General Conference Begins with Prayer and Fasting

2/23/2019

Today marked the beginning of a significant time in the life of The United Methodist Church. Eight hundred and sixty-four delegates, bishops, media and observers gathered in St. Louis at the Dome at America’s Center for a Day of Prayer and Preparation.

The day was organized by the Praying Our Way Forward team, led by Bishop Deborah Wallace-Padgett and Bishop Al Gwinn. The Praying Our Way Forward effort began in 2016 in the North Carolina Conference, and wrapped up in the West Angola Episcopal area in June 2018. The North Georgia Conference's week of prayer was March 19-25. 

Find the Guide to the General Conference Day of Prayer at umcprays.org. 

During the day bishops, delegates and staff took part in plenary prayer, individual prayer, and worship. Segments of the day were spent in focused prayer from each of four regions in the world. These segments included an experiential prayer time, celebration of ministry that is thriving, a presentation on the missional challenges, and prayer in various languages. 

Beginning with a look into ministry in Poland, delegates heard about vital radio ministry and summer camps that are a great blessing for children and families. Thinking of the Ukraine, participants prayed to use The United Methodist Church as an instrument of peace and source of hope. From Germany delegates learned of a ministry of radical change and reinvigoration. 

Delegates learned that "in Africa we pray loudly." The time focused on the church in African included celebration of spirituality, diversity, church vitality, and mission.
 
United Methodists in the USA gave thanks for New Church Development, the work of UMCOR, and Ministries with Young People.

The regional presentations concluded with a focus on the Philippines and Southeast Asia. After sharing celebrations and hardships, all participants prayed aloud in their first language. This Korean style of prayer called Tongsung Kido was a time for fervent crying out to God for the work of this Special Session of the General Conference.

Seven prayer stations were offered and included Thanksgiving, Intercession, Wisdom and Discernment, Unity, The Kingdom of God, Violence and Humility and Compassion.

Several local churches in the North Georgia Conference held prayer services over the weekend to join in this movement. Gainesville First UMC live streamed the Day of Prayer in its chapel so that church members might experience this time of prayer with brothers and sisters in St. Louis. Eastside UMC in Atlanta shared prayer prompts on social media throughout the day Saturday. North Decatur UMC will hold a prayer vigil to pray continuously throughout the day Sunday. 

The Day of Prayer ended with communion for delegates and visitors. (Bishop Sue is pictured serving communion on the plenary floor.)
 


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