Lee McSavaney
It must have been a quiet day in the church office that day last winter when I flipped through the pages of Walterboro District's newsletter Happenings and spotted an invitation to attend the District Winter Lay Speaking School in St George, SC. As so often happens when God calls us to action I was convicted that I must sign up. And so at 6:30 a.m. on what was to be a beautiful bright and sunny Saturday morning in February I began the hour and a half drive to St George. The sun had just about risen as I crossed The Broad River, singing along with His Radio, and my heart was, as Wesley said, "strangely warmed". I had no idea of what to expect of the weekend but I was very excited!

 

The weekend begins with registration, and distribution of the material on which the many classes offered are based. As this was my first class I was taking "Basic". At 8:30 a.m. sharp, the opening ceremony began with a sung prelude by all assembled in the Fellowship Hall of St George UMC, Majesty, Worship His Majesty. There was no mistaking the passion and excitement in the room of almost 200 people, which truly felt like a little piece of heaven. At 9:00 a.m. we made our way to class. The sanctuary of St George UMC was our classroom. Our teacher, Dick Clarke is a member of Carteret Street UMC in Beaufort and he has taught the Basic course for six years in the Walterboro district. I also learned that Mr Clarke preached at Church of the Palms in June 2010 when Pastor Wayne was away at Annual Conference, and I happened to be in England.

 

We sat in the pews and our class began with Mr Clarke's request that each of us introduce ourselves to our neighbor, and then we each had to introduce our neighbor to the class. This exercise not only guaranteed that we listened to our neighbor very closely, but it also had the effect of forming a tight class bond from the very beginning. As Mr Clarke taught us about the background of the United Methodist Church, leadership in the UMC, the various caring aspects of the church, communication, some history, a little Bible study, and a little preaching, we witnessed, we were led to service, and we grew in our personal faith.

 

Since I first became a christian I had found it extremely difficult to articulate my faith, but as this morning had begun in prayer at home, and as I thanked God for the work he had done in my life I suddenly felt that I had been "given my voice." As the weekend progressed I was able to speak with a new clarity and witness! It was a deeply moving experience.

 

The Lay Speaking School ends with a closing ceremony in the sanctuary. Opening with a sung prelude, Am I a Soldier of the Cross. Pins and certificates are presented to the Basic class. Our class followed the pinning ceremony with the singing of Pass It On, which will now forever hold a special place in my heart. Representatives of each class give a brief account of their weekend. Jackie Jenkins, Director of Walterboro District Committee on Lay Speaking Ministries, delivers the Lay Speaker Oath, and all assembled sing Here I Am Lord, very heartily I can assure you!

 

On August 27 and 28 I attended the Fall 2011 School at Carteret UMC in Beaufort. I was registered in the Lay Speakers Interpret to Others Our United Methodist Heritage class. The book for this class has become a personal favorite since I first read it as part of the UMW reading program: Being a Christian in the Wesleyan Tradition - Belonging, Believing, Living, Growing, by John O Gooch. Every United Methodist needs to read this book!

 

Attendance was lighter than at the Winter school, but the energy in the Fellowship Hall was refreshingly familiar as we sang, once again, Majesty, Worship His Majesty. Our Heritage teacher was Mrs Judy Lee. Judy is the wife of Reverend Bob Lee, who serves the Bethel-Duncan Chapel Charge, and she is also an active member of the Lowcountry Emmaus Community. Judy Lee is one of those charming southern ladies with a delightful sense of humor and an unmistakeable love and passion for The Lord. Judy conducted our class with such grace and personal insight that although I had read the book at least three times, (and can profess that I am most definitely a United Methodist!) it was in this class that I truly learned the significance of our United Methodist heritage. I was raised in England, and my journey of faith began in the Church of England, of which John Wesley was an ordained minister. I have "struggled" at times between my episcopalian heritage and my faith experience in the United Methodist Church, which is rooted in the Church of England. How can these two denominations be so alike and yet so different? The answer lies, of course, in the reforms that John Wesley attempted to make in the Church of England, combined with the works and heritage from Charles Wesley and The Holy Club, Francis Asbury, Thomas Coke, Philip William Otterbein,Martin Boehm, Jacob Albright, Richard Allen, and more, who have made the United Methodist Church what it is today.

 

At the closing ceremony our class demonstrated the use of the metrical index in the United Methodist Hymnal and sang Amazing Grace to the tune of Joy to the world, (I dare you to give it a try!) Charles Wesley wrote the words for approximately 6000 hymns! Many to popular tunes of the day, including the somewhat bawdy "pub songs". This knowledge will add to your enjoyment of turning a few pages into the United Methodist Hymnal, the next time you have one to hand, to page vii and read John Wesley's Directions for Singing!

 

Upon completion of the Heritage class I am now a certified Lay Speaker. Lay Speakers are required to take at least one course every three years to remain active. With classes in story telling, accountability, Care Ministry, Prayer, Preaching, Spiritual Gifts, leading Bible Study, Worship, and more, I am already praying over which class I will take next March!

"The mission of Lay Speaking Ministries is: ...to equip God's people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

-Ephesians 4:11-12.

 

Each of us is gifted by the Holy spirit to be a servant in God's kingdom. Lay speaking Ministries helps us discover our gift or gifts through educational opportunities that will enhance our gifts and build our skills to enable us to be effective leaders in our church. Through Lay Speaking Ministries, we can become better disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."

 

The 2012 Winter Lay Speaking School will be Saturday & Sunday March 3&4 at Carteret Street UMC, Beaufort, SC.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Lay Speaking Ministries click here:

http://www.wadistumcsc.org/mission-ministries/lay-speaking-ministries and if you have questions please don't hesitate to speak to Lee.

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