Regional training equips local officers
Recent laity training targeted key officer roles in every church, such as finance chairpersons and local lay delegates to Annual Conference.
Among the learning opportunities were classes in Stillwater and McAlester Districts in early January, as well as a Feb. 7 state summit sponsored by the Conference Board of Laity.
Conference Lay Leader Chuck Stewart of Stilwell said the Board felt the summit would be helpful because Re-Ignite Workshops were not scheduled. According to Conference Connectional Ministries Director Craig Stinson, Re-Ignite was set aside this year because of extra work by leadership at all levels on the missional realignment of districts.
Lisa Hefner, a member of Prague UMC, found value at both the "I Am Laity" Summit and the Stillwater event. She is chairperson of small groups at her church.
"We can all be educated, bring it back to our church, incorporate it, and get (people) involved," she said. "The bishop has an agenda. We all need to be on the same page."
She collected a Finance Committee to-do calendar and a relevant website address, and she gained personal insight through a personality assessment tool.
From the Cokesbury book table, she purchased "The Christ Walk." That spurred her to coach several Prague members during Lent to pray and walk 1.6 miles daily — "the distance from Nazareth to Jerusalem," she said.
Across years, Hefner has attended lots of United Methodist training. She liked that the recent events had longer classes and officer-specific topics.
In Stillwater, she learned about church finances from Shannon Lemmons, who has an accounting degree and is administrative assistant for the Enid District. Lemmons also presented at McAlester; she often is tapped to lead training events.
"Something we have to remember is there is the potential for new officers every single year, and they need to be trained and encouraged to ask questions," Lemmons said. "Even for the seasoned veteran, processes change."
In the Enid District, attendance more than doubled when laity training was held on weekday evenings instead of weekends, she noted.
Lemmons has created a remarkable training manual for treasurers and others who manage a church’s money. The section "A Year in the Life of a Finance Committee" can be viewed and downloaded at www.okumc.org.
From churches across Stillwater District, laypeople circle up for officer training during the evening of Jan. 8 at Stillwater-First UMC. Shown leading is Superintendent Tish Malloy.