19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Today all across the AME Connection, Lay Witness Sunday is being observed. The theme for this occasion is “I am a Witness for the Lord,” taken from Matthew 28: 19-20. From its inception, the AME Church followed this command and has been “a witness for the Lord.”
The purpose of the Lay Organization is to organize and train Lay members of the AMEC and instill in them a love and appreciation for the history, tradition, and principles of the church. If you are not an ordained minister, you are a Lay person.
Over 200 years ago, Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and others established the AME Church in Philadelphia, PA in 1787. Despite many obstacles, he was “a witness for the Lord,” by spreading God’s word not only in Philadelphia but throughout the United States. Later, others took up the mantle and carried the Word worldwide. Thus today, the AME Church has membership in 39 countries on five continents.
Although, we are currently a going through a pandemic, we can still be “a witness for the Lord.” Our country is going through a difficult time and some of our family and friends are going through trials but we can reach out to someone and be a witness using words of encouragement, prayer and telling them of the goodness of God. So let us heed to the words of the Lay Hymn and be “a witness for the Lord.”
Officially, the Connectional Lay Witness Day was designated for observance throughout the AME Church on the 2nd Sunday during the month of October, at the Eleventh Biennial Session, in 1969. Lay Witness Sunday provides laypersons with the opportunity to witness about their faith in Jesus Christ and their commitment to fulfill His mission in the world. Traditionally, Lay Witness Sunday recognizes the work and mission of all laity, which takes place within and outside the walls of the AME Church. (The Christian Recorder, AMEC)
The Connectional Lay Organization’s theme for this year is: “I’m a Witness for the Lord.” We would like to go a step further, Tampa District Lay Organization. I would like to know, “Can We Be a Witness?”
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Can We Be a Witness?
w We witness because we love Christ. We witness because He loves us. As God’s light on the hill, we worship, witness, and make disciples for Christ and show His love to all people.
w God calls us to stand as witnesses in times like these. We may not or cannot go back to normal, but your lay organization is a vital tool that can be used for effective change, if change is necessary.
w We witness so that the church is our community, our job, our school. In this way, everywhere we go, we will carry the church with us.
Can We Be a Witness?
Why not? Jesus commissioned each of us to share the Good News and “seek the lost.” He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations; and “Go into the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Matthew 28:19
Tampa District Lay Organization, “Can We Be a Witness?”
St. Petersburg District
A trio of Lay members answered the question “Why the Lay?” during the Lay Witness Sunday on October 11. Witnesses spanned generations to stand and proclaim, “I’m a Witness for the Lord.” History was the overarching theme as one young adult spoke of learning the stories and traditions of our Zion and of being given a chance to be a part of the future.
“I’ve always had an appreciate for history and tradition,” said Lequisha Pickett, who serves as the SPDLO Young Adult Representative.
“I really do believe that we learn from our past,” she said.
Longtime members Mildred Hall and Lonnie Dixon honored those who laid the district’s foundation.
They shared memories of Jesse Burns, Luella Martin, Jessie L. Pryor and Francine Brown. The name of E.M. Blocker, a pioneer who, “went to the General Conference and came back on fire,” was recalled. He became the first Eleventh Episcopal District Lay Organization president.
1968. 30 years. Early childhood. All are among the timelines associated with Lay Organization membership on the local level.
The observance, which drew about 50 attendees via Zoom, ended with greetings from West Coast Conference Lay President Lolita Brown, Eleventh Episcopal District Lay President Patricia Wright and then-St. Petersburg District Presiding Elder Joyce J. Moore.