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By Laurie Lineberry, Desert Southwest Conference Lay Leader

The Conference Lay Leader is not an ordained individual. This person is elected by the Laity of the Annual Conference every four years. This year, a new Conference Lay Leader must be elected during the Laity Session in June.

What is the Lay Leader, and what does the Lay Leader do?”

The primary function of the Lay Leader is to be the voice of Laity in all meetings, represent the voice of laity – the non-ordained…we have different perspectives. In order for clergy to serve and lead their sheep, they need our views and thoughts. The Lay Leader needs to lead by example. The Lay Leader needs to be an encourager, sometimes a counselor, always a beacon of sorts. The Lay Leader also connects with other Conference Lay Leaders. For me, it’s about lifting up the Laity. The Conference Lay Leader also organizes the Laity Session for Annual Conference.

Book of Discipline (Paragraph 603.9 and 607)

The Lay Leader is the elected leader of Conference Laity. The Conference Lay Leader has the responsibility to foster awareness of the role of the laity in their congregations and through their ministries in the home, the workplace, the community, and in the world toward achieving the mission of the Church. This position enables and supports lay participation in the planning and decision-making processes of the Annual Conference, each District (remember, we have four districts: North, South, East, and West) and in the local church, in cooperation with the Bishop, District Superintendents, and Pastors.

2020 Journal (Conference Rules, Policies, and Guidelines page 167)

The lay leader candidates shall be nominated by the lay members of the annual conference without regard to age; provided candidates shall have been members of The United Methodist Church for at least two years next preceding their election, and shall have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years next preceding their election, and are members thereof within the Annual Conference electing them. The Conference Lay Leader shall be elected in the same year as General Conference for a four-year term. (S)he may be re-elected one time for a total of eight consecutive years. Each candidate wishing to be included in pre-conference and annual conference introductions shall submit his/her candidacy on the form provided by the Conference Board of Laity. All candidate forms must be received or postmarked by February 28 [special deadline of June 1 is for 2021 only] to the Annual Conference. This date ensures that a complete packet of resumes will be included in the Preliminary Reports for each session of the Annual Conference. No late candidate forms will be accepted. The Conference Lay Leader nominated by majority vote at the Laity Session will be included in the Conference Nominating Committee Report to the Annual Conference Session.

Learn more by clicking here to read an article published by the General Board of Discipleship.

What is the time commitment for this position?

It depends on how active the Conference is and how engaged the various committees are. Pre-COVID, I had 0-4 meetings each week. If more meetings remain virtual, that will save time, for sure. I would spend 5-20 hours each week, usually around 8-10.

The Conference Lay Leader is typically a member of the following Conference committees: Commission on Communication, Board of Laity, Board of Ordained Ministry, Episcopacy, Extended Cabinet, Covenant Council, Hispanic Ministries, Sessions, Spiritual Formation, Leadership and Nominations. However, some of this list changes throughout the years adding more and removing others as needed.

Nomination Instructions

Do you know someone that would make a great Conference Lay Leader? Are you interested in becoming the next Conference Lay Leader? If you intend to nominate someone, please talk to them first and affirm that they are interested in running for the position.

Applications must be received by June 1, 2020, for consideration. Click here to fill out the online form or click here for a downloadable document you may fill out and mail to Desert Southwest Conference UMC, Attn: Lay Leader, P.O. Box 32830, Phoenix, Arizona 85064.

Apply today and leave the rest in God’s hands.

If you have questions about the nomination process, please contact the Director of Communications at . If you have questions about the Conference Lay Leader position, please contact me via email at .

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