The laity convened in the Grand Ballroom for the Laity Executive Session Wednesday afternoon. As lay members crowded into the packed ballroom, Conference Lay Leader Gary Locklear recognized the Conference Board of Laity, which includes the President of the NC Conference United Methodist Men, the President of the NC Conference United Methodist Women, the President of the NC Conference Youth, and the District Lay Leaders from each of the eight districts.
Gary Locklear discussed the Conference theme for the quadrennium, “From Strength to Strength”, and this year’s theme of “serve”.
Former Conference Lay Leader Emily Innes shared with the lay members in a time of devotion. She shared scripture from Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message), which reads:
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
Emily Innes reminded us that we are not the source of light, but we are reflectors of a source: Jesus. Jesus Christ has made us light bearers, and He had told us today that “you ARE the light of the world”. Jesus lives, and He has asked us, his disciples, to also live. We must all live our lives in a way that reflects the light of Christ into the world.
As we prepare to engage in this time of Holy Conferencing, we will have opportunities to be light bearers in the work we do. “As we make God’s mission our focus this week, may the light of Jesus shine forth from this place.”
After we were led in music by Jay Locklear, Conference Treasurer Christine Dodson thanked the Laity for their time and presence and provided an overview of the business of annual conference. She briefly summarized the events taking place at Annual Conference this week.
Melba McCallum introduced the lay nominees for election to the General Conference Delegation. She reminded the members that the elected delegates must dedicate an extensive amount of their time and resources, and lay members should prayerfully consider the delegates. The lay nominees then introduced themselves.
Lynn Shuffler and Jin Lee reminded us that we are called to have mercy on our fellow man, as our neighbor is anyone of any race, creed, or social background who is in need.
Last night, the board of Laity anointed the entire exhibit hall. As we concluded the Laity Session, each member was invited to share a prayer request on cards distributed at the start of the session. The laity took these cards to the feet of the nine crosses placed around the room, with the crosses representing the eight districts and the ninth representing the Board of Laity.
The session ended in a quiet time of reflection, singing, and prayer as members made their way to the crosses.