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“The Big Garden that keeps growing.”

Story on pg. 7.

Transition Team invites feedback to the Great Plains Plan of Organization VOL. 50, NO. 2

Check us out online:

Spring 2013

By KATHRYN WITTE Nebraska communications director

Patrick Lencioni’s recent book “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business,” calls leaders of organizations (churches included) to have a playbook, a simple document outlining the answers to some predefined questions. The Great Plains Area Transition Team’s most recent draft of the Plan of Organization can be viewed as an oversized playbook outlining missional priorities for the newly formed Great Plains Area as it becomes the new Great Plains United Methodist Conference in January 2014. As the Nebraska, Kansas East and Kansas West Conferences move closer to the Uniting Conference in August, leaders, working groups and committees from all church sectors are working toward finishing strong. Crossconference groups are identifying best practices, setting ground work for uniting and even setting action plans in motion. For example, an Area registrar has already been named, along with other leadership announcements (see page 5). Groups will continue to meet and provide input to the Transition Team, in a collaborative effort to streamline and make joint staffing decisions. The most recent draft of the Plan of Organization sets out the missional priorities and an outline of the technical  PHOTO BY KATHRYN WITTE work that will help the new conference effectively achieve the priorities. Bishop Scott J. Jones, Tom Watson and the Rev. Debra McKnight lead the presentation of the Plan of Organization for the One of the most important aspects of the plan is to ensure new Great Plains United Methodist Conference, at a Feb. 10, 2013, webcast at the Nebraska United Methodist Conference United Methodist member ownership. The Transition Team Center, in Lincoln. is made up of people from each annual conference. All are eager to hear from their constituents in order to put forth Anyone interested in the new direction for the Great Plains “I would hope the people of the Nebraska Conference the best plan for the new Great Plains Conference. Conference should read the document and offer input and will familiarize themselves with the content of the Plan Several workgroups and dream teams have contributed to feedback. The Plan is posted at of Organization, with an understanding that a priority of the content in the plan. Area clergy were given opportunities plan. We invite you to form your own small group in your local the Transition Team has been to organize the conference for input at the called clergy session in January. An engagement congregation for discussion. Ask your lay and clergy members in a way that will most enhance the accomplishing website has been created for ongoing conversation with to annual conference to carry forward your ideas and input of the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for questions being posed and responses, comments and to the Annual Conference Session. You can email your input the transformation of the world,” said Tom Watson, suggestions compiled and forwarded to the Transition Team and comments to You can also Transition Team chairperson and Nebraska Lay Leader. and Area leaders. go to, where you will find “The focus is on equipping the local church for making A webcast in February provided additional background questions and comments that will further provoke thought disciples. It is important for the entire conference to fully grasp and opportunities for questions. A Q and A document was and discussion and an avenue to comment and promote your that disciples are made in and by the local church, not by the generated from the questions different groups and individuals ideas. conference office; to a certain extent this will require a change have posed to the team and has been made available on Highlights of the Plan include the naming of a Connecting of attitude by some and a new resolve by others.” the Great Plains website, at Council, a 75-member group intended to help care for annual A print version of the Plan of Organization can be requested questions. conference policy matters between annual conference sessions. from your local church or district office for a nominal fee. Each annual conference’s session will include table It also sets out the missional priorities, structure, staffing plan Great Plains Area Transition Team Members: discussion and opportunities for additional feedback to the and programming direction. Charlotte Abram (NE), Wayne Alloway Jr. (NE), Matthew Plan. This is your invitation to take part in that discussion. Lencioni asks that an organization’s playbook address six E. Fowler (NE), Brian Kottas (NE), Debra McKnight (NE), “Through your feedback and the input, the Great Plains questions: Why do we exist? How do we behave? What do we Tom Watson (NE), Sheran Cramer (NE), Carol Roettmer Plan of Organization has become a living document of over 40 do? How will we succeed? What is most important right now? Brewer (NE), Kathryn Witte (NE), Oliver Green (KE), Nancy pages, with more to come,” said the Rev. Dr. Carol Roettmer And, who must do what? Brown (KE), Gary Beach (KE), Eduardo Bousson (KE),Troy Brewer, Nebraska’s assistant to the bishop, director of The Plan of Organization is a first step in developing Bowers (KE), David Livingston (KE), Jan Todd (KE), Janet connectional ministries/staff leader. “It is my hope that United the Great Plains United Methodist Conference playbook. Maxwell (KE), Pat Ault-Duell (KW), Gary Brooks (KW), Bob Methodists across the Area will take the time to review it and It provides a game plan and a focus as the new conference Cox (KW), Corey Godbey (KW), Lisa Diehl (KW), Evelyn talk about it. Prayerful discernment is essential to our process launches in January 2014. Fisher (KW) and Bishop Scott J. Jones (Great Plains Area). as we become the new Great Plains Annual Conference.”

Annual Conference 2013 preview

“Leaving Emmaus — With Burning Hearts” is the theme for the final session of the Nebraska Annual Conference, scheduled for June 6-8, at St. Mark’s UMC, in Lincoln. Drawn from Luke 24:13-35, the passage accounts Jesus’ walk to Emmaus following his resurrection, when he encounters the Apostles and friends. They did not recognize him at first, but once recognized, they rejoiced. In verse 32, “They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” Are not our hearts not burning within us as we look to the future of the Great Plains Area? Worship and celebration of our Nebraska heritage will brought forward as in author Henri Nousen’s “With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharist.” The Rev. Michael Patzloff is chair of the worship team, with Dr. Michael Tully in charge of music. Our special guest for teaching sessions is Dr. John Holbert, Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics at Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology. He holds a Ph.D., Southern Methodist University, 1975; M.Div., Perkins School of Theology, 1971; B.A., Grinnell College, 1968. His teaching specialties include preaching, Hebrew Bible and literature. Holbert’s research interests include preaching and the Hebrew Bible, fiction and religion, and storytelling. He is an author and publisher of numerous works. Pre-conference briefing materials will be available at www.umcneb. org/ac2013. Materials include the Plan of Organization, video,

schedule, lodging information and all of the reports and materials necessary to participate in the annual conference session. Print versions of all the materials can be requested by emailing Roxie Delisi at or by calling 402-464-5994, ext. 107. They will be printed and mailed for a fee of $25. Middle School/Youth Annual Conferences and Children’s Annual Conference will again be offered. The youth will be housed at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Children’s Annual Conference and child care are both being offered at St. Mark’s. Registration for the Annual Conference Session and YAC/MAC and CAC will be available online in mid to late April. The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation will offer a seminar on Wednesday, June 5, from 6-8 p.m., at Lincoln St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. The seminar topic is “The Markets and the Economy in 2013.” The event is open to all on a space available basis. A formal invitation will be mailed to all churches. To RSVP, call 877-4955545 or email

AROUND THE CONFERENCE 2 Bishop makes 360 free throws to end malaria Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger

By LISA ELLIOTT DIEHL Kansas communications director Great Plains Area Bishop Scott Jones made 360 out of 1,000 free throw attempts in one hour and 40 minutes Feb. 23, to raise funds to end deaths as the result of malaria on the continent of Africa. United Methodists across Nebraska and Kansas were encouraged to guess how many free throws he would make, for a $10 donation to Imagine No Malaria. People could also make a flat donation in lieu of guessing. More than 100 guesses were submitted directly to the Bishop’s Free Throw Challenge, raising $1,150 for Imagine No Malaria. Jones purchased five nets in each winner’s honor. The three closest “guessers” from each conference will be recognized during the spring Annual Conference Sessions, as well as the three top donors. Brian Milford, district superintendent of Council Bluffs, Iowa, correctly guessed 360 free throws. Those within the Great Plains Area who guessed the closest to the total number of free-throws made were Jenelle Erb of Nebraska, Charlie Cadwell of Kansas West and Pamela Farrant of Kansas East. Jones pledged $10 for every airball, raising an additional $230 for the cause. His wife, Mary Lou Reece, pledged $100 for every time the bishop made five free throws in a row, resulting in an additional $300. The Rev. Lane Bailey pledged $1 for every free-throw the bishop made, raising another $360 in pledges. Local churches and pastors were also encouraged to hold their own basketballthemed fundraiser, or to challenge the Bishop with their own free throw attempts. (See below for stories on some of the Nebraska churches that held events.) Bishop Jones has challenged every church in the Great Plains Area to raise funds for Imagine No Malaria by the end of 2013. To date this year, $33,104.63 has been raised. A number of resources are available to assist local churches in their event planning efforts throughout the year; go to Churches are encouraged to register any Imagine No Malaria fundraising events they hold in 2013, at

Bishop Scott Jones celebrates making 360 out of 1,000 free throws on Feb. 23, 2013, as part of his “Shoot for No Malaria” challenge, a fundraiser for Imagine No Malaria. United Methodists across Nebraska and Kansas were encouraged to guess how many free throws he would make, for a $10 donation to Imagine No Malaria.



Omaha St. Andrew’s UMC pastor, Bruce Davis made 430 out of 1,000 free throws in three hours, on Wednesday, Feb. 20 and raised $3,000 for Imagine No Malaria. Davis donated five nets in the name of the person who came closest to guessing the number of shots he would convert. One couple correctly guessed he would make 430 shots.

