Thursday, 17 February 2011

Lay Employees and Youth Workers Conference-Connecting Disciples

For the first time in this Connexional year, perhaps surprisingly, two conferences ran into each other. Having been at High Leigh for the Ecumenical World Development Consultation from 11-13th Feb, I stayed on for the Lay Workers Conference from 14th Feb. Starting the conference on Valentine's Day was a great excuse to take everyone chocolate hearts!

I joined Doug Swanney -Head of Discipleship and Ministries (pictured here) and his team Rev Robert Jones and Tamar Knapton. What a great conference it was, exceptionally well prepared and organised by Doug, Robert and Tamar and with a great group of people. An inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable experience in every way, a real blessing.

The conference theme was Connecting Disciples-
  • Connecting us to Welcome
  • Connecting us to Listen
  • Connecting us to transform
  • Connecting us to Do
Over 29 members of the Connexional team called into the conference over the four days to resource worship, seminars, bible studies and workshops providing a rich variety and styles of input.
Workshops themes included-
  • How to Become a Reflective Practitioner
  • Social media and the Church
  • Rediscovering the Bible
  • Transforming Culture
  • Children's Participation in your Context
  • Should we have Faith in Politics?
  • Safeguarding
  • Sports Ministry.
Evening entertainment was provided in the form of a Ceilidh on the first night and the Comedian Paul Kerensa on Wednesday evening.

102 Lay Workers gathered from all over the country amongst them were Children and Youth Workers, Pastoral Workers, Family Workers and Administrators. There enthusiasm for their work and commitment to participate in every way made the conference a truly inspirational event.

Alison joined us on Tuesday to facilitate a session on her theme, 'Listening to God' and participated later in 'Question Time' with our very own Rev Robert Jones as David Dimbleby.

My role was to lead the bible study sessions. On Tuesday morning we looked at 'Listening to God with Moses and Lily Allen' reflecting on Exodus 1-4 and in particular the questions Moses asks in Exodus 3 of 'Who am I' and 'Who is God.' Questions which I believe Lily Allen also asks in her songs, 'The Fear' and 'Him.' On Wednesday morning we looked at Transformation using the very familiar stories of the Woman at the Well, Zaccheus and Mary and Martha asking, 'Where are the moments of transformation in these texts.'

Meeting, talking and praying with our Lay Workers has been one of the highlights of my year of office. My only sadness is that they don't all feel honoured and valued in the way they deserve. We really do need to address the way in which we sometimes elevate ordained ministry inappropriately, creating hierarchies where people do not feel their ministry is of equal worth or value. Methodism is after all, a 'Lay Movement' supported by a few ordained staff!

If you are a Lay Worker (or know someone who is) please, please tell them about this excellent resource it was brilliant and mustn't be kept a secret!

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