At General Conference 2012, it was decided to change the name from Lay Speaking Ministries to Lay SERVANT Ministries to reflect the role of leading, caring, and speaking. During the legislative process a section was added to maintain the role of Lay Speaker for pulpit supply and requirements were set for persons desiring to fill that role.
These are statements which should help interpret the legislation and alleviate possible confusion:
- Only the name has changed for Local Church and Certified Lay Speakers – now known as Local Church and Certified LAY SERVANTS. The requirements for training and renewal (Local Church Lay Servants) and certification and recertification (Certified Lay Servants) will remain the same for those who do not wish to participate in preaching (pulpit supply).
- As of June 16, 2013, those Certified Lay Servants who provide pulpit supply throughout the district and who wish to remain in that role must be interviewed by the District Committee for Lay Servant Ministries. They will be allowed to continue to preach, but as courses are needed for maintaining certification, their selections will be made from the required courses until all six have been completed. The required courses are Discovering Spiritual Gifts, Preaching, Leading Prayer, Living Our United Methodist Beliefs, Leading Worship and UM Polity.
- After June 16, 2013, new Lay Servants who wish to preach may do so after completing the Basic Class , Discovering Spiritual Gifts, Preaching and two additional advanced classes (of the six listed in #2), followed by an interview with the District Committee. The remaining two classes (listed in #2) should be taken as soon as possible by the new Certified Lay Servant who wishes to preach.
- It is expected that Lay Servants maintain certification. If certification is allowed to lapse, one should again enroll in the Basic Class before continuing with advanced classes. According to The Book of Discipline, if the Lay Servant desires to serve as “pulpit supply,” the Lay Servant must complete the Lay Speaker track outlined in #3 above and inform their District Director of Lay Servant Ministries of that intent.
- Time spent for recertification is expected to be at least 10 hours. Classes are expected to last at least 10 hours. Exceptions or adjustments of time or content are subject to the approval of the District Director of Lay Servant Ministries. Online studies are available through BeADisciple.com. The Basic Class and Preaching Class are not allowed from online sources.
- Although pastors may ask anyone to fill the pulpit in their absence, they frequently invite Certified Lay Servants to serve in that role. Those who preach once or twice a year within their local congregation do not need to go through the new process of becoming a “Lay Speaker” although the experience is intended to be helpful for all who are asked to preach.
For more information read "General Conference 2012: Changes in Lay Speaking Ministries" at www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/general-conference-2012-changes-in-lay-speaking-ministries.
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