The second annual Laity Day with the Bishop was held on Saturday, April 6, 2013, at the Hampton United Methodist Church. Led by Conference Lay Leader, Dave Decker, the event brought together Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble, Iowa’s episcopal leader, some 130 laity and clergy in the Hampton sanctuary, and others from across Iowa by way of the live video stream coordinated by the Communications Ministry Team.
Following introductory words by Dave Decker, Rev. Corby Johnson, pastor of the Hampton UMC, welcomed the local and electronically-connected participants before inviting Bishop Trimble to “invoke the Holy Spirit” to bless the gathering. Members of the host church presented two sanctuary dramas, offering “The Skinny of Discipleship,” before the reading of the Great Commission, Matthew 28. 16-20, which introduced Bishop Trimble’s morning presentation.
Bishop Trimble asked, “What does it look like to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?” He shared his personal mission statement – “to encourage all people with the love of Jesus Christ to rise to their highest potential.” In his opening remarks Bishop Trimble invited congregations to reflect on the messages they project. "If our signs say Welcome, then we need to be a place of welcome. If our mottos say that we're open to all of God's people, then we truly need to be open to all of God's people." Speaking about prayer he noted, " Power is experienced by people who pray. No budget adjustments are required. All that is needed is one…or two…or three people who pray, and added, pray until something happens!”
Preceding one of several times during which participants had an opportunity to talk among themselves Bishop Trimble asked, “What does it mean for us to be Easter people?” Responding from his remote site, Grand View UMC, Dubuque, Rev. Tom Shinkle wrote, “We are optimistic and hopeful that things will get better; we are refreshed; we don’t give up and don’t give in.” Norma Morrison, former Iowa Conference Lay Leader, wrote in from Muscatine, “Being Easter people means having the assurance that the worst thing is never the last thing. Jesus gives us hope in all things.”
Bishop Trimble talked about Christian discipleship saying, “Discipleship is the way of living that follows the live and teachings of Jesus Christ. A disciple is one who not only learns from a teacher, but follows in the ways of his or her teacher. We who are followers of Jesus are responding to his call to come and follow him.”
In response to the discussion question, “What is a Christian,” one person said, “The role of a disciple is to build a loving caring relationship before bringing witness into the discussion.” Bishop Trimble quoted Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways, who wrote, “Christianity is not a religion, but a Jesus-fueled movement that seeks to consistently embody the life, spirituality, and mission of its founder.” The Bishop went on to cite Wayne Cordeiro’s belief, “It has always been the purity and simplicity of Christ that has drawn millions to him.”
Other conversations that Bishop Trimble initiated focused on the questions, “What does loving God, loving Jesus and loving neighbor look like,” “What is our role in sharing Jesus and making disciples,” and “What are the marks and characteristics of a maturing Christian?”
Rev. Katie Dawson, the Iowa Conference coordinator for Imagine No Malaria, presented an update on the efforts to eradicate Malaria and the Conference's goal of raising $2 million within the next eighteen months to purchase medically-treated mosquito nets, medication, and provide for health education. To date, she reported, nearly $500,000 has been committed or received.
Following a lunch break the afternoon featured an hour-long question and answer session with the Bishop during which one person present at Hampton UMC talked about how her faith guides her life and work. (See related story about Trish Miller, http://www.iaumc.org/news/detail/1217).
Worship, including the Sacrament of Holy Communion concluded the day.