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.
Donald Cooper and Susan Cooper are lay speakers based at Wesley Memorial UMC in Columbia. They share that they started out as lay servants just to fill in and help out, and it has grown to where they now fill pulpits across the district.
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.
Rhonda Morris received certification as a lay speaker in 2015. She has been exploring the depths of Christ’s teachings, drawing on the many layers to be uncovered through original languages and ancient mystics, since she was twelve years old. She has been a member of Pilmoor United Methodist Church in Currituck County, where the first Methodist sermon in NC was preached, for all of her life.
Jeanne Murray is a certified lay speaker and certified lay minister. Jeanne serves at Sharon UMC in Poplar Branch in a number of capacities, including lay leader, small group leader, and UWF President. In addition, she serves as the Beacon district UWF secretary and UWF 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.
Suzanne Nelson is a certified lay speaker and is the assistant director of LSM in the Beacon district. She has spent most of her life moving around after military and government jobs. Suzanne’s passion is her excitement in spreading the Word and sheer joy in teaching others about Jesus.
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.
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.
Latercha McKnight became a certified lay speaker in 2018. She is a mother, a widow, and a pharmaceutical consultant. As she transition from married to widowed, she felt that God was calling her to do more. Her pastor introduced her lay servant classes, and it progressed into being a certified lay speaker. Latercha has a passion to share God with others and to tell about the things that God has done in her life.
Catherine “Cathy” White has been serving in the Goldsboro/Capital district area since before she became a certified lay speaker in 2018. She has been a school counselor in Wayne County since 1996. She has a passionate relationship with Christ and his people where ever she serves: at work, church, and in her community. Cathy currently attends Princeton United Methodist Church in Princeton, NC, where she will serve as a teacher, leader, and a vessel for the spreading of God’s promises in scripture.
Corridor District Lay Speaker Bios
Vicki Ambrose is a certified lay speaker who has had the honor of filling that role since May 2021. She is led to share her personal experience best exemplified in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I AM God.” This is through both personal testimony and the use of scriptures, children’s stories, and devotional sources to illustrate God’s presence in our lives. Vicki currently attends Davis Street UMC in Burlington, NC, where she leads the worship planning team and provides music support.
Allen Burden is a certified lay speaker and certified lay minister whose home church is New Bethel UMC in Rougemont. Allen is retired from the General Electric Company where he specialized in servicing and installing Radiology Imaging Systems. Allen was called to spread the word of the Lord and enjoys serving rural churches. Allen is married to his wife Donna and has two children and one grandchild.
Tod Puckett is a certified lay speaker currently serving as lay leader and SPRC chair for the Rougemont Charge. Tod is a retired Army First Sergeant and works with his wife in a small home decor boutique in Hillsborough.
Sandy Quinn is a certified lay minister and certified lay speaker. She serves as lay leader at Pleasant Green UMC and as lay delegate. A life long Methodist, her mission in life is to serve God and seek ways to love all people.
Anggie Thompson is a certified lay minister and the facilitator for the CLM candidate training program. She is also the co-director of Lay Servant Ministries for the Corridor District. Anggie enjoys time with her family, which includes her husband, two sons, a daughter-in-law, five grandkids, and two rat terriers.
Page Wingfield received her lay speaker certification in October of 2017. When asked to fill in during a pastor’s absence, she takes very seriously the responsibility of bringing a thoughtfully prepared message as well as leading the worship service to the best of her ability. Page attends Massey’s Chapel UMC in Durham where she is lay leader and a lay delegate to annual conference.
Fairway District Lay Speaker Bios
Please contact district director Linda Winstead (email@example.com) if you would like to request a Fairway district certified lay speaker for your church.
Claire Cox-Woodlief has served for many years at St. Francis UMC in a variety of ways, currently on SPRC. She serves on the NCCUMC Board of Church & Society, the Capital District Anti-Racism Team, and as an SEJ Delegate (and alternate for General Conference). She created CCW Transformation Ministries, LLC, and is co-director of the NC Institute for Spiritual Direction and Formation. She enjoys serving as the Retreat Leader of the NC Academy for Spiritual Formation and the Board Chair for NC UM Camping & Retreat Ministries. She serves as a certified facilitator of Sacred Conversations to End Racism, and co-leads workshops and retreats on Race, Church, & Healing. She enjoys inviting others to join in broadening the lens of how we view scripture as we read it through the lens of people on the margins.
Phillip Edwards has served as a certified lay speaker with the UMC since 2015. Phillip attends Holly Springs UMC in Holly Springs, NC, where he has served in various roles since 2004. Phillip enjoys leading adult small groups and, through them, helping individuals and the community of faith grow in their discipleship of Christ. Phillip and his wife, Lori, have three sons.
Linda Winstead has been a lay speaker within the UMC since 1998 and a certified lay speaker since 2014. Linda currently attends Buckhorn United Methodist Church in Moncure, NC, where she serves as lay leader and lay member to annual conference and is involved in other committees as well. Linda loves connecting Bible stories to her own life as well as the lives of people in her congregation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Susan Usher has been a lay speaker for more than 30 years and recently became a certified lay minister. She is currently a member of Village Point UMC in Shallotte, where she serves on the Administrative Council and Finance Committee, and as a worship leader and choir member. She loves to share her personal testimony as well as pointing believers to the example set by Jesus Christ on how to live as a Christian day to day.
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.
Heritage District Lay Speaker Bios
Please contact district director Ken Ripley (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to request a Heritage district certified lay speaker for your church.
Sylvia Harrison is a certified lay speaker and the Heritage district co-lay leader. Sylvia is gifted in story and word and brings life to the scriptures though everyday experiences. Sylvia attends Oxford United Methodist Church, where she currently serves as stewardship chair.
Barbara G. Hendricks is a certified lay speaker, having received her certification in 2019. Barbara’s passion is witnessing to people through music and the Word. Barbara currently attends Battleboro United Methodist Church in Battleboro, N.C., where she serves as Music Director and Chair of Nurture on the NOW Committee.
Ken Ripley, a member of Gibson Memorial UMC in Spring Hope, has been a lay speaker since 1979 and serves as Heritage district director of Lay Servant Ministries. He is active in prison ministry and has a passion for evangelism. He is also an award-winning journalist active in civic and charitable organizations.
Sound District Lay Speaker Bios
Please contact district director Roxie Cauley (email@example.com) if you would like to request a Sound district certified lay speaker for your church.
Roxie Cauley worships at Hickory Grove UMC near LaGrange where she serves on several church committees and teaches Sunday School. She is a certified lay speaker and serves as director of Lay Servant Ministries in the Sound district. As a retired educator, Roxie puts the Scripture in context of the time it was written and discerns ways to share a message that is simple but helpful to others in sharing the love of Christ Jesus today.
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.
Gail Bailey Lindsay became a certified lay speaker in 2009 and a certified lay minister in 2019. Her ministry grows out of her belief that the United Methodist Church is led by the Holy Spirit to “do unto the least.” Gail’s passion is witnessing that we were created to be quickened children of the Triune God, and she has proclaimed that message in more than fifty pulpits.
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.