Conference Lay Leader Deanna Shimko began the laity address by celebrating that we have reached our $1 million goal for Imagine No Malaria. “Thank you for your innovative ideas and creative initiatives energizing your churches and engaging your communities,” she said. “This is an important and noble achievement, because, as we know, Imagine No Malaria saves lives. We give, quite literally, so others will live.”

She also acknowledged the exciting future that faces our Conference as we conclude our final season of Live the Fruit of the Spirit and shift our focus to Imagine Wisconsin Anew. ”I appreciate the passions that evidence our commitment. But let us remember that God is calling us forward, and indeed beyond ourselves into God-sized dreams. May this be the day we step out in faith together.”

In addition, Shimko gave updates on several laity initiatives in the Conference: laity circuits, Laity Convo, and Faith Alive! “Laity circuits are ideal for providing vision for ministries and services among the communities served by the circuit churches,” she said. “Laity circuits provide a long-term presence for sustainable, relevant and meaningful services among communities served by the circuit churches. The formation process is organic and grassroots, and is not yet complete in our Annual Conference. If your circuit has not yet formed a laity circuit, talk to Don Greer about how to get started.”

The Third Annual Bishop’s Convocation with Laity Leadership was held in March in Oshkosh, and about 130 laity, Bishop Jung, District Superintendents and other members of Full Cabinet gathered for the event that offers laity a unique opportunity to learn, to engage, to be equipped to live out Imagine Wisconsin Anew. “We offered eight workshops on seven topics; and we are thankful to our many workshop leaders and other presenters, the host site, Conference staff in Sun Prairie Office, and members of the Conference Board of Laity for your extraordinary time and efforts.”

Finally, in April, the Conference Board of Laity celebrated the graduation of participants in a two-year Faith Alive! class, which includes six Hmong persons and six Anglo persons, as well as one of the Baha’i faith. “We experienced a wider and deeper richness and blessing in the gifts of this diverse faith community. This prompted the Faith Alive! Design Team to improve the program’s cultural sensitivity, and to explore how we can be more inviting and welcoming to different Christian denominations.”

“Thank you for the honor and privilege to serve the sacred office of Conference Lay Leader of the Wisconsin Annual Conference,” Shimko said. “We are well-positioned for the next quadrennium when we will Imagine Wisconsin Anew, and all the amazing things God wants to work in us. Let’s promise ourselves and each other to ‘commit to work together, one body under God’s loving hand and guiding Spirit.’”

Click here to read her full address.