Laity from all over the North Carolina Conference gathered in the Greenville Convention Center on June 14 to open the 2018 Annual Conference with the Laity Executive Session. This time provided lay persons an opportunity to hear from members of the Board of Laity.
Jay Locklear led the group in singing “Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone”. Gary Locklear, Conference Lay Leader, welcomed everyone and introduced the Board of Laity. Gary shared a remembrance of Tom Walden and the many ministries Tom led throughout the conference. Duncan McMillan led a devotion that recalled the way congregations and communities rallied in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, and the spirit of love and compassion that emerged from the flooding and devastation.
Paul Wilson, United Methodist Men president, shared with the group some of the activities the past year. He challenged us to broaden our definition of men’s ministry beyond a breakfast gathering into a group of men discipling men. He thanked the conference for the opportunity to serve as our United Methodist Men president for the past four years, and introduced Wally Mills as the incoming UMM president.
JoAnn Barbour provided the group with the initiatives of the United Methodist Women in the conference. She shared that many of the activities and projects are focused around the conference theme of Generosity in All Creation. JoAnn provided ways that we can all participate in the care of our planet by raising our awareness of our use of plastics and disposable items.
Christine Dodson, conference treasurer, came to share the logistics of annual conference with the group. Christine gave a special welcome to those who are attending annual conference for the first time, and encouraged them to actively participate in the discussions and activities of the conference. She reviewed the conference agenda, noting the opportunities for participation by all the conference delegates.
Mark Schneider, Co-Lay Leader of the Capital district, shared thoughts on the responsibilities of lay delegates to the annual conference. Noting that this is the first time for this kind of information to be shared, Mark encouraged the delegates to listen well throughout the conference, to not only participate in the conference but be equipped to share what they heard with their local congregations. He provided a framework for lay delegates to capture information about the happenings during the conference, and a handout with a template was provided to all.
John Hall, conference Director of Lay Servant Ministries, reminded the delegates that Lay Servant Ministries is much broader than lay speaking and also includes evangelism and Christian education. John shared stories of three persons who had attended Lay Servant Ministry classes and how each one had benefited from the information received as well as the experience.
Jeff Jenkins, Beacon Lay Leader, led the group in a closing prayer, giving thanks for each delegate and asking God’s blessings on this gathering.