What's In a Name?

In the beginning there was a word, and the word was Lay Speaker. A Lay Speaker had two categories – Lay Speaker and Certified Lay Speaker. The Lay Speaker (local church) had completed the Basic course. The Certified Lay Speaker (within your District) completed an advance course every three years. The Lay Speaker and Certified Lay Speaker completed the Charge Conference Form 2, also known as the Lay Servant’s Annual Report and presented this request to be a Lay Speaker (local) or a Certified Lay Speaker at the individual’s Charge Conference.

Now we have a name change and some additional requirements. For those of you who do not desire to fill the pulpit – your title category is Lay Servant and Certified Lay Servant. The training requirement for Lay Servant is completion of the Basic Course, and to be a Certified Lay Servant you must take an advance course every three years. A variety of courses both on and off line may be used to meet these course requirements. Approval must be granted by the District Director of Lay Servant Ministries prior to taking a substitute course.

You still have to complete the Charge Conference Form 2, Lay Servant’s Annual Report to be approved in either category. The Form 2 is located on the Conference Website (www.vaumc.org under tab Administrative Services / Policies and Forms / Charge Conference Forms).

For those of you who have been called to fill the pulpit on Sunday mornings – there are additional requirements for you to continue in this endeavor. The training requirements for Lay Speaker are completion of the Basic Course and all six of the prescribed advance courses.

There is not any specific order for completion of these six courses, and the six courses are:

  • Discovering Spiritual Gifts
  • Leading Prayer
  • Preaching
  • Living Our United Methodist Beliefs (UM Heritage)
  • Leading Worship
  • Life Together in the United Methodist Connection (UM Polity)

Once you have completed all of your courses you must schedule a time to present a short sermon (5-10 minutes) to your District Lay Servant Ministries Committee.

The Annual renewal requirement for certification as a Lay Speaker is an advance course. You must complete and submit the Charge Conference Form 2, Lay Servant’s Annual Report to be approved by your Charge Conference.

It is very important to include the title and date of any courses you complete toward your qualification/certification on your Form 2, Lay Servant’s Annual Report regardless of your status or qualification.

Lay Servant Ministry is an excellent way to become involved in all ministries offered at your local church. You have the opportunity to assist your Pastor in worship services, teaching Bible Studies, and fulfilling a wide range of service as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Discipline (2012) provides further guidance toward Lay Servant Ministries on pages 210-215. Also, the Book of Discipline states that the Lay Speaker is a volunteer and serves without compensation. (Par 266.6, pg - 212).

Another great asset to have available is The United Methodist Book of Worship.

Hopefully this article is the first in a series to discuss and provide information to the laity of the church to be informed about Lay Servant Ministries and make us all become involved in our faith and follow Jesus’ teachings to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ.