The lay people of the Baltimore-Washington Conference joined together in a spirit of enthusiasm and promise, Oct. 25 in the online annual laity session.
They were welcomed by Delores Martin, the Conference Lay Leader, and Linda Flanagan, the Conference Director of Lay Ministries, as they explored the power and possibilities of “Rising Up and Reviving God’s Gift,” and claiming the promise in 2 Timothy 1 that “God did not give us a spirit that is timid, but one that is powerful, loving and self-controlled.”
“Rise Up!” is the theme for the laity this quadrennium. Over these four years, laity are being called to rise up and revive God’s gift, reveal God’s grace, remain committed to love’s teaching, and retain the Spirit’s good and beautiful things.
At the heart of rising up is “remembering that love has crossed our path and remembering the gift of faith we’ve received as it becomes a call to share grace with others,” said David Teel, Director of Laity and Spiritual Leadership for Discipleship Ministries.
Teel, the keynote speaker for the Laity Session, shared words from Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, written in a letter to Dorothy Furly in 1762.
“I want you to be all love. This is the perfection I believe and teach,” Wesley wrote.
“’All love’ is a two-word definition of deep discipleship and spiritual maturity,” Teel said. “All love means: grow deep in love with Christ so you can love all – until all love God. … Grow deep to love wide.”
Teel shared with the laity several lessons he learned from the Rev. Junius Dotson, the recently deceased General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries, and from others. Among them:
- Love has a learning curve.
- Discipleship begins with relationship.
- By claiming the spiritual power of self-care, we relearn the rhythms of grace and reset our souls.
- Discipleship is leadership. Discipleship is also evangelism. Discipleship is attention training.
- Pay attention. (In the words of Simone Weil, “absolute attention is prayer.”)
He encouraged the laity to listen deeply, again quoting Wesley that, “The holiness of conversation is the image of God visibly expressed.”
“Laity in the Baltimore-Washington Conference continue to adapt communication strategies – deed and words – that are helping to manifest all love’s scriptural wholeness or holiness,” Teel said. “It’s love in public, justice and mercy born from life-mending, reparative grace.
Listen, be still and attuned, Teel urged.
“Through this kind of listening-love our conversations become shared life and holy ground around the back stories, brokenness, and wounds, where God’s prevenient grace continues to cross every one of our paths.”
During the Laity Session, Linda Flanagan, the Conference Director of Certified Lay Ministry, introduced 10 lay members who have completed their two years of CLM training and will soon be certified.
CLMs are people called to congregational leadership as part of a ministry team, under the supervision of a clergy person. They provide a variety of services, Flanagan said, including conducting worship services, caring for congregations, assisting in program leadership, developing new and existing faith communities, leading small groups, and establishing community outreach ministries.
The soon-to-be CLMs shared about their experiences on this “wonderful journey,” led by the Revs. Patricia Allen and Mary Worrell, which was not diminished by the limitations brought about by the pandemic. “When the world stopped, God did not,” said Vonetta Garcia of Gethsemane UMC.
Members of the 2019-2021 cohort include: Mary Ball, Rich Barney, Kathy Cinnamond, Joseph Smith, Tammie Edmunds, Ricky Hill, Vonetta Garcia, Matthew Bowie, George Pittenger and George Smith.