Because of next week's Orders & Fellowship,
there will be no GPconnect on Oct. 25.
We will return to your inbox on Nov. 1.


Download the Oct. 18 edition of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Baltimore-Washington leader brings the love for Orders & Fellowship ?23
Clergy confident in their preaching, pastoral care
Hispanic worshippers find a new home in Hays
Bishop asks for prayers during situation in Israel
Michigan congregation back to doing church after a disaffiliation vote

Six churches receive Culture of Call grants
Prairie Rivers, Elkhorn Valley CRCC families gather for first meeting
Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation scheduled for April 7-12  
Interested in seminary? Check out virtual 'round robin' to get more info
Young adults: Explore a call to ministry, Feb. 16-18 in Orlando 

Search for Treats this   weekend at Camp Fontanelle
Mental health is subject of Parsons District gathering
Congregational Excellence resources available for fall 2023
Connect with other children’s ministry leaders in fall webinar

Be the Bridge training coming to Great Plains Conference
Kansas City Epiphany Justice Encounter set for Jan. 6

ERT training session is scheduled for Leawood on Oct. 28

Optional benefits enrollment open for clergy through Oct. 29
New editions of conference journal, directory available in print, online

Advent studies for adults, in DVD and print, available
Webinar to focus on online safety in time of war

Ribbon cutting for newest Southwestern residence hall is Friday
Donations give Broken Bow UMC a new children’s play structure
Ogden Friendship House UMC becomes food processing facility
Louisburg UMC celebrates 150 years with weekend fun fair, worship 
Grant to provide Saint Paul a Pause/Play Center for Preachers
In other news


Baltimore-Washington leader brings
the love for Orders & Fellowship '23

The streets of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., may seem a far cry from the Great Plains, but Rev. Dr. Stacey Cole-Wilson says there are many commonalities.

“(We) appreciate individuals being able to remain connected, even when we disagree -- remaining connected even when we could be on completely different ends of a spectrum in our belief, but we can still say that while we disagree on matters, we still have deep love for one another and faith in God,” she said. “We’re willing to respect the divine image in the other person while trying to communicate effectively.”

Cole-Wilson, executive minister of beloved ministry for the Baltimore-Washington Conference, is the keynote speaker for this year's Orders & Fellowship gathering, from Monday night through midday Wednesday at Younes Center North in Kearney.

Read more in our interview.
Watch a video interview with Cole-Wilson.
Our Orders & Fellowship page.

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Clergy confident in their
preaching, pastoral care

The office of Clergy Excellence has released additional information on the results of a clergy survey taken earlier this year.

Among the findings:

  • Clergy felt the most confidence in their preaching, pastoral care and designing and leading worship
  • They felt least confident in financial development, leading justice and mission opportunities and vision casting/long-range planning.
  • They wanted to know more about equipping lay leaders, vision casting and financial development.

Read the summary.

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Hispanic worshippers
find a new home in Hays

Since the beginning of the year, the Sunday night Hispanic worship service in the United Methodist Campus Ministry sanctuary just off the campus of Fort Hays State University has gone from about a dozen attendees to nearly 50.

Natives of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela and Colombia are among those attending the service.

A grant from the Great Plains Conference will modernize the sanctuary where they meet, including flags of the countries of everyone represented, Pastor Troy Miller says.

Read more, in English and Spanish, and see a photo gallery.

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Bishop asks for prayers
during situation in Israel

Bishop David Wilson issued a statement last week urging United Methodists in the Great Plains Conference to pray for the situation in Israel.

You can read and download the bishop's letter

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Michigan congregation gets back to
doing church after a disaffiliation vote

After losing a chunk of the congregation because of a painful disaffiliation vote, it was time to discern a new future for Memorial United Methodist Church in Michigan. With the help of a book about navigating conflict in church, the congregation is moving forward as members step up to replace church leaders who have left.

Read more from UM News Service.

