Want to submit a letter to the editor? Email Kathryn Witte at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about events going on around the Conference, visit the events calendar.
To view job openings and items for sale, or submit a listing, visit the Employment/Classifieds page.
Click here for a printable version of UMconnect.
Nebraska United Methodists are invited to join a webcast to review the Conference's 2012 funding plan. The webcast will be Sunday, Sept. 11, at 4 p.m. (3 p.m. MDT), and repeated on Monday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m. (6:30 MDT). The Rev. Dr. Carol Roettmer Brewer and Conference Treasurer-Director of Administrative Services Robin Kilgore will host the webcast; Bishop Ann B. Sherer-Simpson will provide the opening prayer.
“Formed together in community by the spirit” was the theme for the Annual Conference Session in June and is the spiritual theme as we work together to help equip local churches for ministry throughout the next year. The Nebraska Conference Funding Plan supports our connectional work. The narrative version of the Funding Plan is available now for your review, as are a plethora of other resources. The webcast will include a video that complements the attached narrative funding plan brochure.
This will be a time for corporate review of the 2012 Funding Plan. Questions can be sent to email@example.com or by calling 800-435-6107. You may submit questions now or wait for the live question and answer period in the last segment of the webcast.
Nebraska United Methodists are encouraged to form viewing groups to learn more about the mission and ministry of the church, as well as how Mission Share dollars area allocated for ministry. We hope by reading the Funding Plan, you’ll be more prepared to discuss topics in your local viewing group.
Contact your district office for information on planned viewing groups in your area, or watch it at home on your own computer. On the day of the streaming, go to www.umcneb.org/UMstream.
The webcast will begin promptly at 4 p.m. (CDT) on Sunday and at 7:30 p.m. (CDT) on Monday. We encourage groups to gather early (10-15 minutes before) to get settled and have a time of centering prayer before the webcast begins (see the Centering Exercise attached above). We also encourage groups to test their equipment in advance, to ensure everything is working properly (see Viewing Tips sheet attached above).
Following are dates for various district meetings and some viewing group locations for the Fall Funding Plan. For example, the Elkhorn Valley District is encouraging church administrative groups and finance committees to get together and watch the webcast.
The Fall Update and District meeting for pastors and church lay leadership will be held at Lincoln St. Mark's on Sept. 11, from 3-4 p.m., the group will then join the streaming at 4 p.m.
District Superintendent Nan Kaye-Skinner encourages finance committees and church groups form viewing groups for the Fall Funding Plan webcast.
Clergy Leadership Day is Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Gateway District clusters will host the webcast. Please contact the district office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-234-3098) for more information.
Pastors' Fall Update meeting is Sept. 1, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (MT), at the Ogallala First UMC.
Fall Funding webcast location is Sept. 11, 3-5 p.m. (MT), at the Alliance UMC, and Sept. 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (MT) at the Paxton UMC.
Fall Pastors' Update meeting is Sept. 8, at St. Luke UMC, in Omaha.
Missouri River District churches are encouraged to form viewing groups.
Pastors' Update meeting is Sept. 15 at the Geneva UMC, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Prairie River District churches are encouraged to form viewing groups.
*Note regarding the narrative Funding Plan. If the PDF appears too small on your computer screen, please go to the “View” tab at the top of your computer navigation and use the “Zoom” feature to enlarge the document your preferred setting. You should also be able to print it out in a single page format.
The Fall 2011 edition of the “Nebraska Messenger” is now available online; click here to be taken to the Messenger archives, or download the attached PDF.
The 2011 Journal has been posted online. Click here to be taken to the Journal page, or access it via the Quick Link found on the right side of the home page.
The printed edition was sent to the printer's this week and should be mailed to those who ordered a copy sometime within the next three to four weeks.
Wondering where on umcneb.org you can find 2011 Annual Conference follow-up information and documents? The page can be found under the Resources section (one of the main navigation links at the top of the home page) or by typing www.umcneb.org/AC2011 into your browser.
