2020 Retirees

The Great Plains Conference invited clergy retiring in 2020 to send in a short video reflecting on their time in ministry or to send in brief statements regarding their time as pastors. 

A video of thanks and celebration will be posted to the website following our May 30 revised annual conference session teleconference.

Retiree Videos

See short videos from these retiring pastors, in order of appearance, who submitted clips:

  • Rev. Gary Main
  • Rev. Beverly Hieb
  • Rev. Michael Ricci-Roberts
  • Rev. Warren Schoming
  • Rev. John Martin
  • Pastor Lila Bottolfsen
  • Rev. Tamara Holtz


Retiree Reflections             

Rev. Tammy Aubushon

Lessons I learned along the way of 40 years in ministry:

“Check your ego at the door.” Those were words from Zan Holmes to the body of annual conference reminding us that ministry is not about putting the focus on yourself, not about being in the limelight. The second lesson is similar, “It’s not about you!” Our call is to be a servant leader, one who leads by example … the example “from the cross — vertical — love God, and horizontal — love others.” That’s the key to it all!

I am thankful for the many people who have walked beside me in ministry, teaching and leading me, and sharing in the journey. There have been joys and bumps along the way, with each one giving me the opportunity to grow in faith and understanding. Thank you for the memories, for the struggles, for the forgiveness, and most of all for the acceptance and love.  “May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, may the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” Shalom!



Rev. Claudia Bakely

I was a PK, so I grew up surrounded by wonderful, Christian people. I began my career as a registered nurse, graduating from KU in 1978, and spent 23 years before, during, and after school in various areas of nursing. I entered seminary at St. Paul School of Theology in 1998, and served as the youth director at Tonganoxie UMC while I was attending graduate school. 

I was appointed as associate to Emporia First United Methodist Church after completing seminary, and was blessed to serve under senior pastors the Revs. Jim Darby and then Nancy Gammill. They were both wonderful teachers and beloved colleagues! I was ordained in 2008. After five years at Emporia, I was sent to Basehor UMC, where we benefited from great growth in the area. I was then sent to Manhattan where I served as Flint Hills District superintendent, and have had the great blessing to serve for seven years with awe-inspiring pastors, faithful, loving lay people, two gifted bishops, and a whole bunch of fun, brilliant, and creative DSes! 

I have been surrounded by the Holy Spirit’s work in all of these people, and have been the recipient of gifts beyond measure through their love and work.

Children: Stephen and William Lipe

Flint Hills District Superintendent


Rev. James Brackett

As I move toward retirement, it has been a joy serving the Lord in United Methodist churches. My wife, Debbie, who has been my partner in ministry since our marriage on Dec. 18, 1971, and I are looking forward to this change of pace. We anticipate being able to visit our children — Rachel, James, Andrew, and Peter — spending time with them, our 10 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. 

We have enjoyed meeting new people in every setting the Lord has opened up to us and have been blessed to be able to serve the UMCs in Brewster/Winona, Oakley, Effingham, Elkhart, Healy/Utica, and Beloit, Kansas communities. These people have supported and loved us, making us feel like we were a part of their extended family. We have appreciated the opportunities each brought our way.

In our retirement, we anticipate continuing to do ministry as the Lord leads while having more time to devote to our hobbies and family. Our prayers for our beloved denomination will continue as others carry on with the task of proclaiming the Good News of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness in Christ Jesus.

Spouse:  Debbie (Married 12/18/1971)
Children:  Rachel, James, Andrew and Peter


Dennis Davenport

I have been blessed to serve Jesus Christ in the local churches these past nine years at Burwell and Taylor, Nebraska. My wife, Ardith, and our grown children (Adam,  Andrew, and Emily) and their families have been supportive and encouraging to us. 

The churches have lifelong United Methodist and Evangelical Brethren families that have loved on us while we’ve been here. Our churches have maintained solid ministry to our communities and the area through:

  • Outreach and caring efforts.   
  • Support to our local schools. 
  • Mission and education through United Methodist Women connections.
  • Ongoing Christian education to all age groups of our two congregations.
  • Maintenance and upkeep of our church property. 

People say our Sunday worships and wedding/funeral/confirmation events are all opportunities for presenting God’s Word and Sacraments in real and personal ways.

I am very confident as we enter retirement that The Wesleyan influence will continue to be presented in the two churches in Taylor and Burwell. Thanks to our friends and colleagues in the Great Plains Conference — and so long in the name of Christ.


Rev. Rebecca L. Davison

I have been in active ministry since 1982, first, as a pastor’s spouse, and then as a clergy following God’s call into pastoral ministry in 2007. I obtained a master’s of divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2012 and was ordained as an elder in 2016. I have served Immanuel UMC in Bird City; Agra and Kirwin UMCs; and Hugoton and Rolla UMCs, all in western Kansas. 

In 2019, because of major health issues, I was unable to continue in my pastoral capacity and made the difficult decision to retire. As the next chapter in my journey unfolds, I will continue serving on the Great Plains Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and in leadership in the Walk to Emmaus spiritual retreats. I prayerfully await God’s direction as to “what, where, and how” I may continue to fulfill my part in God’s redemptive plan. 

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve in the former Kansas West Conference and now in the Great Plains Conference. The people I have met and have served with over the years have enriched my life beyond measure. They have shown how serving Christ just gets sweeter with each passing year.

