May 30, 2014

The EPA Conference gained five new Certified Lay Ministers June 1, as more than 80 people witnessed their graduation at Evansburg United Methodist Church. It was the fourth class to complete the full process, giving the conference 33 Certified Lay Ministers (CLMs) now, with more on the way.

The new CLMs pictured here are (from left):

  • Dennis Wack of Evansburg UMC, Central District,
  • Candace E. Carter of UM Church of the Good Shepherd, East District,
  • Barry L. Trout of Hibernia UMC, Southeast District,
  • Ruth Ann Portzline of St. John’s UMC (Ivyland), East District, and
  • John P. Lafferty of Thorndale UMC, Southeast District.

Candice Carter has been a Lay Speaker/Christ Servant Minister the longest, since 1985, and has served both her local church and the conference in lay ministry. John Lafferty and his wife Jennifer, who became a CLM in 2011, are the conference’s first and only CLM couple. Ruth Ann Portzline directs outreach ministries at her church. Barry Trout has been assigned to Pomeroy UMC as their Lay Pastor. And Dennis Wack is the conference United Methodist Men’s Prayer Coordinator and coordinates the EPA Conference Center’s Prayer Room.

Participating in the ceremony were Bishop Peggy Johnson, who preached about the key role of prayer in lay ministry; the Rev. Christopher Kurien, Director of Connectional Ministries; Conference Lay Leader Mary White; and Mertice Shane, also a CLM.

Serving as course instructors for the class were: The Rev. Misty Fuller, Rev. Janet Hess, Rev. Walter Carter, Rev. Alfred Day III, and the Rev. Andrew Foster III.

“I have come to believe strongly that this training provides the laity a way to expand their ministry in the

Wesleyan tradition, and to better support clergy in ministry,” said Judy Ehninger, CLM program director. “Being a Certified Lay Minister will enable these graduates to facilitate clergy-laity partnerships. They each embody characteristics of servant leaders in the Wesleyan tradition. I have learned so much from them.”

The 2004 United Methodist Book of Discipline states, “There will be certified lay ministers, which the Bishop may assign to a church under the supervision of an Elder.” It offers an opportunity for laity to be more effective in ministry in the local church and the community.

A new class of nine candidates began in April. They will complete the course work in December. Orientation sessions to help new applicants prepare for the 2015 class will begin in August 2014. Participants must be Christ Servant Ministers (or Certified Lay Servants) for at least a year (or an equivalent) and must first obtain approval from their pastor, their church’s Staff-Parish Relations Committee, and their District Superintendent and District Committee on Ministry.

For more information on the Certified Lay Minister program visit or contact Judy Ehninger at 610-965-2290 or     

Information provided by Judy Ehninger
Main photo by David J. Marks

Second photo by John Coleman: Mertice Shane talks to CLMs-to-be in class, as the Rev. Andrew Foster (top) and Judy Ehninger (3rd from top left) also listen.