Prayer - Our Times by Bishop Paul L. Leeland
I offer this prayer as my gift to you as we move toward worship. This prayer is not a political statement. It is an offering reminding us that our happiness, our blessedness, is found in remaining faithful to God and to God alone. You are free to use this prayer in its entirety, or any part that you believe helpful, as you continue to teach and instruct the followers of Jesus to remain faithful and obedient to God, day by day, and week by week.
As teachers of the faith, may we all be faithful learners and dutiful to our Lord, Jesus Christ.
By Bishop Paul L. Leeland
Almighty God, we praise you. You are the Lord of all, and we acclaim you. You have spoken to us and said, “Let your heart hold fast my words: Get wisdom; get insight. Do not turn away from my words” (Proverbs 4:4-5).
In this moment we would ask, as we seek to do what is right and to keep ourselves pure, help us to “guard our way according to your word. With our whole heart let us seek you, and you alone; do not let us stray from your commandments. We treasure your word in our heart so that we may not sin against you. Teach us your statutes. Let our lips declare all the ordinances of your mouth. We delight in the way of your decrees. We will meditate on your precepts, and fix our eyes on your ways, and we will not forget your word” (Ps.119:9-16).
We are filled with wonder that your word was made flesh and dwelt among us to instruct us as we are made one with you and one with each other. You came to show us the Way, the Truth, and the Life that you would have us follow and embrace. We pray for those who teach your word and implore you to lead them as they direct and teach others.
We have already asked you if we are to be our brother’s or sister’s keeper and “who is our neighbor?” Thank you for teaching us that we are to be the neighbor – the Samaritan – to all, as we offer unmerited, undeserved grace. May our words, actions, and thoughts reflect the Divine Presence of Jesus in the world. Forgive us our sins as we “rid ourselves of the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). In this way, O Lord, you will keep us from acting and speaking from resentment and fear.
It is our heart-felt desire that in every action and every response we make to the worldly decisions around us, that we will be filled with the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). May all be welcomed and considered with this spirit! Amen.
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.