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In this edition of GPconnect:

Donate today to United Methodist Ministries through Omaha Gives
Aldersgate Covenant event calls on Holy Spirit
The latest – Beaver Crossing recovery efforts

Lay Servant training, save the date
Horizons Stewardship offers coaching engagements
Women’s studies at the Resource Center
South Gate UMC looks forward to next 50 years
Papillion UMC youth hold their Donuts for Nets event in support of Imagine No Malaria
Aldersgate Renewal Ministries announces conference
Newsletter links

Clergy housing handbook available for free download

Epworth Village welcomes the Child Advocacy Center

Director of children’s/adult ministries needed at First UMC in Salina
Salina First UMC looking for children’s choir director
Three positions available at General Board of Church and Society
Shawnee Heights UMC seeks music director

Donate today to United Methodist Ministries through Omaha Gives

Please take a moment to support the ongoing work of United Methodist Ministries (UMM) this Wednesday, May 21, through Omaha Gives — a 24-hour online giving campaign. Your donations will be used to increase food security and strengthen communities through gardening.

In 2013, United Methodist Ministries' Big Garden program grew 68 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables. Think what more can be done with the help of your donation.

Donations will be accepted from midnight to midnight and you do not need to live in Omaha to participate. Go to and select United Methodist Ministries to make a donation.

Read more and donate.

United Methodist Ministries is funded in part by District Askings and Mission Share Dollars from the Great Plains United Methodist Conference.

Aldersgate Covenant event calls on Holy Spirit

"The kind of revival that we’re talking about is a renewed depth of faith," says one bishop.

This article was written by Amy Forbus, editor of the Arkansas United Methodist. Kathryn Witte contributed to this report.

“I have never been to a United Methodist meeting like this.”

That was a commonly heard, positive statement among the more than 160 people who attended Gathering of the Aldersgate Covenant, May 16-17, at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, Kan.

Twenty years ago, the first Aldersgate Covenant gathering resulted in legislation adopted by General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body. But this weekend’s event focused not on church rules and governance but on prayer for the Holy Spirit to revive the people called United Methodist.

“The kind of revival that we’re talking about is a renewed depth of faith,” preached retired Bishop Violet Fisher.

She declared that United Methodists have preached too much negativity. “When you want something to happen, you’ve got to talk positive,” she said. God is not finished with The United Methodist Church yet, she said, but intellect, personalities and power have gotten in the way. She shared her belief the church has been called to a time of repentance because concern with numbers and statistical reports replaced what really matters.

“Renewal’s not going to come because you passed some legislation,” she said. “We’ve got to get on our face before God.”

Preaching and prayer
Fisher was one of four preachers on Friday evening. The preachers included the Rev. Matt Miofsky, lead pastor of The Gathering United Methodist Church in St. Louis; the Rev. Rob Fuquay of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis and the Rev. Lisa Yebuah of Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C.

Miofsky preached on the theme “Awake,” using the Numbers 11 story of God awakening the Israelites to the reality of their blessings. He encouraged those gathered to use the time “to consecrate ourselves, sanctify ourselves, to prepare ourselves for what God is going to do.”

Fuquay preached about the importance of asking God questions — because, he said, creating answers isn’t our job, but God’s.

The Rev. Rob Fuquay ended his messages with, “So what are you asking today?” he said. “What are you asking for yourself? What you asking for your family? What are you asking for children in Uganda, or Haiti, or Asia or the poor who are in our own neighborhoods? What are you asking for your church? What are you asking for our United Methodist Church? We always could share the answers we think should come. But what if we all just asked?”

Yebuah closed out the evening by encouraging attendees to watch for God’s vision. She pointed out Christ’s heavenly banquet in the United Methodist communion liturgy and the promises of the future in our baptism liturgy. She said she does not worry about the state of the church and will not spend any more time fretting about it.

“If God gave us a vision for where the church is going to go, the church is going to go,” she said. “We watch and we wait with the one who will bring the vision to pass.”

Saturday’s session included time for reflection and prayer. “If we pray together, I think we will see the revival of The United Methodist Church,” said Richmond (Va.) Area Bishop Young Jin Cho. He also has called for all churches in the Virginia Annual (regional) Conference to pray together on May 25 for revival.

He told those gathered that “sometimes our prayers are too polite, too gentle; we need desperate prayer.” But prayer isn’t all about speaking to God, he cautioned. “Is your prayer a monologue or dialogue?” he asked. “Listening is important. God’s first language is silence.”

Cho closed with a simple prayer: “Dear God, your will: nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.”

