Leadership UMC celebrates largest graduating class


            Since 2002, Leadership UMC has worked to equip, educate and inspire members of the laity in the North Georgia Conference. The 2010-11 class has 48 graduates, the largest group to date.
         “We squeeze a lot of great, useful training into four sessions,” said Conference Lay Leader Jane Finley, who has participated in the program seven or eight years of its existence.
           The four sessions, held from November to May, cover a wide variety of topics including: church history, polity, spiritual gifts, strengthening the clergy-laity working relationship, witnessing and small group dynamics. The sessions met at Simpsonwood Conference and Retreat Center, beginning Friday evening and ending Saturday afternoon.
          “There is something very special and about the fellowship and connections that take place,” Finley said. “Participants not only learn from our experienced session leaders, but from each other as well.”
         In addition to attending workshops, the participants are divided into small groups to do independent research on a specific topic of interest or concern. On the final day of the last session, each group presents its report to the entire class and the LUMC Board. This year’s reports, from seven small groups, can be found on the Board of Laity page of the conference website.
          LUMC was inspired by listening sessions conducted in the four quadrants of the conference in 2000 to examine ways that the Conference Board of Laity (CBOL) might better meet the needs of the laity. After extensive work on curriculum, the CBOL sponsored its first workshop series in 2002 under the guidance of Joe Whittemore, the 2000-2004 Conference Lay Leader.  
          Lyn Powell, 2004-2008 Conference Lay Leader, established the system for sponsorship of laity from all districts, which has become an important part of the LUMC experience in that we have representation from large and small churches, diverse backgrounds and cultures, urban and suburban church settings. The mix is an enriching aspect of the program.
       Finley, 2008-2012 Conference Lay Leader, has provided additional educational experiences though class trips designed to provide a variety of worship experiences, and opportunities to be a part of the performance with other LUMC graduates at our annual conference
       The LUMC chorus will perform at Annual Conference on Thurs., June 16, at the laity-lead morning devotion time. The LUMC ensemble will perform at the devotion time on Friday morning. Join us at 7:45 a.m. for the gathering music and 8:15 a.m. for the laity led devotions on Wednesday through Friday. Two of our speakers are LUMC graduates: Ron Davis, Associate Conference Lay Leader, Class of 2002-2003 and Tracey Yancey, Class of 2010-11. 
   The LUMC program is one of three CBOL sponsored programs and graduates are encouraged to immediately become involved in Lay Speaking Ministries or Lay Revitalization Ministry to enhance the leadership skills acquired at LUMC. The faculty includes: Rev. Dr. John Beyers, Rev. Mike Selleck, Rev. Sharma Lewis, Ms. Dianne Spencer and Bishop Mike Watson.
      The Conference Board of Laity invites you to visit www.ngumc.org and the Board of Laity page to learn more about LUMC. The tuition is covered by the participant, the local church and the district and includes lodging, meals and all workshop materials.   
       The district board of laity is currently accepting applications and will select nominees for the 2011-12 class in September. The district office and district lay leader have applications, which can be found on the board of laity page. Attendance at all sessions is a requirement for graduation, diploma and LUMC pin. Session dates are November 18-19, 2011; January 20-21, 2012; March 16-17, 2012 and May 18-19, 2012.
      The 2008-2012 LUMC Board includes: Sam Kilburn, LUMC Director; Jane Finley, Conference Lay Leader; Shaysha Kingsberry, Registrar; Dianne Traynham, CBOL Representative, Rev. Gary Dean, Cabinet Representative; James Wyatt, Bernie Brown, Ron Davis and Cliff Penrose.