A Global United Methodist Church Seeks God’s Guidance for a Way Forward

Date Posted: 2/23/2019


Janice Gilbert, delegate from the Texas Conference, during the Feb. 23 morning of prayer at the 2019 Special Session of the United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

By: Sherri Gragg

Unity through Prayer
The 2019 Special Session of the General Conference began with a Plenary Prayer Service. The theme of the more than six hours of communal prayer was “Surrender to God’s Purpose.” Delegates were welcomed to the time of prayer by Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, Bishop Robert Hoshibata, and Bishop Al Gwinn. In her opening remarks, Wallace-Padgett challenged attendees to remember the power and importance of prayer. “We are leading in one of the most unifying actions we have- prayer,” Wallace-Padgett said.

 
Photo by Brant Mills​

A Global Church
For the next four hours, Bishops serving in countries from throughout the world led attendees in celebrating the vast diversity of the global church as they joined hearts and minds in prayer. Bishops from Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and the United States of America prayed passionately in their native languages asking God to prepare his people for the work ahead and grant the gift of his Spirit to lead and guide during the important work of the Special Session of the General Conference and in the future ministry of the United Methodist Church. “We must surrender to God’s purpose,” said Bishop Peter Weaver, “We must set our desire to the side for God’s purpose to fill our hearts, minds, and spirits.”  

 
Photo by Brant Mills​

Seeking God’s Will
Throughout the prayer service, times of communal prayer were interspersed with worship, the reading of Scripture, and table prayer. The theme of the afternoon session of the service was “Seek God’s Will.” During this time, those in attendance celebrated Holy Communion.
 
The remainder of the afternoon was in dedication to preparation and Orientation for the historically significant work that will take place over the next three days. Bishop Young Jin Cho challenged the gathering to courageously seek God’s will. “Sisters and brothers in Christ,” Cho said, “God’s will is always best for us because God loves us and our God is smarter than us! But seeking God’s will is also dangerous and risky, for our God calls us to build a cross.”

 
Reggie Clemons, delegate from the Texas Conference, at the 2019 Special Session of the United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Photo by Brant Mills​

Delegates will reconvene Sunday, February 24, 2019, at 7:30 a.m. for opening worship.
 
To view the live stream of the Special Session of the General Conference click here: Watch the Live Stream of General Conference Sessions via UMC.org 
 
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