Gary Locklear: Sharing Communion
by Mary Beth Coudal
Profile of a Church and Community Worker, a Missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries
When Gary retired from his work as a human resources trainer and teacher in the year 2000, he thought his career was over. Little did he know, his life's work had just begun.
We caught up with missionary Gary Locklear, a Church and Community Worker, by phone as he was heading out for a 275-mile drive to a Home Missioner and Deaconess gathering in Asheville, North Carolina. In addition to his work as missionary, Gary is a Home Missioner, a lay leader in the annual conference, and a leader of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
Gary feels privileged to work in his own community. He recently completed a year-long training to become a Christian coach to better serve the volunteers and neighbors in the nearby small rural churches in the Native American Cooperative Ministry. As one of the first laypeople among 25 trained to become a Christian coach through the North Carolina Annual Conference, Gary dreams that the number of lay leaders will continue to grow.
When asked to explain what a coach does, Gary expressed the process as one of appreciative inquiry or asking questions, a framework for finding what's important to people, based on a 4-D paradigm:
Gary said the appreciative-inquiry process is a partnership of encouragement, wherein the coach says, "Let's keep taking that next step to achieve your goals."
Gary attributes his good fortune in becoming a missionary through the General Board of Global Ministries with people who have encouraged him. "In so many areas, in my conference and in The United Methodist Church, I didn't ask for that, it was heaped on me. I didn't do it because I wanted to be a lay leader, but because someone asked me to be." He credits Cynthia Kent, former Native American ministries leader who introduced him to Dr. Gladys Campbell, former town-and-country ministries leader, both of the General Board of Global Ministries, as mentors who led him to a deeper commitment to mission work.
Sharing Service and Communion
Just as Mr. Locklear credits the influence of mentors like Ms. Kent and Dr. Campbell, he mentors others, especially young people. On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, Gary Locklear was landscaping with students from the University of North Carolina in Pembroke (his alma mater) at the Asbury Home --Pembroke Group Home for adults with developmental disabilities.
The young people asked Gary to tell them about Dr. King's assassination. Gary gave an impromptu speech in which he paraphrased a country song. "The world stopped spinning," he told the young people.
In addition to joining college students and volunteers for service opportunities, Gary has been increasingly committed to an open communion among United Methodists and Lutherans in the Native American communities extending out to nearby North and South Carolina.
"It's grown and grown. We're in communion. We can live this out," said Gary.
According to Kathleen Masters, head of the Church and Community Workers office at Global Ministries, "This collaboration is becoming quite profound and productive, and may well culminate with the shared efforts of building a multipurpose church building, shared local pastor's salary--true evidence of what has been termed open communion between the two denominations."
As another way to share in communion, Gary has invited everyone to stand tall with him as he witnesses the Act of Repentance on April 27, 2012, at General Conference, the policy-making gathering for United Methodists in Tampa, Florida. The service will be one in which the denomination of The United Methodist Church repents for the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity against indigenous peoples.
As a delegate to the conference, Gary will be bringing ten older adults, or pathmakers, as Gary calls them, ten middle-aged people, and ten young adults. The 30 will walk with him as he continues to live out his journey as a missionary in the church and community. As Gary says, "We can live this out."
To support Gary's work as a missionary serving the North Carolina Annual Conference in the Rockingham District, and his ministry with the Native American Cooperative Ministry, link to his missionary biography.
If you feel called to serve as a United Methodist missionary, there are openings available, including in the Church and Community Worker program. To find out more, contact your Conference Committees on Mission Personnel and Secretaries of Global Ministries. Learn how.
Date posted: Jan 25, 2012