Greetings in the name of the Risen Christ,
There are “call narratives” scattered throughout the Bible. On Sunday, my pastor used the text of Judges 6:11-24, the call of Gideon. Gideon wasn’t exactly happy to receive this call. In fact, Gideon basically tells the angel that they need a rescuer like Moses, not a poor farmer who is hiding in a wine press threshing his wheat. And God says, in essence, “You are the salvation I am sending. You are my mighty warrior. You are the Moses for this generation of my people.” After some reassurances, Gideon does indeed become a mighty warrior because God was with him.
Paragraph 220 in the 2016 Book of Discipline states: All members of Christ’s universal church are called to share in the ministry which is committed to the whole church of Jesus Christ. Therefore, each member of The United Methodist Church is to be a servant of Christ on mission in the local and worldwide community…”
This statement is nothing new to those involved in Lay Servant Ministries. It is something we learned in the BASIC class, and hopefully something that has been confirmed and reconfirmed as we lead, care, and communicate. But the pandemic seemed to change everything. We were limited in the ways we could serve in worship when in-person worship was suspended. We could not go to the hospitals and nursing homes to visit. We could not teach our classes, provide hospitality, etc. And, yet we are still called.
In some reading I was doing this week, the statement was made that we need to …”be ready to redefine our definition of called.” It struck me that our mission--Christ's mission-- has not changed, and that he continually equips us with spiritual gifts for service, so we need to be open and creative in using God’s gifts to reach the world. Faith and works go hand-in-hand and is at the core of Lay Servant Ministries. The “normal” ways we serve may have been interrupted or changed, but our mission continues.
I look forward to reading the annual reports to learn the creative ways lay servants have redefined their service and have reaffirmed their calling.
Speaking of annual reports, this is the third year that the report is on-line. You will receive information, due date, and access through your home church. Please make sure you report your activities for the current year (since your last report), upload any new certificates of courses completed (especially if taken through BeADisciple.com), and sign the report.
IGRC On-line Classes
The pandemic continues to shut down most of our in-person classes. As a result, BeADisciple.com has been our primary resource for classes. However, your Conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministries is exploring offering on-line courses through districts using Zoom or Lifesize.
Spoon River District will be the first to offer an advanced course through Zoom. Steve Davis, Spoon River District Lay Leader, will lead Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts (one of the required courses for Certified Lay Speaker). The course will be offered as series of five 2-hour video classes and you will need to commit to all five sessions. Three of the sessions will be from 9:00-11:00 AM, Saturdays, September 19, September 26, and October 4. At the first class, the participants will decide when the two other sessions will be held. Participants must purchase Each One A Minister by William J. Carter, available through Upper Room Bookstore, Cokesbury, and Amazon (available for Kindle). Registration is $12. Please email Claudia Emken at firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the class. This class is open to all districts.
The latest information on classes can be found on the IGRC Lay Servant Ministries site (https://www.igrc.org/layservant).
By the Numbers
IGRC Lay Servant Ministries is currently comprised of 310 Certified Lay Servants, 106 Certified Lay Speakers, and 26 Certified Lay Ministers for a total of 442 in the 10 districts. Six individuals are both Certified Lay Speakers and Certified Lay Ministers but were only counted once. Although this is a significant number, there is a need for more trained laity to be actively involved in ministry. Please pray about who you may be "called" to invite.
Stay safe and God bless, Jana