Origin of the Covenant
Though planning for this event began about a year ago, its origin goes back two decades, to the first meeting of a group called the Aldersgate Covenant on May 24, 1994, on Aldersgate Day — the anniversary of the day John Wesley experienced assurance of his salvation.

That group put forth the United Methodist mission statement eventually adopted by the 1996 General Conference, “To make disciples of Jesus Christ.” It included two future bishops, Scott Jones and Gary Mueller; as well as Mary Brooke Casad, who would serve as executive secretary of the denomination’s Connectional Table from 2007 to 2012. All three sat on the steering team for this year’s event.

Jones emphasized that all of the work of the Aldersgate Covenant needs to be surrounded in prayer. He confessed he has a tendency to ask God to bless what he’s doing, thinking, “Isn’t God lucky to have me on God’s side?” He said the more faithful approach is to ask: “God, what are you doing? Help me to be a part of what you’re blessing.”

Mueller urged those present to resist celebrating the past. Instead, he asked them to talk about what God has in store for the future. He said the steering team acknowledged the feeling that The United Methodist Church is losing ground. He noted the atmosphere of polarization in the church and brokenness in the wider culture.

“There was this sense that maybe what we need to do is spend a season truly opening ourselves to the presence of the Holy Spirit, to help us get where we want to get and long to get, but are struggling to get on our own,” he said.

Thoughts from participants
By the end of the event, a number of participants were expressing their hope that the gathering would begin a fresh movement of the Spirit in the denomination.

“I thought it was an awesome start to a great movement in the church, a good revival — a start to a revival,” said Malachi McDonald of Jacksonville, Ark., a college student who is exploring a calling to ordained ministry.

“I’m leaving here with one question: ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’” said the Rev. Mark Norman, a district superintendent in the Arkansas Conference. He told those gathered to “expect the grace of Jesus Christ to put us on fire again.”

The Rev. Sky McCracken, a Memphis Conference district superintendent, appreciated the cordial spirit of the gathering. But he looks forward to deeper holy conversation in the future.

“The dialogue has been wonderful, but we’re tiptoeing,” he said. “I would like to see next year approach and tackle some things in depth… have a ladies and gentlemen agreement that we’re going to conference, and we’re going to do this as brothers and sisters who love each other, despite how painful it is.

“We’ve got to do something and seize on this spirit to see what we’re going to do next.”

The gathering closed with a Service of Covenant Renewal and Holy Communion. Bishop Mueller instructed participants to read the covenant regularly, pray for revival every day and talk with others about it. “Whose are you?” he asked. “Know it. Live it. And then, my friends, share it.”

Photos: The Rev. Matt Miofsky was the first of four preachers on Friday night. Bishop Deborah Wallace Padgett of the North Alabama Conference and the Rev. Maxine Allen of the Arkansas Conference help serve Communion at the close of the covenant renewal service. Participants in the Aldersgate Covenant gathering consider some of the 19 different topics put forward for small group conversation. Retired Bishop Violet Fisher preached on the need for repentance.

The latest – Beaver Crossing recovery efforts

Memorial Day hiatus
The UMC in Beaver Crossing will not be available for volunteer operations over the Memorial Day weekend as the church is being loaned out to Center of Hope, which is a church in town that lost its building. Center of Hope will be using the church to host a large revival conference from Friday night through Monday. Operations will take a weekend off after a hectic, fast-paced, two weeks of service. Please pass this information along.

Volunteers needed
There is an urgent need for regular office volunteers who will donate a day or two each week throughout the summer to help with all sorts of tasks.  Interested volunteers should contact the Rev. Buck Linton-Hendrick at

Special thanks
“Thank you to the wonderful people of the area. Due to the outpouring of your love in material support – water, paper towels, etc., we are well stocked. Responders and volunteers have done a wonderful job. The giving has been fantastic,” said Linton-Hendrick, Great Plains Central Region coordinator for disaster response.

He said the next focus is on the rebuilding of homes, which will take work teams and financial gifts. “We humbly ask for those monetary gifts at this time,” said Linton-Hendrick.

United Methodists wanting to contribute can do so through your local church offering plate to the conference disaster response fund, with the number 975 in the memo line, or on the conference website. Funds are used to help in times of disaster across the Great Plains Conference. Mailed checks to the Conference should go to the Disaster Response Fund,  P.O. Box 4187, Topeka, KS 66604 (don't forget to put 975 in the memo line).

For more information, contact:

D. R. "Buck" Linton-Hendrick
Central Region Coordinator
St. Edward/Genoa United Methodist Parish
Cell: 402-961-0127

Lay Servant training, save the date

The Blue River District Lay Servant Ministries Committee plans to offer training on Friday evening, Nov. 14, 2014, and all day Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Lincoln, Neb. Courses offered will include the basic course plus numerous advanced courses. The location will be announced soon. Contact Mary Feit at for more information.

