The following is a summary of the message I gave to Great Plains Conference laity during the annual conference session, June 8, 2017:
I am very proud to stand before you, representing the more than 600 certified lay servants of the Great Plains Conference. We are challenged to become an integral part of the mission based concept which our bishop is leading us toward. Bishop Saenz had identified Lay Servant Ministries as the training arm of the laity of our conference. Our purpose is to strengthen the leadership and discipleship skills of laity across the conference. Empowering them to more effectively focus the power of laity on making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Lay Servant Ministry has undergone many changes within the past few years. The rule changes of the 2012 as well as the 2016 General conferences, very effectively raised the standard for lay servants. We have created a Conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministry, created district committees where there were none, recruited district directors of Lay Servant Ministries in all but one district, and initiated an electronic record-keeping system. We have increased the opportunities for training and networking as well as support a culture of call for lay leadership of all types. Procedures and systems are now in place for conferencewide continuity of Lay Servant Ministry functions.
The change has been difficult at times, as change always is. We recognize the bar was raised so that empowered lay persons would have the skills necessary for their broader roles, assuring a standard of quality in our lay servants. Lay servants are active in numerous roles in churches of all sizes. From leading small groups to children’s ministry, ministries of youth, pastoral care, presiding over funerals, pulpit supply, worship team, helping others to discern their gifts and call, evangelizing in their neighborhoods, organizing mission projects, storytelling, and the list goes on and on. The possibilities are endless.
Bishop Saenz has challenged us to “tear down those silos,” to create clergy and lay partnerships that release the power of the Holy Spirit into the mission field, to provide effective, high-quality training events that enhance leadership and discipleship skills – skills that support vital congregations and stimulate individuals’ spiritual growth as well as congregations that achieve new heights. Oh, the possibilities!
This is our vision of next year: to strengthen each congregation through creative, enthusiastic leaders, quality team building skills and a renewed focus on missional opportunities. Oh, the possibilities!
I close with this prayer: Great God, open our eyes. Open our minds. Open our hearts to all the possibilities!
And the whole church says: Amen
Learn more about Lay Servant Ministries.
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Mary Feit is the Great Plains Conference director of Lay Servant Ministries.