Center for Vitality holding series of lay leadership conversations

Cathy Hall Hughes, right, on Dec. 10 led a discussion among a group of laity that included Hubert Chapman, left, and John Petefish, both of First UMC Jacksonville. The conversation took place at the first in a series of “Leadership Unleashed” coffee gatherings in the Central District.

“What can we learn from you this morning?”

That question, asked by Cathy Hall Hughes, lay program coordinator with the Arkansas Conference Center for Vitality (CFV), began two hours of discussion and sharing among laity from local churches at the Dec. 10 Leadership Unleashed coffee. The first of several such small-group gatherings was held at Sylvan Hills UMC Sherwood.

Leadership Unleashed is part of a pilot effort in the Central District that the CFV expect to roll out to other districts in 2017. The purpose: to connect laity with one another, recognize vital ministries taking place through local churches and begin to help churches learn from and inspire each other as they seek more opportunities to connect with their neighbors.

Invitations to future gatherings will be emailed to laypersons who have attended the Grow By One Summit held in April 2016 at St. James UMC Little Rock; the Leadership Institute at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas; and various events associated with the Lay Servant Ministries program in Arkansas. All laity are welcome; the Center for Vitality is inviting laity based on their participation in these types of events because involvement in such programs indicates a willingness to serve in leadership.

The CFV is building connections among passionate laity in local churches so they may more easily share ideas and inspiration for ministry. They hope that these connections grow into a fellowship of prayerful support that helps congregations follow their calling to make disciples.

After learning about ministry directions and interests during Leadership Unleashed coffees, the CFV provides follow-up resources requested by attendees. The next phase, Hughes says, will be offering lay leadership training based on the input received at these gatherings. For more information, contact her at or 501-324-8011.