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Welcome to Great Plains UMCNext!

UMCNext envisions a reformed United Methodist Church that welcomes everyone into full participation in the life and ministries of the church, addresses the systemic issues of the current institution, relentlessly focuses on making disciples of Jesus Christ, and equips our members to live as salt and light in the world. Reclaiming the spiritual zeal and creativity of our Wesleyan heritage, with its union of both the evangelical and social gospel, UMCNext empowers United Methodists to move into the future with new vision, missional alignment, and self-determination.
Highlights of our special Post-Leadership Institute September 2019 Issue:
  • Our Stories: Leadership Institute GP Organizing; #defineGPUMC Call to Action; Pride Festivals
  • Resistance: National Coming Out Day; Ash Wednesday Repent & Resist
  • Resources: Anticipate Charges?; LGBTQ+ Missional Leaders Grant
  • Across the Connection: UMCNext Legislation; Mainstream UMC
Over 280 Great Plains United Methodists Gather to Organize at Leadership Institute at Church of the Resurrection
Over 2500 United Methodists from over 1300 churches gathered for Leadership Institute 2019 at Church of the Resurrection. If you were not able to attend, you can read a summary from UM News or from our own Great Plains News.

On Friday, we had the chance for round table discussion with the 284 Great Plains participants representing 154 of our churches and ministries in Kansas and Nebraska. Each table discussed the following questions:
  • Imagine and describe the annual conference you can be passionate about.
  • How can your conference build cohesion to prevent fracturing and increase energy towards a more inclusive future? What relationships need to be strengthened?
  • What are ways your annual conference is or should be actively resisting the Traditionalist Plan?
After table discussion for each question, we spent about ten minutes hearing from other tables. If you’d like to be inspired by the ideas bubbling up from your fellow GP United Methodists, take some time to read the notes from the tables. There is energy building for a church that follows Jesus into a more inclusive, laity-empowered, expression of our faith.

Rev. Junius Dotson closed our time with an inspiring reminder of the energy and commitment that has come out of the pain of General Conference 2019. He reminded us that now is the time to witness to our faith. Junius said,“Defending is exhausting. Defining is energizing.” We need to define who we are and how God has transformed our lives.

That is where each of you come in. Great Plains UMCNext is inviting each of you to continue the momentum and share your own vision for a church going where the Spirit is leading us forward.

Use the hashtag #defineGPUMC on social media to tell others what kind of church you would like to see and then INVITE your friends, fellow church members, and colleagues in your comments to join the movement too. Let’s get energized for a church that is faithfully inclusive!


"Defending is exhausting.
Defining is energizing."

- Rev. Junius Dotson
 #defineGPUMC

Here's an example for how you can add your voice:
More Pride Festival Fun!
Some cities have Pride festivals in September instead of during Pride month in June. Topeka First UMC had a booth at the Topeka Pride and people attended from Countryside as well. Wichita Pride had over 50 United Methodists marching together from College Hill UMC, West Heights UMC, Calvary UMC, and First UMC. Kearney had individuals participate from Trinity UMC. This puts our participation up to at least 16 Great Plains Churches at Pride events!
Repent & Resist: Ash Wednesday 2020
Through an informal, and Spirit-filled, conversation with Wichita area clergy and laity, an idea surfaced to concretely and intentionally live into the four commitments created by the UMC Next leadership and passed by the Great Plains Annual Conference in 2019. This idea is to repent from and reject the Traditional Plan, resisting evil in whatever forms they present themselves, living faithfully as Christians and Wesleyans and affirming the sacred worth of all persons by holding and inviting you all to participate in a sit-in marked with prayer, song, and community on February 26th, 2020. This date marks both one year since the official passing of the Traditional Plan, as well as Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season.

We are calling Great Plains clergy and laity and churches to resist the injustice that is the Traditional Plan with a sit-in throughout the various district offices and churches that represent the United Methodist institution that upholds and perpetuates this injustice against the LGBTQ+ community. Our primary aim is to repent and resist, but this action cannot come without the intentionality and commitment to relationship that we all have with the Bishop, Cabinet, District superintendents and administrative assistants. We want this sit-in to be in a spirit of truth-telling and compassion and gratitude for the Great Plains district leadership. Because of that, we will be, and have started, informing the bishop, cabinet, district superintendents, and admins of this witness, asking for their cooperation knowing this is not targeting them as people but about targeting the institution, and inviting them to participate in whatever ways feel most authentic to their call.

If you are interested in participating in or being a point person for this witness in your own districts, please reach out to Ashley Prescott Barlow-Thompson or Maddie Johnson. We will be providing resources here in the newsletter, schedules and locations per district, templates of letters to GP leaders and churches, potential itineraries and bulletins to make this witness as easy as possible for churches to participate in.
GP Repent & Resist: Ash Wednesday 2020 Facebook Page
National Coming Out Day
Churches across the Great Plains are participating in National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11) by naming it in worship on Oct. 13, newsletter articles, Facebook posts, and special events. To be LGBTQ+ in the UMC is an act of resistance all by itself. National Coming Out Day is an opportunity to offer our affirmation, celebration, and support when our denomination does not. We also know and lament that there are people who remain closeted because of UMC polity and social principles. So we celebrate National Coming Out Day and also grieve that we are part of a church that keeps people in closets.
  • For all of those who are out and proud - we see you and love you and support you.
  • For all of those who have yet to be out - we see you and love you and support you. 
If your church is interested in participating in National Coming Out Day, the Resistance Team has compiled some resources below.
Resources for Observing National Coming Out Day
The Resource Team is currently gathering all kinds of tools to extend the work of inclusion in our local churches. Book recommendations, discussion guides, worship resources, youth group guides, and a GP UMCNext website are all in the works! Stay tuned for its October 15 launch.
Do You Anticipate Charges Brought Against You?
Complaints, charges, hearings, and trials are a risk with any acts of resistance in which we choose to participate. In our GP organizing time at Leadership Institute, we talked about being organized should that situation arise. If you anticipate officiating at a same-sex wedding or if you are queer clergy and anticipate coming out, we would love to be in conversation so that we can best support you in those decisions. You don't have to make those choices alone and having time to help resource you and organize to support you is helpful! If you would like conversation partners, contact David Livingston or Lora Andrews. We promise to hold your story in confidence.
The Great Plains conference has a grant open for “ministries that raise up LGBTQ+ persons as missional leaders in the Great Plains Annual Conference to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
  • If you identify as LGBTQ+, think of a ministry you are interested in or passionate about, and use this money to finally pursue this ministry in some way - a new Bible study or small group idea, a new praise band or service, a fresh expression, a justice or mercy ministry for your particular city or town, a new evangelical tool, the possibilities are endless!
  • If you do not identify as LGBTQ+, be an advocate for a friend and help them pursue their gifts and passions for Christ’s work. “Provoke one another to love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
  • If you want to do something, but would like ideas or coaching on how you might utilize this grant, members of the Resource Team would love to help! Contact Julie Wilke, Rev. Christine Potter, or Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede
LGBTQ+ Missional Leaders Grant Application
UMCNext National - Here you will find the four commitments of UMCNext and links to what is happening in the larger connection. They also released a proposal outlining their hopes for the future of the church. They plan to add additional resources and opportunities for collective resistance.

Mainstream UMC - Mainstream UMC and its director, Rev. Mark Holland are located right here in the Great Plains. They are doing a series right now on Church Trials. Check out their blog to learn more.
Great Plains UMCNext Newsletter Archive
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