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In Events

By Mitch

Laity Training Event – 13 Oct at Christ’s Community UMC

On 12, Sep 2018 | In Events, Laity | By Mitch

District Fall Training Opportunites — Three Classes Offered on 13 October at Christ Community UMC


Download registration form here.


Download these readings if you are registering for the “Disciples Called to Do Climate Justice” course:

Download, print (2-sided, of course!), and read course material before class:

  1. Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, The Natural World section,  (3 pages)
  2. Gods Renewed Creation Study Guide 2009 (rev).pdf., The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, 2009   (18 pages)
  3. Three resolutions from “The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church-2016,” from The Natural World section, formatted into one document, Book of Resolutions 1001, 1033, 1035 2016 for SW District Course.pdf.  (11 pages)
    1. Resolution 1001, Energy Policy Statement
    2. Resolution 1033, Caring for Creation: A Call to Stewardship and Justice
    3. Resolution 1035, Climate Change and the Church’s Response

Check back here for potential information on current climate justice issues.



In Events
Ministry Spotlight

By Mitch

Southwest Missouri Climate Crisis Campaign

On 30, Aug 2018 | In Events, Laity, Ministry Spotlight, News | By Mitch

Southwest Missouri Climate Crisis Campaign

My name is Cheryl Marcum and I am the first United Methodist EarthKeeper in the Missouri Conference! I have been a member of Stockton United Methodist Church since I was 14, absentee for about three decades while my husband, Mitch Ross, now Southwest District lay leader, served on active duty in the U.S. Army.

Our God of all creation is full of surprises! Twelve years ago while living happily in Alexandria, Va., Mitch and I did the unthinkable when we answered God’s audacious call to build and move into an energy efficient solar home on the farm where I grew up in rural Cedar County, Missouri!

I was born with a vocation of creation care, but I mostly denied God’s persistent call until 2012. Soon after we moved to Cedar County, I felt God calling me to lead a creation care ministry at my home church, Stockton United Methodist. I didn’t know what that was or even if there was such a thing in the United Methodist Church. God persisted, and I resisted for five years by actively leading other more traditional ministries in my church instead, until 2012, when I finally surrendered, “Here am I. Send me.” I have been leading our active creation care ministry for six years.

In 2016, I heard about a new EarthKeepers ministry through the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and I didn’t resist, I immediately applied to become a United Methodist EarthKeeper. This new EarthKeepers program recognizes that God calls some people to be caretakers of the Earth, of God’s creation. It helps them make the connections between faith and action.

I attended the six days of training in August 2017, at Mount Sequoyah Retreat and Conference Center, Fayetteville, Ark. It bathed my weary soul with denominational affirmation that creation care is a cornerstone of discipleship. I am grateful to the GBGM for the opportunity to study creation care theology and to discern God’s call on my life to speak boldly and act decisively to disrupt our global climate crisis. The training strengthened my confidence and hardened my resolve.

Through prayerful discernment, each EarthKeeper-in-training chooses and designs a creation care project as a follow-up application to their week of training and commits to devote 10 hours per month to accomplish that project. I resisted the climate crisis project God placed in my heart, until I accepted that resistance was futile.

My project, southwest Missouri climate crisis campaign, is based on this premise. God dedicated us, human beings, to care for—to help renew—his creation which he called, “good.” God requires us to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. Yet, early in the 21st Century, do our United Methodist churches in our Southwest District present themselves to their community as God’s stewards for renewing his good creation, as disciples committed to climate justice?

God entrusted the care of our planet to us. Our mindless, excessive carbon emissions dangerously disrupt Earth’s climate systems, eco-systems, and the lives of our “neighbors” around the globe. As our Council of Bishops wrote in 2009, “We must begin the work of renewing creation by being renewed in our own hearts and minds. We cannot help the world until we change our way of being in it.” We 

must choose a lifestyle that transforms culturally acceptable, environmentally irresponsible choices into creation-respecting choices that bring about climate justice for all who suffer from our excessive carbon emissions. Climate justice means setting right our relationships with each other, with God, and with the Earth.