Horizons Stewardship offers coaching engagements

Horizons Stewardship is pleased to announce that Dr. Clif Christopher and Dr. Michael Reeves will be accepting a small number of coaching engagements for forward-looking pastors and churches.

Dr. Christopher and Dr. Reeves are the primary creators of the Academy of Faith and Money and bring over 80 total years in stewardship ministry.

Typical fees range from $2,000 - $3,000 per month depending upon the terms of the contract. Engagements are limited to the first six churches.

Read the flier for more information.

Women’s studies at the Resource Center

We don’t often think of women in Bible times as being forceful or uppity (in today’s terms). We think of women in ancient times as being simply property — uneducated, downtrodden and withdrawn. But amazingly, the Old Testament gives us several stories of women who are lights of inspiration, showing great faith and courage even if some saw them as uppity.

Uppity Women of the Bible” is a four-volume study on Ruth, Song of Songs, Esther and Judith from the Living the Questions publisher. Lisa Wolfe, a UCC minister and professor of Hebrew Bible, combines humor and scholarship to give new insights into Hebrew culture and customs and the lives of women in Old Testament times. In the first volume of seven sessions, Dr. Wolfe takes us on a journey through Ruth. We come to understand the vulnerability of widows and the unenviable position of the foreigner. The themes of bitterness, hospitality, loyalty, poverty and seduction are viewed not only in ancient Hebrew culture, but how these issues affect women today.

In the second volume, Song of Songs, Dr. Wolfe seeks to shed new light on this mysterious and sensuous Old Testament book. Who wrote it? What sort of people are the main characters? Is it based in history, mythology … or both? Why is it in the Bible? This six-session study invites you into the adventure of re-imagining this powerful intriguing work of poetry and literature.

The third volume is the study of Esther. The six lessons of this study retells the events of how the courage of one woman became a story of hope and deliverance, not only for ancient Hebrews but for modern day Jews.

The fourth and final volume is the study of Judith. Though unfamiliar to most Christians, it is an ancient Jewish story of how the faithfulness and strength of one woman led to freedom for the ancient Israelites during the time of the Maccabees.

To reserve one of these studies email Diane Dunkerson at or call 800-435-6107. To see a complete list of all the great studies about faithful women visit the online catalog at

South Gate UMC looks forward to next 50 years

Bishop Scott Jones joined South Gate UMC, in Lincoln, Neb., as the congregation recognized its 50th anniversary. Pastor Stephanie Ahlschwede, the congregation and Jones celebrated along with former South Gate pastors and members on Sunday, May 18.

Jones started his sermon quoting the first and last stanzas from Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” highlighting the last two lines: “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Jones said every decision you make is a turning point, and what leads up to that turning point is something to remember as well.

To drive the point home, Jones pointed to two excerpts from the movie “42.” The clips highlighted the turning point American baseball took when the first African American baseball player, Jackie Robinson, joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. He also pointed out it was a turning point when Mary discovered the empty tomb. Jones asked if today was turning point for South Gate. “God is not through with South Gate yet,” said Jones. He reminded the congregation that while they celebrate the past, it is important that they evaluate the present.

"We see the 50th celebration as our launch into the next 50 years, and beyond,” said Ahlschwede. “One of our main priorities is neighborhood engagement, so our new initiatives include partnering with a nearby community garden, filling backpacks of food for children at our neighborhood elementary school and hosting a 60s parking lot dance."

After the worship service, the congregation and visitors enjoyed lunch and fellowship outside, before returning to the sanctuary for the program.

Former pastors were recognized as well as Miriam Miller, spouse of South Gate’s founding pastor, the Rev. Donald Miller. Fifty-year pins were given to members along with founding member certificates. The Lincoln barbershop quartet, Ex Animo, performed several numbers.

In preparation of the celebration, South Gate collected “L” dollars to donate to the youngest United Methodist Church in Lincoln — Prairie View. So what is an “L” dollar? Every dollar bill has a letter on it that represents what Federal Reserve Bank branch issued the note — L symbolizes San Francisco. Since L is also the Roman numeral for 50, (in honor of South Gate’s 50 years) every dollar bill raised had the letter L on it. At the time of the check presentation, South Gate had raised $700 dollars for Prairie View — after the celebration on Sunday, the amount jumped to $1,100.

"The ‘L' dollar offering has been fascinating,” said Ahlschwede. “Our members have been steadfast in carefully collecting donations for Prairie View UMC, one dollar at a time. Those single dollars really do add up over time."

