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Martin: ‘We are in ministry together’

May 31, 2017

By Erik Alsgaard

You would never know it from her enthusiastic approach to life, but you could say that Delores Martin is the Reluctant Conference Lay Leader.

“I never wanted to be a lay speaker,” she said recently. “That was never anything on my radar. I kept saying ‘no’ when they asked me to take the position.”

As it turns out, you don’t need to be a speaker to be Lay Leader, Martin said. When she met with then Bishop John Schol to talk about the job in 2011, Martin told him what she didn’t want to do.

“He said he wasn’t looking for a preacher or anything like that,” she said. “He said he was looking for a leader.”

Martin has served the Baltimore-Washington Conference as Lay Leader since then. She will be welcoming laity throughout the BWC to the Laity Session at 2 p.m. today.

Martin is a member of Good Hope Union UMC in Silver Spring, a church she joined in 1990.

“I was originally a member of the AME Zion church,” Martin said. “I was born and raised in that church in Henrietta, North Carolina.”

It wasn’t an easy decision to become United Methodist, she said, likening the experience to giving up a family tradition. “But I did not think about it,” she said. “The Sunday that I joined, it just happened. It was like God said, ‘Now’s the time.’”

From the moment she started in the UMC, Martin has been an active lay person in the church. Calvin Williams, a former conference lay leader, and Jim Williams were at Good Hope Union, she said, “waiting to give me a job to do.”

At the time, Martin was employed with the National Credit Union Administration. Both Calvin and Jim Williams thought Martin would make a good church treasurer, which she did for the next six or seven years.

Her church involvement ramped-up when she attended Leadership Days, she said, at the invitation of her pastor, the Rev. Jim Logan. It was only then, she said, that her eyes were open to the full depth and breadth of the church’s ministry.

“The conference Board of Laity is like the umbrella for all the district lay leaders. We get together and talk about what’s happening in our districts. They, in turn, are in contact with their local church lay leaders,” she said.

An avid supporter of laity being in partnership with clergy in ministry, Martin said she appreciates the model that Bishop LaTrelle Easterling is using by always having a lay person co-celebrate Communion.

“We are in ministry, together,” Martin said. “So often we tend to think it’s a hierarchy. With this bishop, she very much wants the laity to be her partner. I like that.”

Martin believes that to truly be a partnership, the clergy need to listen to what the laity have to say.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s from a 2-year old to a 102-year old,” she said. “We have to listen.”

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