Board of Laity Activities

Board of Laity Activities (BOLA)

Methodism, in all its roots, has a long history celebrating and recognising the ministry of the laity. In the early days of American Methodism, the laity served and maintained congregations between visits of the circuit riders. Today, lay people are the front line of daily church activities.


We are at the dawn of the 21st Century with 88 years to go.  The world is a global village and with accessibility of technology, gone are the days of keeping knowledge to oneself.  Thomas E. Frank, a respected scholar of UMC polity says that the church is a living continuous and ever-changing community such that in each era or generation the church has to work out political arrangements that will structure the people of God for effective witness to the gospel hence leadership is very critical.


It is always important to understand one’s roots, Wesleyan Theology and Doctrine are our UMC roots as such we need to understand them and see if we are still on course.  Bishop Kenneth Carder wrote about the importance of theology and doctrine: Doctrinal understanding and theological reflection, therefore are central activities of the church…if we fail to understand our doctrinal and theological heritage and framework we lose our unique identity as a church.  Without an awareness of the doctrine and faith of our heritage the church becomes a religious institution with amnesia and without vision.

Like all denominations there are particular emphasis and tones which make the United Methodists what we are, some of them are:

  1. Methodism is a discipleship movement
  2. We are a church of lay and ordained Christians encouraging and enabling each other to whole life discipleship and our structure and leadership must facilitate such discipleship
  3. Key theme-being better disciples of Christ and making disciples of Christ who desire to transform the world led by the Holy Spirit
  4. Class meetings are very fundamental in disciple making and social fellowshipping
  5. Purposeful structures that enable instead of hampering disciple making
  6. The role and involvement of laity: Lay persons were and are still seen to be the prime movers as well as the change agents in the life of the church and the society. Laity played a very significant role in Methodism.
  7. Balance between faith and works is very vital hence the four focus areas.

Wesley’s church, the Anglican Church, was the state church of England.  The state provided all its needs.  Paid its clergy maintained its buildings and property, appointed its bishops to hold seats in the Parliament.

The leadership of the church spent more time on political rather than church matters and the morale of the church went downhill.  It was a church, which in Wesley’s opinion needed to experience reformation.  He wanted the church to return to the basics of Christianity, that is living out of one’s faith in everyday situations.

The church of that period had the following characteristics:

  1. Insensitivity to the needs of the people
  2. A hierarchy that was closely identified with those with power and privilege
  3. Bishops who were seldom in their Episcopal areas (always in London)
  4. Clergy who were poorly paid and who spent more time generating income for their own survival than looking after the spiritual needs of their parishioners.

These characteristics pushed the Wesley’s to transform the church hence the birth of the Methodist Church later.

The Early Days

Archives suggest the earliest plans for a Laity Sunday beginning in 1928. The first recorded observance of Laymen’s Day was in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1929. By 1930 the Evangelical Church had begun celebrating the work of laity at the culmination of each annual men’s retreat. This was only for men!

The September 1928 issue of The Methodist Layman reports… the third Sunday in May Anniversary Day, commemorating the constitution of the Board of Lay Activities by the General Conference, the same to be designated as Laymen’s Day, and strict observance of this day by a lay program in every church, which shall set forth adequately the place of lay activities in the Church and be of inspirational value to the laymen for larger service in the kingdom.

Within two years, the success of the celebration hastened to make Laymen’s Day an annual observance.

Once the factions of the Methodist Episcopal Church merged in 1939, the joint General Board of Lay Activities approved Laymen’s Day and designated February 23, 1941, as the first United Methodist Church observance. The January issue of The Methodist Layman enthusiastically reports the aim of Laymen’s Day as “… to emphasize the place that lay members have in the total life and work of the church.”

Laity Sunday is a time to recognize the work and mission of all laity – not only within the walls of the church but in everyday lives.

Think what this could mean to the church! 40 000 laymen – lawyers, physicians, teachers, bankers, businessmen, mechanics, farmers and others – speaking on The World Mission of the Church! The whole Methodist Church was moved and stirred to action by such a message. There are vast possibilities for good in Laymen’s Day. It is the prayer of the General Board that every Conference, District, Charge and Church Lay Leader and every District Superintendent and Pastor will give wholehearted cooperation to make the day significant in the life of The United Methodist Church.

In October 1942 The Methodist Layman recommends the last Sunday of February “be fixed as Laymen’s Day throughout the Church” and calls for “serious preparation for this day and… for Pastors to give active cooperation.”

Mid-20th Century to Today

Laymen’s Day is first mentioned in the 1944 Book of Discipline (¶ 1483), where its direction is placed under the auspices of the General Board of Lay Activities. In the 1964 edition of the Book of Discipline, Laymen’s Day is designated as the second Sunday of October. (¶ 1499.3) The 1968 Book of Discipline (¶ 1202) expounds on the day’s larger purpose: …shall be to interpret the role of the laity in the world and to provide laymen with opportunity to witness to their faith in Jesus Christ and their commitment to his mission in the world.

By the 1972 edition of the Book of Discipline, Laymen’s Day was renamed the gender-neutral Laity Sunday (¶ 163) but was often referred to as Laity Day until 1977. Today, Laity Sunday is celebrated the 3rd Sunday of October. Quadrennial themes are set by the Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders and approved by the board of directors of GBOD.

We need the whole Body of Christ as we seek to become more vital church which makes disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!

The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2016 ¶631 states that the board should:

  1. Foster an awareness of the role of laity both within the local congregation and through their ministries in the home, work place, community, and world in achieving the mission of the Church
  2. Develop and promote stewardship of time, talent, and possessions within the Annual Conference in cooperation with the Conference Council on Ministries
  3. Relate to, support, and assist in coordinating the activities of the following organised laity of the conference:
  1. Lay Servant Ministries
  2. MUMC
  3. RRW
  4. UMYF
  5. Junior Sunday School

The Board of Laity is charged to:

  1. Foster an awareness of the role of the laity within the local congregations; and to promote and develop programs to cultivate an adequate understanding of the theological and Biblical basis for lay life and work;
  2. Develop and promote stewardship of time, talent, and possessions;
  3. Provide for the training of lay members of the annual conference;
  4. Provide support and direction for the ministry of the Laity on the local, Charge, MA and annual conference levels and to promote the observation of Laity Sunday;
  5. Provide organisation, direction, and support for the development of local church lay leaders.


  1. Support the strategic plan to create vital congregations using the 5 markers of vitality:  new disciples, small groups for learning and faith formation, worship, mission, and generous giving
  2. Increase learning opportunities for laity leadership through our educational opportunities such as: The Laity Leadership Academy, Servant Leadership Ministries and CM programs
  3. Celebrate and engage laity to share innovative local church ministries through our yearly laity Celebration/Recognition Worship Service
  4. Engage laity in “Ministry with the poor” at district levels to create a network of churches and mission centers that address root causes of poverty by educating and coordinating sustainable ministries that change lives:
  5. Develop a data bank of essential resources of all agencies, interfaith programs related to working with the poor;
  6. Coordinate and support programs that seek recovery and resourcing to move persons to means of self-sufficiency
  7. Identify one area of poverty across the conference that we will address together as a way to witness to the region of the Great Commandment!
Mission Area UMC UK Laity Activities B.O.L.A

2016 held at Jurys Inn Milton Keynes

Program of events

1400- 1700Arrival & house keepingSecretariat
1700 - 1730Praise & worshipChoristers
1730 - 1800Prayers
1800 - 1830DevotionDS Rev. Banda
1830 - 2030SupperHotel
2030 - 2100Welcome & Seminar ObjectivesMA Layleader
2100 -2200Lay leadership as a discipleship processMafunda
2200 - 2230Prayers
2230 - 2300Closing Remarks & BenedictionDS's office
0600 - 0700Rumuko
0700 - 0800BreakfastHotel
0800 - 0830Music interludeWabvuwi
0830 - 0945The 25 articles of faith part 1
0945 - 1045Creating Unity in MinistryMafunda
1045 - 1115Break
1115 - 1215The 25 articles of faith part 2
1215 - 1330Nurturing and caring of new members in the church with emphasis on the role of sections
1330 - 1430LunchHotel
1430 - 1530Holy conferencing - Understanding and practicing this Wesleyan concept as United Methodists
1530 -1545How to create vibrant worshipPastor Mhondoro
1545 - 1600Closing remarks and Evaluation FormMA Layleader
1600 - 1630BenedictionDS's office
Journey mercies back to your stations, and enjoy the blessing of Laity Sunday tomorrow.

