sent back to be killed by the gangs in Honduras from which she fled. The mother who, after 12 years, attains U.S. citizenship so she can vote and petition her family to be here. We have tens of thousands of these stories through our 20 years of service, and it’s why we do this work.

“Apart from these individual success stories, we’re also proud that our network itself is growing. Our network’s staff size and budget have quadrupled in the past seven years, thanks to strong local leadership and partnerships. This is important since the need for immigration legal services has grown, and cases are much more complex and take longer. We’re thankful for the outpouring of support from congregations and individuals — within the UMC and beyond the UMC — to become involved in the work and be compassionate neighbors.” 

The Justice For Our Neighbors Nebraska/Iowa site was among the first local sites. In the meantime, National JFON has 17 sites across the country. Back in 1999, a group of United Methodists, who were passionate about following God’s call to us to welcome the stranger, met in the basement of Grace UMC in Omaha.  The ministry began small with one immigration attorney (who was also a Church and Community Worker through the General Board of Global Ministries) being hired through the Nebraska and Iowa Conferences.  The attorney traveled between Omaha, Des Moines and Sioux City. Today, Iowa and Nebraska each have their own JFON sites.  And Nebraska has grown to a staff of 15 attorneys and a total staff of 48.  In 2018, JFON-Nebraska changed its name to Immigrant Legal Center (ILC) but continues to be an affiliate of National JFON.

On Oct. 2, Immigrant Legal Center had invited to its yearly fun gathering and fundraising event, the Food Truck World Tour.  Friends, volunteers and donors came together to celebrate 20 years and to thank Emiliano Lerda, the executive director, for his leadership during the past 8 ½ years. Lerda has been instrumental in growing the organization and developing strong leadership. He is moving on to a position with another organization but is confident that ILC will carry on strongly.

 “The organization today is a very strong and resilient organization that will continue to thrive in the future,” Lerda pointed out. “Thanks to the generosity of the community and the guidance and support of our board, we have been able to grow in our capacity to make a difference in the lives of thousands of new neighbors who will not have to live in fear. Rather, they’ll be able to use their skills and talents to contribute to a healthier, richer, and more vibrant community in Nebraska and southwest Iowa.”

Immigrant Legal Center is one our Mission Agencies. To learn more about this ministry and how you can support it, go to

To learn more about National JFON, go to To read the interview with Rob Rutland-Brown, go to:

How you, your church can
help in protecting refugees

Members of Omaha First UMC welcome a refugee family arriving at Eppley Airfield.

For many years, United Methodists in the Great Plains Conference have been welcoming refugees and helping them adjust and settle in our communities.  It is with great sadness that we hear about the extremely low number of refugees that our government wants to admit this coming year. At a time when the need is so great and so many people are forced to flee their homes because of war and violence, it is so important that we open our hearts and doors and communities. The bible is rich in stories of refugees traveling in search of a safe place to stay. Jesus himself became a refugee when he was still a baby. Many people do not know that refugees are the most vetted group of immigrants and it often takes years before they are approved to come. Nobody chooses to be a refugee. People are fearing for the life of their children and themselves.

We join the General Board of Church and Society in its call to advocate for a strong refugee resettlement program and urge you to contact your Senators and Representative.

To find stories of refugees and of churches in the Great Plains welcoming them, go to

-- Great Plains Immigration Rapid Response Team



Next local church communications workshop is Saturday at Salina Trinity

The local church communications workshop, from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Salina Trinity UMC, is at capacity, with registration for two more available.

The workshops are conducted by Todd Seifert, communications director, and Jayna McFarland (pictured above), website and social media specialist.

The cost is $10, which includes materials, lunch and snacks.

The workshops include your choice of two of these four sessions:

  • Website Do’s and Don’ts — Potential guests want to “test drive” your church before deciding to attend on any given Sunday. So, how do you make sure your site is as good as it can be for the newcomer while also serving as a hub of information for people who already are part of your congregation? We’ll provide some best practices in terms of design and about the content that will give you the best opportunity to reach your community.
  • Social Media Best Practices — Just because your church is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram doesn’t mean you actually are reaching your mission field. These platforms can be powerful methods for building connections within your church as well as for reaching people outside the walls of your church building. We’ll share some tactics that will help you use social media as an evangelism tool.
  • Multimedia worship tools — This is a condensed version of a Lay Servant Ministries advanced course that will help guide you as you select hardware such as projectors and screens while also providing tips for clean slide designs that will make first-time attendees comfortable in your worship setting.
  • Low-tech tools — We’ll take a look at tools you already have and help you decide how to augment the content so that a first-time attendee can become comfortable enough to return. Along the way, enhancements to bulletins, newsletters, bulletin boards and signage also will help you communicate more effectively with the folks already in the pews.

Two more workshops are on the schedule:

  • Nov. 9 in Columbus, Nebraska, First UMC
  • Nov. 16 in Cimarron, Kansas, UMC

Here is more information on the workshops.
Click here to register for the Columbus, Cimarron workshops.

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UMMen Give Day coming on Oct. 21; text, online, phone giving all welcome

The General Commission on United Methodist Men is expanding its mission to enable men and the youth they serve in scouting to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

United Methodist Men Give Day is Oct. 21. The UMM receives only one-fourth of its funding from the general church, with the rest coming from other funding sources such as charter subscriptions and legacy giving.
To contribute, text UMMEN to 44321, go online or call 1-866-297-4312.

UMMen has provided resources, including bulletin inserts, fact sheets, postcards and videos to help promote give day.



Across the Connection

Silver Lake's Harvest Home
has been fall tradition since 1926

The history of Harvest Home can be traced to the farming heritage of Silver Lake, Kansas, when, just before Thanksgiving, church members would gather for a noon-time meal and bazaar to give thanks for the completion of harvest season. In 1931, the celebration switched to an evening meal open to the community. In 1970, in addition to the dinner, a lunch was added -- primarily to feed the ladies in the kitchen who were busy preparing the evening Harvest dinner -- but when word of the lunch began to spread, people started to come and it grew so popular that it was decided to expand the bazaar hours and incorporate the lunch into the celebration. Planned and hosted by the Silver Lake United Methodist Women, Harvest Home has become a popular fall tradition and community event that is open to all! Mark your calendar and enjoy a pleasant fall drive to Silver Lake for the SLUMC Harvest Home! Come hungry ... leave fulfilled!

Date: October 23
Location: Silver Lake UMC Fellowship Hall, 204 Madore St., Silver Lake (just west of the high school's marquee board on U.S. 24)
What: Baked goods and craft bazaar open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Lunch served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Soups, sandwiches and homemade pies!
Dinner served from 5-7 p.m.
Dinner includes: roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans, side salad (variety of offerings), dinner roll, dessert, beverage
Cost: Adults -- $10/ Children 10 and under -- $4

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In other news


Blogs and commentaries

  • Methodists behind closed doors: The United Methodist Church can be messy, but church law requires that nearly all meetings be open — despite the growing practice of closed meetings, writes the Rev. William B. Lawrence. The former president of the Judicial Council spells out the tradition of openness in United Methodist governance and explains the limited circumstances in which church law allows leaders to close meeting room doors.
  • Why Christians care about the environment: The Rev. Ryan Dunn, minister of online engagement for United Methodist Communications, invokes the Bible and John Wesley in explaining that Christians should own up to their own role in environmental degradation — and do better.

The week ahead

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