How should the call to 9/11 remembrance be incorporated into the worship of Christians, and especially for those like United Methodists who are part of a global church? The Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards, the director of worship resources for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, offers some suggestions.
A special web page is available at www.umc.org/911 to provide stories, worship resources, prayers, videos, and other useful links related to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States. More resources will be posted in the coming week.
We light a candle in remembrance for all those who suffered and died on September 11, 2001, in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
We light a candle to remember those who still live and who suffer because of the events of that day.
World Communion Sunday will be here before you know it. Be sure to order your free offering resources for this Oct. 2 offering. The World Communion Sunday offering provides for three areas: World Communion Scholarships, Ethnic Scholarship Program, and Ethnic In-Service Training Program. This support is a lifeline for many United Methodist students.
Gifts are divided as follows:
Your generous support through the World Communion Sunday offering prepares leaders for The United Methodist Church and the world. “The Crusade Scholars Program [now World Communion Scholarship] made possible my seminary education,” recalls Bishop Joel N. Martinez. “This program is vital to our church’s future.”
Bishop Martinez’s ministry and the work of countless others were made possible because of the gifts of faithful people throughout the years.
Order your free offering resources today. Offering inserts, a poster, worship resources, stories and videos are available to download or order at www.umcgiving.org/WCS. If you cannot celebrate this offering on Oct. 2, you can observe this Special Sunday on any day of the year.
You can give online to World Communion Sunday at anytime.
United Methodist Student Day is just weeks away. Be sure to order your free offering resources for this Nov. 27 offering. United Methodist Student Day provides scholarships and loans for students attending United Methodist-related and other accredited colleges and universities.
“You ought to serve the world with your gifts,” said Josh Union, United Methodist Student Day scholarship recipient and student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He plans to use his degree in business management and computer science to make the world a better place.
“No matter what I do, I want to die having done something to better the planet,” added Josh, who envisions ways that he can use his business acumen to invest in development projects overseas. His goal is “to serve God as faithfully, as obediently as I can.”
Every year hundreds of students like Josh receive scholarships and loans funded by United Methodist Student Day. “You can actually help provide students with the very materials and encouragement they need,” he said about the importance of this offering.
An honors student with interests that range from fencing to magic to missions, Josh sees how supporting students like himself equips a new generation to change the world. “Supporting United Methodist Student Day would help students help the world. And that’s a great cause,” he commented.
When you give to United Methodist Student Day, you support students who are finding new ways to serve God in the world. Your contributions are needed more than ever.
Click here to order your free offering materials.
You can give online to United Methodist Student Day at anytime.
The following is an open letter from Dr. Fanuel Tagwira, vice-chancellor of Africa University:
I hear the refrain “God is good. All the time.” whenever I reflect on Africa University's June 11, 2011, graduation.
Our graduates that day — 279 bachelor’s and 71 master’s degree recipients — represented 19 African countries. More than that, they represent the answered prayers and the hopes of tens of millions of people in their homelands across the continent. They also represent the answered prayers and the sacred commitment of United Methodists around the world.
This day — our 17th commencement in our 19th year — is a testament to the prayers and the financial support of persons like you. Four thousand students have earned degrees from Africa University since our opening in 1992. Our graduates are making a difference in countries and communities across Africa. By staying in Africa, they are changing Africa.
Attending university is an answer to prayer and a dream come true for our students and their families. The vast majority are the first family members to attend university, and for many this requires significant sacrifices. This is where the support of United Methodist local churches and annual conferences through the Africa University Fund and your second-mile support of scholarships play such a vital role. Your financial support makes a university education accessible to our students from across Africa.
One member of the Class of 2011 earned his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and is joining with two other graduates to establish their own information technology company with bases in Malawi and Zimbabwe. Through the entrepreneurship and community service projects they participated in while undergraduate students, they have built a network of contacts that will help them build their business. Access to computers and technology networks is a vital link in Africa’s future development.
