What wording would be included in a "Laity Bill of Rights"

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Congress has been working on a patient's bill of rights. To protect patients from mismanagement by HMO's and the bill would clarify what rights patients can expect in hospitals. The "patients bill of rights" made me think about our laity, who are the hands and feet for Jesus Christ! Without laity there is no church. Perhaps we should look at a "Laity Bill of Rights" what would it look like. For me as a pastor confidentiality, and training leaders in the congregation is a priority. What would you put in a "laity Bill of rights?"

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2001


A good question for discussion at the Connectional Lay Organization Biennial Session in Jacksonville July 7-13. Look for some answers after the Biennial.

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2001

At first glance, I thought idea. Now, I'm not so sure. Our constitutional Bill of Rights had its beginnings in an adversarial relationship with the rights of states versus the federal government. Of we now see that the Bill of Rights was necessary. Now, I understand there is in many cases an adverserial relation between the Lay and Clergy. My brothers ans sisters, this ought not be. A bill of rights is protection against someone or some organization that is not trustworty. A Lay Bill of Rights then, by its nature make the Clergy become the adversary. I think this would lead to greater division. Personally, I think the ministers Bill of Rights is a failure, but that is another story. What I would like to see is giving the Lay the responsibility for local church management, somewhat as it was in the old Methodist Church. In thos days, the Lay were not members of the Annual Conference. The Annual Conference members were all clergy concerned with the welfare of the clergy. Currently we, as pastors, have almost dictatorial powers and I suggest that is hurting the church. Maybe a Bill of Responsibilities in stead of a Bill of Rights. Anyway, food for thought.

Pastor Paris

A traveling preacher

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2001

One of the reasons I brought up the question of a "Laity bill of rights" is because Bishop Deveaux in his report on AME TODAY suggested that working with laity should be a concern. Methodism in it's infancy was a response to the Anglican church, that gave all power to the priests. John Wesley wanted laity to have a voice and a place in ministry. Let me share what I mean when I bring up the issue of a Laity Bill of Rights. In the past whenever I have pastored a church, in membership class we go over the history of the denomination, our beliefs, the appointment system, apportionments, and the fact that the Bishop could and probably would move me at some point. (My background is united methodist) I then discuss what membership means in a church. The next thing I do is to discuss the rights that laity have. 1.)They as members are entitled to pastoral counseling, 2.)They have the right to leadership roles in the church. 2.)They have the right to know who their Presiding Elder is and how to contact him. etc. I am working on some ideas to present to my Bishop, to get his o.k. with the intent that our congregation will come up with ideas that are in accordance with our discipline and the Bishop. There are some unique challenges to rural ministry and laity. For example I live in an area that the average income is 17,000 a year, most people in my congregation are working two jobs. How will their voices and opionions be heard when they cannot come to all meetings. One of my members called me today with a project he wants to do, he was visiting a family grave in the cemetary, when he noticed several tombstones of young people who had died in the last two years. He said he prayed for them but he wondered if the families had churches. He also wanted to put the families names on the church prayer chain and for the church to send a letter to the families that we are praying for them. The person who came up with this idea had said no to helping with youth group and other projects. But now he is excited about this outreach ministry. And guess what our outreach coordinator is his wife. My vision for a "Laity Bill of Rights" is that it will empower laity to be a part kingdom building. My prayer is that other lay people will "catch the spirit" and know their ideas and projects are important. I want laity to have ownership of evangelism and outreach ministry.

-- Anonymous, July 07, 2001

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