WHO ARE LAYMEN
The Lay Organization is a movement to provide greater leadership opportunities for the Lay members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It’s membership should include Trustees, Stewards, Class Leaders, Missionary Workers, Ushers, Deaconesses, Stewardess, Choir Members, Sunday School Workers and Students, Young People Department, members of all Commissions, and so forth.
The goals of the local organization include study, worship, fellowship and service at the local, conference, district and connectional levels. Our aim is to be Christ-centered and to strengthen the church. Our concern is for the total church and to maintain a happy working relationship between the pastor and lay.
We encourage every home to purchase and study the A.M.E. Discipline, which outlines the workings of the church.
The Lay Organization has resolved to take steps to influence decisions regarding church policy, while decisions are under consideration, rather than debating them after they have been made or almost enacted into law. We can make our point of view known on all important issues of our church, and in legislating, we must think of the Connectional Church ….the total church.
Your Lay Organization is a vital tool that can be used for effective change, if change is deemed necessary, or to improve existing conditions and Methods.
We can best meet our objectives when we understand the program of the church and relate the church to the world around us.
We must become involved so that the church is our community, our job, our school. In this way, everywhere we assemble, we will carry the church with us.
Every member of the church that is not a Minister is a Laymen. The organized lay are usually the ones involved in setting forth and recommending the new laws and structural changes as enacted by the General Conference.
The membership roll of the Lay, represents the church. The membership roll of the church represents the human material from which the church must be built. The Lay are individuals, the church is you. The Lay Organization cannot exist without you. The church is more than a group of individuals, and it is incomplete without you!
THE LOCAL LAY ORGANIZATION
Building a healthy and strong lay organization takes commitment from the local church. Your local lay organization is not built overnight. It will take time to develop. Organizing the lay in your church takes a group of individuals who are willing to devote time, and have a thirst and willingness to learn thoroughly the connectional church.
The following practices have been tried and tested and are being shared on the basis that if implemented and practiced regularly, they will help your lay organization to function effectively and efficiently.
On Page 420 of the Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is found the Connectional Lay Organization Constitution and By Laws. One should be familiar with this document before organizing on the local level.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS
The East Conference Lay Organization By Laws should also be used as a guide to govern elections in places where local By Laws have not been
The following minimal number of officers should be elected. This number may vary depending on the size and strength of the organization. Refer to by laws for duties and term of office.
First Vice President
Director of Lay Activities
All elections shall utilize a democratic process. In larger organizations, a nominating committee should be appointed by the President to present a slate at the meeting at which the election shall take place. Secret ballot is always most desirable. In smaller organizations elections may be by voice vote, so long as a majority of eligible voters present agree.
*The duties of the above officers can be found in the East Conference’s Constitution and By-Laws.
Regular monthly meetings will contribute greatly to the success and longevity of your local lay organization. A specific day of a given week of the month works best. Soon everyone knows that is your meeting date and are more likely to respect it.
The agenda should always be prepared in advance of the meeting. A copy of the agenda should be available to each person in attendance. Agendas help provide order and routine to the meeting. Meetings should always start and end on time. Do not allow gossip or conversation unrelated to an agenda item to take place.
The chair should rule the person out of order, or ask what does the conversation have to do with the agenda item? If unrelated, move on. Idle
talk is a sure fire way to destroy a meeting and lose members.
Focus on ACTION, what action needs to be taken, when and by whom and for how long? Delegate responsibility, the more people engaged in some part of the work, the greater your success and sense of accomplishment.
STANDARD LAY AGENDA
The Lay Agenda should look like the following:
- President calls the meeting to order
- Chaplain leads the body in devotion or prayer
- Minutes of the last meeting are read
- Treasurer’s Report
- President’s Report
- Director of Lay Activities Report
- Standing committees’ reports
- NEW BUSINESS
- OLD BUSINESS
- Adjourn - Lay Benediction
The officers and committees must be about the business of the organization during and between meetings. It is what you accomplish in between your meeting that gives importance to your meeting. If there is nothing to do from one meeting to the next, you are wasting time and have no purpose. The meeting is a time to give an accounting, gauge progress and adjust the agenda to the needs of the organization.
In addition to the regularly scheduled meeting, the organization must have a mission that is accomplished through the PROGRAM of the lay organization spearheaded by the Director of Lay Activities. Next to the President, this position requires a talented, committed Christian. It should be clear to all that the mission is to ORGANIZE AND TRAIN THE LAITY SO THEY MAY USE TO THE FULLEST THEIR GOD GIVEN GIFT(S).
Two types of training our needed: first, to educate and provide leadership to the members of the organization and secondly, to assist in the teaching and training of the laity in general.
You must have materials and resources (human/printed) to accomplish this task.
Know Your Church Handbook
The S.A.T. Manual for African Methodism
Teachers Guide and Textbook by Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram
AME Church Connectional Lay Handbook
Constitution and By-Laws
Connectional Lay Newsletter
“THE THUNDER”, published quarterly.
It is highly recommended that the local president subscribe to the Christian Recorder. This bi-weekly newspaper will keep you informed about your church. Cost is $20 per year. Send a check or money order payable to: The AMEC Sunday School Union at the above address.
Use the above checklist to ensure that you have all the resources to teach and train your local congregation.
Leadership must be informed!
Monthly meetings should be held at the local level to discuss those activities from the conference and district levels. A short mini-training
session should be held to educate the body on new developments within the organization.
Time for study must be set aside. You should provide time at every meeting to learn – “KNOW YOUR CHURCH”. No more than an hour for your business and one hour to learn. Do not overlook your pastor (willing or not) as well as talented individuals within your congregation. Encourage members of the church who do not belong to the lay organization to join you in study. After you get it together, announce on Sunday the topic. Invite non-members to participate in the second hour of study.
Once leadership is informed, it can now work with the pastor to meet the training needs of the church. Informed lay individuals are in short supply in our Church. A teaching ministry is sorely lacking. Why not take on the challenge.
Teaching/training can take many forms. You must do something to make a difference and to fulfill the mission of the lay organization. Examples:
workshops, lectures, debates, discussions, tutoring, voter education/registration, volunteering, covered dish seminars, musicals, plays, etc. CONDUCT A SURVEY WITHIN YOUR CONGREGATION. What would they like to know more about? How about the Lay Organization leading the new member class during the 90-day probationary period?
Finally, the lay should look beyond the church and incorporate the needs of your community into your program. This is the true-spirit (self-help) of our founder Richard Allen.
The possibilities are endless for connecting with other churches and social agencies to address needs in the community that ultimately strengthens you as a Christian, the Lay Organization and the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
EACH local church should make the commitment to attend every East Florida Conference Lay Organization meeting of which there are two Executive Board and Fifth Sunday meeting. The Local Lay President as well as your Local Director of Lay Activities should be in attendance at all of these meetings. The information discussed at this meeting should be disseminated to the local level. If for some reason the President and Lay Director would be unable to make it a phone call should be placed to the President of the East Florida Conference Lay Organization for an excused absence. After the meeting, the local President should follow up with the Conference President obtain pertinent information to
The Eleventh Episcopal District Annual meeting is another educational opportunity for those who are actively involved in the local lay
And, if at all possible attendance at the Biennial, (held every two years), is another educational resource.
These meetings are a crucial part to teaching and training your local lay organization
EACH local church should make the commitment to have a Lay Witness Sunday and invite a lay speaker to give a message geared toward the connectional theme, as set by the Connectional Lay Activities Director.
EACH local church should make the commitment to participate in the CLEDC (Connectional Lay Economic Development Committee) as found in the Doctrine and Discipline.
TIPS FOR BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL LAY ORGANIZATION
As the teaching and training arm of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Lay Organization is mandated to instruct lay members of every Episcopal District, Annual Conference and local church thusly:
To instill in the membership of the church a great love for, and appreciation of the history, tradition and principles of the African
To keep forever alive the sacred memory of Richard Allen, our founder.
- To advocate respect and loyalty at all times
- To constituted authority.
- To encourage the duty to support the total program of the church in the local congregation, in the community, and throughout the Connection.
- To encourage, stimulate and educate the laity of our church in the history, development and organic laws of African Methodism.
- To foster a systematic and regular study of the discipline of the A.M.E. Church, and parliamentary procedures, to the greater knowledge and information may be disseminated among the laity, and with further purpose of encouraging lay members to participate more largely in the general functioning and supervision of the A.M.E. Church.
- To foster influence and support all constructive and progressive legislation for the church.
- To provide for greater integration and recognition in the A.M.E. church, promote the spread of personal evangelism, provide training in Christian Stewardship, open new areas of service, increase the circulation of the church papers, provide better support for the churches and the ministries, provide for the orderly training of laymen for effective service, and promote the fellowship of laymen throughout the Connection.
The Nehemiah Plan: Preparing the Church to Rebuild Broken Lives, Reid, Rev. Frank Madison, III, Treasure House Publisher,
The Prayer of Jabez: Wilkinson, Dr. Bruce H., Multnomah Publishers, Inc.,
Simple Messages from the Bible: Benn J. Solomon, In times of crises and survival, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 495506, Copyright 1982
The Lay Driven Church: Melvin Steinbron,
LAY EVERYWHERE SHOULD ADOPT
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF GOOD CONDUCT
FOR CHRISTIAN MEMBERSHIP
By Rev. Ben H. Hill, DD
1. I shall make it my bounden duty to be punctual and on time as a sign of love and respect for God.
2. I shall enter the Lord’s house with reverence and avoid all loud and unbecoming conversation as I approach the sanctuary.
3. I shall not loiter in the lobby of the church, reminding myself that this is the house of God – not a hotel.
4. I shall take a seat near the Altar and as I take my place I shall breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for my blessing and one of repentance
for my sins.
5. I shall not disturb the meditation of my fellow worshipper by forcing conversation upon him because I know his communion with God is far more valuable than any I can give.
6. I shall share in every part of the Worship Service by breathing prayer while others pray – reading the Scripture when the Scripture is read,
joining in singing where I can and giving my undivided attention at all times.
7. I shall prepare my offering before I come to service and be ready to share whenever the offering is called for. I know I owe a portion of my \
substance and it is part of my religion to deal fairly with God in the matter.
8. I shall pray as the word of God is preached, that my Minister shall have the guidance of the Holy Spirit as he preaches the word, and that I
might have a receptive heart to receive the word to my soul’s health.
9. I shall pray for the un-churched when the invitation is extended, by my life and personal witness, seek to constrain them to accept Christ.
10. I shall wait fore the Benediction as the seal of God’s approval. I shall not leave before then except some dire emergency make it mandatory.
For to leave earlier would be to dismiss God and discount His Benediction.
11. And when I leave I shall guard against unnecessary hilarity, making an effort to think soberly on God’s message to me this day, and how I
might use it in the days ahead. These commandments I shall strive to keep, God being my helper.
Communication is key to belonging to any organization. It takes commitment from both parts to operate smoothly!
Newly established organizations should find an established lay organization from which to learn. Combined meetings and learning sessions with a seasoned organization should be held so the new organization will receive adequate training.