One reason I have great hope for the future of our church is because we have the strong sense of community that’s required to live into God’s plan. Galilee is a community of faithful believers served by committed lay leaders.
You see, the impact of any church has always been shaped by ordinary people rather than a professional clergy or a preacher with a large personality. The authority of Jesus Christ, given at baptism, rests upon the heart of every believer. It rests on you. This is the power that ordinary believers have to lead an extraordinary church…and, incidentally, to change the world.
This past Sunday, Galile’s lay leadership held a Town Hall meeting in which ordinary people like Chris Richter (lay leader), Charlie Leftwich (finance chair), and Jim Cox (Trustees) stood before the congregation to give updates on Galilee’s mission vitality and potential renovation projects. As they did so, they demonstrated the servant-leader model that is central to our Galilee community.
Chris Richter led our recent Town Hall, which you can watch on our Archived Video platform.
Volunteers like Chris, Charlie, and Jim lead when they serve. It’s these and other volunteers who truly have the power to steer the congregation because a local Methodist church is structured with Ministry Council (not your pastor) as the highest decision making body. Their decisions are informed and supported by the Trustees and the Finance and Staff-Parish Relations committees: all volunteers. Volunteers are the backbone of our ministry.
I want to thank our dedicated lay leadership. Our church has been served amazingly well by Chris, Charlie, and Jim, as well as Ron Chinnici (head of Staff-Parish Relations) and Marilee Ciehoski (Ministry Council chair).
One example of where their talents have taken us:
Remember how quickly our church moved forward in the face of lockdown? Covid-19 presented a daunting challenge for a church that relies on weekly in-person meetings (worship) and voluntary financial contributions. How would an institution that depends on people coming together survive social distancing? We certainly didn’t have a master plan handed down to us by denominational figures. There is nothing in the Book of Discipline that tells your clergy what to do in a circumstance like this! Instead, we had faithful, persevering believers who volunteered to be our servant leaders.
With hardly a blip, Galilee was immediately up online and able to foster worship on various platforms simultaneously. We had a committee study best practices for a healthy church. We had empowered volunteers making tough decisions. Our church did not shut down, it shifted the way we do our ordinary business. We didn’t shrink, but expanded our reach. Today, we are reaching more people than ever before online and blessedly welcoming more and more in-person worshippers every week. Our ministries and serve opportunities are now re-opened and expanding.
When I think of the number of hours that each of our committed leaders have given to God and to our church over the years, I am so thankful and inspired! Jesus knew what he was doing when he built the church on the rock of ordinary people given extraordinary faith.
Galilee would not have come through the challenges of the pandemic period without the work of extraordinarily committed ordinary people. It is these same leaders, and leaders like them, and maybe even yourself, who will keep Galilee a vibrant place to worship, serve, connect, and grow in the future.
Pastor Jason Duley