Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#pray4gc2016

In May 10-20, 2016, United Methodists from all around the world will gather in Portland, Oregon for General Conference, the highest policy-making body of the United Methodist Church. Once every four years, delegates elected by their respective annual conferences gather together for two weeks of worship, legislation and holy conferencing to determine the denomination's future direction, consider revisions to church law, and approve plans and budgets for church-wide programs (Read more about it here). This year's highlighted topics include: the church's stance on homosexuality; proposed changes in church structure; major changes for clergy and bishops; and proposals on social justice issues (Read a summary here).

It is very important work that needs our support and our prayers. I invite you to pray for General Conference 2016. Here are some of the ways you can do that:

Pray for our Alaska Delegation
This month, we have highlighted each member of the delegation and their personal prayers for General Conference in our weekly prayer email. I hope you prayer for us would not stop there. Please continue to hold us in prayer for this very important work we will be, and in fact are now, engaged in.

Pray for our Volunteers
Our Alaska Conference is sending a team of volunteers to help in the hosting of General Conference. Because there is no one church or group of churches that can provide the staffing to host this big event, all the other Annual Conferences  in the Western Jurisdiction (California-Pacific, California-Nevada, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Desert Southwest, Pacific Northwest and Alaska) are coming together to help the Oregon-Idaho Conference. Our team will be joining volunteers from those conferences in showing radical hospitality to our guests from the other parts of the United Methodist Connection. 

First Sundays: Join the whole Greater Northwest Area in prayer
Every first Sunday of the month from March to June, we are coming together as an Episcopal area to pray for General Conference, specifically as it relates to our being hosts. The vision is that as we in the Greater Northwest gather around the Lord's table in our respective communities of faith, we would also come together in prayer for ourselves as we welcome the rest of the global United Methodist family to our common table. More information and resources will be shared about this but here are the themes for each month's first Sunday:

  • March: focus on the general issues that will come to our common table
  • April: focus on our guests and the global nature of the church
  • May: focus on being hosts at the table
  • June: focus on the work of the global church moving forward

February 13 Prayer Vigil: Join the whole UMC in prayer
A prayer vigil for General Conference is now happening (Read about it here). Each annual conference in the whole global connection has been assigned a day in this 131-day prayer vigil that began on December 31, 2015 and will continue until May 9, 2016.

Our Alaska Conference has been given the 13th of February. We have divided the day (24 hours) into 15-minute timeslots and invite you to sign-up. We have designed an online sign-up (click here) to facilitate this process. There you can see which timeslots are already spoken for. If you have problems with the online sign-up, please contact Crystal at the conference office. It is our hope that each slot would be filled and that for those 24 hours assigned to us, we would be linking arms with the rest of our sisters and brothers all around the global UMC in prayer.

#pray4gc2016
In his latest blog (read it here), Bishop Grant Hagiya shared the vision revealed to him while praying for General Conference. It was a vision of hope and a way forward for the UMC. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would move in great and mysterious ways as the Church gathers in Portland. It is interesting to note that the Sunday in the middle of General Conference is Pentecost. I pray that we would all make ourselves available to the moving of the Spirit and open to the ways in which God is calling us forward as a church.

Would you join me and others in prayer?

Your fellow disciple,

Carlo



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