AC 2016 Daily

Recap from June 3, 2016

Welcome to Topeka, Kansas, and the 2016 Great Plains United Methodist Conference Session!

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Session opens with African music

The annual conference session opened on Friday, with three song that were sung by delegates from African countries. Several of the delegates are currently appointed in the Great Plains Conference, while others are from Zimbabwe and Nigeria conferences.

GBGM exec pushes local, worldwide efforts

Attendees to the Great Plains Annual Conference session Friday morning learned more about reaching out across the street and around the world during a presentation by the executive director of global coaching for the General Board of Global Ministries.

“There are more and more missionaries in the world today,” George Howard said, “from everywhere going to everywhere.”

GBGM opened a new Latin American headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in April, and will open a new Asian regional office in Seoul, South Korea, this fall. A new African office for French-speaking countries will open next year.

The United States regional office will complete its move from New York City to Atlanta this fall.

A new initiative, the first in 10 years, includes the Central African Republic, Howard said. Although bureaucratic hurdles have kept the United Methodist Church from becoming established in Vietnam, GBGM may succeed because the country’s leaders want United Methodist Committee on Relief, or UMCOR, services available there.

“Please pray for Vietnam,” Howard said.

Howard showed the different models for building church-community partnerships, many involving health care and many involving interaction with the unchurched around them.

“Just like in John Wesley’s time, we’re called to build new United Methodist movements,” Howard said.

“You put the movement in place, then build systems and structures around it,” he added, not vice versa.

Both locally and in other continents, especially Africa, microfinance programs are growing to help financial literacy education and small business development.

Those are growing, as well as health ministries.

Howard showed an illustration of John Wesley’s saddlebags, with a Bible in one pouch and a small health manual in the other, to help tend to the medical needs of those he visited.

“Wesley understood the holistic nature of the Gospel,” Howard said.

Conference celebrates Comeca progress

A celebration – complete with confetti poppers, T-shirt catapults and the Kool & the Gang song of the same name – took place Friday afternoon at the Great Plains Annual Conference to mark advancements in the campaign for Camp Comeca.

The initial Renew Comeca matching goal of $250,000 was exceeded, campaign chair Janelle Wilke said.

“Our dream goal is $994,000,” Wilke said, “and we are still accepting pledges.”

After a Wednesday morning offering at the Annual Conference session, the drive has received $721,000 in donations and pledges.

“That’s a great step forward,” Bishop Scott J. Jones said.

Fundraisers for the camp, located near Cozad, Nebraska, have included a concert of area choirs, a rancher donating a bull, and proceeds from the print replica of a plaque given to the bishop and his wife, Mary Lou Reece, on Wednesday.

A matching gift of up to $111,000 was announced, that would bring the total near its “dream goal.”

Campus ministers share highlights during luncheon

The campus ministry lunch June 3 offered fellowship, a panel discussion and student testimonies to the more than 200 attendees.

After a welcome by the Rev. Chris Jorgenson, campus minister at Creighton University and the University of Nebraska Omaha, students offered personal campus ministry testimonies.

Each student focused on one of three topics: grace, empowerment and transformation. Kristina Heinrich, from Fort Hays State University, spoke about the grace she has experienced while in campus ministry. Hannah Robinson, from Emporia State, shared her experience with empowerment. Sebastian Sorensen of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln talked about transformation.

Pastor Sam Fisher announced that Steve Johnson, former campus minister at Fort Hays State University, is the Francis Asbury Award recipient in celebration of his 18 years of ministry at Fort Hays. Johnson was not in attendance, but his wife, Cheryl, came and spoke on his behalf.

A panel of campus ministers, the Rev. Justin Jamis of Kansas State University, Laura Stubblefield of the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the Rev. Kathy Bannister of Fort Hays State University, and the Rev. Kevin Hopkins of Baker University, and facilitator Jonathan Flesher of Wichita State University discussed the struggles and triumphs that they have experienced. They explained how they have overcome some of the struggles and how those in the local church can help.

The Rev. Eduardo Bousson, campus minister at Nebraska Wesleyan University, said a large help is prayer. He mentioned where some of his previous students are in ministry.

“If you’re not praying for us, none of these things will happen,” said Bousson.

The Rev. Kurt Cooper, campus minister at Emporia State, offered ways local churches can help financially by designating an offering for a campus ministry, by setting a portion of the budget a side to be given to a campus ministry monthly or quarterly, just to name a few.

Michelle Chesnut, campus minister at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, asked for all to send names of college students to the campus minister at the institutions across Kansas and Nebraska.

Hispanic Ministry celebrates ‘historic times’

Participants in Hispanic/Latino ministries from the Great Plains Conference urged Friday for ministries to join forces and partner with each other in "historical times” for the Spanish-speaking United Methodists throughout Kansas and Nebraska.

“I truly believe that right now the way we are positioned and how things that are happening around us, give us the greatest opportunity that I have seen in many years in my Hispanic ministry,” Corey Daniel Godbey, Hispanic Ministry coordinator for the Great Plains Conference said while presiding the Hispanic Ministry luncheon during the annual conference session June 3 in Topeka, Kansas.

