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40th Laity Academy to explore our beginnings at first session April 27
‘Creation, Evolution and Intelligent Design’

Eastern PA laity will get another double portion of the conference’s annual Laity Academy in 2024—a biannual pairing that has succeeded to draw participants since late 2021, when online and onsite courses were offered as the Covid-19 pandemic began to wane.

This 40th year of EPA’s Laity Academy—with two onsite sessions in April and August—will draw inspiration from Hebrews 10:24-25—”And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

The first 2024 session will be a one day, in-person course April 27, titled “Creation, Evolution and Intelligent Design.” Cornwells United Methodist Church in Bensalem will host it in its chapel from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. “It is open to anyone who wishes to understand more about these timely topics from a Methodist perspective,” said new Laity Academy Dean Brenda Binns. Registration is limited and will be available in mid-March.

“The subject of origins remains an ongoing source of high interest, discussion and inquiry,” reads the course description. “The topic has far-reaching implications and has led to many questions about the science of evolution, the Genesis Creation stories, and the genetic lineage of Homo sapiens.

The course instructor, Steve Myers, is a retired teacher who has taught biology and related courses for 40 years. He has led classes and discussions on these topics for groups ranging from high school teachers to church members. At Cornwells UMC Myers is a Lay Leader, adult Sunday School teacher, prayer coordinator, and liturgist, who is also involved music and missions.

“The class will explore a fundamental question: ‘What do we know today that Charles Darwin, in the mid 1800’s, did not yet understand?’,” reads the description. “While a number of scientific laws and theories will be addressed, there is no need for an advanced degree to understand the many concepts that Myers presents in questioning if the increase in scientific knowledge has strengthened or weakened the data base underlying evolutionary theory.

“The biblical record of origins will then be examined.  Although references to God’s role as the Author of Creation are found in both the Old and New Testaments, there will be a specific emphasis in the second portion of the class on Jesus’ perspective about Creation.

“This class was first offered at the August 2023 Laity Academy and proved to be one of the most well-regarded, with Steve Myers receiving high marks for his presentation, his thought-provoking questions, and the resources and reference materials he shared that enabled class participants to consider and discuss highly sensitive yet timely topics.”

The course costs $30 fee, which covers instructional materials, a light breakfast and lunch, and other expenses.

The second part of the 2024 Laity Academy will happen August 2-3 at Eastern University’s Palmer Theological Seminar in St. David’s. Courses will be announced and open for registration by May 21, in time for Annual Conference.

Questions? Contact:

Brenda Binns, Dean of the Laity Academy    Email: bbinns1@msn.com   Text: 570-617-1342

Anna Taylor, Registrar    Email: deertaylor5@gmail.com   Text: 610-324-4088

What is the Laity Academy? 

The EPAUMC Laity Academy was begun as—and still is—a way to train church members to take part in the many ministries of the United Methodist Church.  The academy in August of 2024 will be the 40th session held by our conference.  The weekend events are planned by the laity and are for the laity.

Originally targeting speaking ministries, Laity Academy classes provided the instruction that enabled lay members to lead worship and preach sermons.  Early on, the members of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference realized that not all laity who were being called into ministry were called to preach; there were many other ministries that could benefit from lay involvement. 

While speaking classes are offered at every session of the full academy, there are also classes in leading and caring ministries as well as a basic class on United Methodist ministry.  The academy classes are one way that Christ Servant Ministers and Certified Lay Ministers can fulfill their requirements for continuing education in ministry, but any member of the laity may take any academy class that has no prerequisites – such as the April 2024 class -or for which they have met the prerequisites.

The Academy is a next step up from Tools for Ministry for lay members seeking more advanced training in caring, leading and speaking ministries.  The Laity Academy’s 10 -hour classes provide the first steps in the journey for Christ Servant Ministers and continuing education for CSM’s, Lay Speakers and Certified lay Ministers. 


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