Want to submit a letter to the editor? Email Kathryn Witte at email@example.com.
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.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (UMNS) — Missouri Area Bishop Robert Schnase, author of “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations,” offers a blog post a day in the lead up to General Conference 2012 discussing the challenges facing The United Methodist Church and the work of Call to Action. He also includes questions for discussion groups. Nebraska Area Bishop Ann B. Sherer-Simpson highly recommends reading his blog in the days leading up to General Conference.
Click here to read the blog posts.
The message youth and middle school annual conference planners are conveying to youth is: “YAC/MAC is YOURS!! This year, we’re inviting you to OWN IT: It’s all about the power of worship and making it happen. Join us June 5-9 in Lincoln, as we learn, play, make new friends and WORSHIP together.”
Youth Annual Conference (YAC) is for those who have just completed 9th grade-12th grades, and Middle School Annual Conference (MAC) is for those youth have just completed 5th grade-8th grades. There is also a Children's Annual Conference (CAC) for those youth who have just completed kindergarten-4th grade. Registration for CAC, child care and the Annual Conference Session will open Sunday, April 15.
Lodging and most meals for YAC/MAC will once again be on Nebraska Wesleyan's campus.
Click here to register for YAC/MAC.
An electronic version of the Spring 2012 edition of the “Nebraska Messenger” is attached below.
The Women’s Division of The United Methodist Church announced this week that United Methodist Ministries (UMM) has been approved as a new National Mission Institution. This important designation has only been given to approximately100 agencies nationwide. It represents a formalized relationship between UMM and United Methodist Women.
According to the Women’s Division, National Mission Institutions are organizations that “are empowering women, caring for children, educating and building youth, looking after the neglected, advocating for social justice issues, creating economic opportunities, and changing neighborhoods.” United Methodist Ministries works toward these goals through its Big Garden program, Blue Flamingo thrift store, advocacy campaigns, days of service, and (VIM) mission experiences for teams.
"I am excited about this national recognition. It only verifies what we already know about the effectiveness of United Methodist Ministries in Nebraska”, said Missouri River District Superintendent, Dr. Dan Flanagan. UMM staff is in the process of creating a list of in-kind donation suggestions for use by UMW units, and will be assisting with the day of service at this fall’s Conference UMW meeting in Omaha.
The application process included both written materials and a day-long site visit to Omaha by a team of representatives from the Women’s Division. “We have been working towards National Mission Institution status for several years. It was clear to me when I arrived at United Methodist Ministries that our goals and programs would be an excellent fit with those of United Methodist Women. We have been working steadily ever since to ready ourselves for the selection process, and now look forward to working more closely with United Methodist Women in our Conference, episcopal area, and in the global community,” said the Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, executive director.
When asked where this news falls on a scale of one to 10, Ahlschwede replied, "This is off the charts exciting. When I heard the news I was speechless for five minutes. It is an incredible privilege to serve at a National Mission Institution."
Photo: Volunteers work at one of the 26 Big Garden sites in the metro Omaha area.
“Making Growth Sustainable: Providing Needed Resources in Central Conferences,” the fifth and final film in the five-part series, Dreaming of Vital Congregations, produced by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, is available to download.
Click here for more information.
The United Methodist Church has a total of 13 councils, boards, and commissions that carry out denominational work.
One proposed piece of legislation at the 2012 General Conference would consolidate nine of the denomination's 13 general agencies into a new United Methodist Center for Connectional Mission and Ministry. To better understand how these agencies carry out the missions given them through General Conference actions, the United Methodist News Service asked the leaders of each agency to answer five questions.
Click here to view those responses.
In 2012, the church will come together, not only for General Conference, but also to change the world by expressing justice and compassion in community on May 19-20, 2012. Register for Change the World before Monday, April 16 and receive a free lawn banner, sermon series bundle and t-shirt.
Your event will be charted on rethinkchurch.org’s map. National advertising will bring in thousands of visitors to our website and they will be able to see you on the map and know how to join your church’s event.
Over 2,000 events were registered worldwide in 2011! Projects ranged from developing/enhancing community gardens to fighting human trafficking. Think now about what your congregation will do to Change the World!
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — Spark12, a young-adult justice-ministry project of The United Methodist Church, is looking for innovative projects that push the boundaries of ministry to transform the world. Spark12 is open to young adults, ages 18-35, and project ideas must be submitted by June 29.