“I believe we are living historical times in Hispanic ministry and great things are to come over the next years” Godbey said, referring to a partnership program aimed to renew the commitment of its member congregations, and others to work with one another from the ground up in Hispanic-Latino communities and churches to pick up the pace in their growth and membership.

“In order to open doors, shorten paths and accelerate processes for Hispanic Ministry the importance of other ministries to collaborate with the Hispanic-Latino ministry as we collaborate with them” is vital for every congregation to meet a mutual goal” of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” Godbey said to the people in attendance.

In order to accomplish this mission, partners are asked to pray regularly for ministry leaders, give their time and talent, as well as treasure to the development and expansion of Hispanic-Latino ministry in the Midwest.
The Hispanic-Latino ministry of The United Methodist Church is a dynamic and growing church in motion with more than 180 Great Plains United Methodist churches located in communities with more than 2,000 Hispanics throughout Kansas and Nebraska.

Among the issues concerning the Hispanic-Latino community for the Great Plains are immigration ministry and border concerns, as well as the debate for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States. These are areas in which the support for the ministries are reached in the Latino community of the Great Plains.

Conference reinforces stance on death penalty

With changes in capital punishment laws already taken place in the last year in Nebraska and discussions about such a change in Kansas, the Great Plains Annual Conference session on Friday reinforced its stance against the death penalty.

Last May, the Nebraska Unicameral adopted a bill abolishing capital punishment in favor of life without parole, but a referendum will be on this November’s ballot seeking to reinstate the death penalty.

In Kansas, the House this year introduced a bill to replace the death penalty with a life sentence without parole.

The Rev. Stephen Griffith, a retired United Methodist clergy and executive director of Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, told the conference that capital punishment was a "broken system” where justice was delivered “arbitrarily and unequally,” that it does not deter crimes and is not needed for public safety.

“Be witness to execute justice, not people,” Griffith said.

The lone voice in favor of the death penalty was Pat Taylor, a Kingman, Kansas, delegate and retired law enforcement officer.

Speaking against the death penalty was the Rev. Darryl Burton, congregational care pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, wrongly convicted of a crime and sentenced to life without parole before his conviction was overturned

New elders, deacons encouraged to fly, stay humble

Taking flight and staying grounded were some of the challenges given to the newest elders and deacons in the Great Plains Conference in their ordination service Friday night.

Bishop Robert Hayes – shown in a YouTube video produced in his Oklahoma Conference where he appears to be in flight – talked to the newest ordinands about membership and privileges, including being chided by a long-lost friend for not having the prestige of a frequent-flyer club when both were on the same plane.

“What time does your plane land?” Hayes asked his friend.
As a Christian, Hayes said, “Jesus offers you membership into his elite circle.”

Becoming an elder or deacon in the church, he said, means:

  • Self-denial – “This night is not about you. Jesus becomes the object of your attention, the focus of your ministry.”
  • Carrying your own cross – “This job will empty you. But it will also fill you up with things the world can’t take away from you.”

After the playing of his YouTube video, Hayes asked for silence, and then washed the feet of Changsu Kim, one of the 17 newly ordained elders. The Oklahoma bishop used the lyrics of the Gospel hymn “There’s Just Something About That Name” as his opening prayer.

His sermon title, “Membership Has Its Privileges,” brought back the old ad slogan for the American Express credit card – which sent an application to in-debt seminary student Hayes.

“My credit was so bad at that time that I had to have a co-signer to pay with cash,” said the bishop, with the timing of a standup comedian.

Ordained as elders Friday night were Lora Andrews, Tiffany Baker, Emily Spearman Cannon, Hyun Choi, Jacob Cloud, Rebecca Davison, Aaron Duell, Katherine Ebling-Frazier, Andrew Ebling Frazier, Benjamin Hanne, Bryce Hansen, Changsu Kim, Hyeayoun Kim, Joohyang Kim, Joseph McColligan, Jose Miranda and Joel Plisek.

Recognized as an elder was Todd Maberry. Melanie Martin and Karla Woodward were ordained as deacons. Lawrence Barbary II was recognized as an associate member.

Melissa Gepford was commissioned for the work of a deacon. Commissioned for the work of an elder were Michael Brown, Isaac Chua, Orlando Gallardo-Parra and Kayla Mangrich.

UM Men present scholarships

The United Methodist Men celebrated its 28th year of awarding scholarships to students who are pursuing degrees in Christian leadership and related fields. This year’s event, held at Countryside United Methodist Church in Topeka, Kansas, included presentations by Anita Crisp, executive director of the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation; and Alan Herndon, president and CEO of the Kansas United Methodist Foundation.
The “100 Club Scholarship” winners of $1,000 each were Marcee Binder, Michael Ryan Evans, Lindsey Garber, Katelyn Hilger and Nick Kaufmann.

  • Fleming Family Foundation Scholarship winners of $500 each were Binder, Evans, Hilger and Kaufmann.
  • The Nichole Spiegel-Wheeler Scholarship winner of $350 was Evans.
  • The Dean, Jean and Randy Fleming Scholarship winners of $500 each were Hilger and Kaufmann.
  • The Fleming-Humphrey-Goff Scholarship winner of $500 was Evans.
  • The Merv and Bev Schliefert Scholarship winner of $500 was Evans.



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.

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