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Conference laity hear from national leaders

June 11, 2018

By Linda Worthington
UMConnection Staff

Laity filled the Harborside Ballroom May 30 at the Annual Conference Session. Delores Martin, chair of the Conference Board of Laity, presided. The program featured presentations by two national church leaders: the Rev. Barbara Lemmel, a pastor in the New England Conference and Director of Tending the Fire, a consulting group that empowers resilient leadership for changing times; and the Rev. Rick Vance, an Eastern Shore native and president of the denomination’s United Methodist Men.

Lemmel spoke passionately about “Courageous Leadership in Anxious Times,” detailing two types of anxiety: acute and chronic. She gave four responses that people make to acute anxiety: reactions, such as yelling at someone or becoming extremely quiet; herding, huddling together with like-minded people; blaming, always to someone on the “outside;” and quick-fix, what people do to solve a problem. She amply illustrated each one.

“To be good leaders in an anxious situation,” she said, one needs four attributes. These are:

  • Self-differentiation — knowing what I believe and sticking to it, and inviting others to come aboard;
  • Connection — Learn who other people are, by asking, “What do you think?”
  • Vision — See/feel and know the big picture, know what you’re about; and
  • Having a non-anxious presence in the situation — “The only way I can be a non-anxious presence is with God,” she said.

“It’s perfectly okay to have a non-anxious presence, even when you’re anxious on the inside,” she said.

For a congregation to move forward, it must have both laity and clergy. “Your laity are the ones that need/have those four attributes,” she said.

“Be a faithful congregation, not just a ‘nice’ one,” she challenged the audience.

Hampton Conway, president of the conference United Methodist Men, introduced Vance who spoke on domestic violence and the response of the United Methodist Men to addressing the issue.

Vance noted that UMM provides national leadership to Scouting, both Boy’s and Girl’s, as well as United Methodist Men. 

“Men are missing in action,” he stated.  Both men and women have unique gifts that are absolutely essential. Some of these gifts “have been missing for too long,”

Though sometimes domestic violence is against men, the high majority of cases are against women.  One of four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes and three women today will die because of someone who says he loves her.

Men are affected by domestic violence as perpetrators; those who saw their fathers beat their mothers often become perpetrators themselves. Domestic violence is not confined to “them” or “those people,” but is also in our churches, he said.

Vance called attention to the 8-weeks program for men called Amending Through Faith, and how the church can become a participant in the program. It is a study for groups of men and is a means of prevention, not intervention. The study includes a look at Scripture for both stopping and allowing men to be perpetrators.

“Only with the support and involvement of men and boys can the cycle of gender-based violence be stopped,” he said. “More than advocating for change, make changes … to make disciples for Jesus Christ and the transformation of the world.” See here.

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