A conference lay leader is the elected leader with the responsibility of fostering awareness of the role of the laity both within and outside of the congregation to further the mission of the church. This role supports lay participation in the planning and decision-making processes of the annual conference, district, and local church in cooperation with the bishop, director of connectional ministries, district superintendents, and pastors.
Nominated by the bishop, members of the 2020 West Ohio annual conference will be asked to elect our lay leaders for the next quadrennium.
Meet your nominated conference lay leaders, Shannon Spencer and Mitchell Harper, as they introduce themselves in their own words.
I grew up on a farm in Auglaize County and am a lifelong resident of West Ohio, having lived in the Toledo area, the Columbus area, and now Findlay. My husband, two grown children, son-in-law and granddaughter are the focus of my leisure time, but I try to squeeze in time to read, walk, and quilt. Higher education continues to be a fulfilling fit for my career, as it fuels my own learning and allows me to support others as they pursue their goals.
As a member of the body of Christ and like all of you, I joyfully try to share my time and talents in meaningful ways through service and my financial blessings through philanthropy to further God’s purposes. God uses the laity to express His love directly to people. Sometimes they are the people we run into at the grocery store, school, or gas station; sometimes they are our co-workers and friends; and sometimes those people are sitting next to us in the pew. Laity are blessed to both organize Christians for collective action through the local church and minister one-on-one to individuals in the profound ways that result in changed lives and eternal salvation. We see the evidence in service to shut-ins, Habitat builds, Bible schools, new faith decisions, and the myriad other acts of love and kindness that emanate from our congregations every day. The laity develop the relationships that share Christ’s love and grow the faith community.
Over the coming weeks and months, I hope to get to know more of you better and learn how I can serve you. I would appreciate your prayers as I seek God’s guidance in this role representing the laity. It is my desire and hope to walk alongside you, and you with me, as we continue our faith journeys.
My faith journey, while not particularly exciting, is obviously extremely vital to the person I am today, and the person I feel Christ is still calling me to become. My dad has been a pastor for over 35 years, I grew up in the church and at age 12, I took responsibility for my own relationship with Christ. John Wesley was lucky enough to have his heart strangely warmed. The Spirit was a little more forceful with me, as I genuinely felt my stomach in knots during multiple alter calls and invitations until I finally responded. Since then, I've been blessed to have solid spiritual leadership throughout my life; not just from my parents, but additional pastors and lay people alike. These people have taught me the importance of service and have challenged me to step out of my comfort zones by getting me involved in programs such as Emmaus/Chrysalis, Horizon Prison Initiative, and my own local church leadership. Every time I try to venture into "Rogue Christianity" Christ has used people to bring me back and show me the importance of the ENTIRE Body of Christ. I'm blessed and honored to be your lay leader; and excited to work with you all as we all continue our faith journeys.
The laity has a unique opportunity to be fully immersed in a community for an extended period. With our clergy's willingness to move when called, it is the job of the laity to build community relationships that can last years, even decades, beyond the term of any particular pastor. As the Body of Christ, we are each supposed to be complimentary parts of a whole. No clergy is blessed with every spiritual gift, and the same goes for laity. However, when we all use our gifts in collaboration, we can overcome any weaknesses we may have on an individual level. Though we may not all be called to be pastors, we are ALL called to be ministers. Whether your ministry is administrative, financial, or custodial, we can still find ways to glorify God in it. I believe as laity, one of our responsibilities is a good first impression. We may have more access to the "unchurched" than our clergy co-workers do. So, it is our job to make sure people can see Jesus shine through us. Then, like a child who brings a stray home and the parent must feed it, it is the job of the clergy to feed the people you have brought in.
I encourage laity to continue to be bold. Never doubt what our God can do through you and your church. Find out from clergy and lay leadership alike how you can get involved. Take advantage of any trainings the conference may have available to you. And don't forget to pray for one another!