I recently had the opportunity to meet with the Conference Board of Laity for a very well organized and meaningful meeting led by our Conference Lay Leader, Gloria Morgan. Along with Gloria, the Board consists of our six district lay leaders – Robert Anderson (NW), Jeff Barker (CO), Jeff Hanson (NC), J Knapp (SW), Jimmy Outlaw (SC), and John Ray (NE) – the presidents of United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men – Carol Banks and Donald Rhodes – Rev. Henry Bass, Cabinet representative, and Dr. Nita Crump, Director of Connectional Ministries.
At the meeting, I gave an update on the Foundation for the Future of South Georgia Task Force and all that is being done to consider scenarios related to the special called session of General Conference. I asked the group their take on what kinds of conversations are taking place among churches in their district. My overwhelming takeaway was this: “Our churches are aware of General Conference 2019, but they are not worried or preoccupied with it because they know how to be the church and they plan to continue doing that before, during, and after General Conference.”
The more they shared, the more I found myself thanking God for what I call “the wisdom of the laity.” The more than 100,000 members of our 600 churches really do know that they are the church. They know how to be the church. They have the spiritual wisdom to understand that their local church is going to continue to be their church home. While mindful of General Conference, our local churches know that God has called them to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and cleanse lepers. They are doing that now and they will continue that mission after General Conference.
To put it another way, the laity – the people of God whose baptism is their ordination to ministry – are already practicing what I have been preaching: Stay Calm; Stay Connected; Stay the Course. Our laity place a high value on the connectional system. It is a privilege to attend a Board of Laity meeting and get a feel for the confidence with which the laity of South Georgia are already looking beyond the special session of General Conference to a future in which we continue to be Alive Together in Christ.
Thanks be to God for the calm, connected, on-course leadership of the laity of our South Georgia Conference.
Alive Together in the World,
R. Lawson Bryan