Answer the Call to serve as a Certified Lay Minister

Date Posted: 9/12/2019

By Roy Maynard
Though she’s retired for medical reasons, Cynthia CookMoore wasn’t ready to stop serving. That’s why she’s enrolled in a Certified Lay Ministry (CLM) program through the United Methodist Church.
“It’s the calling of God,” she explained. “He has blessed me in many ways, and I’ve had hard times, too. I think all that has put me in a place where I can serve in the capacity God wants me to.”
The CLM program is preparing her. CookMoore says she has one module left in the course of study, which typically takes about a year and a half.
CLM classes resume in September and last through October, with three modules offered at locations including Kingwood, Ore City and Deer Park.
“We’re seeing more and more people who want to do more,” said Anna Rhode, the conference’s Director of Lay Ministries. “I get calls every week. God is calling our people to His service. My job is directing them toward lay servant ministry, which puts them to work in our churches and communities.”
There’s no typical Certified Lay Minister; some are retirees, while others have jobs. Many are already serving in their congregations, but feel that the CLM training would better equip them.
Their duties can include congregational care, Rhode explained.
“Many serve in our smaller churches, which have their own challenges,” she said. “They might be serving a lot of retirees and seniors. And that’s a part of the training. They’ll learn about visits to hospitals, nursing homes, funeral homes.”
And being a CLM can mean preaching.
“It’s true, most people are afraid of public speaking,” Rhode said. “So that can be hard for them. I bring in elders and retired ministers to work with them, to help them learn to prepare a sermon. But you know, if it turns out that public speaking isn’t for them, we have other areas where they can serve. I have folks working with the homeless, for example. There’s a place for everyone.”
The process begins with a discussion with a pastor, and then a district superintendent.
“You have to be approved to start the training,” Rhode said. “After that, the real challenge is getting all the training in to equip you to serve.”

Each module of the course of study costs $40, and the module can last from a day and a half to three days. The price covers meals and materials.
“But really, I’m trying to keep the cost down,” says Rhode. “We don’t want someone to not attend because they can’t afford it. We don’t want any walls—we want to enable everyone who is called to serve.”
Once students become certified, they can re-take the modules for free. That’s encouraged; there are continuing education requirements necessary to retain certification. They’re also assigned an elder who supervises and supports them.
There are currently between 60 and 80 lay leaders in the CLM program, Rhode said.
“And that’s so encouraging to me,” she said. “People are stepping forward and answering the call.”
For more information on the Certified Lay Ministry program, call 903-758-7003 or go to