Sarah Norkor Anku of Ghana, who came to Africa University as a trained lawyer, received a master’s degree in intellectual property during the commencement. As Africa develops, this will become a vital field where expertise is desperately needed. We are the only institution of higher learning in sub-Saharan Africa to offer this specialized degree. She too is staying in Africa to be a leader in changing Africa. Sarah is returning to Ghana to work as an assistant registrar general in her nation’s Registrar General’s Department.
These are but two of hundreds of compelling stories from our graduates and undergraduates. Some overcome great adversity just to reach our campus in Zimbabwe. Others surmount incredible financial challenges to attend class and succeed beyond their dreams. And others find themselves called by God to serve Jesus with a foundation of learning from Africa University.
I opened this letter with the refrain “God is good. All the time.” It is true. All the time. God is good.
Your prayers and financial support are the reasons we are able to train new generations of leaders for Africa. We need your constant prayer, and we need your continuing financial support as we focus on serving God, all the time, everywhere in Africa.
Photo: Arun Gandhi gives the commencement address at the 2011 African University graduation ceremony.
United Methodist Ministries – Missouri River District (UMM) invites congregations throughout Nebraska and Kansas to apply for mini-grants for community gardens through UMM. UMM is home of the Big Garden, a network of 50 community gardens throughout eastern Omaha and Southeast Nebraska, and is currently recruiting new sites from beyond the Missouri River District.
“We have had such great success with the Big Garden, and we have been blessed with enough resources to share both within our own Conference and the new episcopal area,” said the Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, executive director.
She continued, “We are on a short timeline to recruit new sites, but we have two new staff members in place who are more than ready for the challenge. One of the requirements of the particular grant we are working from is that the gardens be in rural communities; a large part of why we still have funds available is that our rural congregations have been such good stewards that we have underspent our proposed budget. It’s time to finish out this grant, and we’re sure there are some churches out there that would be willing to help us out by starting new gardens.”
UMM estimates that between 20 and 40 new gardens could be started and in place by May 1, 2012.
To apply to be a new garden site, send your answers to the following questions to Deb Keeney at email@example.com. Applications will be processed on a first-come first-serve basis, with priority given to applications that show promise for success and would complement existing gardens.
“We have found that while community gardens are an excellent way to address hunger and food security issues in communities, they are also an excellent way to grow community and congregations,” Ahlschwede said. “We find that the gardens often function as small groups, and provide significant contact with non-members in the community. Gardening together creates space for intergenerational learning, new relationships, and meaningful conversations while working together to address hunger and food security in the community.”
On Sunday, Nov. 6, United Methodist Ministries will host a half-day learning immersion event called the University of What Works at Rockbrook United Methodist Church in Omaha. This event will feature a plenary on the theme of community-based ministries, followed by workshops that apply the theme to particular topics and programs. The University of What Works aims to educate and empower participants with tools to make a difference in our churches and in our world.
Churches are encouraged to bring groups in order to effectively implement programs and ideas. Special rates are included for churches registering five or more participants. Churches must contact United Methodist Ministries to purchase their group rate prior to registration.
Workshop topics include community gardens, starting new ministries, Praying in Color, church outreach, Volunteers in Mission (VIM), food policy, Fair Trade, and others. Workshops are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Participants will select workshops through online registration.
The University of What Works is specifically geared for church members to gain tools that they can use in adult studies, UMW programs, youth groups, and general programming.
Register at www.bigmuddyumc.org.
Note: An item on pg. 3 of the Fall 2011 edition of the “Nebraska Messenger” incorrectly implies that this event is being sponsored by Rockbrook United Methodist Church. It is actually sponsored by United Methodist Ministries. We apologize for the error.
The 20th century’s most distinguished scientist, Albert Einstein, made this observation: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
The Rev. Michael Dowd, an author whose work has been acclaimed by no fewer than six Nobel laureates, will be with us for Wesleyan Live this fall to explain why science and religion are so important to our understanding of life. The course title is “Say Yes! to Science AND Religion.” Dowd is the author of “Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World.” He and his wife, Connie Barlow, an acclaimed science writer and family educator, have spoken to more than 1,500 groups as “America’s evolutionary evangelists” since launching their itinerant ministry in 2002.
