The North Carolina Conference has many certified lay speakers who are ready to step in for a pastor who needs to be away from the pulpit (see bios by district below). These speakers have all completed significant training, including six advanced Lay Servant Ministries courses (learn more).
Pastors interested in requesting a certified lay speaker to fill their pulpit should contact their district director of Lay Servant Ministries, who can help match the certified lay speaker who is best suited to meet the given need.
Beacon District Lay Speaker Bios
Stephanie Beasley is a certified lay speaker from Colington UMC. She loves studying and sharing God’s Word. She is married to Terry and they have one son. She is a retired Dare County school nurse.
Ginny Crocker is a lay speaker and certified lay minister who preaches at the Gates County Church Cooperative. She is a lay speaker/CLM because of her passion for serving the Lord by helping others understand the scriptures and grow in faith. Ginny is the co-director of Lay Servant Ministries and serves on the District Committee on Ministries.
Jo Drago is a certified lay minister and lay speaker from Moyock UMC. She is passionate about becoming a light for Christ and helping others grow in relationship with God and fellowship with one another. Professionally, she is retired from the City of Norfolk as an information technology supervisor. She led a choir at Moyock UMC for 3.5 years. She leads two Bible studies. Jo now serves Moyock UMC as a Shepherd Coordinator to her pastor for doing hospital visits and keeping track of the congregation.
Jeanne Murray is a certified lay speaker and a candidate to become a certified lay minister. Jeanne serves at Sharon UMC in Poplar Branch in a number of capacities, including lay leader, small group leader, and UMW President. In addition, she serves as the Beacon district UMW secretary and UMW conference book club facilitator. Jeanne’s passion for supplying the needs of those around her spurs her desire to be a lifelong learner and a spiritual seeker.
Marjorie Rayburn is a life-long Methodist and active member of New Hope United Methodist Church, where she teaches Bible studies and organizes a summer campground service. She enjoys preaching and sharing God’s word with others and is committed to sharing her faith through word and action. She is retired from the NC Cooperative Extension Service, where she served as an agriculture agent and worked with farmers.
Tom Santa is a certified lay minister and lay speaker from Moyock UMC. He is passionate about becoming a better disciple and helping others to grow in relationship with God and with one another. He is the husband of Michelle, who introduced him to the Methodist church, and father of Mary Elysse and Lauren. Tom retired from the Navy after 22 years as an active-duty Nurse Corps officer and now serves as a full-time family and acute care nurse practitioner.
Robert Thomas is a certified lay speaker who also serves as lay leader at Soule UMC in Hyde County. Robert began his journey as a lay speaker after his pastor approached him and encouraged him to consider the Holy Spirit’s call on his life to prophetic preaching. One of Robert’s spiritual gifts is teaching, and lay speaking has provided him additional opportunities to teach, alongside his work as a Sunday school teacher and men’s Bible study leader. Robert lives close to the water and enjoys his time on the water and living in a most unique place.
Capital District Lay Speaker Bios
Mike Beasley has served Erwin UMC in many roles including Sunday school teacher and Stephen Ministry leader as well as Lay Leader and Annual Conference delegate. He became a certified lay speaker in 2016 and has spoken at 30 churches in the area. Mike enjoys encouraging others to boldly tell of their Christian journey and share their faith in Jesus Christ.
James Bernstein has served Asbury UMC in Raleigh in many roles including short-term missions leader, youth Sunday school teacher, kitchen volunteer, and liturgist. He became a certified lay speaker in 2017 and has spoken at a number of churches in the district. His messages typically speak to the Christian life or are expository messages. He works in the pharmaceutical industry and enjoys the outdoors.
Janet Groberski has been a lay leader and lay servant at Westwood United Methodist Church in Goldsboro, NC, since 2014 and a certified lay speaker since 2020. She has taught an adult Sunday school class for 10 years and is a member of the choir. Before moving to Goldsboro, she served in the Air Force for 30 years.
Gateway District Lay Speaker Bios
Please contact district director Effie McGill (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to request a Gateway district certified lay speaker for your church.
Paul Baldwin is a certified lay minister currently in membership at Galilee UMC in Laurinburg, North Carolina. Paul’s certification began in 2019. A part of his ministry is serving Scotland Regional Hospice as a bereavement volunteer. Paul has also served with boundless joy and excitement as pulpit supply. He is always excited to fill in for clergy in the Gateway district when needed. Paul is married to Rachelle; together they have two sons, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Effie McGill is a certified lay speaker, certified lay minister, deaconess, and life-long member of Galilee UMC in Laurinburg, NC. Effie serves as the Gateway district director of Lay Servant Ministries. Her ministry is communications coordinator at Galilee UMC; she also serves as volunteer communications, media, and technology at Partners in Ministry in Laurinburg, NC. Effie and her husband, Larry, have a son, daughter-in-love, daughter, son-in-love, and seven granddaughters.
Susie Swenson is a certified lay speaker and member of Trinity UMC in Fairmont, NC. She seeks to promote Bible literacy and life applications whenever she speaks in her own church and elsewhere. A lifelong music educator and church musician, Susie supports the pastor’s sermon with music specifically focused on the sermon’s scripture and subject.
Harbor District Lay Speaker Bios
Please contact district director Sandy Core (email@example.com) if you would like to request a Harbor district certified lay speaker for your church.
Leonard Bernauer is a certified lay speaker with a heart for serving and teaching the scriptures to others. Len became a lay speaker to fulfill a long desire to serve as a teacher and presenter of the Lord’s Word. He is married to a wonderful girl for 45 years and enjoys playing golf, bowling, reading books, and serving the Lord.
Sandy Blake, certified lay speaker, is a member of Burgaw UMC, where she serves as lay leader and a Sunday school teacher. Passionate about sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, she is grateful for thirty-eight years of teaching experiences that help shape her ministry.