2017 held at Harben House Milton Keynes

Program of events

TimeActivityFacilitator(s)Time Keeper
1400 - 1700Arrival & house keepingSecretariatMA & Charge Lay Leaders
1700 - 1800Praise & worshipCMMUMC
1800 - 1830PrayersMUMC
1830 - 1930SupperHarben  HotelMA LL
1945 - 2015DevotionDS Rev JC Banda
2015 - 2030Welcome & Seminar ObjectivesMA Lay LeaderMA LL
2030 - 2130BOLA-Lesson from the Laity Academy from ZimbabweMr MafundaSC LL
2130 - 2230Safeguarding –a focus on emerging worship style and disclosuresMr Munyaradzi/Mrs MutareCC LL
2245 - 2300BenedictionDS’s office
0600 - 0700RumukoRRWRRW
0700 - 0800BreakfastHarben Hotel  Hotel
0800 - 1000The transition period to 2020 ,elections for the Bishops and the models for Diaspora churches re-alignmentRev Allan GurupiraMC LL
1015 - 1200UMC Church Structures with special focus on 2016 General Conference resolutionsMr MafundaNC LL
1200 - 1300LunchHarben HotelHotel
1330 - 143025 Articles of faithRev Allan GurupiraSC LL
1430 - 1530Principled leadership; How can Christian leaders be assertive in God’s workMr MafundaCC LL
1530 - 1630BreakAllall
1630 - 173025 Articles of faith continuedRev Allan GurupiraMC LL
1830 - 1930SupperHarben  Hotel
2000 - 2100Church Administration and Connection, focusing on grey areas:Rev Allan GurupiraTba
-Admin Matters vs Matters of Conference
-Church Council and Admin Board
-Youth Director/Coordinator/Local Pastor/Advisors
-Role of Nominations and Leadership development Committee
-Options for extended Ministry(part time Ministry)
2100 - 2200Open for General questionsTaskforce
2200 - 2215Remarks and vote of thanksTaskforce
2215 - 2230BenedictionDS’s office
0600 - 0700RumukoRRWRRW
0700 - 0800BreakfastHarben Hotel  Hotel
0800 - 0900Involvement of Youth Leadership in Church-Junior churchMr MafundaMA LL
0900 - 0945Service and Holy CommunionDSDS
0930 - 1200MA Conference
0945 - 1000Organisation of Conference and 2016 MinutesDS Rev JC BandaSecretaries
1000 - 1015Superintendent AddressDS Rev JC BandaSecretaries
1015 - 1040Lay Leaders’ ReportMA LLSecretaries
1040 - 1100Connectional MinistriesMr MutsipaSecretaries
Mr Mutepfa
1100 - 1120BOT ReportMr MutungamiriSecretaries
Mr Nyabereka
1120 - 1140COS ReportMr KaisiSecretaries
Mrs Mutare
1200 - 1245COF ReportMr MurandaSecretaries
Mr Nyasango
Mr Munyebvu
1245 - 1330LunchHarben HotelHotel
1345 - 1430BenedictionDS’s office
Journey mercies as we all return to our stations

2018 held at Harben House Milton Keynes

Program of events

TimeActivityFacilitator(s)Time Keeper
1400 - 1700Arrival & house keepingSecretariat
1700 - 1800Praise & worshipCMMUMC
1830 - 1930SupperHarben  HotelMA LL
1945 - 2015DevotionDS
2015 - 2030Welcome & Seminar ObjectivesMA Lay LeadersMA LL
2030 - 2130UK MA Allegiance to ZEA Post 2020Mr MuchenjeCC LL
2130 – 2230BOLA-Certified Lay Ministry. What is it?Rev MarangeNC LL
2245 - 2300BenedictionDS’s office
0600 – 0700RumukoRRWRRW
0700 – 0800BreakfastHarben Hotel  Hotel
0830 – 1030Special General Conference 2019- What are our choicesMrs M MachingaSC LL
1030 - 1200Shared Compliance Experience from British Methodist ChurchBMCSCOT LL
1200 - 1300LunchHarben HotelHotel
1330 – 1500a) The involvement of youth in the life of the church (UMC).What are the expectations of the youth and the church?Ranga Chivasa/Tariro DengeziROI LL
b)What can the church do to stop our youth from joining other DenominationsSasha Chapuka/Faith ChingwenaROI LL
1530 – 1630Group DiscussionsGroup LeadersMA LL
a) Technology as a tool of Worshipa) ROI,CC LLs
b) Outreach and Evangelism as a tool to bring more souls to Christb) MC & SCOT LLs
c) Temperance in the Churchc) SC & NC LLs
1630 - 1830BREAKALLALL
1830 - 1930SupperHarben  Hotel
2000 - 2100Membership and Membership VowsRev S.MakinaMC
2100 - 2200Group Report BackGroup Representatives
2200 - 2215Remarks and vote of thanksTaskforce
2215 –2230BenedictionDS’s office
0600 – 0700RumukoRRWRRW
0700 – 0800BreakfastHarben Hotel  Hotel
0830 - 1200MA Conference