The afternoon Laity Celebration included stories of challenge, healing, and hope. “God prepares the way and walks with us,” said John Hall, Conference Lay Leader. In the pandemic, “We’ve learned that being perfect is not nearly as important as being authentic. As we have worked together, we’ve discovered or rediscovered that we really need each other. We’ve learned new ways to be the church.”
During the celebration, Rev. Dr. Reginald Ponder shared information about The Gary Wayne Locklear Mission Endowment, named after the late Conference Lay Leader, and encouraged support of its vision of providing resources for new mission with people in our conference. More information is available at nccumc.org/mission-endowment.
Rev. Jaye White celebrated that over $430,000 in grants have been made from the Mission Endowment since its inception. This year, grants were given to JFON Fayetteville, Robeson County Church & Community Center, The Anchor Church, and the Church at Spring Forest.
Deaconess Brenda Brown explained the different types of laity mission designations and shared details about the many and varied ways she lives into her call to serve her community.
Conference Youth President Emily Lain expressed thanks for everyone who helped conference youth overcome the challenges the pandemic brought and celebrated that the conference has reaffirmed its support of youth ministry by creating a part time youth staff position at the conference level.
Presentations also included Michael Priddy, president of the Clergy Spouse Association, and David Teal, Director of Laity and Spiritual Leadership for UM Discipleship Ministries.
In closing, Hall thanked the laity for “…keeping the lights on. Thank you for being the church in your community, at the pool, on the playground, and in your neighborhood.”