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Clergy Excellence

Six churches receive
Culture of Call grants

The fall Culture of Call grants have been announced by the Great Plains Conference, providing $10,125 to six churches:

  • Topeka Tabernacle & Table UMC, $2,000: The new church start will use the funds to build connection and relationship in the community, paying for an internship.
  • Topeka First UMC, $2,000: Funds would help church member Isaac Langley discern God’s call in his life as a candidate for ministry by giving guidance and opportunity.
  • Iola Wesley UMC, $2,000: The church would provide an intergenerational program, with meals and breakout groups, for a variety of ages to explore faith, their gifts and the call for missions in the community and beyond.
  • Topeka Highland Park UMC, $2,000: Money would be given to a musician to work with the praise band and the pastor to design the worship experience.
  • Salina Church of the Cross UMC, $1,250: Intergenerational connection is the goal of a program of fellowship, mentoring and fostering the embrace of one’s wholeness.
  • Basehor UMC, $2,000: The church will participate in the Tennessee Outreach Project to effectively minister to those less fortunate and in need of assistance in low-income areas.

See the conference’s Culture of Call page for more information.

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Prairie Rivers, Elkhorn Valley
CRCC families gather for first meeting

On Oct. 15, the first-ever district CRCC Clergy Family Gathering took place at Trinity UMC in Grand Island, bringing together CRCC clergy families from Prairie Rivers and Elkhorn Valley districts. The event was planned and organized by Rev. Seulki Choi, and 21 CRCC clergies and their family members were excited to attend.  

Choi, who is the intercultural family ministry coordinator, organized the event with the aim of fostering stronger connections between CRCC clergy families, and providing them with a sense of togetherness and community. She believes that building connections between the children of CRCC clergy families is especially important, as it helps them feel less alone and fosters a special bond among those who share similar experiences as immigrant kids or PKs. 

The unique challenges and joys of a clergy family were discussed and shared during the gathering. The event was an excellent opportunity for attendees to connect and create lasting bonds with each other. More importantly, it was a chance to build a stronger sense of community among them, which is invaluable in helping them navigate the challenges and celebrate the joys that come with their roles in CRCC ministry. 

This gathering marked the beginning of a beautiful journey towards a more connected, supportive, and unified community. It reflected the shared values of the CRCC clergy families, and their desire to stand by each other in both everyday moments and more challenging times. Choi plans to organize similar gatherings in other districts and looks forward to meeting and connecting with all CRCC clergy families. 

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Five-Day Academy for Spiritual
Formation scheduled for April 7-12  

Mark your calendars for a spiritual retreat held right here within the Great Plains that could provide you with an opportunity to learn, worship, and connect—with God, yourself, and others. The Five-Day Academy will be offered shortly after Easter at St. Benedict’s Center in Schuyler, Nebraska.

It is a program of Upper Room Ministries with regional leadership, providing an opportunity for participants to tune their hearts toward God through a daily rhythm of prayer, worship, learning and reflection. Each day includes teachings by gifted spiritual leaders for deeper discipleship, periods of silence, morning and evening prayer, Eucharist, and an opportunity to share with one another. It is open to anyone — laity or clergy — and is ecumenical. 

The theme of the upcoming retreat is Loving Well: Community, Healing, and Resilience led by presenters Elaine A. Heath and Jeanine B. Heath-McGlinn. They are sisters whose vocations as theologian and therapist emerged from their own healing journeys. In this series they will explore what it means to foster spiritual communities that love well, that build resilience, offer healing, and hope in a broken world.  

Registration for the 2024 Great Plains Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation are as follows: 

  • In-person single room occupancy: $625 
  • In-person double room occupancy: $590 
  • Online Zoom participation: $300 

Some scholarships are available, $200 for in-person or $100 for on-line, especially for first-time laity participants. CEUs are available. 

To learn more and register (which will open soon), go here:

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Interested in seminary? Check out
virtual 'round robin' to get more info

Attending a United Methodist seminary is a great way to say yes to what God is stirring in you. Are you (or is someone you know) wondering about a seminary education...what it's like, how to fund it, how you could experience it amid life/family/church responsibilities?

