Most Alaska Conference lay and clergy leaders know that we are facing a pastoral leadership dilemma. Eight of our 28 churches were served by full time pastors four years ago. Due to cut backs from GBGM, membership decline, and an up and down economy, these churches are now served by pastors willing to work part time. Most are retired which means we face a long term problem. Let me share with you a development that just may work in Alaska.
Pastor Janice Carlton of Kenai and North Star UMC has 10-12 lay adults who want more training as leaders. In September Janice and Marti Slater, retired pastor in Kenai, attended the Certified Lay Minister (CLM) training in Washington. I arranged for this training to be videotaped. Janice and Marti plan to use the video to teach these classes on various aspects of pastoral ministry to the dozen adults.
I've asked our Professional Ministries Unit to look at the curriculum and certify some of these adults as CLM's. They will be available as a resource in their churches. But wait, there's more! The Book of Discipline gives the authority to bishops to appoint CLM's to pastor local churches. This could be a possible solution to providing leadership to our churches served by part time pastors. Churches are being asked to consider raising up their own pastors!
I shared this idea with the people at Community UMC in Nome. They are very enthusiastic about it. It is no surprise that Nome has a strong contingent of lay speakers (Lay Servants as they are called now).
So keep this in mind as pastors and lay leaders ponder how to strengthen your leadership base. It just could be a great solution to our leadership issue in Alaska.