by Dan Morley, North District Superintendent
What do you think of when you read —
Cohort or Accomplice or Co-conspirator?
I think of intriguing, ingenious, and innovative. I think of the dynamic duo of pastor and layperson — Rev. Judy Stallons and Phyllis Murray — in ministry together at Pahrump Valley UMC.
There are many reasons these two disciples make such a dynamic team, and a significant one is that they respect the God-given gifts of the other and know that together the Spirit of God will move to bless the church.
The Lay and Clergy partnership is our Great Connection in action. Our church is stronger when this partnership is nurtured and engaged. Lay and clergy serving together has been a practice of The United Methodist Church since its inception and a value in the very DNA of the Methodist movement with John Wesley.
When I have been blessed to worship at Pahrump Valley UMC, I witness these two leaders in action. They share leading in worship like two tennis pros volleying back and forth, or like two amazing jugglers on America’s Got Talent, or like two master chefs in Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen (OK maybe like two cooks at iHOP).
They anticipate and then compliment the other’s moves all within the movement of the Spirit.
Then occasionally, they have an edginess like co-conspirators collaborating on a case which brings surprise and unease because it is new, innovative, and unexpected. Not the usual pattern for the church. There was their case of working with the church leadership team to park an RV on the church site for a Desert Friend (which others may call a homeless man) to have a home and the dignity of work to watch over the holy grounds of the church.
When I asked these two lay-clergy cohorts to described why their partnership works and is effective, this is what they said…
Phyllis — “Trust. We have, from the beginning, trusted each other to bring our best. For me I can only say that the direction from God was so clear that I trusted it from the get go. . . We have such different gifts and talents but they complement each other and provide a wide range of ministry styles and preaching. And we have fun! So much fun, and neither is looking for the credit, it goes to God.”
Judy — “I believe we both have a common mission–pointing people to God through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit–and are willing to pour every ounce of our energy into that. I think our energy and enthusiasm has been almost as contagious as COVID! Trusting each other is huge! Mutual respect is another factor. That includes honoring each other’s gifts and graces, but also making sure the folks in the pews understand our mutual trust and respect.
That’s the Great Connection in action across the North District.
In Christ’s Care,