Conference offices will be closed
Thursday-Friday, Nov. 23-24.
GPconnect will take next week off as well,
returning to your inboxes on Nov. 29.

Download the Nov. 15 edition of GPconnect.

In this edition:

Podcast returns with discussion on Native American heritage
Wichita justice group sets name, priorities for first year
Wichita's UM Open Door in urgent need of donations

Bishops elect new leaders, renew their vision for UMC
Bishops make statement calling for peace in Holy Land
Methodists dig deeper into their Wesleyan roots, report says

Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation scheduled for April 7-12  
Young adults: Explore a call to ministry, Feb. 16-18 in Orlando 

January, February courses planned for discerning call
Fontanelle impacts lives through camping ministry

Legal, Refugee Empowerment center helps numerous children
Monday is deadline to register for March racial justice encounter 
Kansas City Epiphany Justice Encounter set for Jan. 6

All remittances for 2023 must be received at conference office Jan. 10

Native American material is now available through resource center
Here’s where to get material for UM Student Day
Wespath creates retirement benefits toolkit for clergy, lay employees

Lincoln St. Mark’s congregation presents gift to Imperial church
Community turkey meal begins holiday season for one Kansas UMC
UWFaith at Columbus serves up its Souper Soups Thursday
In other news


Podcast returns with discussion
on Native American heritage

Communications director Todd Seifert's "In Layman's Terms" podcast is back from hiatus with an interview with Bishop David Wilson. The discussion focuses on Native American Heritage Month.

November is a month set aside to celebrate the rich culture and numerous contributions of Indigenous peoples. This conversation covers an immersion experience in Oklahoma, recognition of U.S. Indian Boarding Schools, and more about the bishop's travels across the country.

Download the podcast episode.

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Wichita justice group sets
name, priorities for first year

Even though "Sedgwick County Multifaith Justice Organization" just rolls off the tongue, several organizers joked last week, the group determined its name and its top two priorities in a covenant assembly at Wichita First UMC on Nov. 9.

Justice Together determined its efforts will be placed on homelessness and mental health, according to a vote by the 450 people who attended.

“We are going to be in this community as a voice for justice for a long, long time,” Rev. Lance Carrithers, pastor of Derby Woodlawn UMC and treasurer of Justice Together, said at the conclusion of the assembly. 

The group is partially funded by the Great Plains Conference in its Doing Justice Initiative. Of the 36 houses of worship represented in the group, 14 are United Methodist.

Read more and see a photo album here.

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Wichita's UM Open Door
in urgent need of donations

The pandemic meant both good news and bad for the Wichita-based United Methodist Open Door.

The good, Rev. Deann Smith said, was that government assistance helped fill the warehouse with food for those in need in south central Kansas.

But when the assistance stopped, Smith said, pre-pandemic donations that Open Door, the largest food distribution center in Wichita, counted on from businesses and churches in south central Kansas greatly declined.

Smith, executive director of Open Door for the past 22 years, said Open Door may have to make changes if donations don't improve -- and it is not alone. Food banks throughout the conference are in greater need than ever, she said.

Read more here.

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United Methodist News

Bishops elect new leaders,
renew their vision for UMC

During its November meeting, the United Methodist Council of Bishops elected East Ohio Bishop Tracy S. Malone as its next president. She will be the first Black woman to serve in that role. In addition to electing new officers, the bishops discussed their vision for how the denomination can move on from a tumultuous time.

Read more from UM News Service.

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Bishops make statement
calling for peace in Holy Land

The United Methodist Council of Bishops, during its fall meeting, released a statement on the Israel-Gaza conflict, seeking investment in peacemaking. On the same day the bishops released their statement, Christian leaders in Jerusalem urged their flocks to prepare for a solemn Advent and Christmastide focused on providing relief for the war’s victims.

Read more from UM News Service
Read Council of Bishops statement

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Methodists dig deeper into
their Wesleyan roots, report says

The United Methodist Church has released the 2022 State of the Church Report. The report centers on how the people of The United Methodist Church have dug deeper into their Wesleyan roots to reclaim, revive and renew their identity as United Methodists.

Read press release
See report
Watch video

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Clergy Excellence

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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Young adults can 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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Equipping Disciples

January, February courses
planned for discerning call

There are several "lay equipping" opportunities across the Great Plains Conference for January and February. We are calling it “2024 Kick Off – Discerning Our Call.” Each course is designed to focus and guide each person through their own call received at our Baptism into the Christian family. These course opportunities are open to anyone with an interest in ministry and how God is calling them to serve. These courses are not limited to only those interested in certification. Invite a Friend or a Team and join us! 

The Basic Course is the entry point that guides each one through the Ministry of the Baptized, UMC History, as well as ways to Lead, Care and Communicate the Good News in the world! This course is the beginning. It is a course designed to guide people to discern their own call in all the places we live, work, and play.

The "Each One a Minister" course guides people to Discover their Spiritual gifts. It does focus on Discovering, Employing and Deploying your Spiritual Gifts. It is an Approved Advanced Lay Servant Ministry class. It is required for Certified Lay Servants, Certified Lay Speakers and is a prerequisite course for Certified Lay Ministers. 

The "Afire with God" course is designed to help each person describe their own faith journey as God's steward. This course is for those "seeking a deeper sense of stewardship of the gospel." This course also takes a peek into the "community of stewardship" of the gospel of Jesus Christ and will feed our "vision of ministry working from the inside out." This course is an approved Advanced Course for Lay Servants, Lay Speakers, and Lay Ministers. 

