Largest class of Certified Lay Ministers graduates (Class of 2016)

Largest class of Certified Lay Ministers graduates

“The Certified Lay Ministry Class of 2016 celebrates today our transformative journey,” read Jean Howe in a heartfelt testimony from her class of new CLM graduates. “We dedicate ourselves to faithfully journey through the crossroads, with God’s help.”

Eleven new CLMs were recognized by Bishop Peggy Johnson and their families, friends and supporters during a ceremony April 17 at West Lawn UMC. It was the sixth and largest class to complete the process, which has produced 51 Certified Lay Ministers in all.

The 2016 graduates, who posed for a group photo with Bishop Johnson and program coordinator Judy Ehninger, are (not in order): Jean Howe, Robert Irving, Maria Kollar, Jon Kirkbride, Kevin Kresge, Pamela Snyder, Dorothy Stem, Rob Stoner, Susan Velez, John Vidal and Rick Wrisley.

They are serving churches as lay pastors, music and worship leaders, a church business manager, a food bank manager, a Sunday School leader, a Bible study leader, a volunteer coordinator and a prayer ministry coordinator.

“I had hoped the Certified Lay Ministry course would help me focus and discern my call,” said Rob Stoner about his journey. “I have been remolded by the process!  I am beginning to visualize a call, not necessarily one that I would have chosen for myself.  But then, it’s not about me.”

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Other students “journeyed through dark days,” according to Howe’s statement, even struggling to overcome “addiction, physical and emotional distress, and grief.”  She shared Jon Kirkbride’s testimony, who celebrated “37 years of slavery to alcohol that has given way to 41 years of the freedom of sobriety.

“I have been aided by the Class of 2016 and all who have contributed,” his account continued. “Now I will preach the Word of God from the experience of my heart—saved by the grace of God!”

“We have not walked this journey alone!” Howe proclaimed, urging laity in the congregation to also consider their crossroads and answer the call to paths to deeper commitment and service.

Bishop Peggy Johnson delivered an inspiring message titled “Everyone Is Included,” taken from Mark 9:33-41, which was read by Lorraine Foster, CLM, Class of 2011. The Bishop reminded those present of the call to be servants of all, just before she awarded certificates to the new CLMs.

Clergy instructors for the course included the Rev. Misty Fuller, the Rev Janet Hess, the Rev Walter Carter, the Rev. Maridel Whitmore, and the Rev Andrew Foster, III. “We give thanks for these dedicated clergy,” said Ehninger, “who share their wisdom and expertise, and moreover, the gift of their time to prepare CLM graduates.”

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. This program offers an opportunity for laity to be more effective in ministry in the local church and community.

The next class of future CLMs began meeting April  30 and will complete their course work in November. Required orientation sessions for admission to the 2017 class will begin in August 2016.  Candidates must be active Christ Servant Ministers for a minimum of two years to qualify for the program.

For more information contact Judy Ehninger at 610-965-2290 or or visit the  website.

Thanks to Judy Ehninger, Jean Howe and Bishop Peggy Johnson for information for this article. Thanks to Dawn Taylor-Storm for the photo.