For Lay Leaders and other local church leaders serving in Church Council, Trustees, Finance, Nominations, and S/PPRC…
Join us for one of six virtual workshops designed to equip you to serve in your local church. Whether you are starting a new leadership role, or have been serving in church leadership for years, we hope this model of leadership training will prepare you for your much-needed ministry. Laity and clergy in partnership with one another is the key to a church’s success in making disciples.
How It Works
We will host six Zoom meetings broken down into two sessions, and registrants can choose the topic that they need. If you need more than one training, register for the training(s) you would like to attend live. If you are interested in more than one topic in a session, no need to worry. We will send the recording links for all the sessions about a week after the event.
Who Can Register?
Anyone! We send invitations to the Lay Leader and the chair of each committee: Church Council, Finance, Trustees, Nominations, and S/PPRC. However, we heartily recommend that all committee members attend the training. It is helpful when all committee members receive the same instruction. In addition, anyone who wants to learn more about how these committees work is more than welcome to join.
John Hall was elected Conference Lay Leader of the North Carolina Conference in June 2020 and previously served as the Conference Director of Lay Servant Ministries. He has been an active member of the laity within the NC Conference for many years, including serving as a district president of United Methodist Men and participating in the Leadership Fellows program in 2013-2014 as the lay partner from Aldersgate UMC in Durham, where he continues to serve as a lay minister with a focus on church sound and media. John enjoyed a 23 year career as a R&D development engineer with Hewlett Packard company, retiring in 2006. He then joined SAS as a technical trainer with a focus on computer architecture, retiring in 2018. John is married to his wife Holly and has two children and one amazing grandson.
Laura Hamrick as Clergy Engagement Coordinator for both the Clergy Health Initiative and the Religion and Social Change Lab. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and Wesley Theological Seminary, Laura is a second career pastor who worked in the field of group health insurance prior to entering seminary. An ordained elder in the Western NC Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, she served churches of various sizes in urban, suburban, and rural settings for seventeen years prior to entering ministry beyond the local church. Prior to joining the team at Duke, she served with Life Around the Table, where she helped to design and lead creation-based Sabbath retreat experiences for ecumenical groups of clergy in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. In her current role, Laura connects with UMC clergy and denominational leaders in North Carolina to offer support and evidence-based resources developed through our research in order to support their flourishing in life and ministry.
Jessie Larkins is a member of the North Carolina Conference and is currently appointed to ministry beyond the local church where she works as a part time consultant with the Duke Clergy Health Initiative developing resources to improve the wellbeing of clergy leaders, and full time as a mental health therapist serving clergy and church leaders as well as other adolescents and adults on issues related to grief and life transitions. Jessie is a 2007 graduate of Duke Divinity School and served local congregations as associate and solo pastor for eight years prior to spending four years working as part of district leadership in the Corridor district. After working with Duke Clergy Health through the COVID pandemic on a health intervention designed to help clergy manage stress, anxiety, depression, and spiritual wellbeing, Jessie went back and gained training at UNC-CH in mental health counseling. In her current work and life as pastor, wife, parent of two teenagers, congregation member at Duke Memorial UMC in Durham, and counselor, Jessie seeks to embody the vision that’s been captured in the Keeping the Faith resource: that when we listen well to one another, lead with vulnerability, ask curious questions, and are unafraid to face hard things, we can find healing and catch a glimpse of the grace that always surrounds us.
Beth Hood is an ordained elder in full connection in the North Carolina Conference and currently serves as the Assistant to the Bishop for Clergy Life. Beth has served churches in Sanford (St. Luke 1992-1997), Lemon Springs (Lemon Springs 1997-2004), Aberdeen (Page Memorial 2004-2007), and Wilmington (Wesley Memorial 2012-2020), and has also served as Superintendent of the Greenville district (2007-2012). Having grown up in Carrboro, NC, just outside of Chapel Hill, Beth has affection for all things Carolina blue, and especially loves watching the UNC Tarheels play basketball. They are parents to an adult son, Adam.
Donna Banks currently serves as the Lead Pastor at Epworth UMC in Durham. Upon graduation from Duke Divinity, she joined the staff as the Associate Pastor of Christ UMC in Chapel Hill. She has also served appointments as the senior pastor at McMannen UMC in Durham, St. Francis UMC in Cary, and Evergreen UMC in Chapel Hill; as Director of Student Life at Duke Divinity; and as district superintendent for the Corridor district. She has previous experience from her 16-year career in the chemical industry which afforded her the opportunity to have a succession of roles as a research chemist and in corporate sales, marketing, and management. Donna is married with two daughters.
Christine Dodson is the Conference Treasurer and Benefits Officer. She has been with the Conference for over 20 years and provides leadership for the overall financial and administrative ministry of the Conference. Christine is a lay member of Mt. Moriah UMC in the Harbor district where she serves as Finance Committee Chairperson. She also serves the wider denomination as Vice-Chairperson of the General Council on Finance and Administration. Christine is a CPA and received her Doctorate in Business Administration, focused on leadership. Christine is married with one child in college and two in high school.
Gray Southern is a retired elder of the NC Conference and the Conference Secretary. He previously served the Capital district; The Apex UMC Family; the former Durham District; St. James Church (Greenville); Trinity Church (Durham); West Nash (Wilson); Oriental; and St. Paul (Goldsboro). Gray grew up in Smithfield, NC, and graduated from Smithfield-Selma Sr. High School. He also holds degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, Yale Divinity School, and Columbia Theological Seminary. Gray was a part of The Lily Endowment’s Pastor-Theologian Program which was also a formative part of his life. He was a member of General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2008, 2012, 2016/2019. Gray and his wife Susan, a former public school teacher, have two children: Kirk (married to Giselle) and Mary-Gray; they are expecting their first grandchild on Easter 2024!
Natalie Birdwell Sisler is currently the Lay Leader at Christ the King Church in Clayton and part
of the Capital District. She has served the United Methodist Church in multiple capacities and
states over the last 20 years, including as Church Council Chair at Greater Heights UMC
(Clayton) during the union with Christ Community Church (Clayton). Natalie has also served as
part of the church women’s group, youth group and Youth Director both in Houston, TX and
North Carolina. She was raised at New World United Methodist Church (Garland, TX) and has
many strong family ties to rural UM churches in Missouri. Christ centered leadership is what she
strives to practice daily in her professional, volunteer and family roles. Natalie lives in Raleigh
with her husband and young daughter.