Missouri Conference Lay Leader Brian Hammons opened the laity session with scripture from Hebrews chapter 10, verses 23-25, and asked the laity to consider how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds, encouraging one another.
“I was thumbing through the book of Discipline, paragraph 127, on the ministry of the laity, and is states that it flows from a commitment to Christ’s outreaching love,” Hammons said. “The witness of the laity and their Christ-like living is the primary evangelistic ministry through which God is going to work through the church. We’ve got a big responsibility. We can’t leave it up to the pastors. It’s God’s spirit working through you.”
When Hammons asked for first time attendees, a large percentage of the room stood up. When he started narrowing it down to see who had been there the longest, he ended up with Shirley Rundel, who has been coming to Annual Conference Session for 58 years.
Mitch Ross spoke about his role as incoming team leader of the Core Practices Team, a collection of clergy and laity whose purpose is to encourage and facilitate churches to put spiritual practices in place to make disciples.
“About 70 percent of our churches have no process for making disciples. What is our Mission? To make disciples,” Ross said. “If I had a bumper sticker for the Core Practices team, it would be Deliberate Discipleship – that’s what we’re about.”
Shannon Meister gave her annual youth and young adult report.
About 10 – 15 years ago she used to participate in Conference Council on Youth Ministries mission trips, but for the first time last year she led one, and was in charge of a group of 80 people for the week. She said that every year at Annual Conference after giving her report, people ask her how to get more youth and young people into church.
“Feed them, care about them, give them the opportunity to be part of something bigger – and to transform the world,” Meister said.
Conference Director of Lay Servant Ministries Jeff Fothergill highlighted the upcoming School of Lay Ministry, to be at Manchester UMC July 24 – 26. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re looking to grow disciples. Growing, by definition, involves action,” Fothergill said. “Jesus said ‘Follow me’.”
Associate Conference Lay Leader Ken Willard advised the group to mind their margins.
“Is there space in your life between your load and your limit?” Willard asked, referring to John chapter 10, verse 10, in which Jesus said he came so that people could experience life abundantly.
“Like it or not, as a leader, your life is a model for others,” Willard said. “Jesus’s life had a distinct pattern: engage and escape. Jesus took one day off a week – is your mission more important than his?”