[August 19-21, Roslyn, VA]
When I think about our lay preachers, I think of Numbers 11:29–But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”
At the risk of using language not typically used by Episcopalians: the Lord has put the Spirit on them! I see it, I feel it, and I hear it. It is a gift to behold.
I have had the great privilege this past year to work with six dedicated lay preachers from across our diocese. We are one of six dioceses chosen for this pilot program administered by the Episcopal Preaching Foundation and funded by a grant from Trinity Wallstreet. The goal of this program is to raise up well-trained lay preachers who can then become teachers themselves in their various contexts as they are led and needed.
In the third week of August this year, we gathered in a beautiful place with beautiful people at the Episcopal Retreat Center in Roslyn, Virginia. We met with other lay students and instructors from the other five dioceses. These brave people, students and instructors, are not afraid of the jealousy we read in the Numbers passage, or the murmuring of others, or even their own doubts. They are sharing the Good News of God’s love, mercy, compassion and goodness in ever new ways.
At Evening Prayer on the second day, one of our students (Dr. Salem Saloom) preached. And, I felt the impact on everyone in the room due to his passionate embodiment of hope. I wept like a proud mother, like a person who has felt the pangs of what a pandemic has done to us, like an empty cup desperate for life-giving water, and like the Israelites who saw the promise but never quite got there.
We are getting there! God’s promises do in fact hold fast. I share this good news with you because the wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing through our dusty rafters and lifting up voices and leaders to accompany and light The Way. As one of the themes of our conference affirmed: yes, the ground is shifting, but the sky is not falling.
*Lay Preachers pictured on the back row: Salem Saloom, Necie Borroni, Haden Tirey, Jessica Walker, and Debbie Waldrop. Front row: Joy Blaylock
I am incredibly heartened by the love, support, and inspiration that our lay preachers bring to our Diocese and our communities. Please continue to pray for them and encourage them as we enter into our second year of study and more formal preparation for exegesis and preaching to peer feedback.
Dean Joy Blaylock
School for Ministry
To learn more about our Lay School for Ministry visit: https://www.diocgc.org/lay-ministry