Bishop Huie Invites Texas Conference Churches To Support General Conference Prayer Vigil on March 20

Date Posted: 2/11/2016

Bishop Janice Huie joins other United Methodist bishops organizing a groundswell of prayer in support of the 2016 General Conference in Portland.
Palm Sunday will have even more significance this spring for congregations across the Texas Annual Conference. “March 20th is an amazing opportunity for the laity from Texarkana to Galveston to join hands and hearts in prayer for the leadership of the Texas Conference and the UMC in preparation for General Conference,” shares Lay Leader Stephanie Griffin. “Laity and local churches will have opportunities in every district to pray without ceasing for this 24-hour period. There will be a variety of ways to participate in prayer experiences across the conference, as district leadership teams and congregations create spaces and times for focused prayer.”  
Adds Stephanie,  “Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the trip down the Sunday Road to the foot of the cross and the glory of the empty tomb. I cannot imagine a better way to enter into Holy Week than through intercessory prayer for the Church at large, for the leadership who will meet at General Conference, to have hearts to love each other, strength to lead and courage to be bold. I am excited to invite the laity of the Texas Conference to pray for the men and women of our delegation, Bishop Huie and all of those from 131 conferences who will meet in Portland, Oregon this May.” 
Beginning in January, conferences have been adopting one day in the 131-day countdown, to pray. The Texas Conference prayer vigil on March 20 is a part of a comprehensive initiative covering all regions.
WHY Pray for General Conference?
As a global gathering of the United Methodist Church’s elected clergy and lay delegates that convenes once every four years, this is the only event which can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy, and economic issues. Delegates also approve plans and budgets for church-wide programs. “This convocation needs the Holy Spirit’s outpouring,” shares Bishop Janice Huie, “so that we may all participate in God’s work that impacts the ends of the earth.”
General Conference is a unique time as a multitude of nations, tribes, and tongues come together to seek the Lord; listen; dialogue; and ultimately interpret and execute what they believe He sets forth through both legislative and plenary sessions.  Therefore, leaders believe Methodists’ highest order of business must be deep, fervent prayer.
How Can My Church Participate?
Local congregations can opt to add this special prayer emphasis to Sunday morning worship, add an evening prayer gathering or create a “prayer clock” to cover the entire 24-hour period in shifts. Adds Stephanie, “This is a prayer for the unity of the church as the entire body from around the world gathers to lead the church forward. Prayer can happen anywhere – through shared time or silence.” Resources are available to provide ideas on how to enhance this opportunity.

As the spiritual leaders of The United Methodist Church, the Council of Bishops conceived the plan for a prayer vigil in the months before General Conference as a meaningful way to focus spiritually on the experience, as well as to surround the delegates and church leaders with prayer for a Conference that collectively inspires the mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. “We look forward to what God has in store for us as a Council and United Methodist Church as we unite in these days of prayer,” notes Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference and chairperson of the “Council Life Together” team, which helped initiate the idea. “We want those attending to know that their United Methodist family is praying for them and with them -- that God will lead them in the decisions that they will make for the future of our church and that the event will be a positive Christian witness in how we conference together.”
Bishop Al Gwinn, who chairs the Council’s prayer subcommittee, agrees. “We hope all will pray that God would give them an understanding and loving heart; that all will have a spirit of humility and a desire to do God’s will; and that the fruit of the Spirit would be evident in such a way that all who observe would sense that true Christian conferencing will take place.”