Visiting our congregations on Sunday mornings has been one of the joys of my ministry. Sometimes I do leave with concerns, but overall it is a good and joyful experience to worship with you in our congregations. I appreciate seeing first-hand how our churches are doing in being faithful to Christ Jesus. Our churches are providing a great variety of worship opportunities in a good number of languages, and we have a diversity of sizes of worshipping communities. But, I have noticed one characteristic that is consistent in all of our most vital congregations. Those congregations where the laity are giving leadership are the most vital.
By vital I mean congregations that are growing spiritually, serving in the world, growing in number and being good stewards of the resources God has given them. A growing church is a church where lay persons are leading in partnership with the clergy. I am encouraged when I see laypersons leading in worship, leading God’s people in mission work, leading in planning for the future of our congregations, our California-Pacific Conference and for our entire denomination. Recently I was inspired by three young lay women, high school students, who raised several hundred dollars for our Imagine No Malaria initiative. No one had to ask them. They just stepped up and figured out a creative way to do it. Lay persons from our area are today helping to rebuild tornado stricken communities in Oklahoma. Recently a lay team traveled to Bolivia to share lay-speaking training with lay brothers and sisters who are growing the church in that part of the world. They returned home blessed by what they learned from our Bolivian brothers and sisters about Christian love and hospitality, and faithfulness in the midst of adversity. Our laity are teaching new and young Christians through confirmation classes, and other classes offered somewhere across our conference every day of the week.
The laity are also leading at those tables where we are making the critical decisions that will by God’s grace enable our churches and conference to take our ministries to the next level of faithful witness in the name of Christ Jesus. Whether we are planting a new church, building a new sanctuary, feeding the hungry, welcoming the immigrant, discerning who is being called to ordained ministry, deploying disciples for Christian service of every kind, we do our best work when the laity give leadership.
This coming Sunday we celebrate Laity Sunday, a day to thank God for our laity and to hear their witness from our pulpits. I pray that our laity will be bold in their sharing, and that we will all take time to thank God for our lay leaders. Pray for our lay leaders by name – past, present, and future……
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño