This past weekend the Philadelphia Area hosted the annual meeting of the United Methodist Association of Conference Directors of Lay Speaking (and in Eastern PA: Christ Servant Ministers). A lively group of 80 people gathered at the Ramada Inn in Philadelphia for three days of inspiration, business meetings and encouragement. The Christ Servant Ministers of EPA served as the hosts and did an excellent job preparing for the event, arranging for historic tours and offering superb hospitality.
Lay leadership in the United Methodist Church is as old as Methodism itself. The church has always relied greatly on its lay leaders for conducting worship and sharing the love of Christ in the world. During the circuit-riding days of the early Methodist movement in America, the pastors would only be able to come to each church a few times a year to administer the sacraments and assist with the organization of the church. The lay people did all the work in between the visits of these pastors on horseback.
Still today the ministry of the laity is vitally important. Lay Speakers in the United Methodist Church are more than speakers. Here are some of their ministries: visitation, crisis ministry, pastoral care, leading volunteer mission teams, teaching Bible study, work with youth groups, assisting with church administration, prison ministry - and the list could go on for pages.
Lay Speaking ministries strives to help disciples become aware of their gifts for ministry by offering educational events to enhance and develop skills for fruitful service. To learn more about lay speaking, read about it in the Book of Discipline Paragraph 267, 268 and 269. Check out the website: www.layspeakingministries.org.
Mr. George Hollich, Jr. is the director of Christ Servant Ministers in EPA and Ms. Luray McClung is the Director of Lay Speaking for PDC. They can tell you about training events in their respective conferences.
I encourage pastors to use your Lay Speakers/Christ Servant Ministers as much as you can to extend the ministry of the church. In the church of Jesus Christ there is truly a “priesthood” of all believers.
The ministry of the laity motto proclaims:
All God’s people in
Are called to love
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson