Called and Chosen

By Jim Minutelli

“I stand here today with deep gratitude. Grateful for the opportunity to have had these last four years with you. It has been nothing short of life-changing for me. And as I’ve reflected on those years, I’ve been reminded of some of the most significant partnerships in my life …”

Kristi Wilkerson

Those were the words spoken by Kristi Wilkerson in her Laity Address to the Annual Conference, as she reflected on her tenure as West Virginia Conference Lay Leader.

This Annual Conference will be her last in the role, a position she has held since 2020, and, over the past four years, she feels she has accomplished the majority of what she set out to accomplish.

When asked to elaborate more on her successes, Wilkerson was quick to thank her team, the Board of Laity.

“I absolutely love the work that the Conference Lay Ministry Team (Board of Laity) has accomplished over the last few years,” she said. “What a wonderful group of laity in leadership! We have had some really great conversations around empowering and equipping laity to respond to their call to ministry.”

The Board of Laity—which is made up of District Lay Leaders, leaders of laity-strong ministries like United Women in Faith and United Methodist Men, the current director of Connectional Vitality, and a clergy representative—oversees and advocates for a variety of laity-driven programs and initiatives around the West Virginia Conference.

She was elected to the office as COVID mandates were in full swing, so one of her first undertakings was to task the Board of Laity to re-imagine their approach in keeping laity connected. Many of these initiatives continue today. She worked hard to develop a series of opportunities for lay members to Annual Conference: a newcomers’ session via Zoom and a completely virtual pre-conference laity session. This past year also brought a two-day laity retreat, open to all laity of the West Virginia Conference, with training and education from Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, along with connection and fellowship opportunities.

Wilkerson’s strong advocacy and heartfelt support of laity will not end as she transitions out of her position.

“I will continue to surround the laity, clergy, congregations, bishop, coordinating cabinet, and conference staff members in prayer, as well as the overall mission and ministry of the West Virginia Conference,” she said. “I look forward to all that is to come for my fellow laity and I am especially excited that Jim Minutelli has been nominated to serve as the next Conference Lay Leader.

”My love, prayers, and appreciation go out to the West Virginia Conference for this indescribable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It has been amazing and I cannot say thank you enough to everyone who assisted and supported me in this role.”