Dowd is one of the most inspiring speakers in America today because his work speaks directly to an issue which has caused divisions in societies for centuries. He talks about “a big integrity,” “big history,” and the “epic of evolution.”
Those who wrote the Genesis stories of creation told what they knew, which was “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Add to that faith what modern science tells us about details going back in deep time 14.5 billion years and our contemporary minds are awestruck anew at God’s creative genius.
You can tune in to this class by signing up and attending the group session at the NET building in Lincoln, participating online, or attending a group session at one of nine NET downlink locations (minimum of six participates per location). And, we hope groups will gather to watch the web streaming version on a big screen.
Since Dowd is constantly on the road, he will lecture and interact through Skype technology and webstreaming. The class begins on Tuesday, October 11 at 12 noon (CDT) and continues for six weeks. Sessions last one hour. Cost is $40/person or $20/retired clergy or spouses. To register contact Stephanie Nelson at 402-465-2222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The purpose of the Marriage Encounter weekend is to provide the opportunity for a married couple to develop a deeper knowledge of Christian marriage, a fuller understanding and acceptance of each other and the ability to communicate with each other in a significantly deeper and more fulfilling way.
There are 13 presentations given by clergy and lay couples throughout the weekend. Couples are given the chance to explore the difference between ordinary conversation and intimate communication in marriage. Participants take a realistic look at the way they present themselves to others. They can compare the difference between living out the values of our society and living out God’s desire for married couples to live intimately and responsibly with one another. They will learn and practice listening skills. The weekend helps couples learn to live their marriages as a covenantal relationship.
This is a work weekend where couples are invited to respond and reflect on each presentation and privately share these responses with their spouse. There are no group discussions and couples are not required to disclose any aspect of their relationship to the group. The weekend is not intended for problem solving.
Marriage Encounter is a not for profit organization, affiliated with the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church under license of Worldwide Marriage Encounter.
Won't you prayerfully consider attending one of the fall weekends? Right now, before your fall schedules fill up, plan to register for one of the following weekends!
The fall dates are Sept. 23-25 at Camp Comeca near Cozad; and Oct. 14-16 in Lincoln.
For more information or to register (at least two weeks before the weekend), contact Russell and Lanita Evans, Nebraska state registration couple, at 308-520-1491 or email@example.com.
Visit the official Marriage Encounter United Methodist website, www.encounter.org, to find out more about the program.
Don’t forget, Sunday, Sept. 18, is the day when walkers across the state of Nebraska will once again walk in support of AIDS Walk Nebraska! Walks will take place in Hastings, Kearney, Lincoln, Norfolk, Omaha and Scottsbluff. All proceeds raised go towards providing dependable, high-quality, comprehensive and accessible health care to those infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS.
To find out the details of the AIDS Walk near you, visit the Nebraska AIDS Project website www.nap.org and click on Events. From there you can download the registration form for the walk in your area.
The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund has launched a new campaign: "20/20: Visioning an AIDS-Free World." A $20 donation can stop the transmission of HIV from a mother to child; teach young people and adults how to prevent HIV; be used for church workshops to fight stigma and discrimination or feed an HIV-positive person for a month or more, enabling them to take their medicine and lead productive lives.
Visit the new 20/20 Campaign website today: www.2020AIDSFreeWorld.org.
Our Conference committed to approve the new 20/20 Campaign at Annual Conference in June — now it is time to get to work and find more AIDS ambassadors to promote the Special Offering in December (Dec. 4 this year, the Sunday closes to World AIDS Day on Dec. 1).
An AIDS ambassador helps promote the special offering in their local church, encourages prayers for those who are suffering from HIV or AIDS, and helps to cast out the fear and stigma of HIV and AIDS in our local churches and communities. If you would like to be an ambassador, or receive more information, contact Andrew Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for a story by Andrew in the latest edition of the “Nebraska Messenger.”
