Strong laity=strong churches

Bishop’s Road Show hits home for lay leaders, servants

By Jessica Connor

The Bishop’s Road Show is off and running, and early sentiment says his message is hitting home.

S.C. Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston has embarked on a tour of every district in South Carolina, reaching out directly to lay servants and lay leaders to share his thoughts about how to build healthy teams and churches.

If the first two road shows is any indicator, his remarks are encouraging and inspiring laity to take ministry to the next level.

“When I left there I felt so inspired to go back to my church and do so many different things,” said Monica Murdaugh, certified lay servant and member of St. John UMC, Lake City, who noted Holston’s wisdom in the Florence road show about the need to work with respect to church members’ varying personalities was critical information. His thoughts prompted her to buy the book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” and she’s already planning a workshop with her church and circuit.

“Some of us expect pastors to do it all, but I’m a firm believer that it’s the laity who are responsible for the ongoing mission of the church,” Murdaugh added. “Pastors come and go, but we’re stationed there. And if we don't have a healthy church, we can’t expect to bring people in, build it.”

Holston toured the Marion District Sept. 6 and the Florence District Sept. 13, presenting with Connectional Ministries Director the Rev. Kathy James, Conference Lay Leader Barbara Ware and other conference and district leaders.

“Bishop Holston is sharing his vision for South Carolina United Methodist churches to become healthy places of worship, mission and living out God-sized dreams in all size membership churches, from 20 to 2,000. As we like to say, ‘It is a great time to be a United Methodist in South Carolina,’ and these road shows are evidence of that,” Ware said.

Bill Barber, certified lay servant and member of Belin Memorial UMC, Murrells Inlet, as well as the co-director of Lay Servant Ministries for the Marion District, said the Marion road show was a “boat-load of enthusiasm.” He appreciated the drive exhibited by Holston and Marion District Superintendent the Rev. Dickie Knight, who he said are not only full of enthusiasm, “but carry the kind that is highly contagious.”

Barber said he got much out of James’ remarks on cultivating vulnerability-based trust, as well as Holston’s words on navigating healthy conflict and commitment.

“The bishop emphasized that we need to ‘remember who we are and whose we are,’” Barber added, stating he would be following the bishop’s instructions for attendees to commit in writing what they were going to do in the next three to five months to make a difference in their local church—and then the next seven to 11 months.

Marion District Superintendent the Rev. Dickie Knight said the event was “a wow moment” for the laity in his district. It ran smoothly, there was never a dull moment, and people appreciated the presences of several conference staffers and the bishop’s wife, Felecia Holston, in addition to the bishop himself.

“Bishop Holston really connected with the laity, which they appreciated very much. He had their undivided attention when he spoke,” Knight said, noting Holston also mingled among the laity whenever he had the opportunity. “That showed those present that we have a bishop who loves and cares for them as well as the clergy in the conference.”

Florence District Superintendent the Rev. John Hipp said the road show was “unique and special” and included representatives from the largest churches in the district to the smallest.

“The bishop is extremely motivating, clear and exciting with his stories, and the results for us were reflected in the finished projects the churches wrote down in their goals for the next six to nine months,” Hipp said.

James said she has been impressed with the attendance and the level of engagement of the road show participants.

“It has been a great opportunity to hear directly from local church leaders in these two districts,” she said, noting she looks forward to the road shows in the rest of the districts.

Ware said she keeps hearing attendees say this was one of the best events as lay folks they have ever attended.

“We have been blown away with the enthusiasm and interest South Carolina laity of the UMC have brought to these gatherings,” Ware said. “I believe the laity can sense that Bishop Holston genuinely cares about the laity and knows how important it is for laity and clergy to work as partners. We have some of the most passionate, hardworking laity leading our local churches and working within our churches. We are blessed in South Carolina.”

Three more road shows are scheduled for this month (Oct. 11 in Greenville, Oct. 18 in Rock Hill and Oct. 25 in Walterboro); see schedule below for the full lineup.

For more information about upcoming road shows, contact your district office or call the conference center at 803-786-9486.

Bishop’s Road Show Dates and Locations

Here are upcoming road shows (the Marion and Florence shows occurred in September). Morning refreshments and lunch will be served, and dress and setting are casual. United Methodist lay leaders and lay servants are invited. If your district’s date doesn’t fit your schedule, feel free to attend a road show in a neighboring district:

Oct. 11—Greenville District, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Trinity UMC, 2703 Augusta St., Greenville

Oct. 18—Rock Hill District, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Philadelphia UMC, 1691 Hwy. 160 W., Fort Mill

Oct. 25—Walterboro District,9 a.m. to 2 p.m., New Life UMC, 763 Green Pond Hwy., Walterboro

Nov. 15—Orangeburg District, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Beulah UMC, 1577 Old State Rd., Gaston

Nov. 22—Greenwood District, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., St. Mark UMC, The Rivers Street Campus, 1633 Rivers St., Greenwood

Dec. 6—–Charleston District, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., North Charleston UMC, 1125 E. Montague Ave., North Charleston

Jan. 17, 2015—Hartsville District,9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Trinity UMC, 226 W. Liberty St., Sumter

Jan. 24, 2015—Columbia District,9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Shandon UMC, 3407 Devine St. Columbia

Feb. 7, 2015—Anderson District, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Zion UMC, 5708 Hwy. 187 N., Anderson

Feb. 28, 2015—Spartanburg District, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Bethel UMC, 245 S. Church St., Spartanburg

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