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Download the printable version of the April 17 issue of GPconnect.

In this edition:

THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Get inspired by these Holy Week video devotions leading up to Easter Sunday
Great Plains kids receive challenge to benefit flood relief; ERTs return Monday

GENERAL CONFERENCE
Outcome of February's special session in St. Louis still is bittersweet
How would a denominational divide affect global missions?
California-Pacific Conference offers guidance on apportionment alternatives

ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Six weeks until we gather in Topeka for conference sessions, delegate elections
UMCOR truck ready to be filled at Annual Conference

EQUIPPING DISCIPLES
Great Plains camps in search of counselors, lifeguards, camp nurses
Friday is deadline to register for UMW spiritual retreat, called ‘Sensible Shoes’ 
Summit Youth Academy offering scholarships to Great Plains students
Youth2019 discount continues through Lent; scholarships available

MERCY & JUSTICE
Volunteer working at Mexican border recalls sight of son holding on to dad
Let’s celebrate Earth Day by taking care of all of God's creation

ADMINISTRATION
NUMF offers scholarships for seminary, church leadership students 
Nebraska UM Foundation donates $30K to GP disaster response fund

RESOURCES
Social media, worship graphics available for Native American Sunday
Global Ministries debuts new website to improve experience, navigation, giving

ACROSS THE CONNECTION
Lincoln pastor interviewed for Christian Science Monitor story on weather
O’Neill UMC’s work with immigrants featured in Facebook Watch series
South Hutch UMC gets grant for new playground equipment
In other news
Newsletters
Blogs and opinion
The week ahead

 

Get inspired by these Holy Week video
devotions leading up to Easter Sunday

The staff of the Great Plains Conference is marking Holy Week by sharing their thoughts in video devotionals. At this link you will see:

  • PALM SUNDAY: The Rev. Nathan Stanton, director of congregational excellence
  • MONDAY: Shane Warta, lay leadership coordinator
  • TUESDAY: Scott Brewer, treasurer and director of administrational services
  • TODAY: The Rev. Nicole Conard, young adult leadership and campus ministries coordinator
  • THURSDAY: Todd Seifert, communications director
  • FRIDAY: The Rev. Nancy Lambert, clergy excellence director and assistant to the bishop
  • SATURDAY: Nicole Guthrie, clergy recruitment and registrar administrative assistant

The week will culminate with an Easter morning greeting from Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.

We wish you a blessed Holy Week. Our conference and district offices will be closed for Good Friday.

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Great Plains kids receive challenge to
benefit flood relief; ERTs return Monday

The children of the Great Plains Conference have been challenged to contribute a dollar each for the Kids Clean-Up Fund.

Here is a video from the Rev. Melissa Collier Gepford, intergenerational ministries coordinator, and Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., introducing the campaign.

This is a guide for pastors and children’s leaders about the fundraising concept, and ways to help.

Donate directly through the Kids Clean-Up portal at the Great Plains website.

Early response teams will return to the affected areas of Nebraska on Monday, said the Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator.
Six locations have been named for volunteer crews to return, with three more spots where water must go down or bridges must be fixed for work to begin.

Pastors who are in areas where homeowners or others are in need of assistance should contact Tapley if they have not already, she said. Phone 785-272-9111 or email htapley@greatplainsumc.org.

For now, she said, no more cleaning kits (aka “flood buckets”) or hygiene kits are needed in the area, and those donating should hold off.

Early Response Training continues April 27 in Clay Center, Kansas, and Fremont.

More information is available at the flood relief page of our website.

You can now make a contribution to Great Plains Disaster Response with text! Give Text is one of the fastest, easiest ways to give.

To give to Great Plains Disaster Response, simply send a text message with the amount you want to contribute and the word “Help” to 785-333-3863 (example: 25 Help). Be sure to put a space between the amount and the word “Help”.

Within a few minutes, you will be sent a text with a link to register.

We hope you enjoy this new way to share your generosity, and we thank you for supporting the Great Plains Conference.

To learn more about Give Text, visit our website.

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General Conference

Outcome of February's special
session in St. Louis still is bittersweet

United Methodists who supported the Traditional Plan say the General Conference vote was the best way forward, but they added that it's not a time for celebration. Instead, they said, it is a time to let people know everyone is welcome in the church.

Read more from United Methodist News Service.

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How would a denominational
divide affect global missions?

