Creating a New Season Combining both Anxiety and Glee


It’s not fall. It’s August. That’s summertime. JC Penney’s and Target can put a lid on it.

Perhaps we need a new name for this advent-of-the-school-year time. The name should reflect the anxiety and glee some kiddos experience. I loved school! I’d hang out with my friends, wear new shoes and pour over the Scholastic Book flyers. But what else would I wear? What if I can’t find my room? Who would eat lunch with me? Parents also have anxiety about the huge cash outlay and experience the absolute glee of seeing their offspring well-educated…for several hours a day…out of the house and under other watchful eyes. Summer, Fall, Autumn – hmm, I’m going with Summall. The word “mall” is so aptly included.

For me - this year - Summall is the awakening of the church. I guess I’ve aged out of the anxiety, but the glee remains. New projects are on the horizon and the Cokesbury.com website is always tempting my time and credit. There are cool folks to hang with and always new things to learn. It’s as if our pews became hammocks for the summer but transform to race cars in the fall.

Emilie Kroen, our Conference Director of Lay Servant Ministries, and I have been nourishing an idea this summer. It grew into a plan and is ready burst into life! We see a great need and desire for workshops, training, continued education – call it what you will – for the laity. Lay leaders, lay servants, lay speakers, and lay assigned pastors – all our gifted followers of Jesus Christ have expressed a yearning to grow closer to Him. To meet these needs, we plan to have a roundtable planning session twice a year. Our first session, will be in Portland on Monday, October 21, no earlier than 6:00 p.m. The exact location isn’t set (please send ideas) but will be in Portland. On that day, we’ll come together to plan classes and workshops for spring 2014. Future Laity Roundtables will be located throughout the conference. At the Spring Laity Roundtable, we’ll plan for the next fall. All lay assigned pastors, district lay leaders and district lay servant ministry coordinators are welcome and encouraged to participate. Everyone interested is welcome to attend or offer input.

If there’s a specific education need someone has, here are the steps to assure your need will be on the conference schedule in six months.

  • Identify the need
  • Contact an informed person to facilitate the group
  • Attain two or three dates that person would be available
  • Bring your info to the Laity Roundtable

If you do the legwork, we’ll be sure it’s scheduled. Here’s an example – church A is struggling with the single board governance model and suspects others are as well. Church A contacts Rev. Steve Ross. Steve agrees to lead a workshop and offers three possible dates. One of those dates works into the conference schedule. Conference laity are notified through the UM Connector email newsletter, the laity page of the conference web site and email to all attending the Laity Roundtables. Interested folks attend and grow!

Emilie and I will encourage folks to be aware of opportunities throughout our conference, in the Pacific Northwest conf. and on-line. With the great expanse of the OR-ID Annual Conference, we’ll encourage home stays and carpools to brave soldiers of Christ willing to travel. There’s an enormous bonus for travelers; carpools and home stays provide time to nurture awesome relationships!

So as Conference Lay Leader, thinking of this fall fills me with glee! I will not let go of summer yet – can it Target! – but there are great things on the horizon; new ways to serve God, new people to meet, and for old times sake, I think I’ll buy new shoes. 

Do you have thoughts, ideas or a location for our October 21 Laity Roundtable? Great! Please write or call!

Mary Foote
Mary Foote was elected as Conference lay Leader in 2012. She is a mom, wife, and dental hygienist. As a member at the Hillsboro United Methodist Church she is active in many areas, but has a special passion for Hispanic Ministry and the English as a second language program. Contact her at marycfoote@yahoo.com or (503)648-3072.