The Admissions Representatives from the United Methodist Seminaries have put together a joint effort to share what they call Seminary 101 with prospective students. It will be held via Zoom from 1:30-3 p.m. CT Thursday, Nov. 2. Sign up here.

If you're not sure if this is for you, talk to Rev. Dr. Ashlee Alley Crawford for more information,

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Young adults: Explore a call to
ministry, Feb. 16-18 in Orlando 

Do you know a college student or other young adult who has the gifts for and a possible call to ministry? Consider attending Exploration, a three-day event held in Orlando for young adults aged 18-26 to hear, discern, and respond to God’s call to ordained ministry and to explore their gifts for service as a deacon or elder in The United Methodist Church.

The details:

  • It’s held in Orlando from Feb. 16-18 for people aged 18-26 considering a call to ministry.
  • There is a registration fee ($500, or $400 for a shared room). Register through our link to receive a $350 scholarship.
  • The Great Plains UMC will provide travel scholarships for airfare (while funds last … see below*). Submit receipts and report travel here, up to $650.
  • It’s a potentially life-changing opportunity to be open to or get direction in God’s call in the context of other young adults, ministries of the church, and campus ministers.
  • Participants will engage in vibrant worship, connect with other young adults, learn about ministry possibilities from workshops, and have space to encounter God in a new way. Representatives from the United Methodist Seminaries will be present for conversation if seminary is a next step. Check out their website here: .

Are you interested in learning more about the scholarships, or do you have questions? Contact Rev. Dr. Ashlee Alley Crawford: or 785-414-4216. 

 *Travel scholarships will be available up to $650/person (while funds last). Flights should be booked to arrive no later than 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16 and leave 2 p.m. or after on Sunday, Feb. 18.

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Equipping Disciples

Search for Treats this  
weekend at Camp Fontanelle

Camp Fontanelle will hold its annual Search for Treats from 2-4 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 22. Join others dressed in costume to find your way through the maze looking for businesses, churches and individuals handing out treats. The event is free with purchase of your entrance onto the property. It is a great time for all who attend.

Volunteers are needed to help with the day. If you are interested in helping out at the corn maze, contact the camp at 402-478-4296 or email: There are only two weekends left, don't miss out on this fundraising program for the camp's summer ministry. Besides our Search for Treats, we have two nights of the Maze at Night from 7-10 p.m. Oct. 27-28 Our last day is Sunday, Oct. 29.

Summer camp registration is open and camp sessions are already getting full. Don't miss out on the chance to get out to Camp Fontanelle the summer of 2024 and get closer to God through nature, recreation and community.

You may also make donations to the ministry and have an impact on those who come out to camp to get closer to God. Your donation will help transform lives.

-- Jane Van Horn, Camp Fontanelle

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Mental health is subject of
Parsons District gathering

The Parsons District gathered Sunday, Oct. 8, at Parsons Wesley UMC to continue to explore topics related to mental health.

For 2023, the Parsons District has focused on Jesus’ healing ministries and ways that we as United Methodist Churches can be agents of hope and healing to our communities. Sharing mental health resources and resources with our communities has been the focus of the district strategy team.

We began in worship and then workshops. Three workshops were offered, and participants chose two to attend. The workshops were Addiction and Recovery by Rev. Alice Purvis, Elizabeth Walker and Bob Timmons (Fredonia) and Rev. Bob Banks (Buffalo-High Prairie-Altoona), Spirituality and Accountability by Rev. Michael Park (Chanute First UMC), and Seven Deadly Sins by Rev. Taud Boatman (Parsons Wesley UMC). As we gathered for worship and learning, we offered resources on ministries of Celebrate Recovery, Wesleyan Small Groups, and Bible study.

