Lay Ministry Blog: Good Neighbors Sharing Jesus


The picture attached is from my visit to the 2015 North Georgia Conference. Left to right: Matthew Pinson Conference Lay Leader; Bishop Mike Watson; Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett; African Methodist Episcopal Zion Bishop Warren Brown; and Steve Lyles.

In June of this year, I did a first for me — attend an Annual Conference other than North Alabama.

Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett was invited by Bishop Mike Watson to preach the opening worship service and the Ordination sermon for the North Georgia Conference this year. Bishop Wallace-Padgett preached two inspiring sermons for our neighbors to the east.

At the same time North Georgia Conference Lay Leader Matthew Pinson invited me to attend and address the Laity Session bringing greetings from North Alabama.

This was an election year for North Georgia. They elected nearly double the number of Delegates and Alternates to the 2016 General and Southeastern Jurisdictional Conferences as we in North Alabama elected in 2014. For that reason, their Annual Conference lasted an extra day to allow the clergy and laity elections to be completed.

Their Annual Conference was held in Athens, Georgia, at the Civic Center. This is a marvelous facility that holds several thousand people with a theatre next door where the Ordination Service is held. With the University of Georgia not holding classes during this time of year, a lot of United Methodist took over Athens for the better part of a week.

It always amazes me how much we United Methodists are alike in our different churches and in different Annual Conference, yet, at the same time, how much we are different.   The differences are small while the love of God is the same in all Conferences.

After the Annual Conference was over, Bishop Wallace-Padgett and I compared notes of our Conference in comparison with North Georgia’s. We agreed North Georgia and North Alabama are really good neighbors in our work for God and his kingdom.

I hope to get the opportunity to visit another Annual Conference soon and share with United Methodists in some other part of our Jurisdiction.

Blessings to all who travel this summer. I encourage you to take time to visit a United Methodist Church during your travels.

Also, blessings of safe travel for Rev. Robert Sparkman, as he travels to Nigeria. He will be visiting the United Methodist Church in Nigeria. A school is being built in that country with support from good United Methodists in North Alabama. Robert is taking 125 Bibles, 60 e-readers and a cell phone for one of their missionaries. Thanks Robert for your diligence and love in building a partnership with our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

Don’t forget… August 16 is Sumatanga Sunday. Please encourage your congregation to support camp. You can find more information and resources at

Steve Lyles
Conference Lay Leader

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