Papillion UMC youth hold their Donuts for Nets event in support of Imagine No Malaria

The confirmation class of St. Paul’s UMC, in Papillion, Neb., raised $1,226 on Sunday May 4, with their Donuts for Nets campaign. The youth built a thermometer with a movable arrow to gauge their fund raising progress during the event; and hung a mosquito net over a baby doll bed and baby doll borrowed from the church nursery to demonstrate how the nets will save children's lives.

The group continued the campaign Sunday, May 18, and raised an additional $1,000. Thanks to the May 18 numbers, the youth exceeded their goal of $2,000 by $226. That’s more than 222 nets.

Pre-promotion included skits performed by the youth in preceding weeks (April 13 and 27) leading up to the Donuts for Nets Sunday. The skits demonstrated the need for supporting Imagine No Malaria and how bed nets save lives.

April Clark said, “The nine-member confirmation class took on the congregation's challenge to come up with a way to raise money for the mosquito nets. They imagined the skit to advertise the event so people would know to bring their donations, put the skit together and presented it. They decided that the congregation would have fun with the event if they sold doughnuts before and after services and it was successful because of the youths' enthusiasm and hearts for the mission project. The congregation had fun, was generous and helped the kids to be successful." 

Aldersgate Renewal Ministries announces conference

Aldersgate 2014 is a national conference on spirit-filled living and a family friendly conference for United Methodists. The conference is hosted by Aldersgate Renewal Ministries and will be held in Springfield, Ill., July 17-20, with the theme of Freedom. CEUs for clergy (20.5 contact hours if the entire event is attended) and lay servant credit approved by the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) will be offered. With programming for all ages, Aldersgate Renewal Ministries' mission is to equip the local church to minister to the world in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Register today for Aldersgate 2014.

Newsletter links

Clergy housing handbook available for free download

The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) has compiled a resource for local congregations who are preparing for a change in clergy leadership. It's a free downloadable PDF entitled "Clergy Housing Handbook - Parsonages." It includes suggested guidelines and information about parsonage life.

Epworth Village welcomes the Child Advocacy Center

On May 15, 2014, The Child Advocacy Center held a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house at their new location at Epworth Village, in York, Neb. The Child Advocacy Center’s services are provided to child victims of abuse and neglect. The Child Advocacy Center, which is based in Lincoln, Neb., has served more than 17 counties in southeastern Nebraska for the past 15 years.

“Epworth Village is very excited to work in partnership with the Child Advocacy Center in bringing these important services to the York community,” said Patrick Garcia, president/CEO of Epworth Village. “Through this partnership, Epworth Village is better able to deliver on its mission of bringing ‘hope and healing’ for children and families across Nebraska.”

Director of children’s/adult ministries needed at First UMC in Salina

First UMC in Salina, Kan., is seeking a director of children’s and adult ministries. Responsibilities include administering a program of activities for children designed to help them experience the love of God and to acquire biblical knowledge related to mission and service. Also responsible for working with the spiritual growth teams of the church to resource and empower the mid-week manna program and other special study and spiritual formation classes and experiences. This position is 30 hours per week and salary is based on experience. Please direct questions and resume to the Rev. David Watson at

Salina First UMC looking for children’s choir director

First UMC in Salina, Kan., is in need of a children’s choir director to plan, prepare and direct the music of the children’s choir. This position will work from mid-August through mid-May and includes weekly rehearsals on Sunday mornings and choir presentations occasionally throughout the school year. Please send resume to the Rev. David Watson at

Three positions available at General Board of Church and Society

The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) of The United Methodist Church has three job openings: grassroots organizer; executive assistant for the office of the general secretary; and program associate for its U.N. and international affairs office. The first two positions are at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; the third is at the Church Center for the United Nations across the street from the U.N. headquarters in New York City, N.Y.

GBCS is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Prime responsibility of the board is to seek implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-making body. The board’s primary areas of ministry are advocacy; education and leadership formation; United Nations and international affairs; and resourcing these areas for the denomination.

Read more about each position and how to apply.

Shawnee Heights UMC seeks music director

Shawnee Heights United Methodist Church, located southeast of Topeka in Tecumseh, Kan., is seeking a part-time music director, to begin Aug. 1, 2014. A detailed job description and salary information are attached here. To apply for this position, please email resume to or send to Shawnee Heights UMC, c/o Rev. Judy Long O’Neal, 6020 SE 44th St. Tecumseh, KS 66542.

Applications will be reviewed and interviews scheduled. If you have any questions, please call O'Neal at 785-379-5492 or email

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.

Want to submit a letter to the editor? Email Kathryn Witte at

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