Laity Day 2011: An Extraordinary Day

November 10, 2011

By Gayle Shearman and Burt Yin
Conference Co-Lay Leaders

Enthusiasm burst forth at "Ordinary to Extraordinary – A Day for the Laity" this past weekend (Nov. 5, 2011). More than 80 disciples gathered at the United Methodist Center in West Sacramento for a day of inspired songs, video, keynotes, and conversation focusing on where God is calling each of us to do "Extraordinary" things in our ministry and outreach.
Gayle Shearman, Conference Co-Lay Leader, started the day talking about the impact Youth 2011 had on everyone who participated – and how she left the event feeling that if the adults in the laity stepped up with just 10% of the energy the youth forged in their four days together, all of our congregations across the Conference would be doing "Extraordinary" things. (Watch the video from Youth 2011, "So You Think You're Ordinary – Think Again!!" at
Spontaneous conversation began as participants talked of the ordinary people throughout the Bible whom God called to do "Extraordinary" things. Keynote speaker, the Rev. Renae Extrum-Fernandez, Bridges District Superintendent, spoke of the leadership example that Wesley set for Methodism and the very low bar that we ask people to meet to claim membership in The United Methodist Church today. Revising "Methodist Math," and involvement – not just in small groups, but also in small groups that are practicing Covenant Discipleship – were keys to Extrum-Fernandez's insights into the changes we need to embrace as we create vital congregations in the post-modern era.
Two sessions of breakout groups gave everyone the opportunity to focus on "Extraordinary" areas of Movement, Outreach, Congregations, and Generosity.
The Rev. Dale Weatherspoon, pastor at Alum Rock United Methodist Church in San Jose, and a trainer with – an organization serving our Conference that provides skill development training and critical analysis tools to equip leaders and congregations to effectively engage racial and cultural differences in our churches and communities – commented on the awesomeness of the group and the lively, engaging participation he experienced in the workshops he led.
An afternoon highlight was exploring spiritual gifts that are key to leadership in our local churches. Linda Holbrook, a spiritual director and an elder from the Central Texas Conference, who recently moved to California-Nevada, shared the indicators that are common in some of the spiritual gifts that are related to leading in the local church. She then went a step further by sharing ideas for improving one's skills in areas of leadership, giving, faith, and hospitality – especially if they are not one's natural gifts.
As the day came to a close, there was time to discuss where people were feeling called to do more and the opportunities and challenges that may lie ahead when implementing some of the new learning and discoveries of the day. Bishop Brown led the closing worship using modern-day parables of the examples we witness in Acts – of Saul's transformation to Paul, and Tabitha's reawakening with Peter's words to her to "Rise!" The bishop's message of challenge and encouragement to the laity, as they move forth to do the things that matter to God in our local congregations, has been uploaded to the REEL Witness video library on the Conference website.
Becky Perry of Boulder Creek UMC commented in an email to us after the event – "Thank you for an extraordinary event for the laity….I enjoyed the workshops and particularly enjoyed the morning's talk given by Rev. Extrum-Fernandez."
Several presentations were videotaped with the hope that they will be useful to participants and others in their local churches – as well as to congregations with long travel distances to get to events.
Pastors will soon receive "Learning and Leading" certificates from Lay Speaking Ministries to present to those who participated in the day.
View additional photos in the "Ordinary to Extraordinary – A Day for the Laity" photo gallery.