If you are interested in more resources or ways your church can offer Christ’s healing, connect with a church in Parsons District or any of the above workshop leaders for more information. We give thanks to God for a time to celebrate and share together what all God can do as offering hope in our communities as United Methodists!

-- Rev. Nicole S. Conard
Associate Director of Congregational Excellence

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Congregational Excellence resources available for fall 2023

There are many FREE resources available for your congregation as a part of the United Methodist connection. Attached is a list of the multiple ways that can help support your congregation in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

For more information, contact your district office or district liaison to access resources in guiding the congregation in the next faithful step to follow Christ.

Many of these resources will be highlighted in weeks to come. Here is the document and PDF for many free resources available to you now.

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Connect with other children’s
ministry leaders in fall webinar

“Self-Care for the Journey,” an online event for children’s ministry leaders, will be from 9-10:30 a.m. CT Saturday, Nov. 4, over Zoom.

The event is hosted by the Great Plains children’s ministry coordinators.

Whether we are volunteers, part time staff, or working full time in children’s ministry, God has placed a call on our lives to care for the faith needs of our community’s kiddos. Children’s ministry (and life in general) can bring seasons of storms, celebration, busyness, grief, joy, and so much more. Whatever season you may be in, join us as we connect with each other and recenter our focus on Jesus.

"Self-Care for the Journey" is a 90-minute opportunity to begin the discernment process of how to stay healthy in ministry with kids. Our time will be led by Allison Brewer, a kindergarten teacher and experienced children’s ministry leader, on Zoom for a moment of peace, reflection and care.

Register here in advance to be sure to receive your care package:

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Mercy & Justice

Be the Bridge training coming
to Great Plains Conference

Are you passionate about making your church or community group equitable and inviting for everyone, regardless of background? Elevate your leadership skills with this transformative training event.

The Great Plains Board of Ordained Ministry, the Mercy and Justice Team, and other committed partners from the Annual Conference have collaborated with Be the Bridge — an organization focused on fostering racial healing, equity, and reconciliation — to offer this opportunity.

Training will begin Nov. 16-18 in Hays and continue through June 2025 in Lincoln, Wichita, Omaha, Shawnee and Kearney.

Find out more here.

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Kansas City Epiphany
Justice Encounter set for Jan. 6

Discover the true essence of Epiphany, the Christian holiday celebrating the journey of the Magi in search of the sacred, at our Kansas City Epiphany Justice Encounter. This unique event invites you to embark on a transformative journey through the heart of Kansas City, exploring the pursuit of justice in the community.

It is hosted by the Great Plains Conference Mercy & Justice Team and Leadership Lab.

Find out more and register here.

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Disaster Response

ERT training session is
scheduled for Leawood on Oct. 28

For those individuals, 18 and above, who desire to become an Early Response Team (ERT) member, our next trainings are as follows:

Contribute to the Great Plains Disaster Response Fund.

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Optional benefits enrollment
open for clergy through Oct. 29

Clergy appointed to churches three-quarter to fulltime are eligible for optional benefits through the conference. This is the time to explore what Great Plains Conference offers in optional benefits. All benefit coverage and cost can be found on GP website:

Clergy currently enrolled into optional benefits will have individual benefit statements and the 2024 Open Enrollment Guide email by Oct. 10, with a deadline of Oct. 29. Benefit statements have the 2024 pricing. If you are already enrolled into an optional benefit, you will also receive an email from ADP notifying you that open enrollment has been opened.

If you have any questions, need assistance, or would like to enroll into any optional benefits email Peggy Mihoover, benefits officer, at

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New editions of conference journal,
directory available in print, online

The 2023 editions of the Great Plains Conference journals and directory are now available online and in print.

Order print copies, shipped directly from the printer, at The cost is $53.33 for the directory, $69.66 for Volume A and $41.77 for Volume B. Orders will go directly to the printer, so payment and shipping is handled completely by our Omaha-based partner.

