Saturday, March 17, 2012

Call to Prayer for General Conference

Beginning today, Friday, March 16, I would like to call on every one if my Methodist brothers and sisters to fifty days of prayer for our upcoming General Conference. I hope you can join me in this. We can be an important part of the church across the world as we engage in prayer.

I have just recently seen a letter from my friend Tom Albin, Dean of The Upper Room Ministries in Nashville. He asks that beginning today, we pray daily for the elected delegates, members of the Council of Bishops, and all the other leaders involved in the 2012 General Conference. This event is held every four years and is the one policy-making body of the United Methodist Church. I was able to attend four years ago as an alternate delegate elected from our Annual Conference and know it is a huge effort, addressing major challenges and controversial topics, and desperately needs our prayer. Will you join me?

There is a free resource that you will need. “The 50 Days of Prayer Before and During the General Conference” is available on the internet at . You can sign up for a free daily email version of the meditation (I recommend that choice), or download the free PDF version or eBook edition of the whole file. You can also order it in print for a small fee. Please join me in using this free resource and talk about it in your classes and in your families. Let’s come together with our Methodist brothers and sisters across the world to pray for God’s wisdom and for God’s will to be done, in God’s way, and in God’s time through the upcoming General Conference in Tampa, Florida.

No way of organizing a denomination is perfect, since we are all human. Some faith groups are loosely organized so that every church is an independent unit, making important decisions about faith and practice on their own. Some are centrally organized, so that an individual or small group makes huge decisions for the entire body. Methodists are connectional, so from the beginning we have had a legislative model gathering elected leaders from every part of Methodism to deal with important concerns and venture into world missions that no one can do alone. Each way of governing a denomination has pros and cons, of course. But I love being connectional because it gives us a way of acknowledging our common beliefs as well as our differences of opinion, and there is so much we can do together that we can’t do alone. Ultimately, though Methodists across the world may not all think alike, we are called to love alike.

In an age of institutional decline, this is a difficult time in history to be the church. We need to undergird all things in prayer, turning over all of our human efforts to God and trusting that the Holy Spirit will move and work. I hope you will join me starting today.