|Workshops for laity following the Pre-Conference Briefing included a session on the newly renamed Lay Servant Ministries (formerly Lay Speaking Ministries). Photo by Matt Williams.|
Carmen F.S. Vianese, director of Lay Servant Ministries, challenged the laity in her workshop to “own their Methodist roots,” and remember that the Methodist movement “was a Jesus-centered and laity-led.”
The workshop was one of four sessions offered for laity following the Pre-Conference Briefing on May 19 at the War Memorial, Syracuse. There was also an Annual Conference orientation, and sessions on United Methodist Men/United Methodist Women and Camp & Retreat Ministries.
|Carmen F.S. Vianese|
"It's still about the same business," she said. "Laity providing educational opportunities and training, supporting each other and performing the ministry you were led to by your call.
"None of that has changed; I guarantee it." At this year's General Conference Session in Tampa, Fla., the delegates approved the name change from the former Lay Speaking Ministries to the current Lay Servant Ministries.
She called broadening the name to reflect that these laity are "not just pulpit fill" exciting, and one person taking the workshop echoed that idea, saying that the term "lay speaking" scared off some who wanted to serve, but not to speak from the pulpit.
There will be some changes in the training paths for those who do want to be lay speakers, and Vianese talked about that. She also talked about another change that came out of General Conference, that the director of Lay Servant Ministries must be laity; not a clergy member as it has sometimes been (though teams will still include a clergy member or members). Also, that lay person must be "in good standing," meaning they must have kept up on their certification, something Vianese supported.
"No one should be the head of anything they have not done, right?" Vianese said.
After discussing the technicalities, Vianese called on laity to "stand up and serve" and reminded them that "making disciples is our job."
Before she took questions from the group, Vianese asked them some questions:
In closing, Vianese said United Methodists should ask themselves not only "What would Jesus do?" but "What would John Wesley do?"
*Beth DiCocco is writer/editor for the Upper New York Annual Conference; email her at email@example.com.