You are on page 1of 3


WOW! Here we are winding up another quadrennium in the life of the Tennessee
Conference of the United Methodist Church! What does the report card show for the
laity for that period? Your Conference Lay Leader feels that the laity did well when
considering the following:

 We started enjoying having our Board meetings in the new Conference Center!
What a treat to be in our new, improved Conference facilities!

 In the past the Board met four times each year in Nashville, but in this quadrennium,
we held one meeting each year away from Nashville, and enjoyed the hospitality of
Sango UMC in Clarksville, Blackman UMC in Murfreesboro, First UMC, Crossville,
and First UMC, Columbia. Many of the attendees of these Board meetings came
early and worshipped with the host congregations. In three of these meetings,
presentations on the 2004 Discipline and Apportionments were given by laity to adult
classes during the Sunday School hours. During the past two years, we have
reduced the number of our meetings from four to three.

 Those same two presentations were originated by the Board this quadrennium and
were given to all Conference organizations that invited us. Other audiences
attending these presentations included programs following fellowship congregational
meals, adult Sunday School classes, District Conferences, Administrative Councils,
District Clergy meetings, District Laity Training, joint meetings of churches on a
charge, part of Fall Festival activities, and United Methodist Men.

 The Lay Speaking Ministries of our Conference started out on a firm foundation and
was doing well, and in the opinion of the writer, it even got better! The one thing we
need to make it still better is a better utilization by the clergy using lay speakers in
non-speaking assignments in the local churches and increased utilization of certified
lay speakers in speaking assignments in worship services. The latter has slightly
improved in the last few years. Some laity who have been trained in lay speaking
schools need to be more aggressive in seeking ministry opportunities for which they
are qualified. It should be pointed out, however, that Columbia District Lay Speakers
reported over 100 pulpits served during times when the attending Pastor or Elder
was unable to attend.

 During the quadrennium more District Lay Leaders became pro-active in Charge
Conferences in their Districts – a good sign of a bona fide clergy-laity partnership in
ministry working at the District level!

 Although not serving as part of a Conference Board of Laity activity, great numbers
of the laity across the Conference continue to support and be the “backbone” of

Emmaus.” a work of feeding the hungry as part of an ecumenical effort with Presbyterian. We are fortunate to have this training opportunity located in our Conference. Two Wesleyan Class Meetings have already started in the Murfreesboro District. many other emphases of Conference. A crowd of 200 attended one of these weekly meals this year.  Many of the Columbia District laity are supporters of a prayer shawl ministry while others participate in “Hug A Bear” and “Coats for Kids” programs. Each district has had at least two lay speaking training events during the year. . many of the attendees will be very active in applying what they learned that day to the benefit of churches in the Tennessee and Memphis Conferences.  The laity continue to be actively involved in other humanitarian efforts in their local communities as well as across the conference. with a unique program featuring five Murfreesboro District Lay Speakers telling about a ministry that was started in each of their local churches by lay people who also continued to manage.  Additional emphasis was placed on lay speaking training for Hispanics this year. We are confident that in the years to come. and Local Church service projects such as:  A standing room only crowd of almost 300 Nashville Area laity attended the Restoring Methodism event at First UMC in Dickson last November.  Large numbers of the laity continue to participate in all forms of Bible studies in local churches.  The Lay Speaking Ministry remains very active.  Several laity have taken advantage of the Academy for Congregational Leadership at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski courses.  Laity across the Conference continue to support Volunteers in Mission efforts by joining teams inside and outside of the United States.  Murfreesboro District continued its annual celebration of the laity tradition with a Laity Banquet. maintain. both local church and certified courses being offered. Chrysalis. and Catholic Churches. Episcopalian.  Columbia District continues to support “The Peoples Table. and support the new ministry. AME. District. The love offering to be taken at the 2008 Laity Luncheon at Annual Conference will be for the support of Hispanics taking lay speaking courses. The group in Columbia District provides much support to the local Habitat for Humanity organization. and County Laity Clubs.

Bishop Wills was my partner in ministry. 2008 – Joe Williams . Conference Board of Laity 2008 Laity Report. Laity continue to provide faculty for Vacation Bible Schools across the conference. visibility. and I especially appreciate his support and encouragement to me and his leadership that resulted in our 118. In closing.000 laity gaining more recognition. and as a result. and support across the Conference. the 2004 General Conference of the UMC passed legislation aimed at increasing the scope of the Conference Lay Leader position.doc March 12. I appreciate very much the hospitality extended to me by Bishop Wills and his Cabinet during the past four years. I was privileged to be the first Conference Lay Leader to serve on the Extended Cabinet of the Bishop. Joe Williams Conference Lay Leader and Chair. 2008.