During half time of the McCook High School boys’ basketball game on Feb. 8, there was a free throw contest between a team led by Pastor Lance Clay and a team led by Associate Pastor Alisa Parde. McCook Memorial UMC members were challenged to purchase a bed net for $10 and guess who would be the winner of the best 10 out of 10 shots. Parde’s team came out on top, making three out of 10 shots (all three were made by SPRC chairperson, Jeff Crick). McCook Memorial raised a total of $781 for Imagine No Malaria.


Churches take part in Shoot for No Malaria Challenge

GRETNA UMC RAISES FUNDS THROUGH ANNUAL DODGEBALL TOURNEY (ISSN 0194-7761 USPS #376-540) Vol. 50, No. 2 Spring 2013 To inform, educate and inspire Nebraska United Methodists in all areas of mission and ministry in the church.

Kathryn Witte, editor Trisha Johnson, communications coordinator RoxAnn Delisi, circulation Editorial opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Nebraska Conference of the United Methodist Church. Columns and letters to the editor are the views of that writer and not necessarily of “The Nebraska Messenger” or the Nebraska Conference. Published four times a year (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall) by the Nebraska Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, 3333 Landmark Circle, Lincoln, NE 68504; phone 402-464-5994 or 800435-6107; fax 402-464-6203. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, Nebraska and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to the Nebraska Messenger, 3333 Landmark Circle, Lincoln, NE 68504.

Letters to the editor posted to UMconnect “The Nebraska Messenger” welcomes letters from its readers. All letters should be limited to 200 words, signed and include the author’s name, address and church affiliation. Letters should address the mission and ministry of the church. Editing and publication of letters are at the discretion of the editor and will be posted on “UMconnect.” Letters are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily that of the Nebraska Conference or of the Nebraska Messenger.

Nebraska Messenger 3333 Landmark Circle Lincoln, NE 68504 e-mail: fax: (402) 464-6203 Circulation changes:

Gretna United Methodist Church’s Sr. High S.W.A.T. (Students Worshipping All Together) hosted its fourth annual “Buzz Off ” dodgeball tournament on Feb. 16. More than 50 youth took part and a total of $424.68 was raised to help purchase mosquito nets and to educate those using them. Gretna UMC’s SWAT hopes that others will join in the cause and have those pesky mosquitoes “buzz off.”

FALLS CITY FIRST AND RULO TRINITY UMCS RAISE $510 Pastor Lyle Schoen attempted 100 free throws on Saturday, Feb. 23, in front of an audience of 11 members of Falls City First UMC. The half-page form Schoen had prepared for parishioners to submit donations to Imagine No Malaria invited $10 per guess of how many free throws he would make, with two additional lines. By adding $5, a person could check their prediction whether Pastor Schoen or Bishop Jones would shoot a better percentage of free throws. The form also offered a blank for adding a contribution to Imagine No Malaria. When Schoen’s “official” 100 attempts began, he missed the first six. However, he had streaks of consecutively made free throws of eight, six, and five, finishing the 100 attempts by making five in a row. Total free throws made by Schoen was 53, equaling 53 percent, compared to the Bishop’s 36 percent. With participation from Rulo Trinity, Falls City First and members of Schoen’s multi-church confirmation class, the total collected from the parish came to $510.

Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger


Focusing on spiritual disciplines after Lent From the Bishop


I have a deep sympathy with people who find it hard to practice spiritual disciplines. For many years I could not find the right pattern for regular prayer and Bible study. Like many pastors, I studied the Scriptures for professional reasons — preparing sermons, leading Bible study and teaching classes. But what did I do to nourish my own relationship with Christ? Over the years I was helped by leading Disciple Bible Study. That required weekly preparation, and I moved to at least doing all of the readings each week. At first I did not do the daily study it calls for, but by the ninth time I led a Disciple 1 group, I was reading the Scripture and praying at least four days a week. The breakthrough came when I become concerned about organizing my time better. A speaker recommended having a “to do” list and starting each day with it. Somewhere I got the idea of putting my prayer routine at the top of my “to do” list. About the same time a speaker at a youth event talked about the different kinds of prayer. Those two things were the key for me. I start out each day with the following headings at the top of my list: Praise Thanksgiving Confession Intercession Covenant Prayer

I then go to the email from the Conference that has arrived in my inbox. (You can sign up for the devotional at www. That gives me devotional from the Upper Room, a scripture reading and the names of three pastors and churches to pray for. I then read my own chosen text, Ephesians 2:1-10. For me, Lent is a time to examine my own spiritual practices and make improvements in them. Each Lent I want to look at my relationship with Christ and ask, “What is there in my life that gets in the way of my discipleship? What can I be or do differently to draw me closer to the Lord?” For me, Lent is not a time when I do something special which somehow comes to an end on Easter Sunday. I do not want a post-Easter spiritual letdown where I think “Now I can go back to business as usual.” Instead, I am hopeful that each Lenten season and each Holy Week will be times of spiritual growth that allow me to be even stronger in my faith, my hope and my love for God and neighbor than I was before. John Wesley taught that God’s grace is always at work in our lives. That is true all the time — prevenient grace is at work before we are aware of it. Yet, God has set aside means of grace that are the ordinary channels through which justifying and sanctifying grace comes to us. While some of these means are “corporate” — worship, communion and baptism are examples — others are also done privately. I meet with an Emmaus Reunion group every week that I am in Wichita. One of the questions asked is about our piety — how is it with our spiritual practices? I give an account of that to my small group. How is it with your soul now that Lent is over?

Bishop Scott J. Jones, Resident Bishop Great Plains Episcopal Area

Devotions: From Pentecost to Uniting Conference Fourteen Great Plains Area pastors have written a weekly devotional to prepare for the Aug. 22-24 Uniting Conference. The devotional will begin with Pentecost (May 19) and go through the week of the Uniting Conference. This is your invitation to be in prayer and devotional reading with other Great Plains United Methodists, laity and clergy, and to share this experience with your congregation. A strong spiritual foundation is key as we prepare for the Uniting Conference. In Acts 2, we are reminded that at Pentecost the early church spent much time together as they joined in worship, prayer and goodwill with one another. The entire “From Pentecost to Uniting: A devotion for Great Plains United

Methodists” will be posted to the Great Plains website, at www.greatplainsumc. org/uniting by April 17, as a PDF. View them online or print them out and share them with your congregation each week. It will also be linked to in the Bishop’s Daily Devotion email, just above the lectionary information, and posted as a prayer request. Questions for further reflection will be posted to www. each week beginning May 19. Watch UMconnect for more information and a tip sheet on suggested ways to use the devotionals in the local church or personally. In the spirit of Acts 2, may we use these devotions in our churches and as individuals, praising God and sharing in goodwill with our fellow Great Plains United Methodists.


ON FAITH AND POLITICS Editor’s note: Sen. Lowen Kruse served in the Nebraska Legislature from 2001-09 and is also a retired United Methodist minister. We have asked him to share ideas on how persons of faith can effectively discuss difficult issues and affect important community decisions. “I am not personally involved in the problem.” Really? Each of us is part of our society and is involved. Together, we can work for true community. We hear chaotic voices castigating persons who are in other political parties, or who have slightly different ideas, or show a different skin color or are from another culture. Huge problems surround us and this is not helping. With all the noise, we do not hear what others are saying. (Which may be what we said a few months ago!) Let us shake off winter discontent and expect spring — God’s amazing witness to new life. Listen and share. How? Hymn #560 is a start.

Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us; teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace. Be present, Lord, among us, and bring us to believe we are ourselves accepted and meant to love and live. Teach us, O Lord, your lessons, as in our daily life we struggle to be human and search for hope and faith. Teach us to care for people, for all, not just for some, to love them as we find them, or as they may become.

DEATHS John Paolini, 85, a retired clergy member of the Nebraska United Methodist Conference, died Tuesday, December 4, 2012. He served as former chaplain of Bryan Memorial Hospital. Survivors include his wife, Jackie McRae, 802 Home St., Walla Walla, WA 99362; children, Rosina Paolini, Marc Paolini, & Jon Paolini. A memorial service was held at Bryan Memorial Hospital, 1600 S. 48th St., Lincoln, Neb., in the chapel, Thursday, Decc. 27 at 11 a.m. Memorials not designated. Robert E. Frescoln, 84, a retired clergy member of the Nebraska United Methodist Conference, died Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. Survivors include his wife, Eileen, P.O. Box 844, Mountain View, MO 65548; sons Scott Frescoln, John Frescoln and daughter Alice Fowler. The service was held Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at 2 p.m. at Mountain View UMC, in Mountain View, Mo. Officiating was the Rev. David Fowler with interment at the Mountain View City Cemetery. Memorials to Central Conference Pension Fund, Wycliffe Bible Translators and Asbury Seminary. Jeanette C. (Lingard) Hanson, 97, the widow of a clergy member of the Nebraska United Methodist Conference, died Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. Survivors include her husband the Rev. Charles Hanson, son Lance; stepson Tom Hanson, three stepdaughters, Gloria Tillberg , Leslie Hanson and Karen Brumleve. She was preceded in death by her first husband the Rev. Richard Lingard, son Larry and daughter Loretta. The funeral service was held Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 at the United Methodist Church in Axtell, Kan. The Rev. Susan Montgomery officiated. Interment at Rose Hill Cemetery, Axtell, Kan. Memorials are being left to the United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 222, Axtell, KS 66403 and may be sent in care of the Landreth-Popkess Funeral Home, 205 4th St., Axtell, KS 66403. Gil E. Karges, 81, a retired clergy member of the Nebraska United Methodist Conference, died Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. Survivors include his wife, Connie, 2121 S. Cotner Blvd., Lincoln, NE 68506; sons; Todd (Diane), Kelly (Cindy) and Casey. The memorial service was held Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. at Christ UMC, in Lincoln, Neb. Officiating was the Rev. Jim Miller. Memorials to Christ UMC, 4530 A St., Lincoln, NE 68510; the family requests no flowers.

