A couple weeks ago, many pulpits were filled with new pastors across our denomination. Some beginning their pastoral careers, some at the end of their time as clergy, most somewhere in between. Filled with excitement, anticipation, nervousness and even fear, many moved to new communities, new homes and, most importantly, new congregations.
One thing is consistent in all these new appointments…the obligations and responsibilities of our laity. The role of laity in the church is often overlooked, under appreciated and sorely understaffed. We have all heard the 10% rule, that 10% do all the work for the other 90%. Although I am not sure of that statistic, I think we have a tendency to seek out the same volunteers time and time again, without regard to their limited time and talents.
This takes me back a few years ago to the Northwest Texas Conference’s ordination service. As the ordinands processed to the alter, I noticed an elderly woman with a cane making the walk. When it came her time to receive the Bishop’s blessing and receive her stole, she set her cane aside and knelt. Upon the completion of this moment, she needed assistance to rise to her feet.
It was at this time that I realized that the stole she received was of great weight. It carries the weight of taking on the hopes, dreams and trials of her congregants. The responsibility of baptisms, confirmations, communion, weddings and funerals can bow the hardiest of backs.
Add to this, administrative roles of ministry, both in the church and in the community, responsibilities to the District and Conference, and the pastor’s familial responsibilities.
What impressed me at that ordination service, was how quickly those observing rushed to help the ordinand to raise tall to take her role as an elder in her Church. Those on her arms were both clergy and laity.
Well, isn’t that the true role of laity? Shouldn’t we be there to lift our clergy and our church so both can be the best possible? Our pastors carry a heavy load for us, often unseen and thankless in what they do. How can we help? The strength of our Church is dependent on all of us, clergy and laity, sharing in the burden that is doing the work of the Church.
Regardless of whether you have new clergy in the pulpit or your pastor has stayed in place, won’t you make it a point to thank them for their commitment and help carry their load.