We all recognize that ‘warm greeting’ we are met with when showing up to a church service on a Sunday morning. These warm greetings full of care and intention are found in the DNA of our laity. Those who are not ordained clergy but know that they are also called to be ambassadors of Jesus Christ. 

More than 150 laity gathered, Saturday, October 15 at Castleton United Methodist Church, from across the Indiana connection to celebrate with new resident bishop, Julius C. Trimble and wife First Lady Racelder Grandberry-Trimble, along with additional members of our Conference leadership for a time of connection, renewal, and encouragement for a day full of hope. 

The day began with conversation, joy, and worship led by the Castleton UMC worship team. A bright spot to the day was a presentation from Deanna Hedges, an attendee of the Student Leadership Academy, who shared her passion for providing clean water in Africa and how she turned that passion into a reality which eventually led to personal healing. 

Focusing on the day’s theme of “Be. Hope,” First Lady Racelder Grandberry-Trimble encouraged attendees that the “Be” stands for “be big, be bold, be inspiration, and be God’s children.” 

Before Bishop Trimble came forward to give his message, he joined First Lady Racelder, in reciting the fruits of the spirit and turned towards one another to say “I see you. I love you, and there’s nothing you can do about it, Amen. “ They then proceeded to turn back to back as First Lady shared, “I’ve got his back, and he has mine.” This common act of respect, love, and care between the two of them was shared with the laity because lay members can do the same with those they are in ministry with and those we are in a relationship with as a reminder that we are all in this together. 

Attendees were challenged by a message of hope from Bishop Trimble called “The Joy of Being United Methodist.” 

“Jesus came so that we would be full of hope, experience joy, and be connected to the true vine,” declared Bishop Trimble. 

Bishop Trimble briefly shared about his background and the journey his life took from baptism to the episcopal office which included baptism into the church, attending a Christian camp, and answering The Call to preach at 16. Bishop Trimble then went on to become a certified lay speaker when he was a Senior in High School. 

Bishop Trimble took a moment during his message to hear from the laity by asking questions such as, “What does it mean for the Church to be an instrument of God’s grace,” “What strengthens your faith in God,” and “What challenges your faith as you seek to grow as a Christian Disciple?” as a means for beginning much-needed conversations that can be continued in our churches.  Bishop Trimble’s genuine care for the coming alongside the laity as we do the ministry that the Lord has called us to together was also demonstrated by “Questions for the Bishop,” a time set aside for further questions and discussion, which was an uplifting way to learn more from him, about him. 

As the day continued, laity attended a variety of workshops, including:

“Welcoming the next generation,” an interactive workshop designed to close the cultural, generational, and communicatory gaps between the older members and current-day youth in the United Methodist Church. The workshop was led by Associate Director of Discipleship Development — Laity, Emily Krach, who challenged congregants with questions constructed to intentionally invoke a much-needed discussion between both demographics regarding the importance of church life, establishing and maintaining mutual respect and consideration, as well as the future of the UMC. 

“Missions and Advocacy,” led by Lisa Morris, Executive Director of Metro Ministries, Inc. and Cathy Burris, President of the Indiana Conference United Methodist Women, covered an array of sociopolitical challenges that Indiana currently faces. One of such issues includes a staggering number of food deserts across the state, leaving those without reliable or personally-owned transportation with limited options of where and what to feed their family. 

Other Laity Day workshops included “Lead the Way — Laity and Leadership,” “New places for new people,” and Generosity and Gratitude.”