Robert L. Miller, 86, a retired clergy member of the Nebraska United Methodist Conference, died Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. Survivors include his wife, Marjorie, 4451 Old Cheney Rd., Lincoln, NE 68516; sons, Ronald Leland, Jon Miller; daughters, Sherilynn Reynolds, Joy Sodders and LouAnn Colburn. The memorial service was Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 at 11 a.m. at the New Visions Community United Methodist Church; Calvary site, in Lincoln, Neb. Officiating was the Rev. Bill Hunter. Cremation, interment at Fairview Cemetery, 84th and Adams, Lincoln, Neb. Memorials to Calvary UMC, 1610 S. 11th St., Lincoln, NE 68502. Donald Littrell, 101, a retired clergy member of the Nebraska United Methodist Conference, died Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Survivors include his son, Joe Littrell of Scottsbluff and a brother, Wayne Littrell of Denver, Col. He was preceded in death by his wife Thelma in 2007. The memorial service will be held at a later date in the Spring of 2013. Cremation. Memorials to donor’s choice. William C. Simmer, 91, a retired clergy member of the Nebraska United Methodist Conference, died Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. Survivors include his wife Blanche, 510 NW Murray Rd #205A, Lee’s Summit, MO 64081; a daughter, Judith Simmer-Brown; four sons, Stephen, Scott, David and Mark. The service was held on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 in the Chapel at Langsford Funeral Home, in Lee’s Summit, Mo. Memorials to ReStart and Newhouse Shelter for Abused Women in Kansas City may be sent through the Lee’s Summit UMC, 114 S.E. Douglas St., Lee’s Summit, MO 64081. J. Richard Shapland, 87, a retired clergy member of the Nebraska United Methodist Conference, died Sunday, Feb. 25, 2013. Survivors include his wife Dorothy, 910 14th Ave., Holdrege, NE 68949; and son David. The service was held on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 at First UMC, in Holdrege, Neb., with the Rev. Dale Lambert officiating. Interment was in the Prairie Home Cemetery. Richard was preceded in death by his son, Donald. A Memorial has been established in Richard’s honor and kindly suggested to the First UMC, PO Box 30, Holdrege, NE 68949 or the Alzheimer’s Association.



Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger

2013 summer Micah Corps interns announced

Six young leaders have been selected for the summer 2013 Micah Corps Internship Program. They are: Corrina Mitchell from Lincoln Newman UMC, Rachel Linch from Lexington First UMC, Omar Cruz from Omaha Grace UMC, Tori Osler from Elsie UMC, Rachel Bauer from Grand Island and Cassie Reid from Hastings First UMC. This 10-week internship is sponsored by the Risk-Taking Mission and Justice Ministries team and begins May 20. Deepening one’s walk with God, linking faith with social justice concerns, sharpening leadership skills and connecting with congregations are the goals of this program. Your Mission Share dollars are making this fifth season of the Micah Corps possible. Please pray for these young Christians and follow them at www.micah-corps., on Twitter (@UMCMicahCorps) and on Facebook (Micah Corps).













The call to take care of God’s Creation Lay member Mike McClellan from Omaha First United Methodist Church echoes concerns raised by our Council of Bishops in their document, God’s Renewed Creation. As the church celebrates the Festival of God’s Creation on April 21 and the world observes Earth Day on April 22, this is a good time to learn, share our concerns and plan faithful actions so we can move from worry to witness. McClellan shares his concerns below.


Mike McClellan holds an “American Clean Energy Now” sign at a rally in Omaha opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline.

I cannot reconcile myself to a culture that does nothing — not even the most marginal of sacrifices and easiest of steps to consume less — in the face of the effects of climate change. I ask myself: “As a United Methodist, what am I to do about climate change?” Well, as United Methodists, we recognize the responsibility “to support a more ecologically equitable and sustainable world, leading to a higher quality of life for all God’s creation.” (See Social Principles at ¶ 160.) But while we contemplate principles, rules, and we pray, there is also the “practical” side of United Methodism with which to struggle. A focus of John Wesley was on personal discipline and self-denial and his enduring message to avoid “softness and self-indulgence.” For there is a price to pay — in a world of advertising, fast food, and never ending signals encouraging us to conspicuously consume — for our collective self-indulgence. And at a time when the human race is consuming 150 percent of the earth’s resources, our United Methodist heritage tells us to take the lead in consciously consuming less of those resources in every way that we can. We will reduce the amount of carbon released to the atmosphere with just a small amount of sacrifice and discipline. As people of the faith we are mutually accountable to one another. It is our call to diligently consume as little of the world’s resources as is possible on a daily basis and require that of our government and others. We must actively lead the fight against overconsumption which is destroying our world. It is our heritage, after all, “To be patterns of diligence and frugality, of self-denial, and taking up the cross daily.” (See Wesley’s Directions given to the Band-Societies, December 1744). Happily then, take up the cross. Fight climate change. Be a United Methodist. To study what our bishops have to say about climate change, go to www.hopeandaction. org. For a helpful discussion piece for a small group, read the article Climate Change by the Rev. Sharon Delgado in the United Methodist Women’s March issue of Response magazine, at For more resources from the ecumenical community, go to

UMC Imagines No Malaria through nets and advocacy By PASTOR ALISA PARDE McCook Memorial UMC On Dec. 11, 2012, I traveled to Zimbabwe with Bishop Scott Jones and a small group from Kansas East and West Conferences, to both promote and learn more about Imagine No Malaria. In the village of Chimanimani, we celebrated a net distribution. Bishop Jones told the people there that God loved them and we  COURTESY PHOTO were there because we A local Chimanimani woman with her loved them too. He told newborn baby. them that we had been praying for them and raising funds to help distribute more nets to put an end to malaria and that when we work together, when we become partners to do the will of God, that pleases God. Out in the village after the ceremony, we helped hang nets in the huts. This is where I met a woman named Juliette. She was a grandmother who had already raised her family and now was raising her sister’s children, as their parents had died. Juliette had no electricity or running water. She had a sleeping area, an outdoor fire pit for cooking and a few dishes. I did not see one toy for the children, not even a dresser with clothing in it. Yet Juliette was filled with joy because we were bringing her three bed nets that cost $10 apiece. Along with raising funds for nets we’re also called to link our faith with citizenship. The Imagine No Malaria advocacy network urges support from Congress to protect funding for malaria programs in Africa through the Global Health Fund. Go to the Imagine No Malaria website,, and click on the “Go and Do” tab; this will bring you to a page that will allow you to sign a petition to save lives, or you can use the template for an advocacy letter to send to your elected officials. Or pick up the phone — it only takes a few minutes. Phone numbers for Congressional leaders: Sen. Deb Fischer: 202-224-6551 Sen. Mike Johanns: 202-224-4224 Rep. Jeff Fortenberry: 202-225-4806 Rep. Lee Terry: 202-225-4155 Rep. Adrian Smith: 202-225-6435 May God continue to bless the ministry and advocacy of Imagine No Malaria.

Farm Bill or Food Bill?

Through Mission Share dollars, United Methodist Ministries (UMM) along with the Metropolitan Omaha Food Policy Council (MOFPC) have received a Social Justice Seed Money grant to develop an education and advocacy event around the pending reauthorization of the Farm Bill. Many people do not know that the Farm Bill funds more than just agriculture. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the program that provides nutrition assistance to millions of Americans, is funded through the Farm Bill. UMM and MOFPC will host an event this spring (details forthcoming in UMconnect) to educate participants about how the Farm Bill affects them and provide advocacy tools so those in attendance can contact their federal legislators and urge them to support a new Farm Bill that supports programs that provide food for the neediest Americans. UMCORendorsed Bread for the World has been a leading voice in advocating for a Farm Bill that supports programs that provide food assistance. To find out more, go to media/releases/bread-for-the-world-urges.html.

Guns and a pledge of nonviolence One of the critical social issues facing our nation, and many communities within it, is the prevalence of gun violence among us. Whether it be the mass shootings at Virginia Tech, Aurora, Newtown or the single drive-by shootings in countless communities throughout our nation, these are cause for deep concern calling for sane, sensible responses. Our United Methodist heritage, through the General Conference “Books of Resolutions” and our “Social Principles,” has long brought the teachings of Jesus and the Bible’s broader witness to bear on this issue. “The church as an instrument of God’s love and reconciliation must help our society bring an end to the senseless violence, suffering, and human loss caused by the unrestricted availability of handguns and assault weapons used by ordinary people to act out their aggression and conflicts or disputes with friends, families, and others.” [Adapted

from a paragraph in the 1992 “Book of Resolutions,” p. 538] United Methodist Women and the General Board of Church and Society support the efforts of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence (www. This interfaith coalition advocates the following: Every person who buys a gun should pass a criminal background check; High capacity weapons and ammunition magazines should not be available to civilians; and Gun trafficking should be a federal crime. To bring this concern close to home, church families and youth groups are encouraged to promote the Family and Youth Group Pledges of Nonviolence (, which include respecting self and others, listening, forgiving and being courageous.


Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger

McBride retires as Epworth Village CEO

YORK, Neb. — Tom McBride retired as president/CEO of Epworth Village, Inc., in York, Neb., at the end of March. McBride has been with Epworth Village for over 25 years. McBride moved to the community of York with his wife Darcy and their three sons in 1980. He began working with Epworth Village in 1987 and during this time has served in several positions and departments before being promoted to president/CEO 20 years ago. McBride has successfully led the agency through tough economic times, several program openings and expansions, and countless changes in state and federal funding sources and MCBRIDE regulation changes. Monroe Golliday, former long-time member and recent president of the Epworth Village board of directors, has witnessed firsthand the strong leadership McBride has demonstrated. “It has been my great fortune to have worked with Tom as board president for almost all of his 25 years at Epworth, Golliday said. “Under his leadership, Epworth Village progressed from an institution that was operating under unfavorable financial conditions, to operating in the black for many years. Tom was also directly responsible for transforming Epworth Village into one of the premier institutions of its kind in the United States. He will be missed.” After a nationwide search was completed, Patrick Garcia has accepted the president/ CEO position and officially began to perform his duties on Jan. 1. McBride remained on through March to help facilitate a smooth transition in leadership. Garcia has more than 22 years of experience working with individuals and families in the human services field. Most recently, Garcia was with Omaha Home for Boys. Originally hired as case manager 14 years ago, Garcia was eventually promoted to program manager and then became the director of youth and family services. Garcia is involved in several groups and associations, including Be a Mentor, the Behavioral Health and Human Services Technology Institute, Outward Bound, the Strategic Planning Society and Youth Mentoring Connection. For the last year, he has also served on the senior leadership conference steering committee for the Alliance for Children and Families. A native of Albuquerque, N.M., Garcia came to Nebraska in his youth and lived at Boys Town in Omaha. After graduating GARCIA from Boys Town, Garcia went on to pursue his higher education. He attended the University of Nebraska Omaha, where he received a Bachelor of Science in human development and the family. After gaining some experience working at Boys Town as a family teacher, he went on to earn a Master of Science in human service at Bellevue University. In the past year, Garcia has been able to contribute to Bellevue University as an adjunct faculty, and teaching classes in human service and clinical counseling. Epworth Village provides family-centered therapeutic services. The agency operates several group homes in York as well as one in Grand Island. The In-Home and Safety Services and Foster Care programs serve families within an hour-radius of York and the residential program has served youth from every county in Nebraska. For more information, visit

Staff positions announced for Great Plains Area Bishop Scott Jones recently announced a number of appointments and staff assignments for the Great Plains Area. Effective July 1, 2013, the Rev. Nancy Lambert will be the area director of clergy excellence and assistant to the bishop. She will serve as the staff leader for the Nebraska Conference, in Lincoln. At that time, the Rev. Carol Roettmer Brewer will become the associate director of clergy excellence for the Great Plains Area. She plans to retire in 2014. The Great Plains Council on Finance Administration team, along with the three conference councils, are nominating the Rev. Gary Beach to serve as treasurer and director of administrative ministries for the Great Plains Annual Conference, effective Jan. 1, 2014. The Rev. Evelyn Fisher will be serving as director of Congregational Excellence for the Area and as staff leader for Wichita, effective immediately. Kathryn Witte will serve as the senior communications officer for the Great Plains Annual Conference, effective Jan. 1, 2014. Corey Godbey has been asked to serve as the Hispanic ministries coordinator, the Rev. Nathan Stanton to serve as coordinator of new church development and the Rev. Micki McCorkle to serve as small membership church coordinator for the Great Plains Area. All three will serve

under Fisher’s supervision in Wichita in anticipation of the staffing plan being approved at the Uniting Conference in August. Godbey has been the director of Hispanic ministries for the Kansas West Conference. Stanton will follow the Rev. Kent Melcher, who is retiring from his position for the two Kansas Conferences. McCorkle has been the Board of Ordained Ministry registrar for the Great Plains Area. Jones, in consultation with the Area Boards of Ordained Ministry, announced the selection of the Rev. Karen Jeffcoat to succeed McCorkle as registrar for the Great Plains Area Board of Ordained Ministry. Jeffcoat currently serves as pastor at Overbrook United Methodist Church, in Overbrook, Kan. She will begin her duties as registrar on July 1, 2013, and will be based out of the Lincoln office. “While we are still three annual conferences, some of our ministry staff are beginning to function on an Area basis in anticipation of becoming one conference next year,” Jones said. “In this transition process we are seeking to make personnel changes with an eye to the future while at the same time treating our existing staff with fairness and generosity. I am excited about the possibilities for the Great Plains Annual Conference.”


Specializing in family-centered therapeutic treatment and extending a healing touch to children and families in the name of Christ

402-362-3353 PO Box 503, York, NE 68467

Calling all campers

The importance of camping ministry has increased in recent years with the flood of technology available today. Did you know that the average 8-18 year old spends 7.5 hours per day on electronic media? A week at camp in the solitude and intentional activities mean huge possibilities and changes within an individual. Time ‘alone’ with God and in fellowship with others is so limited now. A week at camp allows for connections with God and other campers in the absence of distractions. Speaking of distractions, what do you spend most of your time watching or reading? Where do you spend most of your money? These two questions are a good indication of your priorities. So, where are your priorities? Do you want to see your loved ones in heaven? Give family, friends and neighbors the gift of a camp experience to discover eternal benefits and grace that is free! Sign your loved one up today! SPECIAL OFFERS! 1/2 price for all returning campers who sign up a first time camper! EVERY Nebraska United Methodist Pastor AND EVERY UMW unit can EACH send one first time camper for 1/2 price (that means every church can send two first time campers for the price of one!)! Campers can be members, friends, relatives, neighbors, strangers, anyone! No camper will be denied due to financial restrictions. Contact the camps for details. Visit for schedules, forms, or to register online. —Comeca (near Cozad): 308-784-2808,, —Fontanelle (near Fremont): 402-478-4296,, —Norwesca (near Chadron): 308-432-3872,,


Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger


Clergy striving to live healthier lifestyles By TRISH JOHNSON Communications coordinator It’s no secret that the life of a clergy person is not exactly conducive to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A Church Systems Study was recently conducted by a task force assigned to the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Pension and Health Benefits. The study report identified 13 factors that influence clergy health, including personal centeredness, eating habits with work that often includes food, work/life balance, job satisfaction, personal finances, appointment changes and relocation, and the existential burdens of ministry, that is “feeling obligated to carry the weight of others’ emotional and spiritual burdens.” It’s no wonder a great number of clergy suffer from poor physical health. That’s not to say there aren’t pastors who aren’t striving to overcome the odds that seem to be stacked against them to live a healthy lifestyle. Below are the stories of three Nebraska Conference clergy who are doing just that. ZACH ANDERSON: ‘TAKE TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF’ The Rev. Zach Anderson has attempted numerous times  COURTESY PHOTOS to adjust his eating and exercise habits, with the hope of losing The Rev. Zach Anderson before and after his 80-pound weight loss. weight. “Each time I lost some weight, but the adjustments I made As the pastor of a two-point charge, Pierce and Osmond United Methodist Churches, were not sustainable for the long-term, nor were they a lifestyle change that I could live with,” Anderson said. “I would usually lose a few pounds and keep the Rev. Kevin Burkhardt spends a lot of time on the road and not a lot of time at home. it off for two to three months and then rebound back to my previous weight, or put on Combine that with always being on call to perform pastoral duties and being a source of weight. This became a source of frustration, and eventually led to a few years of no longer emotional and spiritual support for so many, and the self-professed “stress eater” found himself in an unhappy place. attempting to change my lifestyle.” “I’d tried various weight loss programs over the years, but none of them were good fits Anderson, the associate pastor at Papillion St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, was motivated to make some permanent changes last fall, when he felt a general dissatisfaction for me,” he said. “The turning point came last spring, when I saw myself in some photos and with the way he looked and felt. He was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes around that didn’t like what I saw — that’s when I knew it was time to make a change.” His brother invited him to join MyFitnessPal, a free online calorie counter and diet plan. time, which served to reinforce his decision and acted as another source of motivation. “I knew that I would not be able to sustain living the same way for the rest of my life, and In May of last year, Burkhardt downloaded the smartphone app and found it easy to use — you enter your height, weight and activity level and it tells you how many calories you can that I had to start sometime,” he said. He joined a program at Alegent Creighton Health that focused on weight loss and have per day. You then enter what you eat throughout the day, and any forms of physical nutrition. The main tenants of the program are portion control, eating lots of fruits and activity, and it calculates your remaining calorie allotment. Burkhardt lost 10 pounds in the first month, something that actually left him feeling vegetables and paying attention to what one eats. He records and analyzes his eating habits and makes adjustments as needed. He’s lost 80 pounds so far and has found that routine discouraged, until his brother pointed out that came out to about two-and-a-half pounds a week. He started walking again, about two miles a day. and structure have been the key elements to his success. “I definitely noticed an increase in “I found the more structure I have, the less room there is for straying,” Anderson said. “I plan out my meals in advance and look to make the best choice in any given situation. my energy level when I started to get active again,” Burkhardt said. If need be, I will take food with me when I am away from home to stick to my food plan.” He started drinking more water When it comes to exercise, he started small with walking and finding ways to move, and now does a variety of intense workouts at the gym. He finds that finding new activities to and incorporating more fruits and keep things “fresh and exciting” helps. He stressed that it really is about taking things one vegetables into his daily eating plan. He stressed how much it helps to day at a time. Sharing your goals with others is another important success factor. As Anderson have healthy snacks on hand and started on his journey, he shared his goals with the church’s SPRC so they were aware to pay attention to portion control. of how his schedule might change from time to time, as he worked in different fitness Deprivation is not necessary and in classes and workout schedules. They were very supportive from the beginning, as was his fact not necessarily wise — if you feel congregation as his weight loss became apparent. Facebook and Twitter were also a part of the need to have a cookie, go ahead and have a cookie, but stick to just one. If his accountability. “I shared my journey through social media as I went through it; this became a place to you deprive yourself of what you want, share my successes, but also my challenges,” he said. “I felt that this became a way for me to you may ultimately only end up binging on that item. be held accountable and for my friends and family to be supportive from a distance.” You also enter a weight loss goal Anderson offered up the following advice to his fellow clergy who are in need of a when you sign up for MyFitnessPal. lifestyle change. “You have to be committed to making lasting changes to your life to make it work,” he Burkhardt’s goal was 100 pounds in said. “It’s easy to try a diet or workout program for a few weeks, but planning to be a part of one year, meaning he is striving to reach that goal by May 2013. As of the something long term takes discipline and a lot of trial and error along the way.” He continued, “Finding accountability structures in your life and being willing to be end of March, he’s lost 70 pounds. Having the support of those around vulnerable in the process and ask for help is difficult, but necessary. Being a pastor is difficult enough in the best of health, so taking the time to take care of yourself is very important you is also important. Burkhardt suggested not keeping your healthy and will make it easier in the long run.” lifestyle goals a secret, but to share KEVIN BURKHARDT: ‘ASK YOURSELF IF IT’S REALLY WORTH STRESSING them with at least a handful of friends and family, as that leaves you with a OVER’ feeling of accountability and hopefully means people will be less likely to tempt you with unhealthy options. An important thing to keep in  PHOTO BY PATRICK NORRIS mind is that you shouldn’t think of any weight loss aspirations as going on a The Rev. Pat Norris has lost more than 40 “diet” — it has to be a lifestyle change, pounds. something that is seen as permanent, not just temporary. It’s forming new habits and a new way of living. Burkhardt has conferred with a registered dietician through HealthFlex and participates in Virgin HealthMiles. (See “Clergy Resources” on pg. 7 for more information.) As far as dealing with his stress eating habits, he’s learned to try and examine the stressor and to see things in a new light — he’ll ask himself, “Is this really worth stressing over?” More often than not, the answer is “no.” He’s also become better at finding the humor in things and ends up laughing more often than he used to. He sometimes still finds himself reaching for food in certain situations, but he’s learned to make wiser decisions, to reach for grapes instead of potato chips or popcorn instead of cookies. “The toughest part is taking the first step and then sticking with it,” Burkhardt said. “But I would encourage anyone who is on the journey or wants to start a journey to stick with it and do your best to remain positive when it gets difficult — just don’t give up.”

The Rev. Kevin Burkhardt before and after his 70-pound weight loss.


PAT NORRIS: ‘HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE TO SOMEONE’ The Rev. Pat Norris echoed what both Anderson and Burkhardt shared: That she’d made numerous attempts in the past to be healthier and get her weight to a place where she felt more comfortable. Her turning point came last year as she was approaching her 50th birthday. See CLERGY HEALTH p. 7


Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger


The Big Garden that keeps growing


A mission team from Woods Chapel UMC in Lee’s Summit, Mo., works at the Clair Memorial UMC garden, in Omaha.

By TRISH JOHNSON Communications coordinator The Big Garden was born out of the Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede’s dream to create a hands-on model of community gardening. When Ahlschwede became executive director of United Methodist Ministries in Omaha, in 2005, one of her first endeavors as director was to map out her dream and seek funding. She applied for and received a three-year grant through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Food Project and she was off and running. The Big Garden initially had a goal of creating 12 community gardens in three years. Five years (and another three-year grant) later it included 26 gardens in the metro-Omaha area and added a sister project, the Big Rural Garden. Today, the Big Garden is a network of 70 community gardens in metro-Omaha and rural and semi-rural communities in Nebraska and Kansas. They are expecting to add 15 new garden sites in Nebraska this year — 10 rural and five urban — and will soon be expanding into Iowa. Ahlschwede attributes the project’s success to the fact that they’re not just about growing food and meeting hunger needs, but are also focused on growing communities. CLERGY HEALTH, CONT. FROM p. 6 She and her husband were walking while on vacation in Colorado and she just didn’t like the way she felt. “I’ve always been a stress eater, but the last three years it seemed to have gotten worse,” said Norris, the associate pastor at York First and Waco United Methodist Churches. “That walk in Colorado was when it hit me and I asked myself, ‘Am I the person God wants me to be?’” When she examined her overall health, she felt like she was in good shape spiritually, but not so much physically, mentally or emotionally. She decided it was time to make a change. “I geared up to change the way I eat — I started with baby steps by walking every day, for 30 minutes,” she said. “I did that for about six weeks and then on July 5, just days after I turned 50, I joined Weight Watchers’ online program. I had friends who’d had success with Weight Watchers — because of my schedule, I decided that attending meetings just wasn’t feasible, but the online program does provide some accountability, which I liked.” Her goal was to lose 40 pounds. She started drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables. People didn’t initially notice as she started to lose some

weight, but once she’d lost about 20 or 25 pounds, people started commenting and offering encouragement. Norris said her husband has been extremely supportive throughout her journey, which has been an integral part of her success. He cooks healthy meals and understands when she’d prefer to eat at home rather than dine out. That doesn’t mean they don’t still eat out, she just makes different choices — healthier choices. She tries to have a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal and as a snack. While she has changed the way she eats, she said she has never felt deprived, she still allows herself the occasional splurge; even during the holidays she allowed herself one sweet per day. She also said that since she’s introduced more fruit into her diet, she’s craved sweets less and less; she commented that “it’s what your body gets used to.” She has reached her goal and is now in maintenance mode, and is fully committed to keeping up her new lifestyle. “You’ve just got to psych yourself up and start out with baby steps if need be, then find a program that fits you and hold yourself accountable to someone,” Norris said. “The key for me was really asking myself, ‘Am I who God wants me to be?’”

“The two are intertwined,” Ahlschwede said. “We have a saying that we are neighborhood-based, not neighborhoodplaced. We’re about meeting people where they are and learning about their needs, not telling them what it is they need.” Nationally, the Big Garden is the largest group of community gardens and is the only program of its kind that not only has both rural and urban gardens sites, but also operates in more than one state. Something else that makes the Big Garden unique is its partnerships with neighborhood-based congregations, schools and non-profits. Garden sites are located on land owned by a community agency; they partner with sites to assist with initial start-up costs, ongoing program support and to offer garden and nutrition classes for children. Big Garden Director Nathan Morgan  COURTESY PHOTO explained how working on a three-year model allows each garden site to become Two young workers help harvest the crop self-sustaining. of radishes at the Hastings Grace UMC “The first year, we provide the community garden. resources and tools to prepare and plant the garden,” Morgan said. “In the second year, we focus on leadership development, encouraging community outreach and becoming self-sufficient. “During the third year we really focus on helping the site coordinators develop a business plan and to think about the future. Each site designs their own garden and decides how it will operate and how the crops will be used.” Ahlschwede pointed out that this system is also what makes the Big Garden cost-effective — they serve as a hub of information and resources, but the gardens ultimately belong to the churches and communities and they take ownership and become self-sufficient. Many of the gardens, both rural and urban, provide an intercultural setting and experience. One garden in Omaha is run by a group of Karen refugees (from Southeast Asia). A garden in Hastings, Neb., (population 24,000) has a large Latino presence. Sandy Sypherd, one of the site directors of the Hastings garden, shared the impact their garden has had on the church and in the community. “Hastings Grace UMC has a Latino congregation and one of our objectives was to bring people together (from both congregations) and to help them learn about healthy lifestyles,” she said “It’s been incredible to see everyone working and learning together in the garden. Also, the city of Hastings has asked our garden committee to manage their community garden downtown and we hope to partner with an elementary school which has a fairly large Latino population.” In 2012, more than 1,400 volunteers worked at Big Garden sites. United Methodist Ministries is also a Volunteers in Mission site; last year nearly 500 VIM workers, many of them youth, spent time working in the Big Garden and learning about food security and hunger issues. While Ahlschwede and Morgan are more than pleased with the growth of the Big Garden, they continue to set future goals, including collecting data on behavior change due to nutrition, i.e., changes in eating behavior when people have access to fresh garden fare, and providing theological reflection materials for people on the subjects of food and hunger. “We’ve had an incredible first seven years of growing both food and communities,” Ahlschwede said. “As we grow, we will continue to be faithful to our founding intention of increasing access to nutritious food through community gardening, while deepening our leadership training activities and increasing our geographic range. The Big Garden is about community, graciousness, good stewardship and working together on creative solutions in our communities, with our neighbors.” Financial support for the Big Garden comes from local churches, local foundations and individual donors. The Big Garden is an official Advance of The United Methodist Church; its Advance number is 3021107. Give online through UMCOR’s website, www.umcor. org/Search-for-Projects/Projects/The-Big-Garden, or the Big Garden’s website, www.

