Certified Lay Members, along with Lay Speaker Lisa Trigg, being prayed over by Bishop Julius Trimble, after being recognized before the Laity Day attendees.

what we believe is more important than what we disagree about!
Laity Day, Saturday, October 6, focused on ways we all, particularly laity and clergy colleagues, are proactively working to see all the people within our midst. Whether they are battling with addiction, as communities throughout Indiana seek viable solutions to combat the rise of the opioid epidemic or those who are voiceless and unseen while stuck in a life of human trafficking. Laity Day created spaces for laity worship, receive recognition, and to discuss, as well as celebrate, the many ways colleagues around the Indiana Conference are creating spaces and inciting conversations around, seeing all of God’s children. 

During his sermon, Bishop Julius C. Trimble addressed a topic that was on the minds of audience members as a way to see all the people around us — the approaching Special Called General Conference that will gather in February 2019 to discuss and decide a Way Forward in regards to the longstanding discussion on human sexuality and the Church. “I don’t care what the plan is, I’m not leaving The United Methodist Church” encouraged the bishop. “You weren’t voted in the United Methodist Church. You were baptized in the Church.” 

He continued, “what we believe is more important than what we disagree about!”

Laity Day is a day set aside to celebrate the work and commitment of laypersons in various ministries around Indiana. It is an opportunity for those who are not clergy, as well as those who are, to connect, worship, and learn about unique and innovative ways we can serve our neighbors and further our United Methodist mission. 

Rather than hosting an array of workshops, this year’s learning segment consisted of open discussions about faith-based organizations that are tackling real-life problems by providing both spiritual and practical solutions, continuing the discussion prompted by this year’s Annual Conference theme of “See All the People.” A panel discussion with servant leaders from around the Conference invited conversations around unique perspectives of the theme; the ways you can tell if whether or not you’re seeing all the people around you; and its significance in regards to the work of laity and clergy in our Church today. 

“It’s human nature to have our own tribes,” remarked Emerging Leader Molly Bickle. “Seeing all the people is a conscious decision we need to make every day.”

The Rev. Dave Neckers, Conference Superintendent serving in the Northeast District, stated “Seeing all the people means listening. What do you need? How can we serve you and come alongside you?”

First Lady Racelder Grandberry-Trimble said that one of the best ways to see all the people is to put on a smile. “We’re not going to see anyone if our faces look stoic, uninviting, or smile only for the people we know or are happy to see.” 

As attendees continued to ponder these thoughts and questions, Suzanna Bautista, director of the Hope Center in Indianapolis, a residential, Christ-centered refugee organization with a focus of working with victims of human trafficking shared her passion and deep-rooted commitment for putting an end to human trafficking in the US, starting with Indiana. “There are more people in modern slavery today than there’s ever been in this lifetime. 40 million. Human Trafficking is modern day slavery and a crime against humanity.” 

On several instances during her talk, Bautista expressed an urgency for making the end of human trafficking an immediate priority in Indiana. “Within the time a runaway leaves their home, 1 in 3 of those runaways will be approached by a predator within 24 hours. 12 hours if they’re living in Indiana.” 

Attendees listened intently as Sabrina, a survivor from the Hope Center, who, after years of being a victim of human trafficking, rape and heavy drug use, testified that through her relationship with the Hope Center, she has ceased all drug-related activities as of March and has since received Christ in her life and was recently baptized. 

“Being baptized for me means drawing a line with Jesus and I will make sure I don’t cross that line ever again.” 

Rev. Jeff Shafer shared about an ongoing crisis that seems to have impacted Indiana overnight and is continually a part of our conversations throughout the Conference. The opioid epidemic took up a segment of last month's Prison and Jail Ministry Gathering, hosted by Mission and Justice Ministries and was a continued discussion point at Laity Day. Rev. Jeff Shafer works with the Richmond Chapter of A Better Life - Brianna’s Hope, an organization specializing in addiction recovery and support. Rev. Schafer challenged laity and clergy with questions regarding the ways ministry leaders, along with congregants, may see those who battle with addictions, if at all.

“What is one way your church or church leadership can fight the epidemic through prayer? Host a prayer walk — not on the nice side of town either. Strengthen your prayer life, and fight the stigma.” 

Rev. Shafer encouraged participants to start a support group, while avoiding the urge to put emphasis on numbers, stating that all it takes is one person to make a lasting impact. “Isolation is addiction’s greatest ally — healing happens in community.”