Download the Nov. 8 edition of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Bishops urged to turn page on painful chapter
'Journeys of Paul in Greece' trip to replace Holy Land tour in 2024
Former Kansas West comm director joins UMAC Hall of Fame

Church court reverses call for extra General Conference

Young adults: Explore a call to ministry, Feb. 16-18 in Orlando 
Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation scheduled for April 7-12  
Group offers support for clergy families at time of need

Mark those calendars: 2024 Laity Summit set for March 10
Congregational Excellence resources available for fall 2023
Sign up to write Daily Devotions; openings through end of January

‘We are weeping for the people of the Holy Land’
Deadline for March racial justice encounter registration is Nov. 20

Learn more about being a greeter, usher, acolyte
Materials available for UM Student Day, Nov. 26

New book by Kamudzandu on Global South is now available
In other news


Bishops urged to turn
page on painful chapter

As a season of disaffiliations nears its end, Council of Bishops President Thomas J. Bickerton called on his fellow episcopal leaders to use their woundedness to help bring healing to the church and keep the story going. The bishops are meeting this week to talk about the future of the church and prepare for General Conference.

Read story from UM News Service.
Read press release.
Follow meeting on Council of Bishops Facebook page.

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‘Journeys of Paul in Greece’ trip
to replace Holy Land tour in 2024

A planned trip to the Holy Land in February and March, led by Bishop David Wilson, has shifted to “Journeys of Paul in Greece.” 

In a letter to those who had already committed to the Holy Land trip, Bishop Wilson said the unrest in Israel forced the Feb. 21 to March 1 trip to be altered. 

“We will certainly look to go to Israel when we have a much better idea of changes in the climate there,” he wrote. 

There is still time to join the trip. Find out more here.

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Former Kansas West communications director joins UMAC Hall of Fame

Whether it was during her 17 years in communications for the former Kansas West Conference or 19 years with United Methodist Communications, Rev. Kathy Noble said that her achievements were part of a group effort.

“It’s hard for me to say, ‘I accomplished this’ and ‘I accomplished that,’” she said from her home in Haysville. “Anything I accomplished I did as part of a team.”

Last month, Noble was named to the United Methodist Association of Communicators Hall of Fame.

Read more here.

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General Conference

Church court reverses call
for extra General Conference

The United Methodist Church’s top court has reversed course in calling for another regular session of the denomination’s lawmaking assembly between 2025 and 2027. However, the Judicial Council maintained its earlier ruling that no new delegates be elected to the coming General Conference, except under very limited circumstances.

Read more from UM News Service.

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Clergy Excellence

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 age 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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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 online, especially for first-time laity participants. CEUs are available. 

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

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Group offers support for clergy families at time of need

When a Great Plains minister or spouse dies, do you have an effective way to show you care about them? The Great Plains United Methodist Conference Mutual Aid Association was started to do just that. The Mutual Aid Association provides a Sympathy Expressing Gift of $1,650 every time a member dies. When a member dies a Call Letter is sent or emailed out to the other members of the Mutual Aid Association. The living members each send in $5 to the Mutual Aid Association Treasurer. The treasurer then sends a $1,650 check to a designated beneficiary of the member who has died. Along with the check goes a list of the members who contributed the money. Since 1917 over 850 families have benefited from this sympathy expressing gift.

If you would like more information about the Great Plains Mutual Aid Association, contact Rev. Bob Neben at or by calling him at 402-499-3636. This is a great way to show you care when a Great Plains minister or spouse dies.

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Equipping Disciples

Mark those calendars: 2024
Laity Summit set for March 10

Another year, another great Laity Summit in the works, so mark your calendars for March 10, 2024, from 1:30-5 p.m. CT and 12:30-4 p.m. MT.

Laity Summit is designed for laity from all churches large and small, rural and urban communities and established and emerging leaders. It is a time to share ideas, learn from others around our conference and beyond, and take away nuggets of knowledge to assist in growing our footprint of God’s love in our respective mission fields.

Laity Summit 2024 is being planned to provide an opportunity for laity to gather in small groups and in community. Congregations are invited and encouraged to plan a watch party at your church. Together, you will be able to listen to the content of the messages from people in our Conference. Participants are encouraged to consider and discuss a couple questions within your group. How does what was said mean to us? Is there anything that we can put into action? 

We invite you to express your ideas for Laity Summit topics. If you have ideas or questions, please email them to Rev. Jeff Clinger at or to Jeanie Leeper at Remember our conference lay leader, Lisa Maupin ( is ready to hear from you, as are our conference associate lay leaders, Randall Hodgkinson ( and Keith Olsen ( 

There is excitement building around Laity Summit 2024. We are anticipating what God has for us, as we grow emotionally and spiritually healthy together. You are invited to mark your calendars to save the date and to plan a party. Stay tuned for more details!

-- Jeanie Leeper, Great Plains lay leadership coordinator

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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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Sign up to write Daily Devotions; openings through end of January

Our Daily Devotions are written by clergy, retirees, laity and staff of the Great Plains Conference and delivered to the emails of more than 3,000 people every morning.

Everyone is encouraged to write a devotion, approximately 300 words, with a related scripture and prayer.

Signups are now available through the end of January at this link.

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Mercy & Justice

‘We are weeping for the
people of the Holy Land’

Our Great Plains Holy Land Task Force has been connected with United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR) for many years, with some of our members serving on the steering committee as well as other committees. We work with Jews, Christians, and Muslims to take action and advocate for peace for all in the Holy Land.

UMKR’s webpage explains: “In October 2010, United Methodist clergy and laity from around the United States came together in a grass roots effort to respond to the ‘Kairos Palestine Document.’ This document is an urgent plea from Christians in the Holy Land for decisive action in support of a just peace. It is a powerful call to churches around the world to go beyond merely talking about peace and take real steps to help bring a just peace to the people of Israel and Palestine."

A few days ago, UMKR released a statement about the war in Palestine/Israel that we want to share:

“United Methodists in UMKR, like so many throughout our church, are weeping for the people of the Holy Land. We decry the indiscriminate attacks on all civilians, both Israelis and Palestinians. We mourn with those who are grieving for the dead, we suffer for those who are injured, starving, or living in fear today, and we seek the safe release of all the political captives held by both the state of Israel and Hamas. We pray fervently for the millions in Gaza who are living through the ghastly terror of a genocidal military assault.”

To continue reading:

Read “A Prayer for This Moment” by Rabbi Alissa Wise of Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council.

-- Submitted by the Holy Land Task Force

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Deadline for March racial justice
encounter registration is Nov. 20

The Great Plains Conference Mercy & Justice Team is offering an Oklahoma Racial Justice Encounter March 7-11, 2024. Oklahoma’s land is home to the stories of Native American and African American displacement and massacre, and resilience and celebration. On this Justice Encounter, we will explore the intersections of white supremacy’s impact on the people and experiences of Indigenous and African American people not just in Oklahoma, but in America as a whole. 

Join Rev. Lora Andrews, Denise Estes, Rev. Daekyung Kim, and Rev. Sarah Marsh for our third Great Plains Justice Encounter. This trip is open to individuals 16 years of age and older with a passion for social justice. We will be intentional about building a team of racially diverse individuals, while prioritizing participation of those 35 and under. If you are over 35 and believe this experience is something God may be calling you to... we need your application too!

Please complete this form by Nov. 20 to apply for a spot on the Oklahoma Racial Justice Encounter. Applicants will then be placed on a waiting list to fill any available cancellations. 

Cost per participant is $350. Partial scholarships will be available as needed.

For more information, contact Lora Andrews at

Find out more here.

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Learn more about being
a greeter, usher, acolyte

Greeters, ushers and acolytes are an important part of any worship service, and the United Media Resource Center has materials available for them to better learn their duties.

Those include the DVDs “Acolytes, Ushers, and Greeters” and “Welcoming Ministry Training Manual and Planning Handbook,” and the books “Becoming a Welcoming Church,” by Thom Rainer; “Greeter and Usher Handbook: Creating a Ministry of Welcome,” by Yvonne Gentile of Resurrection, a United Methodist Church; and “Welcome to Our Church: A Handbook for Greeters and Ushers” by Annette Schroeder.

There is also a curriculum sample, available for a two-week preview only, of “Acolytes: Carrying the Fire,” a workbook for children third grade and older.

Find those and more here.

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Materials available for
UM Student Day, Nov. 26

On United Methodist Student Day, Nov. 26, we come alongside students by supporting a scholarship fund. Together, we invest in the leaders of tomorrow. Find resources for worship and promotion as well as age-level material and more in the pastor and leader kit. Core resources are available in multiple languages.

Get resources here.

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Across the Connection

New book by Kamudzandu
on Global South is now available

A new book by Rev. Dr. Israel Kamudzandu, associate professor of New Testament studies at Saint Paul School of Theology and pastor of Wathena-Troy UMCs in northeast Kansas, has been published by WIPF and Stock Publishers.

“Translation as Incarnation: The Bible in the Twenty-First Century Global South” is, according to the publisher:

“An invitation to postcolonial readers of the Bible, as well as an urgent invitation to both Europe and North America to consider having the Bible in schools so that young minds can be engaged by it. Without translations of the Bible into the vernacular, Christianity would not be growing as it is in the Global South nations, namely Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Hence, vernacular translations of the Bible are indeed incarnational.”

Find out more and order the book here.

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In other news

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Classifieds are posted for 30 days unless otherwise requested. Please allow three business days for your classified to appear on the website. Email David Burke to update or renew your classified. Submit your classified here.

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