Conference Lay Leader Rene Wilbur began the 2018 Laity Session by announcing that she had come from the New Member Orientation and the Annual Conference has 99 new members this year.
Wilbur introduced Conference Co-Lay Leaders Joan Farrar, who organized the Laity Session, and Ruby Blake as well as the District Lay Leaders as well as all the members of the Conference Board of Laity
, which is the New England Conference’s largest board.
The handbook for local lay leaders is expected to be published online this summer, Wilbur said. Watch the Conference website and the e-news for details.
Wilbur also announced that there will be no Laity Address this year because there were not applicants to the challenge. She encouraged the laity to enter the challenge next year. Learn more about the challenge.
In lieu of the address, the laity will give a presentation on Saturday morning.
Annual Conference guest preacher the Rev. Dr. Robert Allan Hill led a short Bible study on this year’s guiding scripture Ephesians 4:11-13
, The Voice, along with 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Truth meets us in many guises, Dr. Hill said. We receive truth, like Moses, through revelation. We receive truth, like Amos, through audition, and we receive truth through experience.
But what kind of experience teaches us truth? The experience of being in Christ and in the Church, Dr. Hill said.
“It is the experience of really being alive,” Dr. Hill said, quoting the late Joseph Campbell, who was a Professor of comparative mythology and comparative religion at Sarah Lawrence College. Campbell said:
“People say they are looking for meaning in life. That is not so. What people are looking for is the experience of really being alive.”
We enter this field of experience through baptism and communion, the sacraments of the church,” Dr. Hill said. “So we are ‘grafted’ onto the tree of Christ. In this new creation, the church, we are given the gift of each other. In this new creation, the church, we are given the gifts from and of each other. Here, at last, we may have an experience of really being alive. Here, at last, we may learn from each other.”
“For we need each other,” he said. “Foot, hand, ear, eye, all. We need each other.”
Ishelli Whyte, originally from Guyana, shared the recipe for a traditional dish called cook-up rice, which requires many ingredients in one large pot. Take a listen
Whyte is a member of Wesley UMC in Springfield, MA.
Mosaic Chapel is a new church start in Medford, MA. Members of Mosaic Chapel’s Praise Team led the music for the Laity Session. Stephanie Finley, who leads Sunday School education at Mosaic Chapel, described the church, which started in 2017, as multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-linguistic.
“We celebrate our differences in race, culture, country and language,” she said, “and we are united as sisters and brothers in the community of faith in Jesus Christ.”
Deaconesses and Home Ministers
Each year, the Laity Session recognizes the Conference’s current Deaconesses and Home Ministers. They are:
Jana Marie Whitten
United Methodist Women
The United Methodist Women (UMW) will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2019. The Laity Session include the performance of an interactive skit about the founding of what would become the UMW, and highlighted its roots in seeking to improve women’s health.
In 1869, Mrs. William Butler and Mrs. Edwin Parker, wives of missionaries to India, spoke to a group of eight women in Boston. Women could not be treated by male doctors and schooling was almost non-existent.
The women who were present organized the Methodist Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society, and later that same year sent Isabella Thoburn, an educator, and Dr. Clara Swain, physician, to India.
Everyone was invited to the New England Conference UMW’s celebration of the 150th anniversary, which will take place Saturday, March 23, 2019, at Boston University.
The UMW also talked about what’s coming up at Mission u this July 27-29. Learn more and register.
The United Methodist Men presentation that was scheduled will be made at a later time.
Lay Servant Ministry/Certified Lay Ministry
Marie MacDougall, Conference Director of Lay Servant Ministry, talked about some of the changes to Lay Servant Ministry training. Learn more about Lay Servant Ministry
All of our churches can use strong lay leadership, MacDougall said, and encouraged the laity to consider the courses.
As they do each year, the Board of Laity presented the lay members of Annual Conference with a gift. This year, it is a bracelet reading Mark 9:23: “All things are possible for those who believe.”