From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Conference lay leaders vote to become global association

Date 21 Feb 2001 13:16:05

Feb. 21, 2001 News media contact: Linda Green·(615)742-5470·Nashville, Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)-The representative body of laity in the United
Methodist Church made a first step in broadening its laity base by voting to
open itself to include lay leadership from outside the United States.

During its Feb. 16-18 meeting, the National Association of Annual Conference
Lay Leaders began exploring the possibility and feasibility of expanding the
national association to include annual conference lay leaders from the
Central Conferences of Europe, Africa and the Philippines.  As a first
effort to support the global nature of the church, association members voted
to eliminate  "national" from its name and become the Association of Annual
Conference Lay Leaders.

"This is being done in recognition of the fact that the church is global in
nature and that much of the discussion at the 2000 General Conference
stressed the seriousness of being global," said association president Julius
Archibald, Plattsburgh, N.Y.   "This is a first step in opening the
membership to annual conference lay leaders from throughout the world." 

An annual conference lay leader is the person elected by the annual
conference to promote lay ministry and develop lay leadership in partnership
with the bishop and the clergy.  There are 65 annual conferences in the
United States and 52 in Europe, Africa and the Philippines.   
According to Archibald, the move will strengthen the global perspective of
the United Methodist Church. "If the United Methodist Church is global, why
do we have national organizations in the denomination?" he asked.    

"Because of the national scope of this association, we are treating members
in the central conferences as second class members when they have the same
rights within the church. Including lay leadership from the central
conferences will make the association more reflective of the total United
Methodist Church," he said.

The second step in broadening the association's global lay perspective was
the adoption of a plan which calls for bringing at least three lay leaders
from central conferences to the association's 2002 annual meeting and at
least six in 2003.  It is hoped that the association will be able have
representation from all the central conferences in 2004, the year of the
denomination's next General Conference. 

Affiliated with the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, the body is an
organization that seeks to strengthen the presence, voice and role of the
laity in the church and in the world. The group's primary goal is to assist
annual conference lay leaders in training, supporting and advocating for
district and local church lay leaders of annual conferences by promoting lay
ministry and developing lay leadership in partnership with the bishops and
other clergy.  

"Laity see ministry as being in partnership with each other and with
clergy," Archibald said.  

In the next four years, lay and clergy partnership in ministry will be
observed by the adopted themes for laity day, usually held the third Sunday
in October.  The umbrella theme during 2001-2004 will be "Partners in
Ministry: All God's People."  Sub-themes will be "Setting the Table,"
"Welcoming the Stranger,"  "Telling the Story," "Singing the Song and Living
the Life."

During the meeting, members were introduced to "Companions in Christ," a new
release from the Upper Room that advocates small-group experiences in
spiritual formation.  Available in May, the resource will help people
recognize God's grace and how God has been working in their lives, said the
Rev. K. Cherie Jones, director of resource interpretation at the Upper Room.
She said the resource, not a Bible study, is designed to allow  people to
focus on their personal experiences of God and to allow them  to discover
spiritual practices to fully participate in Christ's life.  

In other actions, the lay leaders:

·	Made seed grants to the Desert Southwest, Southwest Texas, Northern
Illinois, Virginia and California-Nevada annual conferences to help them in
their ministries to train and equip the laity;
·	Accepted affiliation with the annual conference directors of lay
speaking ministries;
·	Voted to hold their 2002 annual meeting in Hawaii,  2003 meeting in
Fargo. N.D. and the 2004 meeting in Pittsburgh;
·	Heard that the churchwide Board of Higher Education and Ministry is
preparing to conduct 2000 General Conference mandated conversations with
lay, diaconal ministers, local pastors, deacons and elders to explore ways
of supporting the other and enhancing common and distinct ministries;
·	Explored the 11 constitutional amendments to be voted on in annual
conferences this year, five of which relate to membership and paving the way
for bringing the denomination's baptism ritual, "By Water and the Spirit"
and the Discipline into agreement regarding membership;

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United Methodist News Service
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