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Are you Called? Lay Leadership Opportunities

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

Do you ever wonder how someone is “called”?  It often happens when someone else nudges them.  Jane Hincks, Dakotas Conference co-lay leader and member at Bismarck Legacy South UMC, was once asked by Rev. Kermit Culver to lead a prayer group. As she grew into her calling, she eventually became a Dakotas Conference co-lay leader.

Hincks Jane

Conference co-lay leader Jane Hincks.

A few years ago, Bismarck Legacy was in a campaign to build a new campus. Lots of money and prayer was needed. Culver, serving at Bismarck Legacy UMC, knew he could not do it alone, so he looked around and asked for help.

Kermit’s request for leadership surprised Jane. She was always helping at the church in various ways, but she had never been asked to lead. Prayer had always been a private, individual thing for her.

Jane described her surprise. “I have no idea what he thought when he asked me. I said I hardly ever pray out loud. I pray silently in my head most of the time, and you want me to lead a team of avid praying folks?! I told him, ‘There have to be much more qualified people to do this than me.’”

The opportunity allowed Hincks to grow in her faith in ways she had never imagined. The Holy Spirit moved in her life and pushed Jane outside of her comfort zone. Hincks learned that she had to lean on God to bless her, to strengthen her understandings and abilities.  

Hincks said of the experience, “God’s reach and blessings are so good and gracious!”

Now, more than ten years later, there are over 100 people involved in the prayer teams at Bismarck Legacy, lifting up thousands of prayers. It all began when someone, Kermit Culver, reached out to another person to lead. That person, Jane

Culver Kermit

Rev. Kermit Culver

Hincks, answered the call.

The story doesn’t end there

In 2016, the Dakotas Conference needed a district lay leader. Again, Kermit approached Hincks about stepping into yet another leadership role.

“Kermit approached me about becoming a lay leader,” said Jane. “He told me that my district superintendent, Rev. Keith Nelson, would be in touch with more details. The next thing you know, I was elected at the annual conference, which I didn’t attend. I did not know there was such a thing as the annual conference.  So, I got off to a bit of a rocky start, but God knew what He was doing even though I was clueless.”

Hincks began to become more aware and involved in various district and conference efforts. She stated, “I was asked to take part in some committees like interviewing candidates who were becoming licensed local pastors (LLP). What an opportunity to hear the stories of future pastors! I attended a laity training session in Pierre where I met the wonderful co-lay leaders from across the Dakotas Conference. I experienced people who extended radical hospitality with a great passion for making disciples of Jesus Christ!”

The district and conference involvement lit a spark in Jane’s soul, and it keeps getting brighter. Her beginning was serving as district co-lay leader, and today she serves as the Dakotas Conference Co-lay Leader, a term that will expire soon.

“I was asked, after much prayer and discernment, to be the conference co-lay leader. At 2017 annual conference, I was voted in,” said Hincks. “I am learning much more about what goes on in our conference. I share this information and encourage others to get involved in various aspects. My favorite part is the amazing people I meet with to plan, discuss, and share in kingdom work.”

Bismarck Legacy UMC

Bismarck Legacy UMC

She continues to learn more and has started to share with others what she is learning and experiencing. Hincks has facilitated a Laity Discernment retreats and felt a real satisfaction leading Breakthrough Prayer events.

Jane explains her leadership journey this way, “So many opportunities are now available— attending annual, charge and leadership conferences. I have met so many new people and listened to their inspiring testimonies of how God is working in their lives, churches, and communities.”

The journey to answer her call has been supported by many. Kermit continues to nudge, support and encourage her. Deb Kjerstad, former Dakotas Conference director of leadership development, was a tremendous source of knowledge and support. The same goes for Myrna Hill, previous Dakotas Conference co-lay leader and member of Sturgis UMC.

“I am so grateful for the patience and kindness everyone has shown me. I ask a lot of questions and fumbled to step into my new role. The people at the conference office are super helpful and delightful to get to know and work with,” said Hincks.

Prayer empowers her

Jane said, “I am constantly praying to seek God’s guidance. His guidance seemed to align with what I was asked to consider and a huge leap of faith on my part as I felt super unqualified.”  She is quick to mention that the prayer team at Bismarck Legacy is continually lifting her up in prayer. 

There is still more to do

Called Title Portrait

Hincks shares a vision spawning from the Breakthrough Prayer initiative. She hopes to start prayer walk across denominations throughout the Bismarck, Mandan, and Lincoln communities. She also has just finished leading a discipleship series with pastor Andy Early of Bismarck Legacy South UMC, and hopes to delve deeper into discipleship.

It all began with one nudge, one person asking another to lead. God's call grew for Jane Hincks with more nudges, support, and encouragement. 

“Kermit encouraged me, so I gave it a try,” said Hincks. “With a willing spirit, God can do His will on earth.  I am so grateful for Kermit’s gifting from the Holy Spirit to help others step into their calling. You have no idea who you will meet and what you’ll discover, but just letting God open doors.”

Nominate yourself, or someone else you see potential in, to be Conference Co-Lay Leader. Click this link to learn more


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