Dr. Jo Anne Lyon remains as busy as ever in her ministry within the denomination.
Lyon was named General Emerita at General Conference 2016 after eight years of service as General Superintendent. She also holds the title of ambassador of The Wesleyan Church, an official position voted upon at that same conference, and is the first person to be so named. Additionally, Lyon served as interim vice president of Wesley Seminary in Marion, Indiana.
“My focus has been on places to expand the footprints and understanding of The Wesleyan Church, both nationally and globally,” said Lyon. This focus continues – with a calendar that is still full of travel, meetings and speaking engagements.
Lyon is using her voice to continue to have a transforming presence and believes “The Wesleyan Church has a great presence out there.
“People beyond The Wesleyan Church are asking me, ‘What is The Wesleyan Church doing for immigrants or the poor and the vulnerable?’” Lyon said. She stresses that people are not asking what the universal church is doing, but what The Wesleyan Church is doing specifically. Folks also ask why The Wesleyan Church does what it does.
“It [their questions] gives us openness to talk about Jesus and what he did in the Scriptures,” said Lyon.
The connections Lyon has made with government and ministry leaders and others, in private and public sectors, has given her a voice that has elevated the ministries and movement of The Wesleyan Church. Serving as General Superintendent opened the door for her to engage in relationships in a variety of networks.
“Jo Anne Lyon has been a catalyst for change, as well as national and global awareness of The Wesleyan Church,” said Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church. “It is her passion, her connectedness, her perseverance that have elevated missional issues while providing examples of how The Wesleyan Church is transforming lives, churches and communities.”
Lyon’s credibility as a leader within the denomination also serves as a stimulus for others wanting to join causes that matter, such as immigration, religious freedom, refugees, health care, racial reconciliation, sanctity of life and other important issues. She consistently travels around the globe and is asked to speak at various events or write papers that speak into how The Wesleyan Church is engaged in the aforementioned issues.
No matter if she’s involved with the Council on Faith with the World Economic Forum, the National Press Club, Department of Justice, World Hope International, the Fetzer Institute or other organizations, her greatest joy is still just seeing lives, churches and communities transformed because of the hope of Jesus.
“I still hear stories regularly of people being ‘made new,’” said Lyon. “I long to see the church move forward in multiethnic ministry and racial healing that needs to take place. When peoples’ lives are transformed, the love of Christ flows from them and transforms their communities.”
She stresses that no matter where she travels, the topic of hope appears often in conversations with others. People want to hear about this hope that Christians have. They are looking for real, true hope.
Lyon believes the time is now for all of us to not just be ambassadors for The Wesleyan Church but ambassadors for Christ.
“The world has their arms open to the church, to Christians, Christ-followers,” said Lyon. “What are we going to do about that? Despite Satan’s attempts to make us fearful, we must stand tall and move forward in the strength and power of God.”