Class Schedules:  

There will be a Basic Class for those wanting to begin to become a Certified Lay Servant.  With changes that were made at General Conference this year, there is no longer a category of Local lay servant.  Those persons wanting to begin will first take the Basic class, then will need to take an Advanced Class to become a Certified Lay Servant.  This Basic class will be held October 1 & 2 at the Douglas Avenue UMC, 501 S, Douglas Ave., Springfield.  Classes will be held on Saturday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm.  Bobbi Blackard will be teaching this class.  Person will then be able to take the Advanced class in November if they wish or can take one in another District or take one next April.  Registration form is available on the District web page under Sangamon River Downloads.

The next Advanced classes will be held at the Cotton Hill UMC in Springfield on November 5-6, 2016.  One Advanced class will be on Polity "The Method of Our Mission"and another Advanced class on Beliefs "Living Our Beliefs". The Application to Begin is posted now along with the 2016 church conference forms.  Persons wanting to begin must be recommended at the church conference this fall, and complete the application to come in with the church conference forms.  The registration form is available on the District web page under Sangamon River Downloads.  

Plans are also for classes to be held at Cotton Hill UMC  April 8-9, 2017.  The 2017 Basic class will be for those wanting to begin in Lay Servant Ministries as well as an Advanced classes for Certified Lay Servants and those wanting to become LAY SPEAKERS.  Currently the following classes are being planned: "Discover Your Spiritual Gifts", "Method of Our Mission",  and one on Preaching.  More about these classes will be given later with the names of the courses and the teachers.  


Congratulations to Marcia Brelsfoard of the Forsyth UMC and Donn Stephens of the Springfield Jerome UMC on having completed all the requirements and being approved as LAY SPEAKERS.  

In addition, Carol Conover from the Mason City UMC, Bob Weaver from the Long Creek UMC, and Dan Koenigs from the Cisco UMC have completed all of the required course work and have been approved by the District committee to become LAY SPEAKERS.  These three will be interviewed by the Conference Committee at their fall meeting and we are confident and hopeful they will then receive full approval.  

Congratulations to all of these individuals for their many hours of study and THANK YOU for their work they are doing in the District.  


Bobbi Blackard is the District Director of Lay Servant Ministries.  Bobbi can be contacted at  217-825-7303 or by email at


The 2012 General Conference approved legislation that changed the title of Lay Speaking Ministries to Lay Servant Ministries. It is believed that many United Methodists were reluctant to consider training which they perceived would only make them as public speakers. The term "Servant" was chosen because it best describes what Jesus told His Disciples in John 13 after He, Himself had performed the duties of the lowliest servant. We should be honored to serve as our Lord and Savior did. We are called to live out our discipleship as servants in leadership!

Lay Servant Ministries' Legislation Adopted at 2016 General Conference

There were several proposed legislative petitions addressing paragraphs 266-271 of the Book of Discipline submitted to the 2016 General Conference by the Discipleship Ministries Board of Directors. All of these paragraphs dealt with Lay Servants, Lay Speakers, Lay Missioners and Certified Lay Ministers.

The rationale for submitting these legislative petitions was to bring about clarity, consistency and collaboration. The adopted legislation streamlines and simplifies the processes for people to become certified lay servants, certified lay speakers, and certified lay ministers. In addition, the lay missioner will become a part of the Certified Lay Minister process. This will bring the number of categories to three: certified lay servant, certified lay speaker, and certified lay minister.

The category of local church lay servant has been removed to reduce the number of categories for lay servant ministries. In addition, it has been found that local church lay servants are most often taking an advanced course for renewal rather than a refresher course, and therefore, were fulfilling the requirements for certified lay servant. It is not fiscally responsible to produce materials which will have very limited usage, such as the refresher courses.

Currently, both local church lay servants and certified lay servants serve the local church through ministries of leading, caring and communicating. The difference between the local and the certified lay servants is that the certified lay servant may also serve beyond the local church. Being a certified lay servant, however, does not require service in the district or conference, or in other local churches beyond the local church where membership is held.

