With worship, conversation, insights, and shared opportunities, the 2019 edition of Laity Day with the Bishop
, brought together more than one hundred people in attendance and others via livestream. It was an opportunity to hear a message from Bishop Laurie Haller, appreciate some open question and answer time with her, listen to some delegates to the 2019 special called General Conference, be informed by leaders from the Legislative Advocacy Team and School for Lay Ministry, and focus on mission with Women at the Well’s pastor, Rev. Lee Schott.
The event was convened by Margaret Borgen, the Iowa Annual Conference Lay Leader. It’s a tradition that goes back to years when Norma Morrison was the Conference Leader then was continued throughout Dave Decker’s tenure in that position. Haven taken place in churches throughout the Conference, this year’s gathering moved to Ames and Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation.
Citing a book by Thomas Lynch and Thomas Long, Bishop Laurie reminded those at Laity Day
that “we are all God’s children…the same but different, but all God’s children, either way.” As people of The Way, the early designation for followers of Jesus, Christians then, and now, have the challenge to “put my words into practice by how you live your life along the Way,” Bishop Laurie noted. Continuing Jesus’ admonition, Bishop Laurie added, “if you don’t have a solid foundation for your faith, it’s all just a house of cards built on sand that will collapse at a moment’s notice.”
“Are you a hearer or a doer,” she asked. “Will you give lip service to Christianity, or will you obey [Jesus] teachings by how you treat other people and embody [Jesus’] love?” Finally, she asked, “What is your foundation”…and to that, she suggested, there is one answer, an understanding that comes from the apostle Paul, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid, the foundation of Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Observing that 2019 special called General Conference is now “behind us,” Bishop Laurie said, “there are questions that each one of us must answer for ourselves every day.” They include:
- Is your house of faith built on rock or sand?
- Are you a doer as well as a hearer?
- Will you embody Christ’s love by honoring differences and also by practicing ubuntu (“I am because you are.” I am not a whole person unless you are a whole person. If you suffer, I suffer. We are all in this together.)
- Knowing that this foundation is deep enough and wide enough for everyone, will you invite others to become followers of the Way and experience fullness of life?
also included the opportunity to receive a brief report about the 2019 General Conference. Phil Carver, delegation lead, offered an overview of the experience and the legislative decisions. He noted that elements of the Traditional Plan, which was approved by just 54 votes, have been referred to the Judicial Council (the denomination’s “supreme court,”) for review as to its constitutionality. (The Judicial Council is slated to meet April 23-26, 2019.) Craig Scott and John Rothlisberger, both lay members of the delegation, also spoke about how they prepared themselves for the General Conference, how they reacted to the decisions, and what the ramifications of the decisions are.
Rev. Brian Carter, chair of the Conference’s Legislative Advocacy Team, spoke about the United Methodist witness to the Iowa legislature. He summarized some of the legislation proposed during the current session and how the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church guide the Advocacy Team’s conversations with State representatives and senators.
John Rothlisberger, Lynn Calvert, and Marsha Girot presented an overview of the School for Lay Ministry (SLM), “You and Your Church.” Consolidating from several campus settings now to sessions held at Cornell College and the Iowa Conference Center, SLM “identifies, trains, and nurtures laypersons…[in] a three-year program to facilitate the growth of Iowa United Methodist Churches and their Christian ministry by providing an alternative, supplemental source of educated leadership to local congregations and communities. (Click here for more information
about the School for Lay Ministry)
The mission focus for the 2019 Laity Day with the Bishop
was presented by Rev. Lee Schott, who spoke about “Women at the Well – Lessons for our Churches.” (Click here for more information
about Women at the Well)
The day closed with worship and the sacrament of Holy Communion.