Click here for the Aug. 19 printable version of GPconnect.

In this edition of GPconnect:

Havelock UMC celebrates 125th anniversary
Apply for UM Communications digital advertising grants
Updated Emergency Response Team (ERT) requirement
Perkins Invites 2016 Distinguished Alumnus/a Award nominations

The Water's Edge WE Serve Day
Read the latest Lay Servant Ministries blog, find out about more training
Learn about confirmation camps
Register now for Leadership Institute 2015
New studies at the Great Plains Resource Center

Jurisdiction offers mission academy
Grants, scholarships offered for Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships
Kansas City native and missionary available to speak
Prayers for peace in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Supporting life consistently – abortion, death penalty, war
Press Clips

Havelock UMC celebrates 125th anniversary

Havelock United Methodist Church celebrated its 125th anniversary on Aug. 16, 2015. Bishop Scott J. Jones provided a message about counting the blessings of the past while looking forward to the future by being good ambassadors for Christ during the 125th anniversary celebration for Havelock United Methodist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Bishop Jones used II Corinthians 5:14-21 as the basis for his sermon, which included the encouragement to the 159 people in attendance to look forward to a common purpose in the future as the congregation celebrates its past.

Following the worship service, the Rev. Amy Seifert led a program in fellowship hall that included a dinner and an encouragement to help create new traditions and embrace new ministries as the church moves toward its next 125 years.

Church member Dean Honnen provided a history lesson of the Havelock church by walking the congregation and guests through the establishment of the church in 1890 and the church’s relationship to the railroad industry in the Lincoln area. The congregation started with a wooden building consecrated in 1894 on the northeast corner of the current property at 60th Street and Morrill Avenue, the first phase of the current brick building’s construction in 1952 and the current sanctuary’s completion in 1966.

Former pastors and pastoral interns then shared the microphone to provide their reflections on their times at Havelock United Methodist Church, and the band Hickory Wind provided a bluegrass and Gospel music set.

to top

Apply for UM Communications digital advertising grants

United Methodist Communications is now offering digital advertising grants to local United Methodist churches. This new opportunity is expected to help raise awareness of churches in their communities by means of digital advertising. United Methodist Communications will provide ads that honor the United Methodist brand, while advertising the local church.

Ads are offered during three periods per year. You may currently apply for one of the following periods:

  • Advent: November - December 2015
    (Apply before Oct. 1, 2015.)
  • Easter: February - March 2016
    (Apply before Jan. 7, 2016.)
  • Back to School: August – September 2016
    (Apply before June 30, 2016.)

All grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Read through the criteria.

If two churches with the same target zip codes apply for the same buy period, the first church to apply will have their choice of run times. Click here to apply for a grant.

to top

Updated Emergency Response Team (ERT) requirement

It is an UMCOR requirement that each ERT class materials be sent in at one time for badge production, therefore beginning now the following change has been made: Each individual who participates in an ERT training will have 10 days after the training date to complete the Safe Gatherings online training and submit all required documents into the conference Safe Gatherings coordinator. It is important that you follow up with the individuals you list as a reference and make sure they return your form quickly. Thank you in advance for your attention to this as we continue to grow our disaster response ministry.

to top

Perkins Invites 2016 Distinguished Alumnus/a Award nominations

Nominations for the 2016 Perkins School of Theology Distinguished Alumnus/a Award are being accepted through Oct. 1, 2015.

The annual award is presented to a Perkins graduate who has demonstrated effectiveness and integrity in service to the church, continuing support and involvement in the goals of Perkins School of Theology and SMU, distinguished service in the wider community, and exemplary character.

Read more about the nomination process.

to top

The Water's Edge WE Serve Day

On Sunday, Aug. 9, The Water's Edge UMC in Omaha, Nebraska, cancelled its Sunday morning worship experiences to serve and love people in Omaha and beyond. The congregation and friends gathered for prayer and instructions at 9 a.m., at Millard West High School. Dozens of teams consisting of hundreds of people gave thousands of hours to schools, nursing homes, other churches, thirsty runners, Habitat for Humanity, Together Omaha, Kids Against Hunger, community gardens, non-profits and individuals/families needing work done around their homes. The church also collected thousands of pounds of food for hungry people in Omaha and packed hundreds of welcome kits for educators at the schools where children and students of the church attend.

This was the fourth annual WE Serve Sunday and is something the church has done yearly since its charter as a United Methodist congregation in 2012. To learn more about WE Serve, watch the church’s WE Serve 2015 video.

to top

Read the latest Lay Servant Ministries blog and find out about more training

Learn more about opportunities for training in our Lay Servant Ministries program while also finding out more about our current lay servants by reading their biweekly blog.

This time, James Thompson from lay servant director for the Dodge City and Hays districts, shares information about how taking part in the program has benefitted him and how a lay servant school each March provides an opportunity to learn more about how you can serve the local church.