A layperson can still serve in the local church after completing the BASIC course, but in order to be certified as a lay servant he/she will need to take an additional Lay Servant Ministries' advanced course.

-Jodie Cataldo

Director of Laity in Leadership, Discipleship Ministries


What the Changes Mean

Effective January 1, 2017, Lay Servant Ministries will have three components:

•             Certified Lay Servant

•             Certified Lay Speaker

•             Certified Lay Minister

For those of you who are currently Local Church Lay Servants, please do not think that your serving roles have been eliminated. Your church still needs you and I encourage you to consider becoming a Certified Lay Servant. You will need to be recommended for this step at your Church/Charge Conference and then you will take a 10-hour advanced class once every 3 years, instead of a 5-hour refresher course once every 3 years. You may continue to serve as you have done in the past, but you will also have the opportunity to serve on District and Conference committees and other activities outside of your local congregation. (Please make sure you complete your 2016 Annual Report as a Local Church Lay Servant.)

Requirements and procedures did not change for Certified Lay Servants. The Certified Lay Servant is now the entry into Lay Servant Ministries.

Certified has been added to the title of Lay Speaker.  The name change is the only change--everything else remains the same.

Certified Lay Ministers are under Lay Servant Ministries, although District Committees on Ordained Ministry still have an important role to play. An ad hoc committee has been working for the last couple of years on procedures and guidelines. Much progress has been made, including the naming of Ava Williams and Cheryl Cain as the co-coordinators for CLM and a new website (

One thing I am personally excited about is the opportunity to promote the BASIC course throughout the Conference as an excellent training opportunity for all lay leadership. Some individuals may not have taken the BASIC course before because they did not want the title of Local Church Lay Servant. Now pastors, leadership teams, and others can recommend this course as an excellent opportunity for an individual to understand his or her call, practice important skills, and become true servant leaders.

A series of new tri-fold brochures has been developed that are available to help explain and promote Lay Servant Ministries. They are available for download at

After submitting an Application to begin as a Certified Lay Servant and upon the recommendation of the pastor and church council/Charge Conference, a person must complete the Basic Course and an Advanced Course in order to be recognized as a Certified Lay Servant. Each year an Annual Report must be filed and reapplication made to the Charge Conference for recommendation to continue. Every three years an Advanced class approved by the Conference Lay Servant Ministries (LSM) Committee and offered by a District Lay Servant Ministries (LSM) Committee, must be completed.

Certified Lay Servants may serve in their local church, where they are members. An Annual Report must be filed each year and a recommendation made to the Charge Conference for continuation. An Advanced Course, approved by the Conference LSM Committee and offered by a District LSM Committee, must be completed every three years.

The new category of Lay Speaker was also, created by the 2012 General Conference for those individuals called to provide occasional pulpit supply. A Lay Speaker must first meet the requirements of a Certified Lay Servant and submit an application to begin in the track for Lay Speaker. A Lay Speaker receives specific training to develop skills to serve the church in pulpit supply.  For more information please contact the District Director of Lay Servant Ministries, Bobbi Blackard.  (contact info listed below)

Lay Speakers must annually request renewal by submitting an Annual Report to the Charge Conference. This recommendation of the pastor and Charge Conference is required annually. An Advanced Course, approved by the Conference LSM Committee and offered by a District LSM Committee must be completed at least every three years.

A review with the District LSM Committee must be conducted and the District LSM Committee make recommendation to the Conference LSM Committee for approval. The Annual Report is to be filed with the Charge Conference. An Advanced Course that is approved by the Conference LSM Committee and offered by a District LSM Committee and a review with the District LSM Committee is completed every three years.

If you have questions about Lay Servant Ministries, please contact the District Director, Bobbi Blackard by email at or by calling 217-825-7303.