Remember, 25 percent of all of our gifts to the UM Global AIDS Fund and the 20/20 Campaign stay in Nebraska for local AIDS projects through our Nebraska grant, “Working for an AIDS-Free World.” Would you like to donate? Checks should be made out to "Conference Treasurer," with "Global AIDS Fund, Advance 578" indicated on the memo line, and mailed to the Nebraska UM Conference Center, 3333 Landmark Circle, Lincoln, NE 68504.
Photo: Some of the United Methodist participants from the 2010 AIDS Walk held in Norfolk, Neb.
Sponsored by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Exploration 2011 is held every other year and is open to young adults ages 18 to 26. This year’s event is being held Nov. 11-13, in St. Louis, Mo. Exploration brings together young adults who are exploring careers as deacons and elders in The United Methodist Church for worship, speakers, and workshops on a variety of relevant topics. For more information about registration, travel to St. Louis and scholarships from the Nebraska United Methodist Conference, see the attached flier, or contact the Rev. Mike Benischek at email@example.com. A scholarship application form is also attached; funds are available on a first come, first served basis.
Updates and registration information will be posted on the event website, www.gbhem.org/exploration.
Youth and youth leaders are invited to take a stand against poverty with United Methodist Ministries (UMM) on Sunday, Oct. 9, at the fourth annual Stand Up Against Poverty Day of Service. This year’s event will include the opportunity for teams of youth to participate in hands-on mission work in the metro-Omaha area while identifying avenues to practice justice in their local setting. The event aims to raise awareness about issues of poverty facing people locally and globally, while empowering youth to take action.
Teams will meet for check-in and opening at Tri-Community United Methodist Church, 6001 Fontenelle Blvd. in Omaha. The event begins at 2 p.m. and will conclude at 6 p.m., following dinner.
Registration fee for participants is $15 which includes dinner, event t-shirt, transportation to and from work sites, and a donation to host agencies.
The deadline for registration is Sept. 26. Pre-registration is required. Teams can either register online or complete the Stand Up team registration form (attached below) and mail it to UMM.
Stand Up Against Poverty is an international event that encourages individuals and groups to stand up and take action for the eradication of poverty in the world. The event utilizes the Millennium Development goals outlined by the United Nations as guidelines towards ending poverty and inequality.
For more information regarding the Stand Up Against Poverty Day of Service or other upcoming events hosted by United Methodist Ministries, please contact Jaimee Trobough at 402-898-9862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camp Comeca and Retreat Center has started the process of changing cabins 10 and 11 into sabbatical cabins for pastors, youth pastors, youth workers, and conference and district staff and their families. This will be done in phases, with the finished cabins having a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and study area. The use of each of these cabins will be offered free of charge. The leadership at Comeca understands the stress and pressure that these vital members of our ministry are under and wish to team up with them by offering a spot in the “cathedral of the outdoors.” These two cabins are the most removed from the activities at the campus to allow you peace and quiet. Meals will be provided when other guest groups are on site.
These cabins are also part of our Adopt-a-Cabin program. If you, your church, a group you belong to, or your business would like to team up with us in providing these cabins or any of our other cabins, please contact us at the office. Until these cabins are ready we have one of the homes on the campus that we can use. If you would like to check out how we can help you get regenerated call Site Director Ron Gans at 308-784-2808 or email email@example.com. For more information on Comeca, located near Cozad, visit www.campcomeca.com.
Photo: Comeca covers a vast area of canyons and hills and is situated against the beautiful Midway Lake in Central Nebraska, near Cozad.
The results are in — more than $8,500 was raised in the walk-a-thon for Camp Norwesca’s roof. As it turns out, that’s almost exactly what is needed to do the repairs.
We want to thank all of the people who took on the challenge and walked to raise money for this project: Pastors Teri Lucas, Tom Lucas, George Kilmer, Lana Fong, Brian Fong, Seth Leypoldt, Ray Weinerman, Kay Alnor, Shanon Williams and Ezekiel Koech, along with CLM Bev Russell, Kathryn Witte (the Conference’s director of communications and marketing) and Christy Baltzell (Great West District administrative assistant).
