I Speak in Favor of One Conference in Nebraska and Kansas #kwc12 #gpgp

English: , located on west side of just north ...
English: , located on west side of just north of the Nebraska-Kansas border in southern . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was my first time to speak on the floor of annual conference. While it was not exactly what came out, this is what I prepared:

My name is Andrew Conard. I am a clergy member of the annual conference.

I am currently serving at Church of the Resurrection in the Kansas City area and will begin serving at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado beginning July 1.

I speak in favor of forming the Great Plains Annual Conference.

Since its statehood more than 150 years ago, Kansas has been a place of action, a place where people could rally around a cause. Whether it was the abolition of slavery, settling the untamed prairie or recovering from disaster, Kansans mobilized around the cause and demonstrated great leadership abilities.

This is the time to demonstrate leadership in the United Methodist Church on the Great Plains. The annual conference exists to equip the local church for ministry. Becoming one annual conference in Kansas and Nebraska creates the best opportunity for the conference to fulfill its purpose on the Great Plains so that all of our local churches can make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Since I was first appointed to serve in Kansas in 2006, I have prayed every week for three things: the mission and vision of the local church where I serve, renewal within the United Methodist Church and spiritual revival across the state. I believe that forming the Great Plains Annual Conference is the next faithful step in our life together of living God’s dream for us as United Methodists in Nebraska and Kansas.

Members of my family are active in the United Methodist churches in Norwich, Plains, Sterling, Burdett and First-Hutchinson. My father is a United Methodist pastor and his father was a United Methodist pastor. The Kansas West Annual Conference is my home.

The month before we began to serve under appointment in Kansas, my wife and I were driving to Colorado on our honeymoon and we made a point to visit two of the churches where my granddad was appointed – the United Methodist Churches in Tribune and Towner on the Kansas / Colorado border. It was a blessing to step into those sacred spaces. I am proud of the United Methodist lay and clergy people who have come before me and been a part of faithful and fruitful ministry all across this Annual Conference for decades. This annual conference is part of who I am.

The Great Plains Annual Conference will be a change. There is no way around it. I believe that this change is the next faithful step in our life together as United Methodists on the Great Plains. I pray that we will continue together in faithful and fruitful ministry.

One hundred years from now, I want the people of the United Methodist Church in Nebraska and Kansas to look back and remember 2012 as a milestone in our lives together when courageous United Methodist took action that fanned the flames of spiritual revival across the Great Plains.

I urge you to vote in favor of forming the Great Plains Annual Conference.

Great Plans for the Great Plains – #GPGP or #Kanaska

I support the formation of a new United Methodist Annual Conference that would cover Kansas and Nebraska. This possibility was put before the annual conference sessions of Nebraska, Kansas East and Kansas West this year as a five finger vote (PDF). This is basically a way to share a level of approval or disapproval without an up or down vote. You can read more about it at Three conferences express support for moving forward as one.

I believe that it was wise to receive this input before the opportunity to vote up or down on this proposal. The team that is working on considering this transition has a great deal of work still ahead. I was most hopeful about the openness of sharing the responses to the vote. You can find all of the open ended responses online here. I read through some but not all of the comments. For me, the willingness to share these responses is a positive sign. I am confident that the transition team, along with those addressing some of the technical changes will be able to move forward in a way that will bring positive change across the area.

Kansas West Annual Conference – Day 3 #ksw2011

Day 3 of Annual Conference went well. Here are some of the highlights:

  • We took the 5 finger vote in response to the Great Plan for the Great Plains, in which we are considering the possibility of one annual conference across the states of Kansas and Nebraska
  • We passed resolutions to close seven United Methodist Churches. This is never easy, but it is necessary.
  • The Harry Denman Evangelism Award was awarded to three recipients.
  • The Bridges to the Future capital campaign which was undertaken
  • Sharing a meal with Jeff and Amy to talk about life and parenting, as they are a month away from a new member of their family.
  • Completed election of our general and jurisdictional conference delegation. Laity seem to beat the clergy every year and this is no exception.
Life is good as part of the Kansas West Annual Conference.

Kansas West Annual Conference – Day 1 #ksw2011

Pronto Pups
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It was a good first full day of Kansas West Annual Conference. Some of my reflections from the day:

  • The Great Plans for the Great Plains conversation about a new annual conference across Kansas and Nebraska continues to be a lively.
  • The Kansas State Fairgrounds has provided an excellent venue for meeting. (Although, I still wish that a Pronto Pup stand was open.)
  • I enjoy being a teller. This involves passing out and picking up ballots, resolutions and other material to the members of the Annual Conference.
  • It is very much a means of grace to gather together in Christian conferencing.
  • It was good to hear from The Reverend Cynthia Fierro Harvey the Deputy General Secretary of The United Methodist Committee on Relief.

Evaluation that Leads to Cuts: Senior Staff Retreat (4 of 4)

Cutting warm bread, at Q's party, Broadview Ne...
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The conversation around the  Call to Action: Reordering the Life of the UMC and the subsequent UMC Leadership Summit, as well as the conversation in Kansas and Nebraska about Great Plans for the Great Plains: A Vision (PDF Link), I have been reflecting on the time that I spent on the spring senior staff retreat at Resurrection in which we read together, Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results.

How do you do evaluate the programs and ministries of your local church? It is part of my life in ministry to always ask the question – How could we improve? A time of reflection, evaluation and planning to improve is important. What I had not considered carefully before was evaluation that lead to an ending. This is not just asking – How could we improve? Instead it is asking the question,  “Do we need to be doing this any longer?” This could be connected with my earlier post about strategic pruning.

How do you evaluate? Does your evaluation lead to cuts?

Seasons of Work and Rest: Senior Staff Retreat (3 of 4)

"The Covered Wagon of the Great Western M...
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The conversation around the  Call to Action: Reordering the Life of the UMC and the subsequent UMC Leadership Summit, as well as the conversation in Kansas and Nebraska about Great Plans for the Great Plains: A Vision (PDF Link), I have been reflecting on the time that I spent on the spring senior staff retreat at Resurrection in which we read together, Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results.

It is important to attend to seasons of work and rest. I am aware of this across the course of a year. As a pastor, there are seasons of the year when I will work many more hours in a week than others, for example – Easter and Christmas Eve. I have become better at paying attention to these ebbs and flows. What I realized on this retreat is that this is true across the course of a week and a day as well.

In a week, there will be days when work is more and less intense.

In a day, there will be hours when work is more and less intense.

From your experience, have you found this to be true? I would be interested to hear more – yes or no.

Strategic Pruning: Senior Staff Retreat (2 of 4)

View of the Great Plains near Lincoln, Nebraska
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The conversation around the  Call to Action: Reordering the Life of the UMC and the subsequent UMC Leadership Summit, as well as the conversation in Kansas and Nebraska about Great Plans for the Great Plains: A Vision (PDF Link), I have been reflecting on the time that I spent on the spring senior staff retreat at Resurrection in which we read together, Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results.

If your organization is strategically planning, it is also important to strategically prune.

When have you or your church stopped doing something good so that you could do something better and better align with God’s work in the world?