New directors named
Melissa Lauber, who has worked as a religious communicator for more than 20 years, will be the new conference Director of Communications. She follows Shaun Lane, who is assuming a special assignment as manager of public relations and marketing, building on a conference-wide evangelism initiative to help local churches reach beyond their walls and bring people to Christ.
These appointments, which are effective Oct. 12, were announced by Bishop Marcus Matthews. “Sandy Ferguson is a woman of great integrity who has a passion for justice. She knows how to build meaningful partnerships that produce effective and vital ministries. Melissa Lauber is a creative and innovative communicator, who will lead the conference in telling God’s story in new and exciting ways,” the bishop said. “I am confident great things will happen under both of their leadership, which will help to create and nurture disciples and build the Kingdom of God.”
Ferguson currently serves as the conference director of Mission and Justice Ministries. She started her work with the Baltimore-Washington Conference in 1985. She began working with conference youth and as a church-growth consultant. Over the years, she served on the former Council on Ministries and the current Connectional Ministries team, leading and equipping almost every board, commission and committee in the conference.
Her passion, she said, is justice and mission. “My ministry has always been about working to ensure that all people know justice and that everyone experiences the powerful love of God. This conference is blessed with countless people whose gifts and faith make them eager to serve and make a significant difference in the world. In the past, and in my new position, I will continue to work to empower and enable them so that they grow in their faith and the lives of individuals, communities and the world are transformed.”
In her ministry, Ferguson has also worked throughout the connectional church. She has been elected to serve as a delegate to General Conference eight times, leading the delegation on numerous occasions and serving on the Northeastern Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee. For the past two quadrennia, she has been a member of the denomination’s Connectional Table, overseeing the ministries of the entire church. She was also a member of the Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the Church and has served on the Board of Directors of the General Board of Global Ministries and the General Board of Church and Society.
She has served on many denominational and conference task forces, shaping the ministries and growth of the church. Ferguson was instrumental in the creation of Shalom Zones in this region, has been honored by Maryland’s governor and others for her ground-breaking work in disaster relief, and is currently vice president of the Health Care Initiative for the State of Maryland. She has traveled extensively on behalf of the church, doing mission and ministry in India, Russia, Korea, the Philippines, Brazil and many countries in Africa and Europe.
Melissa Lauber began working for the Baltimore-Washington Conference as a writer, 23 years ago, on some of the very first issues of the UMConnection newspaper. Over the years, she covered hundreds of stories throughout the church and has twice been awarded the Don Doten Award from the United Methodist Association of Communicators naming her as the outstanding writer in the denomination. The UMConnection has also been consistently honored as one of the outstanding religious newspapers.
In 2001, she became an editor for the conference, and works creating a wide variety of print and electronic news and discipleship resources for local church leaders. In addition, she is a writer for FaithLink, a small group adult discussion piece for the United Methodist Publishing House and is a board member of the General Commission on Communications.
She is excited about the role narrative plays in shaping people’s perceptions of their faith, the church and the world. “The role of story and religious communications is enabling people to find their place in God’s unfolding narrative,” Lauber said. “Today’s technology presents unlimited opportunities for people to share an ancient, life-transforming story.”