CLERGY RESOURCES In 2012, the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits’ (GBPHB) Center for Health was among 30 U.S. employers to receive the National Business Group on Health’s Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles highest award. GBPHB was recognized with the platinum award for “its commitment and dedication to promoting a healthy workplace, encouraging United Methodist Church clergy, lay workers and their families to support and maintain healthy lifestyles.” Health plan program offerings under the self-insured HealthFlex plan currently cover 27,000 participants. HealthFlex program offerings include: biometric screenings, health assessment, walking program, health coaching, online wellness tools, emotional health supports and targeted communications for preventive screenings and condition management. HealthFlex has also teamed up with Weight Watchers to offer members, spouses and covered dependent children (age 15 and older) flexible weight-loss options at prices up to 50 percent less than national corporate rates. In addition, the Nebraska Conference Board of Pension and Health Beneifts will reimburse the amount paid upon documentation of regular attendance at weekly meetings. If you are a clergy person and would like more information on any of the HealthFlex programs, contact Carole Otto at 402-464-5994, ext. 108, or email her at


Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger


A New Kind of School....Mission u

Join us for Mission u (formerly known as the Cooperative School of Christian Mission) Weekend July 26-28, 2013 Weekday July 28-31, 2013 Kearney Holiday Inn Cost: Weekend $135 Weekday $195 (cost includes lodging) Online registration and registration forms are available at Mission u is an opportunity to study current issues impacting society and how those issues intersect with our faith. Participants have the opportunity to grow in understanding the mission of the church in the current world context. All are welcome to attend 2013 studies include: The Call: Living Sacramentally and Walking Justly, Poverty and the Roma of Europe

For more information visit or contact Marilyn Zehring at 402.564.0756 or

HONOR ROLL Reaching Conference funding goals would not possible without churchwide support. Nebraska United Methodist Churches reaching the 100 percent Mission Share goal in 2012 are listed in district order as follows: Blue River District Adams First UMC Beatrice Centenary UMC Burr UMC Cheney UMC Clatonia Salem UMC Crete Grace UMC Daykin UMC Denton UMC DeWitt First UMC Dorchester UMC Douglas UMC Elmwood St Paul UMC Endicott UMC Fairbury First UMC Friend UMC Hallam UMC Hopewell UMC Ithaca UMC Lincoln Calvary UMC Lincoln Christ UMC Lincoln First UMC Lincoln Horizons Community UMC Lincoln Newman UMC Lincoln Saint Paul UMC Lincoln South Gate UMC Lincoln Southminster UMC Lincoln St James UMC Lincoln St Luke UMC Lincoln Trinity UMC Malcolm UMC Martell UMC Milford UMC Murdock Ebenezer UMC Palmyra UMC Pickrell UMC Prairie Home UMC Raymond UMC Roca UMC Seward UMC Unadilla UMC Valparaiso UMC Waverly First UMC Wilber UMC Elkhorn Valley District Ainsworth First UMC Albion First UMC Alder Grove UMC Amelia UMC Atkinson First UMC Bartlett UMC Bassett UMC Beemer UMC Bloomfield Christ Memorial UMC Bristow UMC Carroll UMC Chambers UMC Craig UMC Crawford Valley UMC Creighton UMC-UCC Dakota City UMC Decatur UMC Elgin UMC Ericson UMC Ewing UMC Greeley UMC Homer UMC Johnstown UMC Laurel UMC Logan Center UMC

Looking Glass UMC Loretto UMC Lyons Memorial UMC Madison Trinity UMC Meadow Grove UMC Newman Grove UMC Norfolk First UMC Norfolk Westridge UMC O’Neill First UMC Oakdale UMC Oakland First UMC Orchard UMC Osmond UMC Page UMC Pierce UMC Ponca First UMC Randolph First UMC South Sioux City St Paul UMC Spencer UMC Springview UMC Stanton UMC Tekamah First UMC Tilden Faith UMC Walthill First UMC Wausa UMC Wayne First UMC West Point Trinity UMC-UCC Winside UMC Wisner UMC of Christ Gateway District Alma UMC Anselmo UMC Ansley UMC Arapahoe First UMC Arcadia UMC Arnold UMC Atlanta UMC Banner UMC Bartley UMC Beaver City First UMC Bertrand First UMC Brady UMC Broken Bow UMC Burwell UMC Callaway UMC Cambridge Trinity UMC Cozad First UMC Cozad Parkview UMC Eddyville Grace UMC Elwood First UMC Eustis UMC Farnam UMC Franklin First UMC Gibbon Bethel UMC Gothenburg First UMC Haven’s Chapel UMC Hazard UMC Holdrege First UMC Hollinger UMC Huntley UMC Indianola UMC Kearney Faith UMC Kearney First UMC Loup City UMC Macon UMC Miller UMC Minden UMC Mira Valley Evangelical UMC Morning Star UMC Ord First UMC Oxford UMC Pleasanton UMC Ragan UMC Ravenna UMC Republican City UMC Sargent UMC Shelton UMC

Taylor Calvary UMC Wilcox UMC Williamsburg UMC Great West District Benkelman UMC Big Springs UMC Bushnell Calvary UMC Chadron UMC Clinton UMC Crawford First UMC Culbertson Trinity UMC Elsie UMC Garden Prairie UMC Gering First UMC Gordon First UMC Grant UMC Haigler UMC Harrison Memorial UMC Hay Springs UMC Hemingford UMC Henry-Lyman UMC Hershey UMC Imperial First UMC Kilgore UMC Kimball Trinity UMC Lakeside UMC Lewellen UMC Max UMC Maywood UMC McCook Memorial UMC Melbeta UMC Mitchell UMC Morrill UMC Mullen UMC North Platte First UMC Ogallala First UMC Oshkosh UMC Palisade UMC Paxton UMC Rushville Morse Memorial UMC Sidney First UMC Stratton Community UMC Sutherland UMC Trenton First UMC Tryon Community UMC Wauneta UMC Wellfleet UMC Whitney Warring Memorial UMC Missouri River District Ashland UMC Auburn First UMC Bellevue St James East UMC Blair First UMC Brock UMC Brownville UMC Burchard UMC Cedar Hill UMC DuBois UMC Falls City Bethel UMC Fremont Calvary UMC Fremont First UMC Gretna UMC Hooper Faith UMC Humboldt UMC Johnson UMC Julian UMC Louisville First UMC Mynard Liberty UMC Nehawka UMC Nemaha UMC Omaha Dietz UMC Omaha Faith-Westwood UMC Omaha First UMC Omaha Hanscom Park UMC Omaha Lefler Memorial UMC

Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger


Omaha Living Faith UMC Omaha Olive Crest UMC Omaha Rockbrook UMC Omaha St Andrew’s UMC Omaha St Luke UMC Omaha TRI Community UMC Pawnee City First UMC Plattsmouth First UMC Rulo Trinity UMC Springfield First UMC Table Rock UMC Valley United Faith Community Waterloo UMC Weeping Water UMC Prairie Rivers District Alda UMC Archer Zion UMC Aurora UMC Beaver Crossing UMC Belgrade UMC Bellwood UMC Benedict UMC Bladen UMC Blue Hill UMC Boelus Grace UMC Bradshaw UMC Brainard UMC Bruning UMC Cairo UMC Central City Fairview UMC Central City UMC Chapman UMC Chester UMC Clarks UMC Columbus First UMC Davenport UMC David City St Luke’s UMC Doniphan UMC Ebenezer UMC Elba UMC Exeter UMC Fairmont Community UMC Geneva UMC Giltner UMC Harvard First UMC Hastings First UMC Hastings Grace UMC Hebron UMC Inland UMC Juniata UMC Kenesaw UMC McCool Junction UMC Milligan UMC Monroe UMC Ong UMC Osceola First UMC Palmer UMC Pauline UMC Phillips UMC Pierce Chapel UMC Polk UMC Red Cloud First UMC Rising City UMC Rosedale UMC Schuyler Christ UMC Shelby UMC Shickley UMC St Edward UMC St Paul UMC Stromsburg UMC Superior First UMC Sutton Federated Church Trumbull UMC Utica UMC Waco UMC Wolbach UMC Wood River UMC

Red Cloud First UMC goes the extra mile to pay Mission Shares By Roger Hammond Team John co-chairperson


Red Cloud First UMC member Paula Hammond has her head shaved by her daugther, Heather, as part of a Mission Shares fundraiser.

