Lay Servant Training has always been done with each District doing their own training, usually over an exhausting Friday night and all-day Saturday.
With our new “normal” of COVID-19 turning everything upside down, two in-person trainings, one in Mon Valley and the other in Potomac Highlands had to be canceled.
Not to be outdone by COVID-19, the Directors of Lay Servant Ministries Mary Bane from the Mon Valley District and Betty Rizer of the Potomac Highlands District came together with the idea of offering the course “How and Why the Church Must Respond to the Opioid Epidemic” together in one online course.
Starting in late September Lay Servants from Fairmont to Capon Bridge to one outlier in Felton, DE gathered in their own homes (except for one mom who joined from the bleacher at a soccer game) each Thursday evening for an hour and a half to learn about the opioid epidemic and ways the church has to respond.
A bit odd at first the class soon got into the groove of Zoom and before long they were having “parking lot” discussions long after the official Zoom class had ended. The Lay Servants missed seeing old friends in person and homemade snacks, but they got to meet new friends and when class was over they were all already home (we also got to meet pets and grandchildren)!
Was it perfect? No way. Was it doable and effective? Absolutely.
As individual members of local churches, it is easy to forget that we are UNITED Methodists, connected to folks around the world who desire to serve Christ just a fervently as we do. COVID-19 has certainly messed up the way we always did things in our local church, but it has also opened up a lot of new ways to connect and serve our neighbors with our fellow United Methodists.
What used to be a complaint, “we’ve never done it that way before” is now a statement of hope and joy for Lay Servants around the world!
written by Rev. Dr. Barry Steiner Ball