Joy, joy! I felt like a proud mom for the Conference Lay Minister (CLayM) program at California-Nevada’s Annual Conference Session this past week.
CLayM is an exciting ministry that trains and deploys experienced, skilled church leaders as volunteer pastors to serve congregations needing a few years without the financial requirements of a seminary-trained, ordained pastor. It gives the CLayM-matched churches some financial breathing room, but also a spirited pastoral presence who comes from the laity, on fire to pursue the purpose of the Church in that specific time and place. Often the congregations are in rural or open-country communities, but sometimes they’re in the midst of the city, as well.
I was the first Coordinator for CLayM and for its predecessor, ELM, for six years. It was thrilling to be on the ground floor of that program, which still is unique in our denomination. In those early years, Conference leaders imagined that the program would serve a few churches, maybe “twelve at most.” – But just this week, our District Superintendents assigned CLayM pastors to forty congregations, and the Laity Session recognized and blessed twelve graduates from the first-ever Spanish-language CLayM class! The Bishop also announced that plans are in the works for a Cambodian-language CLayM course, as well.
Lay-led ministries are growing throughout United Methodism in the U.S. and elsewhere, as we learn that a variety of ministry models can be fruitful and fulfilling in the Emergent Church movement. Jesus, John Wesley, and others across the generations keep calling us out of the church building, out of the old paradigms, to minister among the people in powerful, passionate ways. Thank You, God!
Your partner in ministry,