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Message from the
Conference Lay Leader

With an early January birthday, in my adult years I’ve alternated between setting intentions at the start of the calendar year or waiting until my birthday, the start of my new year. I don’t use the word “resolution,” just like I don’t say I “preach” but offer a message. Surgery on December 28th for my spouse, Steve, made the decision somewhat obvious this year. Our New Year’s celebrations were pretty quiet. What I have struggled with is choosing a word of intention for 2022.


The word that has emerged over the last week is voice.


As of tomorrow morning at 6:53 AM, I will have been in this world for 32,061,600 minutes. I don’t remember ever hearing a story of whether I whimpered, cried loudly or silently entered the world. I know by the time I was a young child that my introverted tendencies were strongly emerging. It didn’t surprise anyone when I got the “unsatisfactory” marks on my high school report cards for not participating in class. My voice – as an advocate for myself and others, as a bridgebuilder, as a person worthy of trust – is something I have had to courageously work to use. My preference is to show you that I care, to express my character and opinions without words, to act upon my intentions – not state them loudly for all the world to hear.


But is that what is needed for this time and this place where we find ourselves at the start of 2022? In some ways, yes – more than ever! I believe, especially as a follower of Jesus Christ, that the world must see me act authentically, living out what I claim to be and profess. Yet, in so many other ways right now, we need non-anxious, steady voices to push for justice and compassion. Voice is needed to speak life to a future that is different from what we are experiencing today. That voice must help us realize that we are not going to return to what was. The voice must call us to accept the uncertainties of not fully knowing what is ahead and move us to be bold, creative and unafraid to take the risks that are necessary to faithfully step forward.


I pray as my new year begins that I use my voice in 2022 to do no harm, to do all the good that I can and to share the message of the unconditional love of God that I know through my relationship with Jesus. Wow! How much more United Methodist can you be?? #BeUMC


How will I use my voice this year? – as the child born over 32-million minutes ago – as sister and aunt – as spouse to Steve – as team member at Pinnacle Living – as Conference Lay Leader?


How will I use my voice to transform the world?


How will you use your voice?

Martha Stokes, Conference Lay Leader

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