Click here for more information.
One day in the spring of 2011 a baby boy was found lying beneath his dead mother in Makong Danburam, a community in Nigeria.
Danburam is in the far north and about 50 kilometers from Jalingo, the capital of Taraba State. The majority of the community is women. Many of the young females who give birth here are unable to read a book or sign their names. Most exist without adequate shelter, no health care or access to safe water. Children here usually die before they reach the age of 5.
The young woman had given birth to the baby boy under a baobab tree, which she used as her residence.
Before anyone could help her, the girl fell into a deep coma and bled to death. The child was rushed to the United Methodist Church orphanage for emergency attention.
The boy survived and is now cared for because of the work of the United Methodist orphanage, nestled by the entrance of Nigeria Annual (regional) Conference headquarters in Jalingo.
The above is an excerpt from an article written by By Hassan Audu, former director of communications and currently the bishop’s secretary for the Nigerian Episcopal Area. Click here to read more of this touching story.
The orphanage in Jalingo was established in 2005 through the Nigeria-Nebraska Partnership. It is currently home to 98 children who have lost both of their children due to various causes. Mother’s Day (May 13) is an appropriate time to remember all the children in the world who have been left homeless and parentless through no fault of their own. It takes about $2,000 to support one student for one year. Every United Methodist Church in Nebraska is encouraged to take a special offering on May 13, or an alternate Sunday.
Attached below are bulletin inserts that can be used to promote the offering (please resize them as needed). If you use projection for your worship service, two images (JPEG) are attached that can be inserted into a PowerPoint slide to promote the offering. There also bulletin inserts attached, in both color and black and white; choose which ones you would like to use. For more information or to request additional resources, contact Kathryn Witte at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Nigeria-Nebraska Partnership or on sponsoring one of the orphans, visit the Nigeria-Nebraska Partnership page, www.umcneb.org/Nigeria.
Photo: Orphanage Coordinator Simon Benjamin holds a 2-day-old baby boy whose mother died. UMNS web-only photos by Hassan Audu.
The Black College Fund institutions welcome students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds. This enables them to provide an educational experience that builds community and prepares students to be effective leaders in our global society. Offering quality education in a nurturing Christian environment affirms the heritage and strength of the connection between the church and these institutions. Each college and university is highly successful at providing opportunities for advancement to top-ranked students as well as those who may not thrive at other institutions.
Deontez Wimbley, a student at Claflin University, underscores the relevance of church-related historically black colleges and universities. Like many students, he strives to be the first person in his family to graduate from a four-year college or university. It is what his family expects. He is grateful for the support of the Black College Fund and notes that the institutions “nurture a diverse Christian environment which benefits the church and the world.”
Bennett College for Women, Bethune-Cookman University, Claflin University, Clark-Atlanta University, Dillard University, Huston-Tillotson University, Meharry Medical College, Paine College, Philander Smith College, Rust College and Wiley College benefit greatly from your generous support of the Black College Fund. It gives approximately 16,000 students the opportunity to realize hopes and dreams that may seem out of reach. They become ministers, educators, attorneys, physicians, business leaders, artists and other professionals. Their passion to attain higher education translates into service for the church and the global community.
Celebrating its 40th year, the fund continues to garner resources to support and strengthen the operations, programs and capital improvements of the 11 historically black institutions of higher learning founded more than 100 years ago.
Your prayers for and support of the Black College Fund are greatly appreciated. Please join us as we celebrate 40 years of preparing leaders and providing opportunities. Your continued investment in the educational endeavors of the Black College Fund institutions will ensure students are empowered and offered opportunities for generations to come.
Cynthia A. Bond Hopson, Ph.D.
Assistant General Secretary The Black College Fund and Ethnic Concerns
Click here to view Black College Fund testimonials.
“Lay Speakers Lead Bible Study” will be led by the Rev. Rod Heilbrun. The course is scheduled for Friday evening and all day Saturday, April 20-21. Lay Speakers Lead Bible Study is designed to help lay speakers become versed in how to teach and lead Bible study. The cost is $35. The fee includes meals and study materials. The registration deadline is April 13.
An Advanced Lay Speaking Course, “Lay Speakers Preach!” will be offered at Lincoln Aldersgate UMC Friday and Saturday, April 27-28. This course provides useful information to the lay speaker about the art of writing sermons. The lay speaker will receive information about resources available to research topics, interpret scripture, and writing interesting and inspiring sermons. The cost is $35. The registration deadline is Friday, April 20.
For more information, view the attached flier/registration form.
A Basic Lay Speaking Ministries Course will be offered at the Wymore UMC Friday and Saturday, May 4-5. Cost of the program that includes the textbook and lunch on Saturday is $30, and class size is limited to 10. The deadline for registration is Friday, April 20.
For more information, view the attached flier/registration form.
The topic of this Advanced Course is “Concepts in Leadership.” The registration deadline is April 27.
For more information, view the attached flier/registration form.
God calls every one of us to proclaim the presence and power of God through all that we say and do. How is God calling you to serve? With so many avenues of training, Lay Speaking Ministries offers you a valuable education in multiple ministry areas.
A lay speaker is …
This ministry goes beyond filling in for the pastor or speaking in public. Lay Speaking Ministries offer many options for serving in roles other than the traditional pulpit supply. Teaching, serving, training, leading, participating, caring, loving, and communicating are now integral parts of Lay Speaking Ministries. With so many avenues of training, Lay Speaking Ministries offers valuable education to equip United Methodists for all facets of lay ministry.
The schedule of upcoming Lay Speaking Ministries courses can be viewed by visiting the Conference calendar of upcoming events. Select your district and then "Lay Speaking Ministries" from the dropdown.
Camp Fontanelle has a myriad of different work projects, from maintenance and repairs to cleaning to painting to working with wood. Bring your work gloves and favorite cleaning supplies. Bring chainsaws, rakes, paintbrushes, power drills, and other general tools without which you'd be lost. Weather will dictate which projects are priorities. Lunch will be served at noon on both days. Needed are crew foreman for more major projects requiring some knowledge/skill level to complete. Attached is a listing of some projects identified for 2012. If you'd be willing to see a project through, please contact Trent at email@example.com to volunteer and so materials can be assembled in a timely manner, if applicable. Other volunteers could possibly assist with these projects on a work day. Trent Meyer needs and appreciates volunteer expertise to make sure that projects are done properly.
We hear it said that "camp changes people." The fact is that camp itself does not change people, the Holy Spirit does. God often works in mysterious ways. Why does God seem to be so effective at changing lives at camp? Because at camp there is an extended period of time of "intentional Christian community." Little kids have fun and get reaffirmed in their childlike faith with adult supervision and leadership. They are immersed in fertile soils where seeds are planted and begin to grow through the extended “retreats.” Camp is a spiritual retreat where campers find Christian community and fellowship that is intentional with prayer, devotions, Bible study, and the sharing of testimonies. The thorns of the busyness of life interrupted with cell phones and technology is stripped away and campers have a chance to listen and "be still." Camp provides an incubator, prime growing conditions, for faith while God provides the life of that faith.
Please pray for Comeca, Fontanelle, and Norwesca that the hearts of our visiting campers might be prepared to receive and that our staff might be centered in Christ with the Holy Spirit moving mightily to God's glory in 2012.
There are many reasons why you and/or the kids and youth in your life should go to camp this year:
Is there anything more important than building a relationship with our God? Relationships take time; make time to send kids to camp!
Register for camp today by visiting www.umcneb.org/camps.
Contact your local camp for questions or to request a registration brochure:
Comeca (near Cozad) — Ron Gans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-784-2808
Norwesca (near Chadron) — Valerie Rahrs at email@example.com or 308-432-3872
Fontanelle (near Fremont) — Trent Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-459-0686
The Hastings Grace Community Garden is opening this spring! The garden is located to the east of Grace United Methodist Church’s parking lot in Hastings. A total of 26 plots are available for gardeners who don’t have an opportunity to grow fresh produce. The goals of our garden are to create opportunities for cross cultural interaction, to help families who are struggling in this economy and to promote healthy lifestyles.
We were able to launch this mission project because of funding through United Methodist Ministries and the USDA. With the grant, we were able to buy many garden items including a shed, a mower, a trimmer, hand tools, rakes, shovels, hoes, fencing, an irrigation system, a picnic table, garden signs and garden carts. We are now a Big Garden!
