Laity Sunday, other events part of busy UM weekend


By the Advocate
Sometimes a series of unrelated events seem to converge in a special way.

The weekend of Oct. 17-19 could be one of those times in the Mississippi Conference. Several special events offering activities and learning for just about all ages are planned. They range from retreats to seminars to celebratory gatherings and festivals.

Laity Sunday falls on Oct. 19. Many churches across the conference will have certified lay speakers or other lay leaders speaking during worship. “One in Spirit, All in Ministry; In the Spirit of Fellowship” is the theme for this year’s Laity Sunday.

“Koinonia is the Greek word for fellowship or community,” writes Sandy Jackson, director of lay leadership development for the General Board of Discipleship, on the board’s Web site. “Acts 2:42 describes the koinonia that existed among believers as they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship and the breaking of bread and the prayers. All who believed were together and had all things in common. When koinonia is genuine, the believers are connected and in solidarity or unity.

“We hear a lot about fellowship in the church. We even have ‘fellowship halls,’ where we can meet to ‘fellowship.’ But fellowship has a more important meaning when we realize the importance of meeting together to encourage one another to love and good deeds. Our United Methodist heritage had at its roots an emphasis on meeting together to give an account of our faithfulness,” Jackson writes.

“Today we have plenty of meetings to attend in the church, but are they times of fellowship? Is there a spirit of holy conferencing there? Do we take the time to worship together, pray for one another, and encourage one another at those meetings? What an opportunity we miss when we just hold a meeting with bookend prayers and do not experience the unity that true fellowship can bring.”

Two events begin Friday. Nationally recognized author, teacher, radio and television host Dr. Bob Moeller will present his marriage conference “For Better, For Worse, For Keeps” at Starkville First United Methodist Church on Oct. 17-18. Farther south, the Seashore District holds a clergy family retreat at Seashore United Methodist Assembly in Biloxi featuring Dr. Stephen Seamands of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky.

Moeller is the author of six books and is the weekly host of the television call-in show For Better, For Worse, For Keeps. He currently serves as president of MarriageVine, Inc, a company dedicated to marriage enrichment. The conference will feature topics such as:

Building Intimacy
• Communicating Love Effectively
• Seven Secrets to a Great Sex Life
• Resolving Conflicts “Win/Win” Style
• Staying Together: For Better and For Worse.

Tickets are $20 per person and will include a Friday evening buffet dinner, all conference sessions and books. For tickets, contact First UMC at 662-323-5722. Tickets may also be purchased online at or by calling 866-569-5262.

At the Seashore District retreat, clergy families will gather for worship and time together. While adults attend workshops, children will have special activities. However, time will also be dedicated for families to spend together.

Seamands (right) currently serves as professor of Christian doctrine at Asbury. The son of missionary parents, Seamands grew up in India. Prior to assuming a teaching position at the seminary in 1983, he pastored United Methodist churches in southern New Jersey for 11 years. In addition to teaching and working with seminary students, Seamands is actively engaged in leading seminars and retreats and conducting spiritual renewal events in local churches across the U.S. He has a particular interest in theological and spiritual renewal within the United Methodist church as well as the larger body of Christ. He also has a concern for the spiritual needs of pastors and Christian leaders.

On Saturday, the Mississippi Conference, in partnership with the Roman Catholic and Episcopal dioceses of Mississippi and the Southern Regional Office of Children's Defense Fund, will observe Children's Sabbath 2008. The event is scheduled for 2 p.m. on the south lawn of the state Capitol.

The purpose of Children's Sabbath is:

• To celebrate the gift of children to us
• To raise awareness of children's needs in our community and state
• To commit or dedicate ourselves to be a part of changing our community and world on behalf of the children

The focus for Children's Sabbath this year is poverty. General Conference 2008 stated at its gathering in Ft. Worth, Texas, in May that these next four years would have four focal points, one of those being "engaging in ministry with the poor." 

A child in Mississippi is born into poverty every 46 minutes. Mississippi ranks 50th among states in the percentage of children who are poor. Some 749,569 children live in Mississippi; 227,656 are poor.

What can you do about it? That is what this event is all about.

A short distance away, Jackson St. Luke UMC will conduct the second annul “A Day on Duling” festival.

The event will take place on the church grounds and in the street out front. Activities for children include face painting, a space jump, snow cones, City of Jackson Fire Department pumper truck and Smokehouse.

Also outside will be a shrimp boil under a tent, along with hot dogs and burgers cooked on the grill. Jackson Friends of Animals will be there with some of their friends. Jazzing everything up will be music by Cruz Duo.

Activities inside include a silent auction, white elephant sale, gently used book sale, gourmet baked goods and frozen food items. Booths include black and white photographer and polymer clay artist Emily Kamber, yard art by Patti Igoe and purses and jewelry by Christie Pollard of The Traveling Boutique.

The Thrift Shop will be open in the parking lot in back of the church, located at 621 Duling Ave. in the Fondren area. Proceeds will be shared by St. Luke's and the Methodist Children's Home.