I am counting on God to open doors that I cannot. My job is to speak boldly and act decisively to disrupt our global climate crisis. I am stepping out in faith to initiate the conversation in our churches about our climate crisis, to make the connections between our faith and decisive actions we can take to disrupt it.

Our God of all creation is full of surprises. I just need (1) to share my personal climate crisis witness with people in 10 churches in our district, and (2) each of 10 churches in our district to enact one new ongoing climate action by December 31.

I intend my personal witness to reflect God’s love for and presence throughout his creation. To count, a new climate action must communicate to the community served by the church that this body of Christ takes seriously God’s call to care for—to help renew—his good creation. The process for each church introduces the people to creation care theology and leads them to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, a small step towards climate justice. Is God opening the door for your church to be one of the 10?

For more information, contact me at my email or landline, (417) 276-2501.

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Missouri Conference Action Plan

On 07, Aug 2018 | In Events, From Mark, Laity, Ministry Spotlight, News, Reminder | By Rebecca


MISSION: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

VISIONThe Missouri Conference will relentlessly lead our churches to become outwardly focused and spiritually centered Christ followers.


Upcoming Events



In From Mark

By Rebecca

A Recap of Annual Conference 2018

On 01, Aug 2018 | In From Mark, Laity | By Rebecca

A recap of Annual Conference 2018 and goal moving forward for the year to come.



In Laity

By Rebecca

Which Relationship Do You Choose?

On 31, Jul 2018 | In Laity | By Rebecca

Which relationship do you choose? Reflect with Mark on time away, how you observe a personal Sabbath, and whether a relationship with the world or a relationship with God is more important.



In Laity

By Rebecca

5 Cups of Coffee

On 11, Jun 2018 | In Laity | By Rebecca

Southwest District United Methodist Church: 5 Cups of Coffee
As we return from Annual Conference this week, reflect with Mark on this video blog on how you can start conversations on calling and discipleship.



In Laity

By Rebecca

Annual Conference Info ’18

On 22, May 2018 | In Laity | By Rebecca

Mark overviews some info regarding changes for Annual Conference in 2018.

Links mentioned in the video:

Annual Conference Website:

Conference Vimeo Channel:



In Events

By Mitch

Charge Conference + Holy Momentum

On 23, Oct 2017 | In Events, Laity, News | By Mitch

Charge Conference for churches in the Southwest District is at St Paul’s United Methodist Church on November 4th. The usual charge conference business is planned during a working lunch hour, but the highlight of the day is a class by Sue Nilson Kibbey beginning that morning.  She is the author of Flood Gates, Holy Momentum for a Fearless Church and is best know for her breakthrough prayer initiative. Her book makes an urgent case for change in our prayer lives and shifting each congregation’s culture toward omnipresent discipleship. In other words, this is an opportunity to hear how to transform your church into a congregation of daring, Spirit-driven disciples. Sue Nilson Kibbey never disappoints to deliver a compelling message about the power of prayer.

Flood Gates begins at 9:30am (gathering at 9am), Saturday 4 November at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 2423 W. 26th Street in Joplin. Registration is $20 which includes materials and lunch for those attending the charge conference. You may register by going directly to the Southwest District Facebook page and selecting “Events.” All training materials and lunch will be provided with your registration.  Notify your pastor you want to attend before you register. 

Churches attending charge conference must have all paperwork approved by their respective church councils with proper signatures.

NOTE:  The Sue Nilson Kibbey event has minimum attendance requirements per church.

  • For churches under 30 – 2 laity and the pastor
  • For churches 30-90 – 3 laity and the pastor
  • For churches greater than 90 – 4 laity and the pastor



In Events

By Mitch

The First Earthkeeper in Missouri is from the Southwest District

On 28, Jul 2017 | In Events, Laity | By Mitch

Full disclosure: I am married to Cheryl Marcum, a candidate for Earthkeeper, scheduled for commissioning on August 6.  

Maybe you’ve heard of Earthkeepers.  They are United Methodists who discerned a call from God to a vocation of caring for God’s creation. They help us understand how caring for God’s creation is a core part of our identity as disciples of Jesus Christ. 