It’s always nice to pay 100 percent of your churches Missions Shares each year, but many churches struggle with this obligation. The Red Cloud First United Methodist church is no exception. At the end of 2011, in his second year as pastor at Red Cloud, the Rev. Joel Rathbun suggested doing something different. At the beginning of 2012, church leaders met to come up with a plan. They decided to divide into four teams: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each team was to come up with a different fundraiser, with the proceeds of each going towards Mission Shares. A second meeting was held to “draft” members to each team. Team leaders were chosen; each leader received a list of all members of the church. Anyone who no longer lived in the area but was still on the active membership roles was also included in the draft. Church members were informed of team happenings by mail, email or phone. Any team members who

were unable to actively participate were asked to pray for the group. Although it is important for churches to be responsible for their financial obligations, it is even more important to do the work the church is specifically designed for — to bring people to Christ. The other mission of the project was to reactivate those members who had been somewhat stagnant in the recent past and invigorate them to be an active part of “their” church. Following the draft, each team met to discuss and decide what type of event they would hold. In early April, Team Luke held a spaghetti feed in the fellowship hall. This first activity set the bar high, as they served nearly 250 people and raised more than $2,400. Team John held a chicken noodle dinner. All items were donated and team members prepared the meal. During the evening a silent auction was conducted. Team members brought items they had purchased, made or no longer used but that were still in excellent condition. The other part of Team John’s fundraising effort was a challenge issued by one of the team

leaders, Paula Hammond. Knowing the amount raised by Team Luke and feeling that amount was a lofty goal, she said if her team raised at least $2,000 she would shave her head. They raised more than $4,600 and so at the end of the event Hammond’s head was shaved by her daughter, Heather, a hairdresser in Grand Island. Teams Matthew and Mark combined to hold the third and final fundraiser. In mid-October, the two teams held a soup supper and ultimately raised $2,500. A total of $9,525.81, nearly 40 percent of total Red Cloud First’s Missions Shares obligation, was raised, but even more important was the success of the second goal, to get members of the church active once again. All in all it was an extremely successful undertaking for the Red Cloud First UMC community, one they hope to continue. It’s been decided that the current teams and leaders will remain the same for one more year and near the end of 2013, a draft will again be held to implement another Mission Shares fundraising campaign.

10 UNITED METHODIST MEN/WOMEN Nebraska UMMen: What’s in your budget? Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger

By MIKE WILSON, UMMen secretary We have all watched lately as our elected officials have gone through a budget crisis every few months. A proper budget should guide your actions and keep things running smoothly. Is your Christian faith a part of your budget? Do you need to budget more time for God? There are several opportunities here to get involved and refresh your Christian life.

Ogallala on Jan. 12 for a delicious meal, powerful testimonial and some ideas about connecting with other Christian men in the area. Keynote speaker was Coach Mike Mayer from Grant, Neb., who shared how he came to know the true love of Christ. Competition for next year’s event was hot, but it looks like Sidney will host the 2014 banquet. PLANNING CONTINUES FOR THE GREAT PLAINS UMMEN ORGANIZATION A group of men from Nebraska, Kansas East and Kansas West met in Fairfield, Neb., Jan 18-19 to discuss combining our conference men’s organizations into one with the transition to the Great Plains conference. Contact Craig Nordaker if you would like to help with this process.

Upcoming Opportunities: COWBOY TRAIL BIKE RIDE/WALK Help to raise money for our mission plans on May 25. The ride is open to bikers of all ages and skill levels. If you are not able to ride a bike or walk in Norfolk, you can help by donating or start your own local ride/walk. Event details will be on our Web page, The UMMen support about 20 missions locally and around the world. 100 CLUB DINNER AND AUCTION Scholarships for men and women studying for full-time Christian ministry will be awarded at the 24th annual United Methodist Men’s Scholarship Dinner and Auction at Lincoln First United Methodist Church, on Wednesday, June 5 at 5 p.m. For more information or to donate items or money, contact Randy Fleming at, or call 402210-4885.


Attendees of the 2013 Winter Rally at Camp Fontanelle.

men, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., July 12-14, 2013 (Friday through Sunday). Don Davis, a regional director of the National Football League Players Association and an 11-year player with four different NFL teams, will be one of four major speakers. Visit www.gcumm. org for more details. If you are interested in carpooling, contact Craig Nordaker at 402-453-6666.

2013 SUMMER RALLY Save the date and join us this summer: Aug. 16-18 at Camp Comeca, near Cozad. Other Items Carpools will be available. Check the Web WINTER RALLY AT CAMP FONTANELLE page for registration information. The Feb. 15-17 Winter Rally at Camp 2013 NATIONAL GATHERING OF Fontanelle was a great success, with more than 30 men sharing fellowship and learning UMMEN Carpool with a group of Nebraskans to from several great speakers. Speakers from attend this national gathering of church the African National ministry at Omaha St.

Paul and the Hispanic ministry at Bellevue St. James told about their efforts to expand the church to new groups of people. Ruth Karlsson also led a group presentation about the Released and Restored prison ministry. The men did various work projects around the camp and were treated to a performance by the Claire UMC men’s singers. Also during the rally, Craig Nordaker received a life membership in the National Association of United Methodist Scouters. The weekend closed up with a worship service led by the Missouri River District Superintendent, Dr. Dan Flanagan.

GET CONNECTED — Renew your annual unit charter and individual membership through EMS (Every Member Shares through Evangelism, Mission, and Spiritual Life) or the Legacy program. Get the necessary information online at www. WEBSITE UPDATES — Check out the Nebraska UMMen page at www.umcneb. org/ummen for the latest information. The General Commission has a great site at www.

FIRST ANNUAL GREAT WEST DISTRICT UMMEN BANQUET United Methodist men from several Great West communities converged in

Paid for by UMMen Contact: Mike Wilson 402-504-4908 14106 S. 21st Street Bellevue, NE 68123

Looking ahead to becoming the Great Plains UMW One-day retreats being held in By ESTHER HAY, Kearney, Lincoln in April Nebraska UMW president Nebraska United We c o n t i n u e Methodist Women our journey toward is pleased to present becoming the Great the Rev. Kathleen Plains United Methodist Stone, chaplain at the Women and have made Church Center for good progress to date. the United Nations But there is still work to do. and a UMW National One of the things that you need to Staff member, as know is that the district boundaries will she leads a one-day STONE remain the same in our new Conference. s p i r i t u a l g row t h We need strong districts. If they haven’t retreat on “Abundant Life in the 21 st already started, our District Committees Century.” Stone, along with jazz pianist, on Nominations should be working to find singer and composer Dana Hanchard, district officers for the coming year. will explore this theme and more through Specifically as United Methodist Women, a creative worship, music, art, metaphor, the most change will occur at the Conference poetry and prose and small group discussion. level. There has been some confusion, so The retreat will focus on a number of let me say again — all currently elected questions that surround living abundantly and/or appointed Nebraska Conference in the 21 st Century. In Stone’s words: UMW officers will end their service as an “What is the world you envision and why officer on Dec. 31, 2013. The new Great isn’t it like that and more importantly, why Plains Conference Interim Committee on do you know that ‘other’ world if we don’t Nominations is meeting and working on experience it in our day to day? How close selecting officers for the new Conference. to your heart is it? How much have you Depending upon the needs of the new detached from it? How do we reconnect Conference, some of Nebraska’s current to the love that is all around us even in the officers may be asked to serve as a Great suffering so that we become transformed for Plains Conference UMW officer. The the living of THESE days?” office they are asked to serve in may not Retreats will be held on April 18 in be the office that they currently hold. Also, Kearney, at Kearney First UMC (4500 Nebraska women not currently serving as a Linden Dr.) and April 20 in Lincoln, at Saint Conference officer may be asked to serve. Paul UMC (1144 M St.). The new Conference officers will include All are invited and encouraged to attend women from Nebraska as well as from either retreat. Registration is $10 if received Kansas East and Kansas West. by April 8 and $15 after that date. The cost If you have questions or concerns includes lunch. Register online at www. about the Great Plains Conference United Methodist Women, please contact me. Your, or contact: Kearney — Kathy Pierce, 308-468suggestions are always welcome. 5547 or This is an exciting time and we are looking Lincoln — Ann Cerveny, 402-420for new ways to be effective as together we 3067 or put our Faith, Hope. Love in Action in and through the Great Plains United Methodist Women. I invite you to join me on the journey!

UPCOMING CONFERENCE EVENTS April 18 Spiritual Growth Retreat Kearney First UMC, 9 a.m. April 20 Spiritual Growth Retreat Lincoln Saint Paul UMC, 9 a.m. June 6-8

UMCOR Truck at Nebraska AC Session Lincoln St. Mark’s UMC June 6

UMW Dinner at AC Session Lincoln St. Mark’s UMC July 26-28

Mission u (weekend) Kearney Holiday Inn July 28-31 Mission u (weekday)

Kearney Holiday Inn Oct. 11-12 Nebraska Conference UMW Annual Meeting Kearney First UMC

Paid for by Nebraska UMW Contact: Lisa Maupin


Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger



Bishop Scott Jones recently announced the availability of Nebraska Conference appointment changes as they happen. Appointment changes is a new feature found on the Nebraska Conference’s website. Kansas East and Kansas West have provided information on appointment changes in this way for several years. Since Nebraska uses the same website platform, all three conferences offer the change of appointment information in a similar way. It is important to note that the appointments are not set until they are approved during the Annual Conference Session in June. To view recent appointment changes, go to


More than two months after suffering significant damage from a fire on Dec. 3, 2012, the Friend United Methodist Church has put in motion plans to rebuild. The cause of the fire was a candle, according to the Nebraska State Fire Marshall’s office.


