first cohort of NC Synod lay preachers, 2019

Lay Preaching Program commissions first cohort

“Let us build a house where prophets speak, and words are strong and true, where all God’s Children dare to seek, to dream God’s reign anew.” All are Welcome, ELW 641

What do an insurance salesman, a paramedic, an HR rep, a teacher, and a church musician have in common? Well, in the North Carolina Synod, they preach.

On Thursday, May 30, the first cohort of the Lay Preaching Certification Program was commissioned for ministry in the North Carolina Synod. These lay preachers are endorsed and sent by Bishop Tim Smith on a new journey of proclamation. They will climb into the pulpits of churches all across the state in order to support congregational vitality and the ministry we share together as a synod.

In September 2018, this group of 14 lay leaders began studying and training to proclaim the Gospel. The members of this first cohort come from Wilmington to Asheville, are at many different stages in life, and represent many different vocations. They all participated in the program, at the recommendation of their pastor, to share their love of Jesus and learn how to proclaim the Good News. Over the past nine months, they have had three intensive retreats that have focused on reading and interpreting scripture, crafting and delivering sermons, and worship leadership. Under the mentorship and direction of the Rev. Danielle DeNise, the Rev. Sara Ilderton, and the Rev. Mark Fitzsimmons, they also met frequently as small groups to continue their formation.

During their last session, the new preachers were asked what they gained from the process. They responded with:

A renewed love of Scripture
Confidence to share the Gospel
An answered prayer
Greater understanding of the Word of God
A new mission in my life of Faith

This new program was made possible by a Holy Innovation Grant from the churchwide expression of the ELCA. Not only will this lay preaching program provide assistance to congregations that are vacant and need Sunday pulpit supply, it also is encouraging, nurturing, and lifting up lay people in our synod to lead. The Spirit is moving in new and beautiful ways in our synod!

Writer:  Deacon Katie Rivers is the Director of Discipleship and Faith Formation at St. Mark’s, Asheville.
Photo:  Catherine Fink is Director of Communications & Resources for the NC Synod.