Deana Shimko, Lay Leader for the Conference, delivered the Laity Address on Saturday, June 16 at the 2018 Annual Conference. She began her presentation echoing the theme of the Annual Conference, “We are One With Each Other!” She talked about the importance of unity. She said, “God calls us to unity of purpose.”

“Unity is a powerful virtue and it brings great strength,” Shimko explained. “Unity is inclusiveness. It brings people together. We see our commonality without devaluing our differences. We experience our connectedness with all people and all life. Unity frees us from the divisiveness of prejudice and heals our fears. We refuse to engage in conflict, seeking peace in all circumstances. Unity comes when we value every person in our family or in our world. The joy of one is the joy of all. The hurt of one is the hurt of all. The honor of one is the honor of all.” She told the Conference to imagine the future of our world when we have unity of purpose.

Shimko went on to thank many individuals and groups who serve locally and in the world, including ministries across the Conference, churches, General Conference lay delegates, lay circuits with the help of Don Greer, all lay leadership and lay servants, Conference staff, full cabinet, Board of Laity, and especially the Bishop. She said that the Conference Board of Laity “holds in high regard our excellent relationship and great partnership with you Bishop.”

She highlighted the Fifth Annual Bishop’s Convocation with Laity Leadership in March, which included presentations on our Launch Out! faith-raising/fundraising campaign, Commission on Way Forward, Hispanic Pentecost Emergence Initiative in Wisconsin, peace living as a core congregational value, birthing and partnering new ministries in our existing churches, and why spiritual formation in the Church. She said that the details for the 2019 Laity Convocation will be announced soon. Shimko also celebrated the graduation of participants in a two-year Faith Alive! class, and “witnessed the personal and spiritual awakenings and transformations.” A new two-year class begins in September 2018.

She said that there are changes in a couple members of the Conference Board of Laity. “We mention especially our friend and colleague, Steve Mayeshiba, who passed away suddenly on the morning of March 6,” she said, “Steve was an exceptional human being who walked humbly with his God. Steve was engaged in many ways in people’s lives in his church, Madison community, in the South West District as District Lay Leader, and in the Wisconsin Conference as a member of the Board of Laity.”

Shimko listed the members of the Board of Laity, which includes Bishop Hee-Soo Jung; Dorthy Radley, Past Conference Lay Leader; Jan Lorentz, North West District Lay Leader; Bruce Drinkman, North West District Director of Lay Servant Ministries; Mark Sheets, South East District Lay Leader; Imelda Roman, South East District Lay Leader; Corrine Daniels, South West District Director of Lay Servant Ministries; Gail Burgess, Dean of Faith Alive!; Chue Vang, Associate Dean of Faith Alive!; and Martha Ortiz Boyer, President of Conference United Methodist Women. Rev. Sam Royappa, Director of Connectional Ministries, is Cabinet Liaison to Conference Board of Laity. Shimko said, “They are a great blessing to me and to this Annual Conference! Thank you!”

In conclusion Deann Shimko said, “Let’s devote ourselves to becoming One with Each Other in this year. It is only in living as One with Each Other that we will establish God’s kingdom on earth and know the bliss that God intends for us!” Read Shimko’s complete address here.