(From L to R) The Rev. Tim Winslea and Emile Kroen; Azzie Jones and Francine Freeman; Rosalee Mohney and Barry Hansen; and Rudilyn ‘Lyn’ Rush (see below) shared powerful examples of how laity actively make an impact in their communities.
By Jesse N. Love | Additional photos by YouTube
The shared Conference Laity Session focused on four ways that can help lay persons can have an impact in their communities.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8
The laity of this year’s Annual Conference gathered to hear real testimonies from laity impacting their communities in awesome, yet heartfelt ways.
Jan Nelson and Nancy Tam Davis, Conference Lay Leaders of The Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences (respectively), emphasized the high value laity have on the life of the church and the neighborhoods they reside. “Laity make up 99.2% percent of the Church. Understand that power, moving ahead,” shared Davis.
Nelson and Davis invited laity to consider inspirational examples that revolved around 1) abundant health 2) doing church differently 3) neighborhood ministries 4) responding to disasters.
Many people suffering from mental health issues, from bipolar to suicidal tendencies, are very prevalent in churches within our areas. The Rev. Tim Winslea and Emile Kroen focused on the health of the church community as a real religious call connecting to the work of Jesus. They encouraged screenings and nurturing friendships as a way of continuing conversations on health concerns, to help relieve anxiety, and to be proactive in seeking help.
DOING CHURCH DIFFERENTLY
Rudilyn ‘Lyn’ Rush will be assigned to a Filipino American New Church Start, Pinoy Filipino American Van-Port Ministries. Rush is a Filipina lay person who shared a very heartfelt testimony to the potential this ministry is for immigrant Filipinos seeking familiarity through fellowship. Rush’s emphasis was more than just a good potluck (which are excellent), but also on social justice vigils, welcoming the unchurched, and answering God’s call. “I am not a preacher. But I will try,” shared Rush.
Azzie Jones and Francine Freeman from Portland’s Hughes Memorial United Methodist Church focused on some programs and powerful partnerships to help provide opportunities in transforming the neighborhood. The Church has opened up relationships with Black Lives Matter, It Takes a Village, and other social groups to participate in church-wide clean-ups, garden projects, free haircuts and more. “We are giving them a chance. I will not down anybody,” shared Freeman who emphasized Jesus’ mission to meet the needs of those on the highways and byways of hardship.
RESPONDING TO DISASTERS
Barry Hansen and Rosalee Mohney both are volunteers serving the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes movement to help in the restoration of the homes and lives of those affected by Washington Wildfires. Both Hansen and Mohney have raised two important elements in the effort: volunteers and funds. Hansen shared they have raised about $180,000 ($450,000 are needed) and produced 78 teams with 843 volunteers (1/3 are Methodist). “We’ve learned to go out and ask for money,” shared Hansen. “A disaster of this size…is our responsibility. We are the laity.”
The joint Laity Session worked to inspire and the laypersons of the church showing that with faith the size of a mustard seed, each person can transform their communities through better health, new ideas, meeting the needs of the neighborhood, and raising money and person-power to help restore communities.
Jesse N. Love serves as the Graphic Designer & Print Manager of the PNWUMC.