During their spring meeting, directors of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries expressed pain over the deep divide that has occurred since the special General Conference and concern about how that divide will affect mission work and mission giving.

Read more from United Methodist News Service.

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California-Pacific Conference offers
guidance on apportionment alternatives

The California-Pacific Conference sent a letter to all of its churches with advice on connectional giving options that include withholding or redirecting apportionment contributions as a demonstration of their rejection of 2019 General Conference votes. 

Read more from United Methodist News Service.

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Annual Conference

Six weeks until we gather in Topeka for
conference sessions, delegate elections

Registration is open for the 2019 Annual Conference sessions, May 29 to June 1 at the Expocentre in Topeka.

Here are some details about this year’s Annual Conference:

  • Meet and Greet will be 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 29. Clergy and laity will meet in separate locations, which make it easier to meet persons who have submitted profiles for election to the delegation.
  • Clergy and lay delegate profile documents will be available when the pre-conference workbook is released in early May, if not earlier. Workbooks can be purchased at that time. They are scheduled to be on the Great Plains website beginning next week.
  • Register for the Therefore GO! 5K run on Saturday morning, June 1, when you register for annual conference – just follow the link.
  • Three offerings will be received at annual conference: Celebration of Worship and Table (Wednesday) -- GP Disaster Response. Money received in this offering will assist in the response to the spring flooding in Nebraska; Youth Worship (Friday) – Youth Service Fund (YSF). These funds are distributed by CCYM to projects planned and led by youth groups throughout the conference; Ordination (Friday) – Crounse Fund. The Crounse Fund is designated for critical or emergency needs of clergy and/or clergy families. The bishop and cabinet disperse these funds in response to grants requests received.
  • If your congregation would like to take a special offering for any of these, please make a check out to  and include a notation indicating which offering the gift is for (DR – Disaster Response; YSF – Youth Service Fund; Crounse – Crounse fund.
  • Clergy are invited to robe and process in for the Memorial Service, at 7 p.m. May 30 at Topeka First UMC. Please bring a white stole if you will be joining in the procession. Space will be provided at Topeka First for clergy to gather and robe.

More information is available at the Annual Conference page of our site.

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UMCOR truck ready to be
filled at Annual Conference

The UMCOR truck will be at Annual Conference this year, available from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 30.

These kits will be accepted:

No other items will be accepted at Annual Conference this year.

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Equipping Disciples

Great Plains camps in search of
counselors, lifeguards, camp nurses

All six of the Great Plains Conference camps are in search of staff members for the summer.

The six camps – three in Nebraska, three in Kansas – are all seeking camp counselors, and many are in need of lifeguards and camp nurses.

Look forward to a summer of faith, fun and friendship by being a part of the Great Plains camp family!

Click here to apply for the open positions.

Find out more about the Great Plains camps here.

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Friday is deadline to register for UMW
spiritual retreat, called ‘Sensible Shoes’ 

Great Plains Conference United Methodist Women are presenting “Sensible Shoes,” a spiritual retreat based on the book of the same name by Sharon Garlough Brown, May 3-5 at Camp Comeca and Retreat Center, Cozad, Nebraska.

“Sensible Shoes” is the moving story of four women as they embark together on a spiritual journey. 

The retreat will be led by the Rev. Billie Blair, a retired United Methodist pastor from Pratt, Kansas.

Registration is due by April 19 on this form. The attached form has had form fields added. You should be able to type onto the form using your computer, then print and mail in to get registered.

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Summit Youth Academy offering
scholarships to Great Plains students

The first 50 students from the Great Plains Conference who apply to the Summit Youth Academy are eligible for a $100 scholarship thanks to the Board of Ordained Ministry. The Summit is a week-long faith formation program at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, for high school sophomores and juniors.

Brian Beach from the Kansas City District has participated in the Summit for two consecutive years and he describes the Summit as “an opportunity to focus on yourself and your own personal relationship with God which can help you find even more service opportunities back in your home church.” Brian also recommends the Summit to high school students who “want to take next steps on their faith journey” because “as far as taking a week to really improve your relationship with God I don’t know if there is a better way than going to the Summit!"

Hear the testimonies of more students from the Great Plains who have benefited from the Summit experience.

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Youth2019 discount continues
through Lent; scholarships available

More great news if you haven't registered for Youth2019 yet -- the early bird rate is extended through Lent (using discount code YOUTH19)! Register soon, and don't forget to apply for a scholarship through the Great Plains Youth Service Fund.

