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Laity Convocation 23 focuses on community ministry

Posted: February 20 2023 at 08:37 PM
Laity Barrington Group 2

Laity Gathered at Barrington UMC listening to the sharing of ministries from local churches.

Laity Convocation Mt Morris

Laity Gathered at Disciples UMC in Mount Morris listening to the Mark Manzi's welcome.

Laity Convocation Orland Park 2

Laity Gathered at First UMC in Orland Park listening to the Bishop's welcome.

Laity Convocation 2023 was an opportunity to try something new. After two years of virtual gatherings, Co-Lay Leaders Mark Manzi, Eugene Williams, and Connie Augsburger decided that they wanted in-person participation at three locations. Being in three churches (Disciples UMC in Mt. Morris, Barrington UMC, and Faith UMC in Orland Park) provided the opportunity for fellowship and reduced the distance for participants to travel. Opportunities to attend virtually were also offered, and when connected at the three locations, all participants were able to learn together.

The theme for Laity Convocation was Thinking Outside the Church: Making Community Ministry Happen. The event started with a short worship experience, followed by a welcome and greeting from Bishop Schwerin. Reminding us that we are called to ministry in our own communities, Bishop Schwerin reflected on Luke 10:1-9 when he stated, “We are sent on behalf of Jesus. In our relationships to make Christ known, the world is impacted. These are the ways that the kingdom of God delights and changes.”

The day's Keynote speaker was David Teel, Director of Laity & Leadership at Discipleship Ministries. “Your call has a place, your place has a call, place your call,” is one of the nuggets of wisdom supplied by David.  Stories from visual artist Omari Booker and photographer Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York were shared as examples of people who reach out and pay attention. Breakout sessions were then held online and in the three locations for people to share and brainstorm about community ministry.

The program concluded with four Northern Illinois Conference churches sharing about how they reach out to their communities in ministry. Oregon UMC is working with the community to show God’s love at the schools, the fire department, Chamber of Commerce events, youth team community clean-ups, and more. Summer Youth Pop-ups lead into summer science and art camps and then flow into Wednesday night multi-generational gatherings at Wesley UMC in Aurora. Working with Chicago Methodist Senior Services, Berry UMC created dementia-friendly worship that has been blessing participants and worship leaders. Talking with small business leaders, First UMC in Franklin Park realized a need and created small business pop-up events that bring people into the church.

“We hope you have been inspired by what you’ve learned, and you’ll be empowered to implement this information in your local churches and communities.” Mark Manzi shared on behalf of his Co-Lay Leaders.

Watch a recording of Laity Convocation

More information about the Board of Laity can be found here.

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