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Alice Fowler
District Superintendent
Alice Fowler

Rebecca Courtney
Executive Assistant
Rebecca Courtney

Tiffany Freeman
Administrative Assistant
Tiffany Freeman

(417) 623-2382
2517 E 20th
Joplin, Missouri 64804-1037

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Lay Ministry

UMC Glossary: Laity = From laos, meaning "people of God"


"The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday living as well as the sharing of their own faith experiences of the gospel, is the primary evangelistic ministry through which all people will come to know Christ and The United Methodist Church will fulfill its mission." 
Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2016

Lay Ministry is a leadership development program in the United Methodist Church focused on equipping and empowering laypersons who have responded to the call of God to serve in mission and ministry.  Being called to ministry is a serious endeavor.  We must do all we can to prepare, train and equip ourselves and others to serve. 



Click HERE for details and registration.


The next in-person lay servant courses in the southwest district are scheduled for April 2022 at Byers Ave UMC in Joplin.  The courses offered in the Spring are:

  • Spiritual Gifts - Instructor:  Karensue Hensley
  • Discipleship - Instructor:  Mitch Ross

*** Watch this space for online registration and more detailed course descriptions ***

In the Lay Ministry program, laity may be certified as servants, speakers or ministers by meeting the certification standard of each category.



Certified lay servants serve the local church and/or beyond the local church in many ways so that their witness, leadership, and service inspire others to a deeper commitment to Christian living. To become a certified lay servant, you must be recommended by the local church and complete the Basic Lay Servant Ministries course and complete one advanced lay servant ministries course. 


Certified lay servants who feel a calling to preach the Word and serve as pulpit supply in the District or Conference can become certified lay speakers by completing a track of study of core lay servant ministries courses: 1) leading worship, 2) leading prayer, 3) discovering spiritual gifts, 4) preaching, 5) United Methodist heritage and 6) polity.  Candidates will be interviewed by their respective districts and approved by the conference committee on lay servant ministries. 

"It will not permit you to be silent when God commands you to speak." 
(John Wesley's encouraging response to lay preacher, Alice Cambridge, 1791).


A certified lay minister leads public worship, cares for a congregation, assists in program leadership, preaches the Word, leads small groups, establishes outreach ministries and/or develops new and existing faith communities under the supervision of a clergy person.  A certified lay servant can become a certified lay minister by completing a broad track of study determined by the Missouri Conference.  Learn more here:  Certified Lay Minister.  Contact the district office or a district lay leader for details before pursing this process. 

Three options that provide continual education opportunities for laity:

  1. You can find the current listing of all scheduled Lay Servant courses, virtual and face-to-face, in the Missouri conference here:  Missouri Lay Servant Courses
  2. Online lay servant courses are offered year round at, a ministry of the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship at Southwestern College, a United Methodist-affiliated university in Kansas.  Learn about the available courses, schedules and cost here:  Lay Servant Ministries at
  3. Laity can also take courses from the Part-Time Ministerial Leaders curriculum.  Learn more here: Part-Time Ministerial Leaders Course of Study.  

For questions about all these options contact your district lay leaders.  Please report completion of classes taken outside the district to your district lay leaders to ensure your training records are current.  Use the form in this link to report your Lay Servant/Speaker training status to your church council or charge conferecne:   Lay Servant's Annual Report (.docx)

Southwest District Lay Leaders

Karensue Hensley
Phone: 417-850-8945

Mitch Ross
Phone: 417-808-0218