Nearly 200 attend 38th annual
Lay Servant Academy

The Rev. Andrew Ware leads a class on United Methodist Church Polity during the 38th annual Virginia Conference Lay Servant Academy.

March 4, 2016 - Nearly 200 people gathered at Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone Feb. 26-28 to learn more about leadership, personal faith development and The United Methodist Church through classes offered at the 38th annual Virginia Conference Lay Servant Academy.

"The evaluations of the weekend were very positive," said Beth Christian, academy director. "Blackstone was great — food, service and warmth!"

The Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert teaches the class, "Revitalize the Church Through Leadership Development."

"It was wonderful," said Cheryl Edley-Worford, conference director of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence, "from the excellent course I took, 'Revitalize the Church Through Leadership Development' taught by Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert, to the lively fellowship during meals, moving worship services and powerful sermons. I look forward to next year and am thankful to all who helped make this year's academy such a success."

Thirteen major courses were offered, including those that are required in order to become a certified Lay Servant. The Basic course required for certification was offered in both English and Spanish. In addition, 10 mini-courses, each about two-hours long, offered training in topics related to Vital Congregations and Discipleship.

"We had some new and exciting classes," said Christian, "including 'Leading, Caring and Growing Faith in the Second Half of Life' led by Martha Stokes; 'Spirituality and the Arts' led by Betsey Davis; 'Music in Worship and Ministry' led by the Rev. Norman Ramsey and Tianna Durbin; 'Revitalizing the Church through Leadership Development' led by the Rev. Sarah Calvert; and 'Discipleship Pathways' mini-courses taught by a variety of instructors."

Participants in a class on "Spirituality and the Arts" make prayer beads. The class was taught by Betsey Davis.

Bishop Young Jin Cho led opening worship on Friday evening and emphasized the role of laity in the church. He encouraged his listeners to continue to take God's word out into our communities.

During Saturday worship, the Rev. Larry Davies, Lynchburg District superintendent, challenged participants to enter into 60 days of prayer and gave everyone "PrayWithYou" bracelets.

Martha Stokes, director of Church and Community Relations at Virginia United Methodist Homes, preached the final worship on Sunday with a sermon titled "Fruitfulness Through Mangosteen Discipleship." She stressed that sometimes we don’t know what to expect in ministry, but we have to explore the possibilities when they come so we may find the valuable fruit.

"Music was great for all the worship services," Christian said, "and what was really fun was those who brought instruments of their own were invited to play in worship."



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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
(804) 521-1100
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