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by Brandon Lazarus

UMCLEAD is a grassroots collaborative of lay in clergy who work to engage in conversation around leadership, theology, worship, mission, and innovation within The United Methodist Church. Brandon is the director of the LEAD Conference and current senior pastor of Memorial United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC. He graduated from Perkins School of Theology in 2014 with his MDiv during which time he lived for three years in the Bonhoeffer House.

UMC LEAD is excited to announce that registration and the speaker application for the 8th annual LEAD Conference are now open. This year’s conference will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana from January 13th-16th, 2019. The host hotel will be The Troubadour and the host church will be St. Mark's UMC.

As always, speakers will be chosen from an application process and will present on a variety of topics. This year’s topics include innovative startups, original ideas for ministry, and what message speakers would like to share with the 2019 General Conference. Church, non-profit, education, and business leaders are encouraged to apply. Each speaker will give a 7-18 minute “TED style” talk. Previous talks can be found at or at

In addition to speaker sessions, there will be crowdsourced breakouts, networking opportunities, and a closing worship and dinner on Tuesday evening. All speakers, organizers, and attendees are full participants in the conference and even pay their own registration. This model allows everyone who attends to learn from one another. LEAD believes that although reading books, attending workshops, and hearing from “experts” can help develop leadership, nothing compares to the experience and development that comes from connecting to other practitioners. Whether you are a student, lay, or clergy (in your first year of ministry or in your fifty-first year of ministry), you are encouraged to come to participate and to apply to speak.