July 04, 2019

By Ken Rosenauer

Conference Lay Leader Amy Thompson put meat on the bones of the 2019 conference goals as she ticked off one set of numbers after another.

Most Missouri United Methodists are quite familiar with those three goals, which have been highlighted throughout the past year: new places for new people, pathway out of poverty and new missional leaders.
 
She explained that laity across the conference have been actively supporting these goals.

In the past year local churches established 512 new places and connected to more than 2,000 new people.

Working for a Pathway out of poverty, 20 churches expanded partnerships and 34 formed new partnerships. In all, Methodist Churches in Missouri touched 765 schools.

The third goal saw 1,161 new missional leaders step up.

Thompson said that FAN — an acronym for Face to face, Asking questions and Networking — has been used by many laity to aid their conversations about starting something new. The technique is valuable in implementing all three conference goals.

She is encouraged by the strong turnout for the livestreamed event “Called: God’s Purpose for You as Laity in the Church,” led by the Rev. Dr. Ken Nash on April 13. Two hundred and seventy-five people gathered at 16 Missouri locations to hear how laity are key to starting a new worship service, launching a multisite campus or starting a new ministry. 

Goals for next year include putting 100,000 books into the hands of 100,000 children and seeking 600 new missional leaders. 

Thompson admitted to struggling and becoming emotionally distant after the Special Session of General Conference. She said that her daily devotionals and conversations helped. 

“My intent is to be present and open in conversations with people across the Conference,” she said. “I stand before you today hoping to provide leadership.”

She called for a return to loving God and a return to loving our neighbors. “We must avoid being paralyzed by fear and instead embrace loving all people.”

Thompson referred to Martin Buber’s proposition that two word pairs help to define humans: I-It and I-Thou. The I-It pair sees people as objects while the I-Thou pair sees each person as a unique child of God. Ultimately, all our relationships bring us into relationship with God, who is the eternal Thou. 

“My world and your world,” she said, “are connected by a sacred space, and that space is God.”

“I know these are uncertain times,” she observed, alluding to the title of Bishop Farr’s opening message service on Friday. She also referred to the same scripture he emphasized, Isaiah 43, particularly verse 5, “Don’t be afraid: I am with you.”

A slide in her presentation summarized her main message: “Put on your clothes of love, compassion, humility, kindness and go out into this world and show what it looks like to forgive.”
Thompson is beginning her fourth year as conference lay leader. Her home church is Wood’s Chapel in Lee’s Summit in the Heartland District.