Training opportunities have been posted for the Blue River, Gateway, Prairie Rivers and Wichita East and West districts. Click here to learn more.

to top

Learn about confirmation camps

Confirmation is an important time in a young person’s faith journey. But sometimes, it’s difficult to find the time to devote to serious study and consideration of God’s word and His plan for a young person’s life. One way to provide a secluded venue for reflection and study while also providing a fun atmosphere is a confirmation camp. Learn about how confirmation camps work with Blue River District Superintendent Bill Ritter in this video.

to top

Register now for Leadership Institute 2015 at Church of the Resurrection

Over the past 15 years, more than 20,000 leaders have returned to their congregations and communities ready to "Go and Lead" with impact, vitality, excellence, passion and boldness after participating at Leadership Institute. This year's Leadership Institute takes place at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, Oct. 1-2 (Pre-Institute Sept. 30). Bring your ministry leaders to the largest mainline church training event, bringing together clergy, church staff and volunteers who share a passion for renewing the church.

More than 80 different ministry workshops are offered in a variety of ministry areas, along with plenary sessions and featured speakers. Renew your passion and commitment to ministry leadership through powerful worship, prayer, fellowship and encouragement.

View a video about Leadership Institute.

Early bird deadline is midnight, Sept. 4. Get your team together and register today! Details and registration can be found at Questions? Contact or 913-232-4157.

to top

New studies at the Great Plains Resource Center

As we begin a new church year with study groups gathering again after the summer break, consider doing one of two new DVD studies by John Ortberg.

All The Places To Go – How Will You Know?”
Rarely in the Bible does God command someone to “stay.” Instead he opens a door and invites us to walk through it — into the unknown. In this six-session study, using contemporary people’s life stories as well as Bible stories, Ortberg opens our eyes to the countless open doors God places before us each day, teaches us how to recognize them, and encourages us to step out in faith and embrace all the extraordinary opportunities that await. A study guide is included with the following six sessions:

  1. The Open Door: How To Recognize Divine Opportunities
  2. Door #1 or Door #2: How Do I Decide What Door To Walk Through
  3. How To Cross a Threshold: Practicing Discernment
  4. The Doors We Open For Others: Seizing the Opportunity to Bless Others
  5. The Jonah Complex: The Things That Hold Us Back
  6. Thank God For Closed Doors: Why God Leaves Some Doors Closed

“Soul Keeping: Caring For The Most Important Part of You”
In this six-session study Ortberg takes you on an exploration of the soul from his own struggles of caring for his own soul. Ortberg shares his honest, funny, moving and insightful journey so we can better care for our own souls. A sample participant guide is included with the following six sessions:

  1. What Is The Soul?
  2. The Struggle of the Soul
  3. What The Soul Needs
  4. The Practice of Grace
  5. The Practice of Gratitude
  6. The Practice of Growth

If you are interested in reserving or learning about the other wonderful studies by John Ortberg email Diane Dunkerson at or call 800-435-6107. To view a listing of all the studies available from the Great Plains Resource Center visit the online catalog at

to top

Jurisdiction offers mission academy

The South Central Jurisdiction is offering a mission academy that will feature courses ranging from disaster response to leadership to understanding poverty.

The academy is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25, to 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, at the Hobletizelle Camp & Conference Center, 8060 Singleton Road, in Midlothian, Texas. The cost is $180 or less, depending on housing needs.

To learn more, contact Audrey Phelps, director of Volunteers in Mission and Disaster Response for the South Central Jurisdiction, at 636-344-0389 or 636-344-0389 or at

Register here.

to top

Grants and scholarships offered for Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships

The Council of Bishops’ Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships is inviting applications for churches and individuals with the passion for Christian unity and interreligious dialogue. If your church or someone in your church is interested in furthering ministry that builds relationships with other denominations and works with people of other faiths, please share this information with them.

There are two opportunities:

  1. For churches or groups. Three grants, each in the amount of $1,000 to groups/churches with projects designed to enhance ecumenical or interreligious relationships. The deadline for grant applications is Nov. 15, 2015.
  2. For individuals. One or two scholarships for individuals to attend Bossey Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland, the total amount for the two persons is $10,000. Applicants must be between the ages of 22 and 30, be preparing for vocational ministry in the UMC and be accepted into Bossey ecumenical program.

    The deadline for applications for individuals to attend Bossey Ecumenical Institute is Nov. 30, 2015, however completed scholarship applications must be received by the office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships office no later than Sept. 15, 2015.

“As a person who has attended the ecumenical seminars at Bossey, I highly recommend this opportunity to anyone with the passion for collaborative ministries with other Christian denominations and other religious faiths,” said the Rev. Kalaba Chali, Great Plains Conference Mercy and Justice coordinator.

Great Plains churches or individuals interested in applying should email Chali at for more information.

to top

Kansas City native and missionary available to speak

UMC Global Ministries Missionary Sandy Rasch is available to speak at churches around the conference.