Thanks also go out to all the individuals and organizations who generously made pledges toward the fundraiser. We couldn't have done it without your support!
Shanon Williams is the recipient of a two-day retreat for two at beautiful Camp Norwesca for raising the most pledges. She collected $1,319.00 during the walkathon. Way to go, Shanon! Most miles walked goes to Seth Leypoldt at 102.8 miles, followed by Ezekiel Koech at 88.1 miles. In total, our 13 participants walked more than 700 miles for Norwesca!
We continue to receive responses to our request to share Vacation Bible School stories; Bishop Sherer-Simpson encourages local churches to keep them coming; she has enjoyed reading each and every one of them.
Christ United Methodist Church in Lincoln held our Vacation Bible School July 19-23, 2011. The theme was "Shake It Up Cafe." The church was full of children from our congregation, community, and beyond our city to learn about God's love for them. Their excitement and enthusiasm brought the church to life! With Chef Basil as our leader, we learned our daily "Bible Bites" and "Specials of the Day." We ended our VBS week with a lunch for the children and their families on Friday. We gave a performance for our congregation at our Sunday worship service. The children sang several songs and shared Bible stories and Bible verses they had learned. What a blessing is was to be a part of this memorable week with the children!
Members of the Bushnell UMC are excited to announce the grand opening of their “Abundant Grace Free” store has been scheduled for Sept. 17, at 9 a.m.
According to Bushnell member Cindy Grover, “We have been working for almost a year to get everything in place and if it wasn't for our faith we would still be waiting. For about six months we have been looking for a building for our store and there just seemed to be none within our budget constraints. Suddenly we decided to ask our Lyons Club in Bushnell for help and the have given us a large room in the community center building and we can afford the rent, as it’s free!”
The donations have already started rolling in, everything from clothing to house wares, which are all free to anyone in need.
Find the store on Facebook by searching for Abundant Grace Free Store.
“Our motto is ‘By faith alone all things are possible,’” Grover said.
It’s time to nominate a youth, adult or group from your community for a prestigious Points of Light Award. Every quarter, ServeNebraska, in cooperation with the Office of the Governor, honors accomplishments of Nebraskans who have given exemplary volunteer service to their communities. Volunteer service by Points of Light recipients should reflect the fulfillment of one of the following promises for our youth and communities. Those promises include: Ongoing Caring Relationships, Safe Places, A Healthy Start and Future, Marketable Skills through Education, Opportunities to Serve, and Community Organization. These volunteers are presented with a beautiful award while their inspiring stories are shared at a special ceremony for them at the State Capitol. Numerous United Methodist groups and individuals have been honored with the award over the years; most recently, the Rev. Lyle Schoen and truck driver James Taylor were recognized for their efforts collecting UMCOR Kits.
The nomination process is easier than ever! Just click here to download, complete and submit your Governor’s Points of Light Award nomination by email.
The deadline for this quarter’s nomination is Sept. 15, 2011; please note that ServeNebraska is seeking more youth nominations. If you have questions, please contact Kimberle Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org; or call 402-471-6228 or 800-291-8911.
There are Safe Sanctuaries courses being offered throughout the Conference in the month of September. To find out if there is one near you, visit the events calendar and select Safe Sanctuaries from the dropdown menu.
Safe Sanctuaries is intended for clergy and lay persons working with children, youth, and special populations, or for persons who simply want to hone their interpersonal skills as they work in ministry.
Having members of your congregation certified to safely work with youth or developmentally disabled persons enables church leaders to assure members and guests that their place of worship is a safe environment. It is also an added "seal of distinction" churches can use to promote their programming and worship experience.
Approximately 30 blue youth choir robes available to be donated to a church that could use them.
For more information, contact Ardy Mendenhall at 402-796-2256.
Editorial Policy: The content, news, events and announcement information distributed in UMconnect is not sponsored or endorsed by the Nebraska United Methodist Conference unless specifically stated.