About 15 years ago I took my first class for lay speaking.  It was a basic class in Mapleton for 3 consecutive Sunday afternoons.  Completing this class allowed me to preach within my home church.
     Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one class would take me on the journey that I am now on.
      Five years ago, I was asked to be co-chairman of the Northwest District of Lay Speakers.  This position allowed me to get more involved in Lay Speaking across the District.  Every spring we got together and reviewed those who were applying for Lay Servant and Lay Speaker status.  We were responsible for setting up classes and teachers twice a year in different parts of the District and to make sure the lay people have completed the necessary classes and filled out the paperwork to keep their Speaker or Servant Status up to date.
     During the past few years, I had the pleasure of serving the Anthon Church in the capacity of Lay Speaker, often filling in for Pastor Sheryl Ashley who was struggling with her own battle with cancer.  With a once a month schedule of filling the pulpit and sometimes speaking in other churches, I gained the confidence to be comfortable in the pulpit.
      Presently, we are living in a very strange time with the Covid Virus causing havoc in our world and seeing almost everything shut down including our churches.  Yes, we had services on TV and the internet, but somehow it just wasn't the same as being in the fellowship with friends on a Sunday morning.
     On June 7th, we made the decision to open our church for services with social distancing, no singing or responsive readings.  Gradually we have added those back in, being very careful with our cleaning and sanitizing.
      When Pastor Jena was assigned to Trinity Methodist Church in Fort Dodge, it left us without a pastor and I volunteered to do our services for the last 3 weeks of June waiting for a half time pastor to be assigned to the Anthon United Methodist Church.
     Much to my surprise, District Superintendent Ron Carlson called and asked if I would pastor the church for the coming year.  After prayerful consideration, I said yes, I would, with the help of the congregation, the help of our other Lay Servant, Roger Hladik, and the leader and members of all the committees which are so important to the success of our church.
      My goals for the coming year are to safely get through the Corona Virus pandemic, to make those decisions that will support growth and stability of our church, and to bring joy to this time of struggling.  Blessings to all.
Shirley Nelson