Category Archives: Resources

Resource Grant Applications Open!

We have received $250/district in a grant from the Great Plains Conference to help folks across the connection live out the four commitments of UMCNext. Our hope is that this money can kickstart work toward inclusion in your church. Our goal is that this can especially help churches who might be starting this journey toward inclusion. Some ideas might be:

  • curriculum for a Sunday School class or small group (our Resource Team would be happy to help you figure out the best resource for your group)
  • bringing a speaker to your church / class / small group
  • travel expenses to get to the Building Inclusive Church Training

We will evaluate applications at the end of each month until our grant runs out and can’t wait to see how God is calling you to live out these commitments right here in the Great Plains! Encourage your friends all over Kansas and Nebraska to apply.

GP UMCNext Resource Grant Application

Building Inclusive Church Training

We are THRILLED to invite you to the Great Plains Building Inclusive Church Training on Saturday, March 28 from 9:00am-3:00pm at Topeka First UMC. Laura Young, regional organizer for the South Central Jurisdiction for Reconciling Ministries Network, will be leading us. This will be a workshop that you can come to individually or with a group from your church to learn about how to become a more inclusive church no matter your starting point. The day will include:

  • SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity & Expression) Training
    • Learn vocabulary and make sure we understand the words we use and fully include all of God’s children with our language. Whether you have been inclusive for a long time or not, language continues to change. This will be a helpful way for every individual and church to grow.
  • Reconciling Process Overview
    • If you are looking for ways for your church to take steps to officially become (and continue to be) a church that is inclusive, you will learn what your church would need to do to become a reconciling congregation with Reconciling Ministries Network.
  • Storytelling Training
    • Each one of us has a story to tell about why we support LGBTQ+ inclusion in the UMC. We will learn how to share our stories in ways that are concise, meaningful, and helpful as we organize toward a more inclusive church. We will practice our stories and leave equipped with our most powerful tool to witnessing to our faith in God as inclusive United Methodists–our story!

The day will include lunch and is FREE to you! We are so grateful to the Great Plains Conference for offering a grant to GP UMCNext that will cover the cost of the day. If you’d like to contribute, there will be a chance to give an offering to Reconciling Ministries Network to support their continued organizing all across the denomination. Sign up below by March 24 and let us know if you have any questions at all.

Sign Up to Attend Building Inclusive Church Training

LGBTQ+ Missional Leaders Grant

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.” They are actively awarding those grants! If you have received one, we would love to feature your story! Let us know what God is calling you to do. 

Link: LGBTQ+ Missional Leaders Grant Application

Save the Date: Building Inclusive Church Training

Date: Saturday, March 28, 2020. Location: TBD. We received a grant from the Great Plains Conference to help live out the UMCNext commitments. One way we are doing this is to offer a workshop for church leaders who want to help their churches become more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people. It will help give you tools to have conversations in your churches, learn best practices, and also talk about the Reconciling process. We are in the beginning stages of planning, but would love to hear from you if you are interested! Check next month’s newsletter for more detailed information, but don’t hesitate to reach out now.

Pronouns Matter, and So Does How You Apologize

Jesi Lipp (they/them) attends St. Paul’s UMC in Lenexa where they serve on the Church Council and as a lay member of Annual Conference. They serve on the Great Plains Connecting Council, and have previously served on the Great Plains Mercy and Justice Team. Jesi was elected to be a delegate to the 2020 South Central Jurisdictional Conference.

Names are important. What we call ourselves is fundamental to who we are. Stories that remind us of this are found through our faith: Abram and Sarai becoming Abraham and Sarah, the naming of John the Baptist, Simon Peter as the rock the church is built on, Saul becoming Paul on the road to Damascus. And if names matter, then surely pronouns – which are used to identify us far more than our names are, many times over – cannot be any less important.

There are plenty of resources out there about why pronouns matter, including in the workplace and at schoolgender neutral pronouns, and how to use some of those newer pronouns that you might not be familiar with. And, since Merriam-Webster made singular they its Word of the Year for 2019, we can surely all dispense with the silly idea that singular they is “ungrammatical” or “wrong.”

But, of course, even if you read every pronoun explainer that has ever been published, there are going to be times when you mess up (I’ve been using they/them for 18 months now, and I still sometimes use the wrong pronouns when I speak in third person).

So what do you do when you make a mistake, either when you realize it on your own, or someone else points it out to you?

Correct it, and move on:

“We wanted to go to the game, so she – sorry, they – bought us tickets.”

