This month we honor Deaconess Lisa Bachman and Home Missioner Thomas Gates, two lay persons consecrated and commissioned for ministry within the NC Conference. Lisa serves as Director of Lay Servant Ministries for NCC. Thomas ministers as Construction Project Supervisor for NCC’s Board of Mission, Incorporated (BOMI).
Lisa Bachman (#S-00272) wears many hats. She may be best known within NCC for her work helping to establish and promote Lay Servant Ministries. In that role, she serves on the conference leadership team. Additionally, Lisa works with Southern Alamance Family Empowerment (S.A.F.E.), a feeding ministry, helping to organize volunteers and reach out to marginalized folks within the community. Her favorite role is encouraging and enabling others to realize their God-given gifts and discover how God is calling them.
About her own journey, Lisa says she always felt a call but didn’t know what it was. She experienced a void within her, a void that came from knowing the Spirit was calling her to something but feeling too old to go into ministry and not knowing where she was called. Lisa began realizing her own call to ministry as more and more people turned to her for wisdom or advice. After hearing about being a deaconess from Melba McCallum (#S-00195), Lisa applied, completed a prescribed course of study, and was consecrated to the Office of Deaconess in 2010.
The journey of Thomas Gates mirrors Lisa’s in several ways. Not only do they both come from New Sharon UMC (Corridor District), but they both were drawn to lay ministry after decades of secular employment. Thomas was self-employed as a licensed contractor, building new homes. He describes feeling called to some kind of service for a long time. He explored ordained ministry but decided being a pastor did not fit. After Lisa Bachman from his home church became a deaconess, she encouraged Thomas to consider becoming a home missioner. He attended a discernment weekend sponsored by the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner and was introduced to NC Home Missioner Gary Locklear (#982955). After returning home, Thomas applied and was accepted as a candidate. He began taking the required home missioner course work without any idea of the ministry God had for him.
Within less than a year, Hurricane Irene created the need for someone with Thomas’ experience to oversee the NCC Disaster Response efforts. Thomas began working full-time with the hurricane disaster recovery effort in October 2011 and was consecrated and commissioned as a home missioner during the UMC General Conference in 2012. Today, Thomas continues as a NCC employee with BOMI, overseeing church construction and renovation projects throughout NC.
When asked to explain home missioners, Thomas says, “It’s a lay person’s opportunity to go into ministry that fits your background. You can be used, if you say, “Here I am,” follow through, and just hang on. You may feel so inadequate and feel it’s more than you can do, but God puts people there you need for partners in your project. You have to rely on God.”
To Learn More About Deaconesses and Home Missioners
Deaconesses are lay women and home missioners are lay men who serve under the authority of the UMC and “function through diverse forms of service directed toward the world to make Jesus Christ known in the fullness of his ministry and mission” (Book of Discipline, 2012, Paragraph 1314.1). By action of the 2012 General Conference, the Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner is administratively under the United Methodist Women national office. Deaconesses and home missioners are appointed to their places of ministry by the bishop of the annual conference where they work and/or reside and are lay members of the annual conference.
For more information about the ministry of deaconesses and home missioners, please visit Deaconess and Home Missioner Ministry online.
To learn about and apply to attend the upcoming discernment weekend at Lake Junaluska, NC on April 10-12, 2015, click here.