Volunteers have been very busy assembling the shed and picnic table, rototilling the garden area, trimming trees, digging post holes and installing the fence. To see
some photos of the garden, visit the church's blog site, www.gracecommunitygarden.blogspot.com.
United Methodist Ministries is pleased to participate once again in the Feinstein Foundation’s $1 Million Giveaway to Fight Hunger. This annual pledge drive helps community agencies raise funds to combat hunger. Participating agencies raise money during March and April and then a million dollars is split between all the participating agencies nationwide. But we need local church members to help us succeed. The more monetary donations that United Methodist Ministries receives, the more of the Feinstein money we will get. Your donations through April 30 count toward this grant program and support our work through the Big Garden, a growing network of over 72 gardens in Nebraska and Kansas. This is a unique opportunity to watch your donation grow!
Go to www.bigmuddyumc.org and click on the “Give Online” tab to donate right now. Or, send checks to United Methodist Ministries at 2665 Farnam Street, Suite 102, Omaha, NE 68131. Please write “challenge” in the subject line. We appreciate our supporters and know that we couldn’t do our work to eradicate hunger without you!
The fourth annual Grand Island HIV/AIDS Benefit Concert will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 13, in the Gollaher Chapel at the Trinity United Methodist Church, located at 511 N. Elm Street in Grand Island. Event organizers are suggesting a $5 donation per person be given at the door, and/or hygiene/cleaning products. Click here to view a list of needed items. Area artists participating in the concert include: Emily Dunbar, Peggy Lang, Doris Winkler, and Scott R. Taylor. All proceeds will benefit local area clients served by the Nebraska AIDS Project (NAP).
NAP was organized in 1984 when medical professionals, Catholic nuns, Health Department officials, concerned citizens, friends, family members, and loved ones joined together for one cause: fighting AIDS. NAP’s original goals were to provide compassionate support to those dying with AIDS and to provide education to prevent the further spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Today, the Nebraska AIDS Project remains true to that mission of prevention and support. With offices in Omaha, Lincoln, Norfolk, Kearney, and Scottsbluff, NAP continues to educate communities about HIV and AIDS and provide support and advocacy services for those living with the disease.
Currently, NAP serves approximately 500 individuals and their families that are affected by HIV and AIDS. The Kearney office alone serves nearly 100 of those individuals living with HIV, and the rate of new infections persists; every three and-a-half days, someone in Nebraska is newly infected with HIV.
Many individuals served by NAP are often in need of basic necessities such as medication, food, clothing, shelter, and transportation, and without NAP, these needs would go unmet. NAP relies heavily on donations from businesses, organizations, and individuals so that they can continue to provide their services statewide and they are thankful for all who give generously to help make their work possible.
Special annually held fundraising events, such as the Grand Island HIV/AIDS Benefit Concert, play a vital part in helping the Nebraska AIDS Project continue their vital work in the central part of Nebraska.
Photo: Performers from last year's AIDS benefit concert at Grand Island Trinity UMC.
Newman United Methodist Church in Lincoln is planning a mission trip to Lydia Patterson Institute (LPI) June 10-15, 2012.
For more information, view the attached flier.
The Rev. Steve Griffith, associate pastor at Lincoln Saint Paul UMC, was honored Tuesday, April 10, at the Nebraska Student Union, with the presentation of the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) community.
This award recognizes outstanding efforts to create an inclusive, respectful and safe climate for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community at UNL.
Griffith said, "It's an honor and an inspiration to work with these students to create a safe environment in which to learn and grow as young adults. It's a natural extension of our church's practice of radical hospitality."
Several Saint Paul members and staff attended the reception as well as UNL students, faculty and staff.
Photo: Juan Franco (left), vice president for student affairs, and Linda Crump (right), assistant to chancellor for equity, access and diversity programs present Griffith (center) with the award.
By Andrea Martinsen, Legal Assistant, Center for Legal Immigration Assistance
The Center for Legal Immigration Assistance’s mission is to provide quality, affordable immigration related legal services to immigrants and refugees in Nebraska. The following is the story about one of their clients.
Khoshimeg entered the United States as a university student six years ago. She came from a wealthy Mongolian family with political influence who dreamed of her finishing her American degree and returning to Mongolia to begin her career. In the midst of her studies, she met and fell in love with an American man. After a short courtship, they decided to get married. Upon hearing about their marriage, Khoshimeg’s family became irate and stopped supporting her financially. She then became completely dependent on her new American husband, as she could not work with a student visa.
