Fourth Laity Summit designed for veterans, newcomers

David Burke


When the first Laity Summit was conceived for March 2020, it was to give laypersons in the Great Plains Conference their version of the clergy’s Orders & Fellowship gatherings, a chance to meet, interact and learn. 

We don’t need to tell you what else started in March 2020. 

COVID forced the summit to quickly shift to an online format, where it’s stayed ever since – and it isn’t looking back. 

“We like it in the virtual format, because of the fact that we’re a two-state conference, and for laity to be able to engage it’s harder to use, because it would require vacation time for us to travel and it gets expensive,” conference lay leader Lisa Maupin said. “This is a format that reaches everybody.” 

Maupin said registrants for Laity Summit, March 18, include 16 of the conference’s 17 districts. 

“Outside of annual conference, when does that happen for laity?” she asked. 

Jeanie Leeper, newly appointed as the conference lay leadership coordinator, said even though participants aren’t physically together, there’s still a sense of connection. 

“These gatherings we have across the conference are for information and instruction, but more importantly, it helps us remember our connection, the bigger connection,” she said. 

Workshop topics for this year’s summit include embracing cultural diversity, getting past burnout, and bridging generations in church. 

The keynote speaker is Rebekah Simon-Peter, who will discuss her books “Dream Like Jesus” and “Forging a New Path: Moving the Church Forward in a Post-Pandemic World.” 

For those who miss the summit or want to share it with others, the workshops and keynote will eventually be on the laity’s Learning Lab page. 

Maupin and Leeper said the Laity Summit is designed, not only for laity already fully serving their churches, but those who are ready to start. 

“You don’t have to be a district leader or a conference leader or on a conference committee or highly engaged to get something out of this,” Maupin said. “This is specifically designed for the people in the local church who are sitting there in those meetings wondering what new idea they can come up with to enhance some program, or see what resources are out there or just need some inspiration or affirmation.” 

“The conference will encourage them to dream bigger than they are – don’t be afraid of what they can’t do, but to be encouraged for the call God has on their lives,” Leeper said. 

Maupin also said the information at the summit can be used for the spectrum of sizes of churches in the conference. 

“I really think this is an opportunity for emerging leaders in the local church to learn from each other. This is your opportunity to think, ‘Wow, I wonder what would happen if … ?,’” she said. “The workshops are specifically designed for that. They’re all designed to be that take-home, ‘How do you put it in action?’ kind of thing.” 

It is also a reminder, Maupin said, of the power of the laity in the church. 

“We’re kinda the backbone,” she said. “The pastors are itinerant, but we are the ones who are the church – it’s the one we’re married in, that did the funeral for our family members, there for us to celebrate and to grieve. For some of us it’s over generations.” 

Contact David Burke, content specialist, at

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