The first Earthkeeper in the Missouri Conference will be from the Southwest District, Stockton United Methodist Church.  Cheryl Marcum will be commissioned an Earthkeeper at the commissioning ceremony at Trinity United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, upon completion of the August 1-6 Earthkeepers Training Conference at Mount Sequoyah Retreat & Conference Center in Fayetteville. 

Earthkeepers is the inspiration of Rev. Pat Watkins, a recently retired missionary for God’s Creation with the General Board of Global Ministries.  His successor, Rev. Jenny Phillips, will lead this new, globally-focused ministry, based at the new Global Ministries’ Center for Mission Innovation in Atlanta.  

Earthkeepers can be laity or clergy.  Each Earthkeeper is required to participate in four days of intense training in creation care theology, best practices in climate conversations, UMC resources for advocacy and action, and then commit to 10 hours per month of providing leadership for a community project or advocacy campaign.  An Earthkeeper selects her or his own focus area, for example: creating a community garden, advocating for climate action or renewable energy policies, working for environmental justice by cleaning up toxic waste sites, or creating a green team within a church, district, or conference.  These actions connect the local church directly to community concerns.

Do you have someone in your congregation who is called to to become an Earthkeeper, to serve as a caretaker of God’s good creation?

Many people have thought of God’s creation in terms of advocacy but not as a valid mission of the church. God’s creation is as appropriate a mission field as Nigeria or the Philippines or wherever else. In order to be in mission to God’s people, we have to be in ministry to God’s creation.” – Rev. Pat Watkins

Read more at:

Innovative Program Aims to Commission 500 Earthkeepers, The Missouri Methodist, August 2017, page 9.

New Earthkeepers Program Aims to Commission 500 for Creation Care Work

Caretakers of God’s Creation is a grassroots community of United Methodists.



In Laity

By Mitch

Are You a New Lay Member to Annual Conference? Read on….

On 02, Jun 2017 | In Laity | By Mitch

Bishop Farr will preside at Annual Conference

What lay members to annual conference need to know:

Each year, our bishop presides over the annual conference for worship, fellowship, and to conduct the business of the United Methodist Church in Missouri. Annual conference includes reports of ongoing ministry, future goals, programs, budgets and the ordination of clergy. Workshops, live music, training sessions and exhibits add to the experience you take back to your congregation.

An effective lay member to annual conference returns to his/her local church to inform the congregation about the decisions, news, and learning experiences. As the elected member from the congregation, it is the responsibility of the lay member to interpret the actions of annual conference to the congregation. We are a connectional church and the lay member to annual conference strengthens the connection between the local congregation and the Missouri Conference.

Talk with your pastor before annual conference

Endeavor to understand the hopes and dreams of your local church and search for ways your leadership can advance the vision for ministry. Prepare for annual conference.

  1. Talk to people in your congregation who have attended previous annual conference sessions.
  2. Take advantage of pre-conference orientation sessions and information on the annual conference website to prepare you to learn and to contribute to the life of the church.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the ministries and concerns of your congregation.
  4. Become familiar with the rules of annual conference and basic parliamentary procedure.
  5. Participate in pre-conference sessions that cover upcoming issues, budgetary items, and proposed resolutions.
  6. On Friday of the conference attend the laity session and southwest district laity breakout.  This is an opportunity to meet other district lay leaders and share ministries and experiences.

As soon as practical after the close of the conference, report your experience to your church council in cooperation with your pastor. Communication truly improves connection.  

Amy Thompson, Conference Lay Leader, addresses Annual Conference 2016

Use resources available online

Read this handout to understand your role:

Watch this video recap of annual conference 2016:

Check out this publication by Cokesbury:

A great deal of info is available at the conference website:

Talk to your District Lay Leaders

District lay leaders can provide resources to point you in the right direction. Connect with your district lay leaders at annual conference – they want to help. The key responsibility of the lay member is linking the vision and resources of annual conference back to the mission of the local congregation. Ask district lay leaders, Marsha Egan and Mitch Ross, any questions you have and keep the link between annual conference and the local church strong.



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