Youth2019, for those in sixth- through 12th grades and their leaders, is July 10-14 at the Kansas City Convention Center & Municipal Auditorium.
The quadrennial event is four days of discipleship, worship, Bible study, service opportunities and life-changing fun, according to its website.

Speakers include Romal Tune, author of “Love is an Inside Job”; artists Scott Erickson and Jeff Hanson; Bible study leader Kim Montenegro; and Christian bands I Am They (which performed at the Great Plains’ OneEvent in 2017-18) and Army of Light.

An early-bird discount of $319 is available through April 21. The price increases to $419.

Youth2019 is presented by Discipleship Ministries.

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Mercy & Justice

Volunteer working at Mexican border
recalls sight of son holding on to dad

Husband Tim and I were returning to our room after a day of helping immigrants just released from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) or border patrol in El Paso, Texas. We were tired and ready to call it a day, but this image stopped us momentarily. In the quiet of an early evening, a young boy was holding onto his dad at the top of the stairs. It was an intimate moment and as we gazed at them, we wondered what they were thinking. Both of them looking ahead ... what did they see in their future?

In our two weeks of helping welcome, feed, shelter, and get families on buses or planes to join their sponsors around the U.S., family values were quite apparent. The love and care of parents was evident as they patiently waited in line for food or clothing or medicine. Children and youth who would see us doing tasks: vacuuming, wrapping napkins around forks to prepare for the next meal, carrying boxes of food would eagerly want to help us. We were showered with thanks for meals and clothing. After each meal, the children and parents would get up and quietly clear their tables and put things in the trash. Children responded to the slightest smile and teasing and were always ready to play. 

We have returned to Omaha with full hearts, so grateful for the many volunteers who came from all walks of life, from all over the country to join the efforts of the Annunciation House in El Paso. We welcome opportunities to share more about our experiences and how Great Plains Conference churches can volunteer, offer financial support and advocate for our newest neighbors.

A boy and his dad, looking out into the future. No matter what it holds ... for now, they have each other.

-- Carol Windrum, Omaha First UMC

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Let’s celebrate Earth Day by
taking care of all of God's creation

Earth Day is on April 22, 2019. Our Social Principles remind us that “All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect.” 

Resources specific to Earth Day can be found here.

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Administration

NUMF offers scholarships for
seminary, church leadership students 

The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation has scholarship applications available online for seminary students and undergraduate students pursuing a career in church leadership at www.numf.org. Application deadline is June 30.

Through this program, the Foundation has more than $37,000 available in scholarship funds for the 2019-2020 academic year. The following is a list of scholarships available:

  • Albert R. Murdoch Ministerial Scholarship
  • Alice Kruse Ministerial Scholarship
  • Alice Kruse Seminary Scholarship
  • Alva Clark Seminary Scholarship
  • Andrew & Nevabelle Howe Scholarship
  • Baldwin F. & Amy L. Kruse Scholarship
  • Ben & Martha Simmons Scholarship
  • Charles & Marilyn Humphrey Seminary Scholarship
  • Cowles United Methodist Church Memorial Scholarship
  • Floma Taylor Ministerial Scholarship
  • Harlan & Mabelle Wyrick Memorial Scholarship
  • Murdock Ebenezer UMC Professional Church Leader Scholarship
  • Myrtle E. Williams Seminary Scholarship
  • Scahill Family Scholarship
  • Verl & Sylvia Miller Memorial Scholarship
  • Tither’s Scholarship
  • Women in Ministry Scholarship

Those students applying for the scholarships listed above will also subsequently be considered for the following scholarships: Cal Leeds Scholarship, Darrell & Joyce Pickett Scholarship, Rev. Albert W. Winseman Scholarship, and Atherton Memorial Scholarship. Please read the criteria and guidelines for each scholarship carefully prior to applying.

The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation would like to acknowledge the generous gifts donors have made to make these scholarships possible.

Thank you for being our partner in ministry. If you would like to talk to someone about how you can honor the memory of a loved one through a named scholarship or provide further financial assistance for a seminary student, please call the Foundation at 1-877-495-5545. 

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Nebraska UM Foundation donates
$30K to GP disaster response fund

The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation is pleased to announce a $30,000 donation to the Great Plains Disaster Response Fund.