After getting married, their relationship quickly changed. Khoshimegs husband became very aggressive with her and turned abusive physically, emotionally and sexually. He eventually abandoned their home and left Khoshimeg in a desperate situation. She was disconsolate because of the ending of her marriage and also unable to pay her bills. In the six months after her husband left her and until she consulted our office for help, she had slept in her car, stayed in a homeless shelter, and sought help from various friends.
Khoshimeg fears returning to Mongolia. During her childhood, her father was physically abusive to her mother and very aloof with his children. She is worried about how she will be received after her failed marriage. She consulted various lawyers in Nebraska about her immigration case. Before contacting our office, one lawyer quoted her $5,000 to submit her Immigration paperwork. Not being able to work and no longer receiving support from her family, she couldn’t imagine how she could afford this.
Our office helps many clients such as Khoshimeg from all parts of the world, who due to life circumstances have limited financial means to pay for legal assistance. We were able to file a self-petition for Khoshimeg based on her abusive United States citizen husband as well as an application for her lawful permanent residence. Khoshimeg has been able to get authorization to work and has begun to support herself and move on from this horrible chapter of her life.
CLIA is supported with Mission Shares and is monitored through the Risk-Taking Mission and Justice Ministries Team of the Common Table.
The Pickrell United Methodist Church awarded Bibles to 11 young people on April 1 during the Palm Sunday worship service. The young people, ages 6 through 12 years, earned their Bibles by learning the names of the books of the New Testament, the Greatest Commandment, the Lord's Prayer, and by performing at least one volunteer service for the church.
With Mother’s Day just a month away I would like to highlight for the next several weeks the many wonderful video studies we have at the Resource Center that not only celebrate the lives of women from the Bible, but also discuss the many issues that impact Christian women of today.
“Uppity Women of the Bible” is a four-volume study on Ruth, Song of Songs, Esther and Judith from the publisher of Living the Questions. Dr. Lisa Wolfe, a minister and professor of the Hebrew Bible, combines humor and scholarship to give new insights into Hebrew culture and customs and the lives of women in Old Testament times. The seven-sessions of the study of “Ruth” covers the themes of bitterness, hospitality, loyalty, poverty and seduction, the vulnerability of widows and the unenviable position of the foreigner. We recognize these as issues that have affected women across time and place. In the second volume, “Song of Songs,” Dr. Wolfe invites us in six sessions “into the adventure of re-reading and re-imagining this powerful and intriguing work of poetry and literature.” The third volume is a six-lesson study of the courageous Jewish heroine “Esther.” Dr. Wolfe digs deeply and lovingly into this complex story of how one woman became the symbol of hope and deliverance not only for ancient and modern Jewish people, but for women everywhere. The fourth volume, “Judith,” though unfamiliar to many Christians, is also an ancient Jewish story of how the faithfulness and strength of one woman led to freedom for the ancient Israelites during the time of the Maccabees.
Reserve one of the volumes of “Uppity women” today by emailing Diane Dunkerson at email@example.com or calling her at 1-800-435-6107. To learn about video studies at the Resource Center that celebrate the lives of faithful Christian women throughout the ages, visit our on line catalog at www.umcneb.org/ResourceCenter.
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The following correction is from the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD):
There is an error in the official United Methodist Revised Common Lectionary as printed in the Book of Worship. Since it was printed in the Book of Worship, the error has found its way into numerous lectionary-based publications and resources. The error is on page 233 of the Book of Worship, Year B, the “Sunday between June 12 and June 18 inclusive.” The Psalm appointed for that day is listed as Psalm 20 or Psalm 72 (UMH 795). The correct citation should be Psalm 20 or Psalm 92 (UMH 811). That Sunday comes up this year on June 17, 2012.
Nebraska United Methodist Conference Communications will be printing business cards in the coming month. If you would like a "Nebraska United Methodist Conference" branded business card, please contact Roxie Delisi at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the information you would like on your card, including church or agency affiliation, address, phone numbers, fax, e-mail, website, etc.
The cost is approximately $35 or less for 500 cards, depending on the number of people who choose to purchase cards.
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.