Laity with a passion for mission

Valerie Mossman-Celestin is a Deaconess who lives in Grand Rapids and serves as the Co-Director of Haitian Artisans for Peace International. ~photo courtesy Valerie Mossman-Celestin

Deaconesses and Home Missioners are laywomen and laymen called by God to a lifetime of service.

Oklahoma Conference

When people, especially young adults, ask what the Church is doing in the world today, Elaine Robinson can provide an excellent answer. She points to a little-known but far-reaching form of ministry by laywomen and laymen in full-time vocations of mission-oriented service.

About 30 deaconess and home missioner candidates — women and men, respectively — from across the country just spent two weeks in Oklahoma City, studying and discerning this call by God upon their lives. The event was directed by Professor Robinson of Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University.

“There are different avenues into ministry,” said Rev. Dr. Robinson. “We are all ministers, and I take that seriously. What is your ministry? It can’t just be ‘I sit in the pew on Sunday.’”

She explained that United Methodist deaconesses and home missioners work with the homeless and with children, care for the environment, and lead nonprofits. They may be firefighters, health care workers, or educators.

They are laity; their calling is not to ministry within church structures such as worship and Sunday School, not to administer the sacraments of the Church.

“They really have this passion for ministry in the world. It really is love, justice, and service” in arenas outside church walls, she said.

“It’s something the denomination should make especially younger people aware of. It is a program that can grow over time because it does what the younger people are saying the church doesn’t do.”

This is a way to draw young people “to see the church as vibrant.”

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