Laypersons hear about ‘New Normal’ at 2nd Laity Summit

David Burke


More than 200 people across the Great Plains Conference got a guide to “Building a New Normal” at the second-annual Laity Summit, conducted online March 20. 

“We hope this was a launching point for lay ministry momentum,” Shane Warta, coordinator of lay leadership, said following the six-hour online session. 

Introducing the summit, Warta said he wanted the goal was for laity to be “affirmed, challenged, and edified in your walk with Jesus.” 

The Rev. Dr. Scott Hughes delivers the keynote address from his home office in Nashville. Screen grab

The Rev. Dr. Scott Hughes, executive director of congregational vitality and intentional discipleship for Discipleship Ministries, was the keynote speaker. 

Hughes stepped in for the originally scheduled speaker, Rev. Junius Dotson, Discipleship Ministries general secretary and a 14-year veteran pastor at Wichita Saint Mark UMC, who died after a battle with pancreatic cancer last month. 

“With you, I wish Junius had been here,” he said. “Junius had a contagious passion for Jesus and for growing disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” 

Hughes’ presentation was how all of the sacramental rites of the church, including weddings and funerals, are grounded in our baptisms, and that baptisms are our “consecration in ministry.” 

Discipleship, he said, happens when the church works with people, and when those people work together. 

“There is no such thing as solo Christianity,” Hughes said. “For better or worse, we’re stuck together.” 

All churches make disciples, he said, but disciples aren’t widgets that fit into a mold. They must be created individually, through other disciples. 

“Discipleship happens in relationship,” he said. 

Hughes’ keynote is available here. 

Workshops took place on the subjects of class meetings and leadership basics, disputing racism and learning to be an anti-racist, finding peace in an anxious world, growing our spheres of influence, credit cards and leadership, communications in a virtual world, gospel discipleship, and launching congregational care. 

Recordings of several of the workshops are available on the resources section of the Laity Summit page, and the remainder will be available before the end of the month. 

The summit began with a worship service, led by Sarah Neben of Lexington, Nebraska, UMC and members of the Gibbon, Nebraska, UMC choir. It concluded with a communion led by the Rev. Cindy Karges, superintendent of the Gateway and Great West districts; Oliver Green, laity from Topeka Asbury Mount Olive UMC; and Tracy Smith, a certified lay minister serving Moran, Bronson and Mildred, Kansas. 

Contact David Burke, content specialist, at

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