Northwest District welcomes new Director of Lay Speaking Ministries


The following article appears in the July-Sept. 2011 issue of the Northwest District Magazine He Lives. It is reposted here with permission.

Our new Director of Lay Speaking Ministries for the [Northwest] District is Keith Russell. He was born in Decatur, Alabama and graduated from West Morgan High School in 1968 He worked as a radio announcer until March of 1969 when he moved to Washington, D.C. at age 18 to work for the FBI. During his five years with the FBI, he met Linda, a Hoosier girl, and of this coming August they will celebrate their 40th anniversary. They have one daughter Jilayne Russell, a Registered Nurse, who lives next door through the woods with their two grandsons; Luke Wingo age 5 and Logan Wingo age 2.

Keith's background is law enforcement and as an EMT-Paramedic for 34 years. He also worked with and is retired from the American Kennel Club as Associate Director of Investigations and Inspections. He reentered the work force three years ago as a Legal Investigator for a criminal defense attorney in Decatur, Alabama. He is announcer and master of ceremonies at horse shows throughout the Southeast.

He is a member of Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Decatur and serves as the Lay Delegate to the conference. He teaches the senior adult Sunday school class and serves on the administrative board. In March of 2011 he was given the opportunity to lead worship and deliver the message for 14 weeks in a church in Limestone County. He says that was an invaluable experience and he intends to share that experience so that other Lay Speaker's will benefit.

He says that her appreciates the support and opportunity to serve the District with this position and is looking forward to working with everyone. He Lives (HL) recently took the opportunity to ask Keith a few questions we thought you might like to ask.

HL: Why did you agree to take on the job of District Director of Lay Speaking?

KR: I was assigned to lead worship and deliver the message for a church the past four months. I gained invaluable experience as a lay speaker and I very much enjoyed the interaction with Superintendent Mike Stonbraker and our District Lay Leader Janet Brookman. After much thought and prayer and consultation with my family I agreed to accept the challenge of meeting the standards set by my predecessors.

HL: How do you see your background as being particularly useful for what you are getting ready to do?

KR: I have given and or organized over 600 presentations/seminars relating to law enforcement, emergency medicine, civil and criminal investigation, registration and identification of purebred dogs. I have also been licensed as a realtor. I also work as an announcer and Master of Ceremonies at dog and horse shows. I have taught senior adult Sunday school for three years. I believe that I bring a palette of skills to the position that will meld with the goals set out by the District to glorify God and continue in the Wesley traditions of lay speaking.

HL: Do you have some specific goals you would like to accomplish?

KR: For many years lay speaking classes were not a priority in the conference. The last three years has seen a tremendous surge in class offerings and have been readily embraced by lay persons who wish to serve. The goal is to make lay speaking classes available and then to identify areas where those persons may best use their talents to communicate the Word.

HL: What do you see as the most important need in the district in this area?

KR: We should use the framework of caring, service and evangelism to identify areas of need and fill those needs. I think we should look at increasing jail and prison ministries; expand teaching and worship services to assisted living facilities as examples.

HL: What do you see as your greatest challenge?

KR: Facilitating a vibrant caring lay speaking ministry for the District without compromising my duties and worship with my local church and family. I also work full-time for a major criminal defense attorney as a Legal Investigator.

HL: What scripture do you see as your guiding light in this role?

KR:2 Corinthians 5:20-21

We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

It is our lives telling His story that the Holy Spirit uses to win people, not just our mouths. Our mouths are to further explain him.

HL: What can our community of churches do to best support you?

KR: Offer much prayer and support our lay speaking ministries by participation, study and evangelism. I am always open for advice and suggestions.

On August 27, 2011, the Northwest District will present a combined Basic and Advanced Lay Speaking Ministries Workshops at Russellville First UMC from 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. The presenter for the Advanced workshop Transforming Evangelism is Rev. Greg Reynolds. Multiple presenters will be utilized for the Basic workshop following the revised format in the 2009 Basic Lay Speaking Ministry book. This 10 hour, one day workshops meet Lay Speaking Ministry criteria for local lay speaker or certification/recertification as a lay speaker depending on which workshop you attend. The Cost is $35 and includes all materials, breaks and lunch. Click here for more information

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