In keeping with its mission to support the ministries of the Great Plains Conference through the development of gifts and the stewardship of resources, the foundation created the Gifts from the Heart Endowment Fund in 2001. In addition to named funds that would memorialize individuals and families, Gifts from the Heart focuses on the following five areas: Missions, Youth & Camping, Pastoral Education & Support, New Start/New Faith Communities, and Greatest Needs. In particular, the Greatest Needs Fund aggressively seeks opportunities to provide help where needed, make a difference in lives, and give hope. The Foundation hopes this donation does just that.

Thank you to the generous donors who continue to support these endowment funds and therefore the important work that needs to be done to ensure the future of our churches, especially in this time of great need.

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Resources

Social media, worship graphics
available for Native American Sunday

On May 5, United Methodist churches will celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday by honoring Native American traditions and receiving a special offering.

We invite your congregation to give generously to honor and empower Native Americans.

Connectional giving through offerings like Native American Ministries Sunday provides an opportunity to share the costs of worldwide ministry with other local churches. United Methodist Native Americans — with many unique languages and cultures — honor Jesus and live as Christians, led by a contingent of primarily Native American pastors.

If you have not already done so, this would be a great week to begin making a schedule to post graphics on social media, send them to your email list with a message, or share them on your church's website to build awareness immediately after Easter. Find graphics to promote Native American Ministries Sunday here.

Videos about Native American ministries are available here. If your congregation has a strong connection with a local Native American community, personalize your communication with an accompanying message and hashtag that reflects your church's context. For maximum impact, schedule two to three images a week and upload a weekly video between Easter Monday and May 5.

Be sure to download the Leader's Kit here.

--The Rev. Glen Chebon Kernell 
Executive Secretary of Native American and
Indigenous Ministries, Global Ministries 

-- Allyson Collinsworth
Executive Director, Loans and Scholarships,
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry

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Global Ministries debuts new website to
improve experience, navigation, giving

Global Ministries is pleased to announce the release of its new website. Throughout the next few weeks, it will continue to improve your user experience, refine the navigation and work on further integrating the new platform for online giving.

Moreover, specialized resources for leaders will be added to the site in the coming weeks, including curriculum from the Center of Mission Innovation. Explore the new site and continue to partner with Global Ministries to connect people in mission from everywhere to everywhere, in person and online.

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Across the Connection

Lincoln pastor interviewed for Christian
Science Monitor story on weather

The Rev. Richard Randolph, senior pastor at Lincoln Christ United Methodist Church, is among those interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor article “Nebraskans talk extreme weather – just don’t call it climate change.”

Randolph has submitted a petition to the Great Plains Annual Conference session calling for churches to become better informed about global warming and to set goals to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Yes, I think it’s still political and divided, but people are beginning to change,” Randolph said in the article. “For the most part, I pastor a church that’s moderate to progressive theologically. And so I think if anything, my congregation is sometimes frustrated with me for not being more out there on global warming.”

Read the entire article.

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O’Neill UMC’s work with immigrants
featured in Facebook Watch series

Last year’s ICE raid in O’Neill, Nebraska, and the work of the United Methodist Church to help immigrants who were caught up in the aftermath, is the subject of the documentary series “Real America with Jorge Ramos,” airing on Facebook Watch.

“After the ICE Raid” includes interviews with Brian Loy, pastor of O’Neill UMC.

“Initially the community of O’Neill came forward. But that disappeared in a very short time,” Loy said in the video, later adding “I wouldn’t change a thing about what we’ve done.”

Watch the video here.

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South Hutch UMC gets grant
for new playground equipment

South Hutchinson United Methodist Church has advanced its playground project, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Helen Adams Hamilton Children and Education Fund of the Hutchinson Community Foundation.

The playground equipment arrived this week, the Rev. Claire Gager said, and installation will begin next month.

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In other news

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Newsletters

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Blogs and opinion

  • In Layman’s Terms: A prayer that a fire rekindles the Spirit in many — Many people have been moved by the news of the fire that caused extensive damage to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Built way back in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame was one of the gems that survived from the Middle Ages and is one of the most popular tourist stops in the entire world. In his latest In Layman’s Terms blog, Todd Seifert, conference communications director, shares a prayer that the building will be restored but also how a fire during Holy Week may be a poetic reminder of Christ’s intentions for His Church, with an upper-case “C.”

The week ahead


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PO Box 4187
Topeka, KS 66604
  785-272-9111