Foundation Laity Academy Grad Recognized



In 2019 the United Methodist Foundation of Pennsylvania launched a Laity Leadership Academy designed to empower laity to lead the churches of our conference in the ever-changing landscape of congregational life.

Participants read some of the greatest books currently available on the topic,
experience seminars led by the finest leaders in our conference, engage with one another in dialogue, and build relationships that provide support for the journey.

Each one of the Academies is structured around two modules. The first module is one year long and involves all participants in several weekend retreats at various locations around the region. During these retreats, topics relevant to congregational leadership in the current culture are covered.

The second module is customized for each participant, allowing individual exploration of a leadership area for which the individual is especially well equipped, as determined by an assessment of spiritual gifts and strengths. That module is open-ended; it can be
accomplished at whatever pace makes sense to the individual participant. In total, the entire experience provides 100 hours of training.

Shaun Panek, a member of Bradford: First UMC in the Kane District, was part of the first class to experience the Laity Leadership Academy and among the first to complete both modules. For his second module, Shaun took college level courses on leadership through Indiana Wesley University in which he focused on leading from Mission, Vision, and Core Value.

"Shaun did exceptionally well with these courses, earning an A for each one," said the Rev. Dr. Joe Patterson, dean of the Foundation School of Leadership. "Shaun is deeply thoughtful and perceptive, open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and always anxious to learn more. He  has the rare ability to ask penetrating questions.

"Shaun has invited God into his life and is willing to serve the Kingdom of God no matter where God might lead him. The Foundation is pleased that this experience has helped him to discern what the future might look like as he answers the call of God and determines God’s plan for his life," Patterson added.

He presented a Certificate of Completion to Shaun during worship at Bradford: First Church on Sunday, February 6, 2022. 

To learn more about the Laity Leadership Academy or other ministries of the United Methodist Foundation of Pennsylvania, please visit or contact Dr. Patterson at