Meet Laity Unleashed ‘Grad’ David Jones

Date Posted: 3/12/2015

Inspired by his leadership classes, Bering UMC member David Jones is poised for his next ministry adventure.
A claims manager by day, David Jones was intrigued when Bering UMC Pastor Ernie Turney invited him to check out a new leadership training class offered by the Texas Annual Conference called Laity Unleashed. “I had long been involved in the church in areas ranging from adult Bible study to Administrative Council, so I was drawn to the thought of pursuing something new, “ he shares. “The fact that I did not know what to expect was part of the fun, and I must say that it was amazing how quickly a group of people who did not know each other initially felt completely comfortable together by the end of our opening retreat.”
David and nine other individuals from diverse walks of life and churches across the Greater Houston area completed their 10-week Laity Unleashed experience on March 10, 2015 each with a new outlook on life and ministry. “Through these group discussions I began to see how important it is for me to be a lifelong learner,” notes David. “The classes also helped us learn about our strengths and passions, how those might best intersect the mission field,” he explains, “and discuss where we might go from here.” David’s personal “AHA” moment came as he realized that he and his wife had long been in ministry in separate areas and rarely had they intersected. “Many times our church work is based on answering a need rather than being intentional. It might be time we find something we can do together,” he shares.

David was particularly inspired to hear Gene Graham, a prominent lay member of the St. Luke’s UMC Gethsemane campus ministry called reVision. “Our Laity Unleashed group heard Gene share about the inspiration behind that ministry, the triumphs and lessons learned, and it was hard not to be enthused about finding our own passions and how to follow them,” he explains. “Committee work is necessary, but I’ll be surprised if this experience leads me to serve on more committees.”
Class 3 Kicks off in the Fall
As the coordinator of Laity Unleashed, Leah Taylor, former Lay Leader for the Texas Annual Conference, is always eager to continually tweak the program to better equip people of all ages to take their next step in ministry. “We are hoping to offer a different model in the fall, one that will be more convenient for those in rural settings who can’t make it to a class for 10 Tuesdays, for example,” she says. The retreat sessions may be offered via three one-night retreats: August 29-30, September 26-27 and October 17-18. Notes Leah, “When people miss a session, not only does that impact their own personal journey, it impacts everyone else who is on this journey with them, so we are exploring more convenient methods to offer this experience to more people across our expansive conference.” 
Fabulous – and Largely Subsidized!
“Our participants love the fact that Laity Unleashed is conference-sponsored and therefore available at a very low cost,” adds Leah. “They also loved having communion around the campfire at our final retreat this session,” Leah shares. “It was so meaningful and beautiful, and created an environment where everyone felt comfortable sharing deeply from their heart. I had the feeling we were all sitting in the palm of God’s hand that night.”
David cherishes his newfound friends, who were strangers just 10 weeks before.
“I would recommend the Laity Unleashed experience to anyone. I would describe it as a wonderful small group of thoughtful Christians ready to tap into their passions and step out in faith in some new way. The sessions go by quickly and the retreats are a nice break from the distractions of life that let you focus on the topics at hand.”
To learn more, check out Laity Unleashed on Facebook, or contact Leah at 713-932-9236 or Leah Taylor