The editions can be viewed online at

  • Directory — Appointments by district, ministerial directory, churches directory.
  • Volume A — Officers, staff and lay leadership of the annual conference, Daily proceedings from the annual conference session, legislation that passed, the Business of the Annual Conference, surviving spouses, ministry reports, memoirs, roll of deceased clergy, standing rules and budget summary.
  • Volume B — Clergy records, audit report, statistical tables.

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Advent studies for adults,
in DVD and print, available

We checked the calendar for you – it’s 46 days until Advent. Do you have a plan for an Advent study in your Sunday school or small group?

The Media Resource Center has dozens of studies on DVD, as well as some print-only, available, including “Almost Christmas: A Wesley Advent Experience,” “Christmas Gifts That Won’t Break,” Adam Hamilton’s “Faithful: Christmas Through the Eyes of Joseph,” “The Gospel of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Bible Study” and “Light of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to Advent.”

See those and more here.

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Webinar to focus on
online safety in time of war

Four experts will give advice on how to minimize the harm children experience because of images of war and Hamas videos of hostages that the militant group has threatened to release to social media. The experts include the Rev. Neal Christie of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, a United Methodist conflict transformation consultant. The webinar is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT Thursday, Oct. 19.

Read press release and register.

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Across the Connection

Ribbon cutting for newest
Southwestern residence hall is Friday

Southwestern College will have a ribbon cutting for its new Winfield Hall at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, at 1801 Warren Ave.

The new, 94-bed residence hall includes a large atrium, gathering space and family wellness center.

Winfield Hall is funded by the USDA’s $11.66 million grant through the Rural Development Community Facilities direct loan program.

Read more in this Southwestern news release.

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Donations give Broken Bow UMC
a new children’s play structure

Broken Bow UMC is using tonight’s Trunk or Treat event as the debut of its new play structure.

Money for the structure was donated by church members Joyce and Kevin Richardson.

Read more from Sandhills Express/KCNI-KBBN.

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Ogden Friendship House UMC becomes food processing facility

Ogden Friendship House United Methodist Church became a food processing facility on Oct. 8, as the congregation came together to feed the hungry in their community of Ogden, Kansas.

 In partnership with the Outreach Program of El Dorado, the church configured the fellowship hall into two meal production lines, with a final tally of 660 meal packets of deluxe mac and cheese and basil tomato pasta produced in 90 minutes with 20 volunteers.

“We are a small congregation, and we are always looking for ways to fulfill our promise to be a Matthew 25 congregation. We run the community food pantry and also stock two food and hygiene blessing boxes daily. These meal packages, which each feed six people, are a great way to help our neighbors,” said Pastor Diana Chapel. “These meals are well suited for our blessing boxes in all types of heat or cold conditions. Everything you need is in packet -- just add water. They are also great for our general pantry operations.”

Chapel adds, “This was a great project involving all ages and abilities of our members and I highly recommend churches consider this project.”

Meals can be used locally or produced for shipment nationally or internationally.

For more information, contact the Outreach Program at or call 316-452-5445.

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Louisburg UMC celebrates 150 years with weekend fun fair, worship service

Louisburg United Methodist Church in Miami County, Kansas, is marking its 150th anniversary with a two-day celebration this weekend.

It includes a free fun fair for the community on Saturday and worship service and potluck dinner on Sunday.

Read more from the Miami County Republic.

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Grant to provide Saint Paul a
Pause/Play Center for Preachers

Saint Paul School of Theology has received a grant of $1.065 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish Pause/Play Center for Preachers. 

The program is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. The aim of the initiative is to foster and support preaching that inspires, encourages and guides people to come to know and love God and to live out their Christian faith more fully. 

With the help of Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching grant, Saint Paul School of Theology will create a center that addresses the risk of losing heart and prophetic imagination as a preacher in this divided world. The Pause/Play Center for Preachers’ mission is in its name: to hold space for busy preachers to pause and play their way into a renewal of their vocation as preachers of the Good News. The activities of the Pause/Play Center will launch in early 2024.  

Read more from Saint Paul.

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In other news

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