A Response to the Charleston Church Shootings

Over the past few days, I have continued in prayer for Charleston. I want to share a portion of my response to the Charleston Church Shootings which I preached this morning at First United Methodist Church. I believe it is important and inadequate. You can find the entire sermon and manuscript online here.


Let me be clear:
God never intends us to choose evil.
The Charleston Church Shootings were not part of God’s plan.
Racism, murder and tragedy will never be God’s will.
Evil is never, ever God’s plan.

Each one of us has choices to make every day.
We choose between good and evil.
We choose between forgiveness and resentment.
We choose between light and darkness.
The choices that we make – both big and small lead us closer to God or further away from God.

Choose good.
Choose forgiveness.
Choose light and life.
Choose to follow Jesus Christ, Emmanuel – God is with us.

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Excellence in Ministry #umbom14 – Reflections and Next Steps

This week I was part of the BOM Mid Quad Training Event in Denver. After some reflection, I want to share some possible next steps for me and for our Board of Ordained Ministry. Here goes…

Next Steps for the Board of Ordained Ministry

  • Have God’s eyes for big possibilities
  • Consider process changes to encourage and identify highly motivated, self-starting, creative and entrepreneurial leaders.
  • Be steady in purpose, but flexible in strategy. -Gil Rendle
  • Continue commitment to change and diversify
  • Be intentional in language used around the candidacy process – What do we do? Why do we do it?
  • Focus on telling the story of the Great Plains Board of Ordained Ministry – not the stories of the Board from our former conferences.
  • Explore ways to recruit before self-selection as a candidate
  • Identify the small changes which would make the biggest difference in changing the dynamics of the Board.

Next Steps for Me

  • Have God’s eyes for big possibilities
  • Actively engage as a lifelong learner, i.e. D. Min, conferences, reading, etc.
  • Be part of addressing the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities of being a global denomination with a democratic polity.
  • Consider additional opportunities to serve at the annual, jurisdictional and general conferences
  • Look for ways to further develop my:
    • emotional intelligence
    • understanding of systems theory
  • Continuously look for the gifts in others, name and cultivate those gifts, and unleash these gifts and people into the ministry and community.
  • Seek out those who would mentor me and those who could be mentored by me.
  • Recognize that deep change means surrendering control.
  • Identify the small changes which would make the biggest difference in my leadership in the local church
  • Seek both mastery and originality

Will you please share your thoughts, feelings and opinions about these lists? What changes could be most helpful for the Great Plains Board of Ordained Ministry? How might I best improve my work as an Elder in the United Methodist Church?

Excellence in Ministry #umbom14 – Reflections from Day 1

This week I am Denver for the BOM Mid Quad Training Event. The event is designed around the theme of Excellence in Ministry and is designed to help annual conferences make progress on the systems contribute to recruiting, supporting, nurturing, and holding clergy accountable. I am here in my role as Treasurer and member of the Call team of the Great Plains Board of Ordained Ministry.

I had to put my seminary brain back on to catch up with Randy Maddox as he began his talk yesterday. I appreciated the depth of his presentation about the historical and theological underpinning for excellence in ministry in the United Methodist Church. It is pretty incredible to be in the same room with Bishops, cabinets and BOM teams from across the nation.  I am looking forward to the rest of the event and bringing back new possibilities for sustaining and expanding excellence in ministry in the Great Plains.

Some Things Change and Some Things Stay the Same

It has been 649 days since my last blog post.

Much has changed since then.

  • Our children are 3 and 2, respectively.
  • I switched from WordPress.com to a WordPress installation, thereby starting over on traffic and links.
  • I am beginning my third year as the pastor appointed to serve First UMC of El Dorado, KS.
  • We have a brand new back lawn and a new roof at the parsonage.
  • I am a member of the Great Plains Annual Conference.

What has not changed is that I am blogging to contribute to the renewal of the church. My hope is that this  will be accomplished by:

  • Making resources available which I have developed for use in the local church
  • Contributing to a middle way / extreme center theological position online
  • Sharing who I am with the congregation to which I am appointed and the annual conference in which I serve.
  • Sharing a distinct voice with background of serving as an appointed pastor for six years at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection and currently at First UMC El Dorado.

Will you please share your thoughts,  feelings and opinions about what will help accomplish this purpose?

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

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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.