Lay Servant Ministries is not only about "filling the pulpit” or "public speaking." It is about so much more than that. Everyone in the church has a God-given gift. Each of these courses being offered in the "Kick Off" are designed to guide people through "joining God's Mission" and will outline the certification commitment process if the person desires to continue in the Lay Ministries Certification process. There are no "preaching" components to these "Kick Off" Courses. Again, they are all designed to help each one of us discern our God-given call!

To register click on the live link: Lay Ministries Equipping Events (

Once you register an email will be sent to you with the course details and books that will be required for the course you register for.

Scholarships are available upon request. If you have any questions at all please contact Jeanie Leeper, Great Plains Lay Leadership Coordinator.

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Fontanelle impacts lives
through camping ministry

Survey says -- camping makes an impact on the lives of young people!

In a survey developed by United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries, campers and parents were asked questions concerning their expectations and experiences at church camp. More than three-fourths of the youth said their faith grew during church camp, and 83% said they'd want to go back.

Find out more about the survey, and the fundraising efforts by Camp Fontanelle over the next few weeks.

Read more here.

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Mercy & Justice

Legal, Refugee Empowerment
center helps numerous children

Immigrant Legal Center + Refugee Empowerment Center is truly grateful for the unwavering support we receive as a mission agency of the Great Plains Conference. Together with the Mercy and Justice Ministry team, ILC will continue to advocate zealously on behalf of our clients. ILC is fortunate to have received additional support from the Great Plains Conference for its newly launched Unaccompanied Children program.

Read more here.

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Monday is deadline to register
for March racial justice encounter 

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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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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All remittances for 2023 must be received at conference office Jan. 10

It’s that lovely time of year again where we look forward to spending time with family, celebrating the birth of our Savior, prepare our minds for the “new” another year brings, and in the life of the United Methodist church, rush to get the last Mission Share payment into the Conference office for the year.
All 2023 remittances must be received by Jan. 10. The USPS has been known, in recent months, to take as long as 3-4 weeks to deliver mail so if your church is sending the final 2023 remittance check in mid- to late December, funds may not be able to be applied to 2023 balance if the check is not received by Jan. 10. As another option, and to avoid payments being received past the deadline, churches can contact Admin Services to schedule a one-time ACH withdrawal from their account.
Tips for final remittance payment:

  • Verify that the total of your remittance form and the check amount agree.
  • Make check payable to GREAT PLAINS CONFERENCE and mail it along with the remittance form to PO Box 4187, Topeka, KS 66604. Do not include benefit payments in this mailing as they go to a different post office box.
  • Contact the conference office, 785-272-9111 to authorize a one-time withdrawal from the church account. You must submit the ACH withdrawal form no later than 10 a.m. Jan. 10 to ensure the payment is processed at the bank by the deadline.

Remittance forms for 2024 will be loaded to the conference website by Jan. 16, after 2023 remittances are closed.

-- Darci Koci, controller

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Native American material is now
available through resource center

Continuing the celebration of Native American Heritage Month, United Media Resource Center offers many DVD studies and books for adults and children about indigenous culture.

Among the DVDs are “Forged by Fire: Untold Stories of Faith,” “More Than Bows and Arrows” and “Stories from the Circle of Life.”

Books include “#notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women,” edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale; “Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation Land Justice and Life Together,” edited by Steve Heinrichs; and “Firekeeper’s Daughter,” by Angeline Boulley.

Find those and more here.

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Here’s where to get
material for UM Student Day

United Methodist Student Day is Nov. 26 this year. On this special Sunday, 100% of the Student Day offering goes to support scholarships for students. United Methodist Communications provides resources for worship and promotion. 

See resources
Learn more about UM Student Day

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Wespath creates retirement benefits toolkit for clergy, lay employees

Wespath wants to see all participants take full advantage of the benefits available to them — especially retirement benefits. To that end, we’ve created a new toolkit for you and your Conference Benefits Officer to use to help encourage participation in the United Methodist Personal Investment Plan (UMPIP). 

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Across the Connection

Lincoln St. Mark’s congregation
presents gift to Imperial church

Art Phillips, staff pastor at Lincoln St. Mark's UMC, presented an encouragement gift to the Faith UMC of Chase County from the St. Mark's congregation during worship in Imperial on Sunday, Nov. 12.

The Imperial UMC has begun their ministry as a United Methodist Church following disaffiliation of a former UMC church in Imperial.

Phillips served as a guest pastor in Imperial on Nov. 12.
“I found a wonderful worshipping community with outstanding lay leadership,” he said. “The congregation is warm and welcoming and has a sincere desire to worship.”

In addition to worship, the church has begun weekday ministries in the United Methodist tradition for community care.

Pictured: Phillips presents an encouragement gift to Lay Leader Erin Konecky.

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Community turkey meal begins
holiday season for one Kansas UMC

Since 1940, the White City United Methodist Church has welcomed the season with a dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing and the works.

Planning for the dinner begins in September, and last year the group served 462 meals.

Read more here.

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UWFaith at Columbus serves
up its Souper Soups Thursday

United Women in Faith at Columbus First UMC in Nebraska continues its holiday tradition with its Souper Soups supper on Thursday night.

Besides Tuscan potato soup or chili and sandwiches, a new attraction this year is “Decadent Desserts.”

Read more from the Columbus Telegram.

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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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Conference Office
1207 SW Executive Dr.
PO Box 4187
Topeka, KS 66604