As part of this year’s WEBA Summer Gathering and AGM we were able to express our gratitude to the Lay Ministries Group which, after faithfully serving churches in WEBA for three decades, is now folding.

The group has been pivotal in maintaining and growing our list of lay preachers; a very valuable resource for churches, in particular for smaller ones who don’t have full time ministers, or for churches who are ‘between ministers’.

Those individuals who were recognised by the group and by their home church as having the necessary desire, as well as the gifts, to go out to preach in other churches were assessed by the group, giving those responsible for pulpit rotas confidence in inviting people they may never have previously met, to preach to their congregation.

Over the years the lay ministries group has also hosted training sessions on preaching and leading worship. These have been organised alongside the more formal programme of “Saturday Learning” offered by Bristol Baptist College.

Previously, the group organised an annual Pulpit Exchange, in which both lay preachers and ministers took part. This was a wonderful opportunity for churches who don’t have a minister to welcome one for the day and benefit from their experience, whilst the sending church received a lay preacher. With fewer churches participating in this event each year, it was felt in 2017 that the Pulpit Exchange had run its course. Similarly, applications for inclusion on the list of recognised lay preachers has also reduced and so finally, the remaining members of the group have come to the conclusion that it is time to close the Lay Ministries Group.

We are very grateful to the group, which most recently has included has included Tony Wilkes, Brian Allen, Norman Fuggle, and Lay Ministries Group Secretary Debbie Hunt, for all their care and diligence in identifying and developing lay preachers over the years.

Debbie Hunt, Norman Fuggle and Tony Wilkes at our AGM

We are also thankful to all those who have been visiting churches and sharing God’s word faithfully in our region. Jess in the WEBA office has recently been in touch with all those who are on the current lay preachers list, in order to bring it up to date. There are over twenty people on this list and so if you need to have a copy of it in preparation for filling those summer holiday Sundays, please get in touch with Jess.

If you are interested in joining the list, or there is someone you’d like to encourage to be a lay preacher in the WEBA region, please get in touch with Gary Woodall.

We intend to continue to bring you helpful training days to help lay preachers and all those sharing God’s word, to be well equipped for this role. Our next training day which you may find helpful, is our Pastoral Leaders Day with Helen Paynter, who will be exploring the thorny side of scripture on July 3rd. In September and October in partnership with Bristol Baptist College and PFS there are two Saturday training events for those leading worship too.

In the meantime, we hope you will join us in our celebration of the Lay Ministries Group and our Lay Preachers at the WEBA Summer Gathering and AGM at Chipping Sodbury BC on July 1st.