“I was telling him about my day-”
“Taylor uses ze/zir pronouns.”
“Right, sorry. I was telling zir about my day, and ze was really sympathetic.”

Don’t stop talking and wait for the person to verbally acknowledge your apology so that you can then thank them for understanding and then they can tell you not to worry about it, they know everyone messes up sometimes, and hey, they still misgender themselves in the third person sometimes! You’ve now completely derailed the conversation and made it about your mistake.

Don’t tell the person you misgendered how sorry you are, that you’ll never do it again, you really do care about them and you would never want to make them uncomfortable, you’re learning and you’re trying and you’re really so very, very sorry. That kind of overwrought apology, however genuine, now makes them responsible for comforting you.

Don’t make an extended thing out of it. A quick “sorry,” correcting the error, and then moving on isn’t the bare minimum. It’s the maximum. For you, it’s maybe the first time you’ve spoken to this person in a month, and you really want to make sure they understand that you love and support them. But for them, it could be the fifth or twentieth time today that someone has misgendered them, and it’s exhausting.

This is, of course, where I point out that I can’t speak for every trans person out there. This is my opinion from my lived experience, and from talking with my trans friends about their experiences. The important thing to keep in mind is that it’s not about you. When you accidentally misgender someone, your response should be about making them feel comfortable, not making yourself feel better. And often, that means that less is more.

#ResistHarm Launches Nationally

The national movement we have been waiting for has arrived! The movements we love (UMCNext, Mainstream UMC, Reconciling Ministries Network, Uniting Methodists, MFSA, and more!) have come together to organize our resistance efforts to the harm that has been caused by the anti-LGBTQ Traditional Plan. 

The #ResistHarm website is a gold mine of prayers, education, worship resources, direct action guidance, clergy support, and action ideas. Seriously, go check it out right now.

It is exciting to see folks, just like those of us in the Great Plains, doing this work of resistance all over the connection.

There are many ways you can support this effort:

  • Like their Facebook page
  • Sign up for their emails
  • Change your profile picture to include the #ResistHarm frame
  • Participate in the Jan. 4 and/or Jan. 5 GP #ResistHarm Kickoff

Our team will continue to learn from this movement and be a part of the growing resistance! We aren’t alone and the movement for resisting harm is growing!

Do You Anticipate Charges 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 Rev. David Livingston or Rev. Lora Andrews. We promise to hold your story in confidence.

“I’m New Here” — Clergy Resources

Reconciling Ministries: This is My Story
Reconciling Ministries Network has a web-page filled with the stories of LGBTQ United Methodists.

The Reformation Project: Biblical Case
The Reformation Project has a short, ten-point summary of the arguments for full inclusion that features a short video from Matthew Vines.

Matthew Vines makes the same arguments above in more detail in his book, God and the Gay Christian: the Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships.If you finish that and want more, you might consider Changing our Mind by David P. Gushee. Be sure to look for the third edition which includes a transcript of the excellent speech, “Ending the Teaching of Contempt.” Looking for a Wesleyan perspective? Try Holy Love: A Biblical Theology for Human Sexuality by Stephen Harper.

“For the Bible Tells Me So” Documentary
One easy way to explore LGBTQ inclusion for yourself and possibly begin a discussion in your church might be with a viewing and discussion of the 2007 documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So.” The Human Rights Campaign has a free discussion guide at the link above.

Faithful and Inclusive—the Bible, Sexuality, and the United Methodist Church
A six-session, DVD-based study from the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship at Southwestern College.

“I’m New Here” — Laity Resources

Clip from the documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So”
Video of basics about the bible and the specific verses mentioning homosexuality

Guide to being a Straight Ally from PFLAG
Many articles and resources to support LQBT people and their families and people who work with children and youth

Gender Terminology Guide
From Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

Pronouns Resource

Resources from Queer Theology
Many articles and resources to support LQBT people and their families and people who work with children and youth. Stand-alone resource. Very helpful for Christians

Our Bible App
An alternative to the non-affirming YouVersion that provides basics for everyone—could be helpful for anyone affirming and open

Queer Grace
A stand-alone reference guide. Helpful for new people who are worried they will sound dumb if they ask questions out loud

Additional Resources:
The Trevor Project: Resources for Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth

Brave Commons – Queer College Students Leading Bible Studies

The Liturgists Podcast LGBTQ

God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines

Podcast – Making Gay History

A Brief Guide to Ministry with LGBTQIA Youth by Cody J. Sanders (2017)

Biblical Case for LGBTQ Affirmation on Reformation Project