Raasch is originally from Kansas City and is serving in Honduras. Her primary purpose is to share the missionary story — how our church is connected around the world. Her focus will not be asking for money.

Raasch is available anytime Friday, Sept. 11; Monday Sept. 14; Tuesday Sept. 15; Thursday Sept. 17; or Friday Sept. 18.

Please notify the Rev. Alan Gager as soon as possible at 308-293-2642 or if your church or church group can host Sandy on any of the above mentioned dates. If possible, it is asked that your church be responsible for providing a host family or hotel room on the day she presents.

to top

Prayers for peace in Hiroshima and Nagasaki for what is happening right now in our world

Editor’s note: The following is by Paul Jeffrey, United Methodist missionary.

As United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson watched thousands of Japanese schoolchildren bring millions of folded paper cranes as a prayer for peace in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, she realized it wasn’t just a historical event that was being commemorated.

“People in Japan feel very strongly about this today. This isn’t just an event in the past; it is happening right now,” she explained.

Read the full article “Paper cranes as a prayer for peace.”

Seventy years after nuclear fireballs exploded over two Japanese cities, an ecumenical group of pilgrims has come to listen to those who survived and renew the struggle against their own countries’ continued reliance on nuclear weapons.

“We come to remember and to acknowledge the devastation of the past and to say, ‘Never again,’” said United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson in a sermon during an Aug. 5 ecumenical worship service in the Catholic Memorial Cathedral for World Peace in Hiroshima.

In her sermon, Swenson, who is vice-moderator of the World Council of Churches’ Central Committee, said it was important for her group, and for all people of faith interested in peace, to hear the voice of the hibakusha — the Japanese term for survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The term is now being applied by many in Japan to those who have suffered from the disastrous 2011 explosions at nuclear plants in Fukushima.

“We must listen to all who suffer nuclear harm, those whose bodies are deformed by genetic mutations, whose lands and seas are poisoned by nuclear tests, whose farms and cities are fouled by nuclear accidents, whose work in mines and power plants exposes them to radiation,” Swenson said in her sermon.

“Use the energy of the atom in ways that threaten and destroy life is a sinful misuse of God's creation,” she declared.

“It is time to judge armaments and energy use by their effects on people and on God's creation. It is time to confess that our desire for material comfort and convenience insulates us from the concern for the source and quantity of the energy we consume. It is time to abandon all support for retaining nuclear weapons. It is time to refuse to accept that the mass destruction of other people can be a legitimate form of protection of ourselves,” she said.

Read the full article “WCC pilgrims remember atom bombs’ deadly destruction.”

Photo: A woman sets a floating candle lantern on the river the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, Japan. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is in the background.

to top


to top

Supporting life consistently – abortion, death penalty, war

Editor’s note: the following was submitted by Andrea Paret, Great Plains Peace with Justice coordinator.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson shares thoughts about The United Methodist Church’s belief in the sanctity and value of each life. She encourages all of us to have deep conversations with others, even though we might have different thoughts and convictions. The death penalty is an important issue in Kansas and Nebraska and many United Methodists in our conference have been and are working tirelessly for the repeal of it.

Johnson writes:

“The United Methodist Church also supports the life of the “already born” by opposing the death penalty. Paragraph 164G [of our Social Principles states], ‘We believe the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore and transform all human beings. The UMC is deeply concerned about crime throughout the world and the value of any life taken by a murder or homicide. We believe all human life is sacred and created by God, and therefore, we must see all human life as significant and valuable.’”

“Supporting life consistently is a difficult thing. It is easier to support the unborn child in a protest march than to love our enemies and pray for a person who committed a murder. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus requires prayerful discernment, Bible study and living gently on the earth with one another of different hearts. Christians of goodwill in the United Methodist Church disagree about many of our social issues. I call upon our churches to study our Social Principles and have civil and thoughtful conversations about life.”

Read Johnson’s full article.

to top



View these and other classifieds at

to top

Press Clips

Congregations across the Great Plains Conference are making the news in their local newspapers. View our newspaper clipping reports to see if there are stories, ideas and ministry happenings you can learn from to use in your own congregation. Press clips can be found at You can see education partnership ideas at

to top

Editorial Policy: The content, news, events and announcement information distributed in GPconnect is not sponsored or endorsed by the Great Plains Methodist Conference unless specifically stated.

To submit a letter to the editor, send it to


want more

Want More?

our website

submit a story


my subscription



Episcopal Office: 9440 E Boston Suite 160 Wichita, KS 67207 316-686-0600
Topeka Office: 4201 SW 15th Street PO Box 4187 Topeka, KS 66604 785-272-9111
Wichita Office: 9440 E Boston Suite 110 Wichita, KS 67207 316-684-0266
Lincoln Office: 3333 Landmark Circle Lincoln, NE 68504-4760 402-464-5994