Praying for GC2016: What will happen?
By Kathy L. Gilbert (UMNS)
Pray, breathe, repeat.
When the 864 delegates arrive for the 2016 United Methodist General Conference, each one of them comes blanketed in prayer.
From every corner of the world, people are speaking their names and praying for The United Methodist Church as the denomination’s top policy-making body prepares to meet at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on May 10-20.
In addition to stirring music, inspiring sermons and those once-every-four-years opportunities to spend time with brothers and sisters living in distant places, delegates will spend long hours in debates that could dramatically change the laws of the church.
Often, the proceedings stop for a word of prayer when things get too heated.
Before all that begins, the Rev. Tom Albin, dean of The Upper Room Chapel, invites all United Methodists to prepare and blanket the entire proceeding with intentional prayer.
All are welcome to join the prayer community created for General Conference atwww.60daysofprayer.org
“The prayer ministry for the 2016 General Conference is more intentional, more inclusive, more integrated and more expansive (than previous quadrennial gatherings) which, hopefully, will make it more visible,” Albin said.
Technology has changed in the last four years, Albin noted, making it possible to offer the prayer book, “60 Days of Prayer for General Conference,” in multiple formats and languages.
Visitors to the website may sign up for daily meditations that will begin on March 31 and end nine days after the conference closes on May 20. Meditations are available online or by signing up for a free PDF, email feed or text message.
The daily meditations also will be available on the General Conference app
and on tablets being used by central conference (conferences outside the U.S.) delegates in English, French, Portuguese and Swahili.
As in past conferences, a prayer room and trained volunteer spiritual directors will be available.
“With every decision made, there will be some across the connection who will be hurt and angry; others will be grateful and rejoicing; and yet others will be confused and uncertain,” Albin said. “By holding one another in prayer, the pain and the joy and the frustration will all be shared with God. In prayer, we can do what we believe — rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”
At the 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Florida, everyone at the opening worship service received handmade prayer mantles.
In 2016, everyone will receive a Protestant prayer-bead strand
including a prayer medallion created specifically for this General Conference, Albin said.
The Council of Bishops also planned 131 days of 24-hour prayer vigils
in each of the 131 regional conferences in The United Methodist Church.
The Oregon-Idaho Conference
, location of the 2016 General Conference, started the vigil on Dec. 31, 2015.
At 11:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, United Methodist Bishop Grant Hagiya took the last shift.
Hagiya said he received a vision
from God while he was praying.
“What if, God said, there was a General Conference where argumentation and advocacy to one’s personal biases were set aside and we all pulled together to work on some major life-transforming initiatives?” he said.
“What if was the vision,” he said during the Jan. 19-21 pre-General Conference news briefing
held in Portland.
“I pray you will ask that same question and God will bless you with your own vision of what can be,” Hagiya said.
“Many have been anticipating the opportunity to be a part of the 2016 Prayer Ministry,” Albin said.
“There is a sense of gratitude and expectation ... that God is going to hear and answer our prayers in a manner that exceeds everything we could possibly ask or anticipate.”
Gilbert is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
Resources for Vital Congregations
Lewis Center for Church Leadership
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor
GBHEM Leadership Resources
Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church
Englewood Book Review
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
Ted Talks: The Golden Circle
Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability
Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability
Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians
Be A Disciple
A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network
Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations
Living As United Methodist Christians
Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials
Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today
John Wesley Sermons: Anthology
Get Their Name
Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit
Canoeing the Mountains
Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People
Community: The Structure of Belonging
RESOURCES TO CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY:
Institute for Emerging Issues
Congregations 4 Children
The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants
The Duke Endowment
The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:
- Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
- Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.
We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org.