New England Conference celebrates new Lay Missionaries

October 22, 2013

By Alexx Wood,
       with Rick McKinley reporting

On Saturday, October 12, 2013, eight members of Nueva Vida UMC in Chelsea, MA and St. Andrews/San Andres UMC in Jamaica Plain were recognized as the first group from New England completing the Lay Missionary Planting Network (LMPN) training. The celebration was led by Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar; Rev. LaTrelle Miller Easterling, Metro Boston Hope District Superintendent; Rev. Rick McKinley, Director of Congregational Development; and Rev. Patricia Pena, pastor of Nueva Vida and St. Andrews. Those being celebrated as graduates from the training are: 

  • Eliani Sanchez
  • Leonardo Ivan Sanchez
  • Cynthia Daniela Romero Aguilera
  • Melbi Alexander Romero Peraza
  • Ingrid Figueroa
  • Elsa B. Montano
  • Jose Edgardo Colon
  • Ramonita Mulero

The Lay Missionary Planting Network is part of the Path 1 program of the General Board of Discipleship designed to equip lay persons with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be United Methodist church planters. After a process of inquiry, screening and acceptance into the training program, the LMPN instruction and coaching helps participants to consider how they are called and prepares them to help plant new United Methodist congregations. The curriculum is based on scripture, basic theology and practice of The United Methodist Church, research and best practices in church planting, and the experience of other United Methodist churches.

"The Methodist movement has always been a lay driven movement,” McKinley commented. “With the launching of the LMPN in New England, we have the opportunity to reignite the movement, equipping and deploying lay people to reach new people in new places in new ways, people we would never reach otherwise. I'm excited to see what God will do through this first group of lay missionaries."

The evening celebration on October 12 included a time of music and worship, a message of hope and encouragement from Bishop Devadhar, and a powerful testimony from Alex Peraza as he described what he learned and what he plans to do next. After the time of worship, the celebration continued with cake and other treats. 

Now that this group has completed the LMPN training, there are great things ahead. Some of them will immediately begin working on planting new communities of faith. In fact, two of them have already gathering about 30 people in East Boston as part of a house church that will likely become a satellite of Nueva Vida. Others will become facilitators for the next round of training that Nueva Vida and St. Andrews UMC's will offer. Still others will have the chance to teach individual sessions of the LMPN curriculum to their local churches. 

McKinley looks forward to seeing what will happen as the Lay Missionaries take these next steps. “The impact this first group will have on making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is limitless!” 



Bishop Devadhar and Pastor Patricia Pena celebrate with the new Lay Missionaries.