Spouse:  Gary L. Davison (Married 2/10/1978))
Children:  Joshua Davison, Jaime Davison, and Elizabeth Davison (Deceased)


Rev. Dale Lewis

Grace and Peace to all. As I reflect on 39-plus years in ministry, the one word that comes to my mind is “blessd.”  

God has blessed us with a lot of wonderful memories, moments of joys, some times of struggles and sorrows, and as we look back, a lot of amazement at the ways in which God has been at work in our lives. I won’t pretend to say that I understand all the whys and the hows, and the you-really-can’t-be-serious moments that have happened to us as a minister and a family. But this one thing I know: I wouldn’t change a thing. God has blessed us richly and often in ways and at times we didn’t even realize it. My wife, Angie, and I have reflected a couple of times over the years about how every move we have made, every church we have been called to minister to, every change that has come, sometimes totally unexpected, have been the right ones. There is not a single church that we would hesitate to go back to. We have had the privilege and the joy to minister to, minister with, and be ministered by a lot of awesome and wonderful people of God. We have loved and been well loved, and just want to say “thank you” to all the churches who have welcomed us into their families and allowed us to be a part of their faith journeys. We are not sure exactly what God has in mind for us now, but we look forward to our next steps. We plan to enjoy our home, our kids and our grandkids, doing some traveling/camping, and being open to whatever it is that God has in store for us on our life journey!

Yours in Christ, Dale and Angie Lewis

Spouse: Angie (Married (11/25/1977)
Children: Zach, Aaron, and daughter, Kyla



Rev. Dennis Livingston

Had I known when I began the journey-in-full and the stops along the way, I might have said, “No.” Looking backward from the finish line, I say, “Yes — wouldn’t change a thing.”

Five percent of all worry, anxiety, and loss of sleep pushed me to do what I should have done already. Ninety-five percent was a waste of time and energy and improved nothing.

Before 1 July of each new appointment, the cabinet and bishop knew not what they did. After 1 July of each new appointment, they knew. Every appointment was superb. I could not be more grateful for the opportunities the appointive authority granted me, and every new appointment opened a world that I would never have visited or experienced.

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all.” Proverbs 9:11 (NRSV).

Fill the time well and act to make every chance the right one.

Spouse:  Theresa Livingston (Married 5/25/1979)


Rev. Michael Roberts

Spouse:  Margaret A. Roberts (Married 1971)
Children:  Amanda Breeden, Mary Batchelor and Elizabeth Trent


Rev. Geniese Stanford

I feel deep gratitude when I reflect on my 20 years serving churches in Kansas. To the six churches I served in Kansas, I treasure the holy moments I had the privilege of sharing with you. Thank you for teaching me about life and faith and for challenging and encouraging me to be the most effective pastor and best person I could be. To my clergy colleagues, thank you for cheering me on, holding me accountable and walking beside me. I can honestly say that being a pastor has been the hardest, most challenging, most fun and most rewarding work I’ve ever done. Thanks be to God!



Rev. Kendal Utt

I was baptized, raised and confirmed a sixth-generation member of the Belle Plaine Methodist Church. Under the ministry of Rev. Keith Dudeck I began candidacy, graduated from Southwestern College in 1978 and attended Asbury Theological Seminary. I was ordained deacon in 1979 and elder in 1984 in the Kansas West Conference. I have served the following appointments: Bentonville-McColm’s Chapel in Ohio 79-81; Geneseo 1982-85, Wellington Associate 86-89, Jewell County Parish Mankato-Ionia-Odessa 90-96, Pratt 97-05, Dodge City District-Offerle substitute 06-12, Clearwater 13-?. 

I have served the Kansas Area UM Rural Fellowship, the Heartland Network, and the Board of Trustees for Southwestern College.

Joyce and I were married in the Wellington Church in 1988. We have four sons; Justin and Katie; Adam and Darci; Brandon; and Taylor (our annual conference baby), and two grandsons and a granddaughter.  We are blessed to live on the farm west of Belle Plaine that has been in the family since 1891, and have six goats, two dogs and a cat.

I have been blessed and honored to serve the Lord, the church, and the conference. I can testify to the tremendous spiritual strength in our laity. Thanks for 41 years.

Spouse:  Joyce (Married 1988)
Children:  Justin, Adam, Brandon and Taylor


Rev. David Watson

I am grateful to God and The United Methodist Church for providing me the opportunity to live out my call to ministry. I look forward now to spending time with family and friends enjoying our home and some travel. 

Spouse:  Karen (Married 1977)
Children:  Holly Watson Pyle (Married to Austin Pyle, grandchild Greer) Jordan Watson

Five Rivers and Parsons District Superintendent



Sherry Wright

God called me to ministry during a 1993 mission trip to India. I enrolled at The Saint Paul School of Theology as soon as I got home. Almost simultaneously, God called me to be a teacher, and a servant ministry of love and justice in the world seemed the perfect fit. At annual conference 1997, I became the last person consecrated to the diaconal ministry in what was then the Kansas East Conference.

I have been blessed to see lives changed in classrooms at Saint Paul, the University of Kansas, Baker University’s Graduate and Professional School, Highland Community College, and Saint Paul’s Course of Study School, where, for nearly 20 years I taught local pastors while they taught — and changed — me.

My husband, Dennis Blair, retired in 2012, and we moved to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, where I began another servant ministry, caring for my mother until her death in 2019. I shall always be grateful for the conference’s gift of family leave that made that role possible for me.

I am still a teacher and a minister, leading discussions of religion and law at our community clubhouse and offering numerous adult education classes in local churches.

Husband: Dennis Blair (Married Sept 2, 1972)