The first Indigenous resident bishop of the A.M.E Zion Church, Western West Africa Episcopal District (WWAED), Bishop Hilliard Dela Dogbe has initiated steps to encourage the formation, promotion and sustenance of the Connectional Lay Council (CLC) at the Local and District level in the WWAED. This has been demonstrated by the  inauguration of the Lay Council Board, appointment of the regional president of the CLC -WWAED, inclusion of the lay academy at the International Pastors and Leaders Conference (IPALC) , the attendance of delegates at the Lay Council Convention  in Knoxville, Tennese  to mention a few.

It’s in this vein,  this year’s Lay Council Academy at the IPALC was climaxed by the stoling and installation of life members of the CLC as well as the inauguration ZION CLUB 100, and pinning of its life members .Thirty four people were installed as life members and eighteen of them were pinned as ZION CLUB 100 members.

ZION CLUB 100 which is an affiliate to the CLC, is a group of people who are committed and consistent to contribute to specific projects and initiatives to enhance the growth of the AME ZION CHURCH in the WWAED. They will also serve as an advisory group for the Bishop on special initiatives. Members of Club 100 are automatically Life Members of the CLC.

This year’s Lay Council Academy at IPALC was graced by the Dr Mary Matthews, international President of the Connectional Lay Council. The Conference was on the theme REVIEWING OUR PRACTICES THROUGH FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP. It was held from the 3rd of April to the 7th of April, 2018 at the Pentecost Convention Centre, Gomoa Fete in the Central Region of Ghana. The conference attracted over 250 pastors and leaders from WWAED, East Africa, USA, UK and other denominations in Ghana.

Dr Mary Matthews, acknowledge the number of life members installed at the event as a historic feat and the establishment of the Zion Club 100 as an   innovative move.

In her keynote address, the International Lay Council President, Dr. Matthews spoke on the topic “USING MY GOD GIVEN PURPOSE TO BRING OTHERS TO CHRIST.”

She pointed out that the laity serve in many ways to help the church reach out to the world and spread the good news of Jesus Christ and God’s love.  “The lay persons in a church have been referred to as the backbone that makes the mission of the church possible. The church would be pretty limited in its mission and ministry with only clergy members and the pastor. Simply because their numbers are far less than those of the laity, the laity working with the pastor’s leadership and vision is what makes the church’s ministry successful and fruitful.”

Dr. Matthew pointed out that it is the laity who serve on the various boards or in leadership roles that are essential for the church to exist.She described as unfortunate the situation where there are still many lay people who do not take the church seriously, or they fail to understand that “our first priority is to serve God and his church, adding that the word of God clearly tells us “to seek ye first the kingdom of God”. (Matt 6:33)…

She reminded the members of their obligation, to know their identity in Christ Jesus and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church. “You must take the time to learn the creeds and doctrines of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church, so that you will have a better understanding of what you really believe: about God, about Jesus Christ, about the faith, and about the way your church operates in its service to God”.

The Regional President of the Lay Council, WWAED, Mr. Lawrence Kofi Atsyor in his presentation on the Organisation of Lay Council at the Local and the District Levels, stressed on the need to actualise the mission of the Lay Council which is: Prepare and equip laity for life discipleship and maintain a ministry that evangelise, encourage and edify laity. He also appealed to Pastors to conduct series of lay academies to motivate the members to understand the central role of the laity in church growth and ultimately winning more people into the Kingdom building business.

In his remarks, Rt. Rev Dr. Dogbe asked the laity to take active part in all church activities and adopt a team work approach in planning and executing church programmes to support the clergy to implement programmes which will result in Kingdom building.

He stressed the need to adopt a progressive agenda that will ensure the AME Zion church and other churches impact positively on the socio-economic empowerment of the communities the churches are situated.

The CLC life members and the Zion Club 100 members were treated to a dinner were the International President was presented and decorated with gifts of beads and sashes in the lay council colours (Black and Gold). Mr Alex Bonney, Chairman of  Board  of Lay Activities who did the presentation said  the gifts were in recognition of her good leadership roles and for honouring the invitation to be part of the WWAED Lay Council Convocation. Bishop, again used the opportunity to congratulate the life members and the Zion Club 100 members, and encouraged them to work hard in partnership with the clergy for growth church.

Present at dinner were the Bishop Dogbe, the Missionary supervisor, Mrs Cynthia Dogbe, Dr Mary J Mathews, Bishop’s deputy’s, Rev. Seth Coleman  and Rev. Emmanuel Johnson of Ghana and Liberia regions respectively, Board of the lay council, conference lay council presidents  ,guests from U.S.A and East Africa, , Presiding Elders  and some pastors.