Category Archives: United Methodist Connection

Remaining United Methodist

Bishop Saenz has put out a video about why he will remain United Methodist following the launch of the Global Methodist Church  (GMC) on May 1, 2022. He names many of the reasons why I will remain United Methodist as well. The United Methodist Church has long been a big tent denomination and I love the image the Bishop used of the UMC having a hard Jesus center and being soft around the edges to include all kinds of folks. 

And because I had a question about this, let me assure you that remaining United Methodist as a member of Abilene First is easy. You just stay right where you are. There’s nothing else you need to do. If you’re conservative, and you choose to stay—fear not—it looks like you’ll have plenty of company. The UMC will remain a big tent denomination.

Thoughts on Postponement

When I went to put yesterday’s announcement about General Conference being postponed until 2024 into the bulletin for Sunday, I added a few thoughts of my own about how this will affect Abilene First. You can find them below:

This will not be an easy time for our denomination, but my hope is that since Abilene First has always been staunchly United Methodist it will not negatively affect us on the local church level. The UMC is not perfect, but no church is (and, until Jesus returns, no church will be). We do a great deal of good together. (For example, today we’re supporting relief in Ukraine through the United Methodist Committee on Relief.)

I love the United Methodist Church because of our Wesleyan focus on God’s love and God’s grace. These two themes run throughout scripture and were fully embodied in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. When we talk about inclusion and belonging for all people, we are not being hopelessly optimistic or politically correct. Instead, we tapping into the New Testament’s vision of the church.  I love being part of a denomination that advocates for Spirit empowered holiness on both the personal and social level. I’ve spoken to many of you who feel the same way. We’re not going anywhere and God has promised to be with us through every storm.

Bishop Saenz Asks for Prayers for Ukraine

Below is a letter from our Bishop, Ruben Saenz:

Today, Russia launched an unprovoked military invasion against the people of Ukraine. United Methodist Church Bishop Christian Alsted – of the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area – is asking for United Methodists to stand with the United Methodists in Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in intercessory prayer for protection, reconciliation and peace.

We pray especially for Bishop Eduard Khegay, [United Methodist] bishop of Russia and Ukraine, for wisdom and grace as he shepherds congregations on both sides of the conflict.

Friends, the words of St. Paul encourages us to “suffer together with those that suffer.” (1 Corinthians 12:26a)

For the sake of your sorrowful passion, dear Lord, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.
Great Plains Conference

The letter above can be found at:

A letter from Bishop Christian Alsted of the Baltic and Nordic Episcopal Area can be found here:

Lunch with the New District Superintendent

This coming Wednesday (July 14, 2021) at 11:30 a.m., there will be a luncheon in the Salina First UMC fellowship hall to welcome our new District Superintendent, Karen Rice Ratzlaff. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come to this event and meet Karen.

Lunch is free, but you need to register your plans to attend so that enough food can be prepared. Please reply online by noon on Tuesday, July 13, by completing the following form: or call the Abilene First UMC office at 785-263-2623 by 11 a.m.

I don’t know what the exact definition of a luncheon is, but I do know that Salina First is right next to Cozy Inn, so we’ll have options.

New District Superintendent

Our current District Superintendent, Rev. Delores “Dee” Williamston will become the new Director of Clergy Excellence and Assistant to the Bishop effective July 1. You can read more here. I’ll miss Dee, but I’m very excited for her to receive this opportunity and bring her gifts to bear for the entire annual conference.

Rev. Williamston will be replaced by Rev. Karen Rice Ratzlaff, who I think will be an excellent DS. (Jenny knows her better than I do and she agrees with this assessment.) You can read more about Rev. Ratzlaff here. Like Dee, she will be serving both the Salina and Hutchinson Districts.

The 2021 Annual Conference Will Be Virtual

2021 ANNUAL CONFERENCE WILL BE VIRTUAL — This week it was announced that the 2021 Annual Conference (the meeting of United Methodists from all over Kansas and Nebraska) will again be held online. The explanation from the Bishop (and I agree) is as follows:

“As we enjoy warming temperatures, spring moves closer on our horizon, and the COVID-19 pandemic appears finally to be easing across Kansas and Nebraska, vaccinations across our two states lag. Put simply, with us coming so close to overcoming the virus, now is not the time to put down our guard or put people at risk. This is why we will not meet in person on May 26-29 in Grand Island, Nebraska, as previously planned.”

The theme for this annual conference session is: “Love me … and know that I am God” (Psalm 46; John 21:15-19).

Preaching Purple

Today I’m (virtually) attending the annual clergy gathering and continuing education event in the Great Plains Conference. The theme this year is “Preaching Purple” based on the book Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide by Leah Schade. I’m looking forward to learning how I can better lead First UMC through this difficult time.

The Fourth Camry

If you drive by the parsonage, you may notice that there is another Camry parked outside. This is the conference car for Jenny’s new appointment as a District Superintendent. The conference provides each D.S. with a vehicle, not as a perk, but because it’s cheaper than paying them mileage. If Jenny drives the car for personal use, she’ll have to pay the conference back for the privilege, so you’ll probably see it sitting out in the driveway a lot.