The Risk-taking Mission and Justice Ministries Team recently announced that the Rev. Dr. Charles Spence is the new Volunteers in Mission (VIM) coordinator for the Nebraska Conference. Spence met with the Nebraska Conference VIM committee on Feb. 2, at the Conference Center in Lincoln. Patrick Norris, who is stepping down as coordinator, will continue to serve on the committee to do hands-on ministry. VIM committee members received training from the South Central Jurisdictional UMVIM coordinator, Deb Vest, via video conference. Priorities for 2013 are youth mission opportunities, strengthening team leadership training, improvement of mission trip reporting forms, education and advocacy for missions, and preparing for the transition to the Great Plains Episcopal Area structure.


The Nebraska United Methodist Foundation is accepting application materials for the 16 seminary scholarships it administers for students planning to pursue careers in the ministry within Nebraska. The deadline for application submissions is June 30, 2013, with the exception of the Baldwin F. and Amy L. Kruse Scholarship, which is due May 31. For more information and printable application materials, please visit the Foundation’s website, The information is located under the Special Programs (Scholarships) section.


The UM Merit Scholarship (for undergraduate study) is awarded annually by the Nebraska Conference Leadership Team from the portion of the Student Day Offering returned to the annual conference for that purpose. The number of scholarships is determined by the amount of funds available. Applicants must be a member of The United Methodist Church and must be attending a United Methodist college or university. The application deadline is April 30, 2013. The application form can be found at


Other scholarships being offered include the Fleming Family Foundation and United Methodist Men’s 100 Club scholarships. Application forms can be found at

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Class of 2013 Transition into Ministry associates announced The Transition into Ministry (TIM) Board is pleased to announce the selection of Andrea Beyer (Kansas East), Bill Gepford (Kansas East), and Emily Cannon (Nebraska), as the 2013 class of TIM Associates. Beyer and Gepford were recently approved for commissioning and provisional membership by the Kansas East Board of Ordained Ministry, and Cannon is an elder candidate approved for License as a Local Pastor in the Nebraska Conference. Each will receive an appointment to an associate pastor, serving with a mentor pastor and congregation as they build on their seminary educations and continue to develop their gifts for ministry. All appointments will be effective July 1, 2013. They will join Andy Frazier (Nebraska), Wendy Mohler (Kansas West), and Austin Rivera (Kansas East) who are completing their first year in the program. “I am excited for this next class of Transition into Ministry Associates. I believe they will contribute in developing additional leadership development resources during these early years of ministry,” said the Rev. Nicole Conard,

TIM program director. “My hope is that they will cultivate excellent pastoral leadership practices that enrich their lives and congregational life.” The TIM program has been made possible by a grant from the Lilly Foundation which is supplemented by funds from mentor churches and donors within the Great Plains Area. The purpose of the TIM program is to assist young pastors in making the transition from seminary to effective full-time pastoral leadership. For the first two years, the candidates learn and serve from a mentoring pastor and teaching congregation; then serve three years as a solo pastor. The mentoring pastor and congregation will have an opportunity to teach how to do excellent ministry and mentor young clergy. The hope is to maximize the gifts of the TIM Associate, mentoring pastor, and the local church. Appointments for the newly selected TIM Associates will be made in the near future For more information about TIM, visit


Spring 2013 Nebraska Messenger


Confirmation Day 2013 encourages students to be bold in their faith

By ELISABETH LOECK Nebraska communications intern

Trivia games, blindfolded basketball shots and a live praise band were all a part of Confirmation Day 2013, held Feb. 15-16, at Lincoln First United Methodist Church. More than 173 students from across Nebraska participated in the annual event sponsored by Nebraska Wesleyan University Ministries. This year students learned how to “be bold” in their faith through sessions exploring the five commitments of membership of The United Methodist Church: prayer, presence, gifts, service and witness. Members of the Conference with experience in these areas led the sessions. District Superintendents Nan Kaye-Skinner and Dan Flanagan led a session testing students’ knowledge of the Church by hosting a trivia contest. “More than anything, I think it gives the adults with them a clue about what [the students] don’t know,” Kaye-Skinner said. “Some groups are really on the ball, but some kids really struggle with how much they don’t know yet.” Students competed to ring a bell in the familyfeud style game and then answer a question correctly. Questions ranged from apportionment, the name of the United Methodist “rule book” and how pastors get their jobs. If students were stumped, Kaye-Skinner and Flanagan gave them hints, or asked for help from the adults in the room. “The fun part was the games and going to the different sessions,” Brianna Wurdinger of Norfolk,  PHOTO BY MARA BAILEY said. “I definitely learned more about the Church with Bishop Scott Jones annoints a Confirmation Day participant with oil. More than 173 students from across Nebraska the trivia game. Many smaller churches from around the state offer participated in the annual event sponsored by Nebraska Wesleyan University Ministries. a traditional worship service, so event coordinators planned a blended closing service to expose students The service concluded with communion. Afterward, Bishop Scott Jones invited the to different types of worship. With the clergy in full-robes, alongside a live praise band congregation to be anointed with oil, and to pick up a small black rock. from Lincoln Horizons Community Church, the students experienced a service that had At the end of the service, students dropped their rock in a basin of water and watched both traditional and contemporary elements. the ripples it created. Ripples that demonstrated the impact they could have on others by “Some churches in smaller towns have single-digit youth in their congregations,” said being bold in their own faith. the Rev. Mara Bailey, university minister at Nebraska Wesleyan University. “Here they “The ripples I’ve caused have spread farther than I’ll ever know,” Jones said. could get the worship experience with a large group of youth.” Over the course of the weekend, the students also experienced a Jewish Shabbat worship service and a Taizé prayer service. The Taizé prayer service provided students a quiet, contemplative time of silence and prayer to worship Saturday morning using reflective songs and chants, while the Shabbat service the night before allowed students to learn from Rabbi Craig Lewis.

People of faith share at Ecumenical Legislative Briefing Day This was the first year a panel of students was brought together for the youth advocacy session. This panel gave the participants new perspectives, increased awareness of various issues and helped students make new connections, said Sarah Ashley, a senior at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Ashley is the current Risk-taking Mission and Justice intern for Nebraska Wesleyan University Ministries and has assisted with the youth advocacy session the past three years. Students attending talked about involvement in advocacy for the environment, immigration, HIV/AIDS, poverty alleviation and education. Personal guidance and encouragement from adults in the church help, but students also serve a role in advocating to peers. The presence of a young leader in congregations or on college campuses could be pivotal. “[Youth advocacy] is an empowerment tool for students in the church,” Osler said. “It is a way to get other youth interested and thinking, ‘If they can do it, maybe I can do it too’.” Many students have passions that come from personal experiences. But there are many social justice issues and many different personal experiences. Among peers, there is a power of collaboration on campus, Ashley said. There are overlying themes of education and service in students’ advocacy interests; it is important to focus on uniting instead of focusing on the differences. Uniting on difficult social justice issues can be as simple as finding a common ground, such as Christian morals, Tom Schroeder, a senior at Nebraska Wesleyan University, said. Christian morals and a strong support from the church encouraged  PHOTO BY ELISABETH LOECK students in their advocacy. Tom Schroeder, Chelsea Johnson and Tori Osler were among the attendees of Interchurch Ministries of “Looking back, my upbringing instilled in me the [drive to] become Nebraska’s Ecumenical Legislative Briefing Day, held Feb. 9, 2013, at Lincoln Christ UMC. more involved in advocacy,” Johnson said. “It was inspiring to find so many people supporting this issue that I care about.” By ELISABETH LOECK With the information learned in the briefing sessions, participants would return to their Nebraska communications intern churches “armed and dangerous,” said Marilyn Mecham, executive director of Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska. Over 130 young and “seasoned” Christians gathered Feb. 9 at Christ United Methodist The partnership between youth and “seasoned” people of faith can help connect Church in Lincoln, for Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska’s annual Ecumenical Legislative advocates who have first-hand experience and educate church members on the HIV/ Briefing Day. Keynote speakers, workshops and action opportunities filled the day, AIDS and other third-world issues. including workshops led by young leaders of the church. “It’s exciting to see different generations and to see so much excitement from young “Seeing adults who really care about advocacy helps young people want to get involved,” people,” said Andrea Paret, chairperson of the Risk-taking Mission and Justice Ministries said Tori Osler, a freshman at Nebraska Wesleyan University. “Youth get excited by seeing Team. “There is an important role for the church to nurture them in their advocacy.” adults who are excited.”

Nebraska Messenger Spring 2013  
Nebraska Messenger Spring 2013  

Spring 2013 edition of the "Nebraska Messenger"