By Cynthia Laird, Lay Servant in Training, Senatobia District UMC
Photo right: (left to right) Shelby Dorr of Hernando UMC and Joshua-Charles Sykes of Trinity UMC having fun clowning around at King's Kids Bible Day Camp.
On Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, Hernando UMC hosted the Senatobia District Lay Servant Training event, which was sponsored by the DeSoto County Cluster. Rev. Mary Hutson, pastor of Ruleville First UMC, taught the basic class about serving others through Christian ministry by following the example set by Jesus. Cheryl Denley, Senatobia District secretary, led the advanced class, "Lay Pastoral Care Giving" on how laity can be the church. Rev. Alecia Fischer of Maples Memorial UMC and Kris Dorr of Hernando UMC led the advanced class, "Safe Spaces," ways to create a safe haven in our churches for children, youth, and vulnerable adults. The new class this year was the "King's Kids Bible Day Camp." This camp provided a fun time for first through fourth grade children who came with a parent attending the lay servant training. The children participated in fun activities as they learned more about Jesus.
When I arrived, I was surprised to see three ladies from Pleasant Hill UMC. Alesia Hise, Candace Garcia, Denise Yates, and I came for the Basic Lay Servant class. Even though we are friends, none of us knew that the others would be there. We simply answered the summons of God to learn and serve. My decision to attend began with a dream. In my dream, Rev. Andy Ray, Senatobia District superintendent, was in a religious gathering extending the invitation to commit to the Lord in service. I crossed my arms and thought to myself, "I am not going up there. I already do enough." At that very moment, I awakened and heard a voice saying, "Do not quench the Holy Spirit." Several days later, I was in church when the lay servant training was announced, just like it had been announced many times before. That Sunday many pastors in the conference who follow the lectionary, preached on the disciples leaving their fishing nets and following Jesus. My husband, Rev. David Laird, also preached that lesson. That message spoke to me, and I enrolled in the lay servant training.
My three friends and I want to learn more, so we are preparing to meet weekly to study and grow in our understanding of what it means to be a lay servant. We feel the presence of the Lord even stronger now that we have shared a mountaintop experience and gained a clearer vision of Jesus. It gives me great joy to think of serving the Lord alongside these friends. However, that is God's decision to make. Whether he leads us into service together, or into service apart, we are not alone. God is with us, and that is joy enough.