The Laity gathered Wednesday, June 8, for their annual session at the Indiana Annual Conference, where they used this opportunity to catch up and mingle, learn and reflect, and bask in a moment of spiritual rejuvenation. 

This year’s gathering consisted of several segments that were designed to not only show the work of laypersons throughout the United Methodist Churches of Indiana, but to celebrate their strides throughout the past year, and highlight their continued mission and renewed focus for the road ahead. 

The session began with honoring the winner of this year’s Laity Manuscript contest, Cathy Wesolek, who shared her message of celebrating one’s uniqueness, God’s ability to work in, over, and through us, and the versatile power of love. 

Wesolek drew inspiration from the text of Ephesians 4:4-6. 

“When we love others we're much less apt to judge them. When we communicate in love we're less apt to criticize. If we're not one in the spirit, we're less likely to be pulling in different directions.”

Wesolek focused intently on our uniqueness as Christians and members of the human race. She elaborated on her struggles with Pinterest, because she feels she lacks the creative literacy necessary to turn idea to art. Although some Pinterest posts provide explicit directions on certain projects, she’s confident that somehow, someway, she’ll still miss the mark and the project will look nothing like the original. 

“Though the Lord is over all of us, and in all of us, he doesn't walk through all of us in the same way. Unity of the mission does not mean we have to do things the same way.”

Emily Krach, who currently serves as the Associate Director of Leadership Development – Laity used the book “Just Say Yes,” authored by Robert Schnase, to unpack a motivational segment and casting aside debilitating fears that may cause us to constantly say ‘no’ so that we may begin saying ‘yes’ more often. 

“We've been in meetings where we don't even offer our suggestions because we know we're going to hear no.”

Krach, who’s transitioning into her new role as Associate Director of Leadership Development – Emerging Leaders, encourages Christians to practice letting go of concerns, worries, and anxieties that keep them rooted in their fear to let go of antiquated ideas and strive to accept new possibilities. 

Krach’s new role will focus on creating opportunities for youth and young adults to make their voices heard and become leaders in the areas they feel they have been overlooked or underestimated. Joseph Heyward, a young man of faith, spoke to the Annual Conference audience about the common, and often overlooked challenges between the adults and youth in the Church, and those challenges have discouraged the younger generation from being involved in the church. 

“There are no kids in the body of Christ.”

Heyward then provided an interesting analogy:

“The youth are like the toes of the church. It isn't until a breakdown happens that we realize the importance of a body part.”

He continued, “We are not realizing the contributions of youth in the church.”

Heyward expressed that to restore order, communication, and like-mindedness among youth and adults in the church, we must engage the youth, and provide them with space to showcase their talents, contribute to our mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world.