Sandy Core, through her love and dedication to the Lord, has been a part of a variety of ministries, including church pianist, choir director, home Bible study leader, Sunday school teacher, and prayer ministry coordinator. After retiring from her career as a teacher and social worker, she now works part-time as a data manager for First Fruit Ministries, a homeless ministry in Wilmington. Sandy attends Ocean View UMC and answered the call to be a lay speaker in 2016. She also serves as the Harbor district director of Lay Servant Ministries.
Jerry Dalton is a certified lay minister serving as pastor of Mishop Springs UMC and Peace UMC in Whiteville, North Carolina. Jerry enjoys sharing the gospel with these congregations and ministering to their needs. Jerry is married to Salle and has three adult children and three loving cats.
Don Eggert is a certified lay speaker serving the Harbor district with church membership at Seaside UMC in Sunset Beach. Don is a lay speaker because he feels called to serve in this way. He is retired and is a long-time member of the Shallotte Lions Club.
Don Kluttz is a certified lay speaker attending Ocean View UMC in Oak Island, NC. Don became interested in lay speaking in 2013 when his pastor asked him to be lay leader. He retired in 2011 as an auditor with the state of NC and moved with his wife, Wanda, to Oak Island, where they have had a home since 1999. He volunteers as an Oak Island Beach Ambassador, where he witnesses and invites people to Ocean View, which is his calling from God to be his disciple.
Ernest Leatherman has been lay speaking in churches since 2009 and earned his certification in 2014. He likes to draw on his extensive travels and personal experiences to highlight the love of Jesus Christ. He is a member of Ocean View UMC in Oak Island and has served in most capacities within the local church.
Debbie Marshburn is part of the prayer shawls ministry. She has three grandchildren and loves to hunt and fish. She says, “It was God’s plan and not hers.”
Linda McDaniels has been a certified lay speaker for years. She enjoys fellowshipping and ministering with her brothers and sisters in the Lord through her home church, St. Paul, in Tabor City. She loves to lead interactive Bible studies with props for children’s sermons, Sunday school studies, ladies’ retreats, and home Bible studies. She has been blessed to minister God’s love in dramas and musicals.
Mel Pitts has been a Harbor district certified lay servant since 2018. Her passion is preaching, and she believes and trusts the Holy Spirit to guide her in composing and delivering sermons. Mel is a member of Wrightsville UMC in Wrightsville Beach, where she teaches adult Sunday school and leads book studies.
Lynn Shuffler has been a certified lay speaker since 2006, sharing her passion and excitement for our Lord with others. She is a member of Pine Valley UMC, where she leads a small group study and, along with her husband, shares their love of singing by being members of the choir. They have been married 54 years and have two sons, a daughter, and six beautiful granddaughters.
Carol Worth is a certified lay minister in the Harbor district, serving churches in New Hanover and neighboring counties. Carol’s passion is to share the good news of Jesus Christ through preaching, writing, and hands-on ministry, focusing on building a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ. Carol is actively engaged as a lay leader at Fifth Avenue UMC and delights in sharing her ministry of compassion through the prayer shawl ministry.
Sound District Lay Speaker Bios
Dale Attaway is a husband, grandfather, and great grandfather. He has been a certified lay speaker for approximately five years and has delivered messages in many churches to serve God. He retired from United States Marine Corps and the NC Department of Corrections. Dale is active in First UMC in Havelock, and his hobbies include reading and genealogy. He serves God through feeding the hungry, speaking to congregations, and leading a men’s group in his church.
Jackie Attaway is a Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother who loves the Lord. Throughout her life, she has felt God always present. She has felt led to share the many times God has intervened in her life and kept her on the right path (and is still doing). She has met a lot of wonderful congregations and gained much biblical knowledge through sermon research and speaking at various churches. Jackie serves as lay leader at First UMC in Havelock, Sound district co-director of Lay Servant Ministries, and a certified Conflict Transformation Minister in the NC Conference. Jackie is a member of the board serving Craven, Pamlico, and Jones counties for Backpack Blessings. She also serves on the planning board and library board for the city of Havelock.
Graham Cavanaugh is a photographer and retired law enforcement officer who is seen frequently riding his Harley on the way to survey a novel eating establishment. He began his lay speaking journey through district classes to understand Methodism and avenues to serve his local church effectively. The pulpit speaking part “just happened” as he realized how much he learned about the Lord and God’s Word through research to deliver messages to fellow parishioners. He serves as a member of the Sound district committee on Lay Servant Ministries and cooks many meals for classes.
Elizabeth Harrison attends New Song UMC in James City. She became a lay speaker to learn more about the Methodist church and to further her learning of the Bible. She works full time and lives with three cats. Elizabeth loves God and lives by the quote, “Not all who wander are lost.”
Linda Hevner attends Ann Street UMC in Beaufort, where she has several leadership roles. She serves as Council VP, is a small group coordinator, and is a founding member of the creation care ministry founding member. She is also active in the music program and regularly serves as lay liturgist. Linda desires to share the good news about how God is actively at work in her life, which led her to the lay speaker program.
Bobby Meadows is a member of Arapahoe UMC, where he serves as the financial officer. He serves as a member of the Sound district committee on Lay Servant Ministries. He began lay speaking in 2005, as he felt called to support the pastor when he needed a break or time off, and has filled over 100 pulpits. He is retired from NADEP, Cherry Point, where he worked for 30 years. Bobby is married to Sharon Meadows, and they have four children and six grandchildren.
Michael Webb is a member of St. James UMC in Greenville, where he was baptized at 51. He became a lay speaker because he felt the need to share the good news. He is a pediatric dentist and serves as the chair of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics at ECU School of Dental Medicine. Mike plays the banjo and loves to cook.